A Series Of Fortunate Events, Part 10

(by Kalithanatos, 10 February 2010)


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A Series of Fortunate Events
by Kalithanatos

CHAPTER TEN

The two women had smoked their cigarettes contentedly in what was fast
becoming `their' alcove and made their way back to the nursing home. Grandma
Lee suggested they share another cigarette once they returned, but Kat
declined for two reasons; 1) her mother knew too many of the staff who might
report it back to her, and 2) she was still wary of smoking too many and
becoming addicted.

Grandma Lee understood perfectly and instead they sat in the garden as Kat
explained the circumstances behind her sudden interest in an activity that
seemed so out of character. She informed her Gran of her status as a "social
smoker" and that she would not mind a cigarette "every now and then", but
that it would only be when she felt like it and not on a daily basis. Kat
informed her Gran that she had never felt any great urge to smoke apart from
that one time a few hours ago, and that she was fairly certain she would not
get hooked on the habit. Grandma Lee nodded encouragingly, saying all the
right things, but internally she wondered whether anyone who was inhaling
that deeply after only a few cigarettes wasn't well and truly on the road to
addiction.

As Kat made her way home she reflected on the events of the day. For some
reason she felt a weight lifted from her shoulders she hadn't even known was
there; her grandma knew Kat had smoked and didn't mind. She felt grateful to
have such a loving, understanding person in her family and was already
looking forward to next Saturday.

As usual, Sunday passed by quietly and much too quickly. Kat spent the day
doing household chores with Rose and once again did not think about having to
smoke that day, although she thought she might have one with Anne on Monday.
Kate had given her the last three cigarettes in her pack on Friday and Kat
reckoned she could make them last the whole week, maybe even into the
following week.

The next day, Kat accompanied Anne out for her morning break but did not take
the opportunity to smoke. Anne had her usual three and did offer Kat one the
first two times she lit up, but Kat declined both times and Anne didn't even
bother to ask a third time. However, when they broke for lunch that day, Kat
was sure to bring her bag with the cigarettes in it. As they entered the
alley for Anne's `emergency smoke' before they ate, Kat reached into her
handbag and brought out the packet of cigarettes Kate had given her. She felt
a surge of anticipation as she brought the cigarette to life and felt the
nicotine stimulate her body. Anne turned to her, surprised. 

"I didn't think you were going to smoke today," she said.

"I told you before - only when I feel like it, and right now I feel like it!"
She took another drag and tried to emulate Anne by holding the smoke in her
lungs for as long as possible. "Social smoker, remember?" she said, giggling,
as the smoke poured from her lips and nostrils.

"So you're still keen, then?" Anne asked, relieved that she would at least
not be smoking on her own every day.

"I don't know if `keen' is the right word, but I have decided that if the
mood is right there's no harm in indulging in the occasional cigarette." She
emphasised this by taking another drag and attempting to emulate Helena
Bonham Carter in Fight Club by letting the smoke drift up her nose, although
she could tell it hadn't quite worked when she never felt the anticipated
head rush.

Anne was enjoying her friend's attempt at a new smoking challenge and
volunteered to help her out. "Here, let me show you how to do that," Anne
said. "The first thing you should know is that that technique is known as a
`French inhale', and when performed correctly is just about the sexiest thing
on earth!"

"A `French inhale'; that sounds exotic!" Kat said.

"It is. This is how it's done. First of all, take a decent sized drag." Kat
did as instructed. "Now, instead of inhaling, use your bottom lip to guide
the smoke upwards and give a light blow from your throat. This forces the
smoke out and up, at which point start gently breathing in through your nose.
This creates a small vacuum and you end up with a constant stream of smoke
coming out of your mouth, into your nose and then into your lungs. There you
go; you're doing it!" Both women laughed as Kat perfected the inhale and
finally exhaled the remaining smoke.

"That was so cool!" Kat said. "I'm going to try that again!"

"Wait until you do it indoors with no wind factor!" Anne said.

Kat's face sank. "I don't think that'll happen any time soon," she reflected.
"You can't smoke in pubs or restaurants anymore, and my house is definitely
out."

"Actually, that reminds me," Anne said, "I'm having a housewarming party on
Saturday. I would really like you to come. How about it?" Kat only thought
about it for a second. "Ok", she said, beaming. She had never been invited to
any parties at school and the prospect of going to one now was a prospect
that excited her.

"Excellent!" Anne replied. "And I know you live fairly close by, but bring an
overnight bag anyway. You can spend the night if you end up slightly worse
for wear. I anticipate some heavy drinking! Oh, and feel free to ask your
mum, too. She's really nice!"

Both women finished their cigarettes simultaneously, meaning Kat had matched
Anne drag for drag, something she never thought she could achieve.

Kat did not have a cigarette on Tuesday, but again joined Anne for a smoke
during lunch on Wednesday. After skipping another few opportunities on
Thursday and Friday lunchtimes, Kat thought that might be it as far as
smoking was concerned for the week. However on the final break of the week as
Anne was smoking her first of three cigarettes, Kat inadvertently caught a
mouthful of smoke as Anne was exhaling and felt a sudden urge to light up
herself. She still had one cigarette in her bag and with a glint in her eye
she asked Anne, "Do you mind if I join you?" Anne was surprised but delighted
by this and said, "Not at all. Feel free!"

Kat already had her one remaining cigarette out of the packet and as she lit
it up, she was immediately glad she did so. Constantly overwhelmed by how
good smoking made her feel, she let the nicotine work its magic with no fear
of performing what only a few short weeks ago seemed such an illicit act. She
was actually disappointed when the time came to finally stub it out and go
back inside.

The rest of the day flew past after that and pretty soon it was time to head
over to Anne's house. Kat had told Rose about the invite to the party and her
mother was thrilled to accept. Kat decided to warn Rose that she would be
drinking and might even get drunk, a state her mother had never seen her in.
Rose accepted that her daughter was an adult and gave her blessing, although
she did warn Kat that she didn't anticipate staying out much past 11pm anyway
and that she would get a taxi home alone if Kat was going to stay overnight.

Everything settled, Rose called a taxi to take them the four or so miles to
Anne and Gio's house. Unsurprisingly, the house was already filled with smoke
as Anne made her introductions.

"Kat, Rose, this is Gio, my fiancÚ, my sister Kate--,"

"You're a twin!" Rose said, exitedly. "Kat, you never told me that," she
chided.

Anne continued the introductions: "...and this is Kate's girlfriend, Anya.
Over here we have my mother, Beth and her lover, Ellie. And over there,
trying to get the wine keg working by the looks of it, is my dad, Jim. Dad!
Kat and Rose Sime are here!"

"Hi, Kat and Rose Sime!" Jim called over, then turned back to his more
immediate problem.

"He's been trying to make that work for about twenty minutes," Anne informed
the Sime's quietly, so her dad wouldn't hear. "Honestly, I think a woman
would get it working in seconds!" she joked. "So, what would you like to
drink? I think Gio is performing the table service tonight. Gio!" she cried,
attracting his attention, "Serve the ladies!"

Gio rushed over and took their order, opening a bottle of red wine for them a
few moments later. As Kat drank, she observed that this was the first time
her mother had seen her drink alcohol and felt a tiny thrill throughout her
body.

Pretty soon everyone settled down and started chatting comfortably with each
other; the word `party' was perhaps inappropriate as it was more of a social
occasion than a high energy shindig with dancing and the like. With the
exception of the two Sime women, everyone was smoking. Kat had thought Gio a
non-smoker, but he had brought along a packet of cigars that he was sharing
with Jim. The amount of smoke in the room was making Kat and Rose
uncomfortable for entirely different reasons. Rose was starting to feel
claustrophobic, something that Beth noticed and after checking she was
alright, opened all the windows and the front door to let some air in. Kat,
on the other hand, was beginning to wish (selfishly, she knew) that her mum
had not come along as the sight and smell of everyone smoking was making her
crave a cigarette of her own. This did not go unnoticed by Anne. Two hours
after the fun began, Rose excused herself to go to the upstairs toilet and
Anne moved to join Kat on the small sofa, bringing with her one of her
sister's freshly lit menthol cigarettes.

As she sat down, Anne offered the cigarette to Kat. Looking around nervously,
Anne reassured her that everyone here knew that Kat had been secretly smoking
and that Rose was liable to be in the bathroom for a few minutes. Kat
hesitated only a moment more before plucking the cigarette from her friend's
hand and double-pumping for the first time.

"Thanks," she said under her breath, "I didn't plan on smoking tonight, but
watching all you guys has made me want to join in. How did you know I wanted
one?"

"It's easy to tell," Anne answered. "Every time one of us lit up, I watched
your eyes dart over, and I could see the hunger in your eyes. It's so obvious
that I'm surprised Rose hasn't seen it, too!"

Kat didn't know how to respond to that, so she continued to smoke, listening
intently for the sound to the cistern flushing upstairs as she took one
short, sharp puff after another. Finally, with the cigarette three-fourths
done, Kat detected activity upstairs and quickly handed it back to Anne, who
merely smiled knowingly and finished it off in two lung-bursting puffs.

When Rose returned to her seat next to her daughter, Kat asked her if she was
enjoying herself.

"Oh, yes," Rose said, "I'm having a really nice time, but I have to say it
was nice to grab a bit of clean air upstairs, it's so smoky in here."

Beth, Anne's mother, overheard this last remark and said to Rose, "I hope our
smoking isn't bothering you too much, Rose? I would hate for it to spoil your
night."

"No, no, it's fine," Rose backtracked. "Actually, I was just saying what a
great time I was having, but I'm not used to being around smokers much. Only
my mum really smokes, but I only see her a few times a week and she doesn't
smoke much."

"Have you ever smoked, Rose?" Beth asked.

"No, not ever," Rose responded, just as Kat knew she would. Then Rose paused
for a second before saying, "Well, not really!" Kat was stunned; it sounded
like her mum HAD smoked at some point. Could this be true?"

Rose continued, her tongue loosened with alcohol. "When Mitch and I first
started dating, he asked me if I would mind smoking in front of him; I think
it was some sort of fetish thing. Anyway, I thought about it for a few days
and not long after I was presented with an opportunity when my mum and dad
went out and left us alone in the house with an open packet of cigarettes. I
decided I would give Mitch a treat, so I asked him to sit down while I went
to the kitchen and used the gas stove to light one. I came back to the living
room and tried to put on a little show for him. I wasn't very good at smoking
but I don't think it mattered to Mitch - he just seemed happy enough to see
me with a cigarette in my hand!"

Kat listened to this, as absorbed by the tale as everyone else seemed to be
in the room. Her mum had actually smoked a cigarette! This was really
strange, and somehow quite cool. She had always thought of Rose as somewhat
as a prude and never as someone who had had any sort of kinky fun. Reflecting
on this, Kat supposed there must have been an element of sexuality in her
mother's life at some point, although Kat had never seen it as her dad had
died when she was so young and Rose had never really dated anyone since. Her
thoughts were disturbed as Rose continued.

"Anyway, after that Mitch seemed satisfied for a while but every so often I
liked to treat him to a little show, so I would pilfer one of mum's
cigarettes and try to give him a special treat once in a while."

"What kind of things did you do?" Ellie asked, curious.

"Well, for example, one time we went out to dinner and as we walked in to the
restaurant and were asked if we wanted smoking or non-smoking, I butted in
before Mitch could answer and said, `Smoking, please'. I knew this would get
Mitch wondering, but I held off as long as possible until after dinner then
brought out my cigarette and lit it with the candle on the table. Mitch was
so happy!" Rose said, a tear forming in her eye.

"That is so romantic!" Anya said, and everyone (including Kat) nodded in
agreement.

"Anything else?" Beth asked, enjoying Rose's recollections.

"Well, this one other time," Rose began, thinking back, "Mitch and I were at
a quiet bar having a drink at the table when this gorgeous young woman walked
in. She stood at the counter and ordered a drink and got her cigarettes out
of her purse. When she lit up, I looked over at Mitch. He couldn't take his
eyes off of her! I could see why; I don't think I've ever seen a woman look
as glamorous smoking in all of my life - present company excepted, of
course!" she said, and everybody laughed.

 "Anyway, I had had a few drinks and had a bit of Dutch courage about me, so
I said to Mitch, `Watch this," and stood up. I went over to the young lady
and, making sure Mitch could hear, said `Would you mind if I had one of
those?' gesturing to the packet of cigarettes on the counter. The young lady
said, `Sure, no problem' and handed me one. `Do you have a light?" I asked,
and the woman lit me up. I made a big show of this for Mitch's benefit and
started chatting to the woman while we both smoked. Of course, she was much
more skilful and beautiful than me, but I held my own and as we both finished
our cigarettes her date arrived and I returned to my table. Mitch,
understandably, was amazingly turned on; this act was quite out of character
for me and he practically hauled me out of the bar and back home. If my
calculations are correct," Rose said, looking at Kat, "that was the night you
were conceived!"

Kat, and indeed everyone else, were quite taken aback by this revelation.
Rose smoking was directly linked to Kat being born!

No one spoke for several seconds; in fact, no one (not even Anne!) had lit a
cigarette for ten minutes as they listened enthralled to Rose's tales.
Eventually it was Anya who broke the silence. "Now that," she said, "is the
most romantic and sexiest thing I have ever heard!" Kate gave her girlfriend
a big hug as the rest of the women took the opportunity to light their
cigarettes.

"What happened next?" Jim asked.

"Well, obviously I got pregnant with Kat here," Rose said, smiling at her
daughter, "and I never got the opportunity to smoke for Mitch again." She
smiled sadly at this. "I know he loved it though, and every one of our
wedding anniversaries I smoke a cigarette just for him."

This night just got weirder and weirder for Kat. Less than an hour ago she
thought her mum had never smoked in her life, and now she found out that Rose
had smoked more cigarettes than her!"

"Anyway, I never took to the habit... not that I mind anyone who does,
obviously," Rose said, looking around the room with mock worry on her face.
Yet again, everyone laughed at this, breaking the sadness that had briefly
pervaded the room.

Listening to this, Anne suddenly sensed an opportunity to help her friend
out. "When you say you don't mind anyone smoking," Anne began, and Kat's
heart skipped a beat, "how would you feel if you found out, say, that Kat was
a smoker?" Kat shot her friend a warning look, willing her to back off.

Rose thought about this for a few moments then, picking her words carefully,
responded, "Well, obviously I would be disappointed - after all, there is the
expense, the way your clothes and hair end up smelling, the nicotine stains
on your fingers, not to mention the health risks - but if you're asking me
would I love my daughter any less, then the answer is no. But I don't think
there is any chance of that happening with Kat, anyway - she's just not the
type, I believe, to start smoking. No offence, anyone!" she finished.

"None taken," Anne said, speaking for them all, "but what if Kat surprised
you and DID start smoking - would anything change?" Kat was now listening
intently, as curious as her friend for the response to this question - her
mum's answer here could perceivably change her world. Again, Rose pondered
the matter and finally said, "Well, if, for the sake of argument, Kat did
smoke there would have to be some ground rules. For instance, she would not
be allowed to smoke in the house, and obviously I would prefer she didn't
smoke too many per day or one of the stronger brands, but apart from that -
no, not much would change. After all, my own mother smokes and I don't treat
her any differently!"

Kat couldn't believe her ears - was this really happening?

Rose wasn't finished. "But this is all theoretical anyway. Kat doesn't smoke
and probably never will, isn't that right Kat?" Rose looked at her daughter
for any sign of confirmation, but none was forthcoming.

"Kat?" she asked, growing slightly concerned at the lack of response.

By now, Kat's face had gone scarlet red with embarrassment. She did not want
to lie to her mum, but she also did not want to admit she had experimented
with smoking.

"Kat," Anne prompted from across the room, "this is your chance. Go on!"

Rose looked at Anne then back at her daughter, by now beginning to comprehend
what was about to happen but still disbelieving.

"Mum," Kat began, sheepishly, "what you said a minute ago isn't quite true.
About me smoking, I mean."

Rose, still silent, suddenly understood what her daughter was telling her and
mouthed the word "No!"

"I'm afraid it's true, mum. I've been smoking on and off for about two weeks.
I'm so sorry!" Kat said, bursting into tears and running out of the room into
the kitchen.

Rose sat in her chair, absolutely speechless while Anne ran after her friend.
She entered the kitchen to find Kat curled up on the floor, crying. "Why did
you do that?" she asked Anne, tearfully. "Why did you make me say that to
her?" Deep down, she knew Anne wasn't to blame, but it was easy to lash out
and Anne was the nearest target. "Why?" she wailed, as Anne cuddled up beside
her and offered some comfort to her best friend. 

A few minutes later, Gio walked into the kitchen.

"How are things out there?" Anne asked.

Gio answered, "Fine actually. A bit of shock at first, but Beth, Ellie and
Jim have all been chatting to Rose and she seems ok now. She wants to see
you, Kat."

Kat looked up. "Are things really ok? Mum's not going mental at me or
anything, is she?"

Gio laughed. "No, no. Actually, she's more upset that you're upset. You
should come back through."

Anne and Kat stood up, Kat a bit wobbly on her feet due to the alcohol and
how she was feeling. They re-entered the living room and Rose, standing on
her feet, beckoned Kat over. As Kat made a move towards her, Rose opened her
arms and they hugged, a warm loving embrace as they both said at the same
time, "I love you."


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