A Series Of Fortunate Events, Part 16

(by Kalithanatos, 10 February 2010)


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A Series of Fortunate Events
by Kalithanatos

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Kat did not phone Angie during the next few days. She had never been
propositioned in such a way and was debating whether to act on the invitation
or not. She did not mention any of this to her mum or to Anne at work during
the following week. By the time Saturday arrived, she was no closer to making
a decision than she had been on Sunday.

Kat replayed the brief conversation in her head throughout the week. Was
Angie looking for a friend? A date? A relationship? What exactly did
`something else' mean? These questions haunted Kat, but she did not have the
guts to find out.

The only thing that had changed that week was that as Kat's queasiness
increased, so did her cigarette consumption. She was now smoking an extra
cigarette in her room in the morning and also at lunch and was excusing
herself more and more to go to her room each night. This did not go unnoticed
by either her mum or Anne, who both quizzed her about it. She gave the same
stock answer to them both: "I guess I'm just getting really hooked," not
really explaining why.

Kat wasn't so caught up in her own internal turmoil that she didn't notice
her mother had also seemed distant that week. Kat knew why, but didn't want
to say anything until Rose did. Eventually, on Sunday evening, Rose admitted
what had been bothering her.

"Do you know what today is?" she asked after dinner.

"Yeah," Kat said, "it's your anniversary, isn't it?"

"Twenty years ago today, I stopped being Rose Lee and became Rose Sime," her
mother said sadly.

"I know," Kat said, moving to her Rose's side to comfort her.

"Do you remember what I told you? That night back at Anne's house, about my
ritual?" Rose said.

"The one about you smoking on your anniversary to honour dad?"

"Yeah, that one. Well, I would like to do it now, only I don't have a
cigarette. Would you mind if I could have one of yours?" Rose asked.

Kat was touched by this. Normally, Rose performed this ritual alone; indeed,
Kat didn't even know about it until recently.

"No problem, mum. Let me just nip upstairs." Kat got off the sofa and walked
to her room to bring a cigarette down for her mother. As she entered, she
heard her mother calling, "You don't have to bring your ashtray; remember, we
got a 2-for-1." The other ashtray had been lying in a kitchen cupboard,
unused, since they purchased it. Rose then called out, "Bring a cigarette for
yourself, too, if you like; I don't want to do this alone."

Kat was a little taken aback by this; her mother had only seen her smoking
that one time so Kat was still reluctant to light up in front of her. But as
Rose had specifically requested, Kat went back into her green packet and
withdrew a second cigarette before heading back downstairs. Automatically she
made her way to the back door, expecting to meet her mum there since smoking
was not permitted anywhere else in the house except Kat's room.She was
surprised when her mother said to her, "In here, dear."

Kat entered the living room, wondering what was going on. "I don't want to
stand outside in the wind to do this," Rose said. "Is that ok with you?"

"Fine," Kat said, apprehensively.

"Are you going to give me one of those?" Rose asked, pointing at the
cigarettes in her daughter's hand.

"Erm, sure," Kat said, handing one over with the lighter. Rose looked at the
cigarette for a few seconds before putting it into her mouth. "This is for
you, Mitch," she said, the cigarette bouncing up and down between her lips,
"I love you." She sparked the lighter and touched it to the tip of the
cigarette.

Rose did not inhale, Kat noticed, as she watched her mother breathe in two
short bursts ten seconds apart - this would probably explain why she had
never got addicted. Rose attempted another puff, grimacing slightly as the
smoke entered her mouth. As she blew it out, she said to her daughter, "Well,
are you going to join me or not?" Kat had completely forgotten about her own
cigarette, she was entranced watching her mother. She accepted the lighter
from Rose and, feeling uncomfortable, lit up.

Rose watched as Kat inhaled a fairly large amount of smoke before exhaling it
out through her mouth and nose. Her daughter had certainly grown up in the
last few weeks, she thought, and had now turned into a fine young woman. She
wished Mitch was here to see his little Katrina become the adult she now was.
Part of the reason Rose had not been as upset as she might have been about
Kat smoking was that she knew Mitch would not have disapproved. She wondered
what it was that made Kat want to keep on smoking.

"Kat," Rose said, "I notice you've been smoking more and more lately. What is
it that makes you and millions of other people continue to smoke?"

Kat was by now comfortable with her tag as a smoker, and as she puffed on her
cigarette was feeling less embarrassed with each hit to be doing this in
front of her mother, she thought she could answer the question truthfully.

"The thing is," Kat said, "that as well as being addictive, smoking gives you
an enormous feeling of satisfaction and well-being. I never thought I would
say this, but I really love to smoke - it tastes nice, it gives me a good
feeling inside, and I look forward to lighting up my next cigarette minutes
after I finish the previous one."

Rose pondered this, looking at her own half-finished cigarette. "But how come
I get none of those feelings?" she asked.

"Mainly because you're not doing it right," Kat answered. "I had this problem
at the beginning, too - it wasn't until I started to inhale that I fully
understood the pleasures of smoking." She demonstrated by taking a large drag
and, opening her mouth to show her mother a huge ball of smoke, suddenly
inhaled deeply before blowing a long, steady stream of smoke from her mouth,
finishing with three perfect smoke rings.

"You make it all sound so appealing!" Rose said.

"To me it is," Kat said, sounding a bit like Anne did a few weeks ago. "I had
a dilemma not long ago - should I quit now or risk becoming addicted? I chose
to smoke, and as soon as I made the decision, I did not regret it. To tell
you the truth, I wish I had started sooner!"

"It's so strange to hear you say that!" Rose said. "You were always the quiet
little girl who would do no wrong."

"And I regret that, too," Kat said. "I want to be a person who takes control
of my life, who makes decisions." Kat then thought of the piece of paper
burning a hole in her pocket. "Remember that girl in the shelter at the
supermarket the other day? She gave me her phone number, and I've been too
scared to phone her. I think I'm going to do it, right now. Would you excuse
me, please?" Kat finished her cigarette and made her way upstairs. She took
the piece of paper out of her pocket, picked up her phone, and dialled.

"Hi, Angie speaking," came the voice from the other end of the phone.

"Hi, Angie, Kat - you gave me your number and said we should hook up
sometime?" Kat had by now lost some of her nerve and scrambled for her
cigarettes, lighting one.

"Oh, hi Kat. I didn't think you were going to call. How are you?"

"I'm fine," said Kat. "Listen, Angie - would you like to go on a date with
me?"

"Um," said Angie, and Kat was positive she was going to say `no'. Angie
continued, "Ok, sure. When and where?" 

They made arrangements to meet on Monday night after work, and Kat rushed
back downstairs to tell her mum, not remembering the rules about smoking in
the living room. She also had the green packet in her other hand she had been
nervously playing with when she was on the phone to Angie.

"Mum, mum, guess what?" she cried, "I'm going on a date!"

"With that girl?" her mother asked. To this point, she did not know Kat was
gay.

"Yes!" Kat said, taking another hit of her cigarette. "Isn't it exciting!"

"I suppose it is. But Kat - a girl? You never told me..."

Kat interrupted. "Oh yes, I've never told you before - I like girls. And
boys! I suppose I'm bisexual. Is that ok with you?"

"Well, it's quite a revelation, but yes, it's ok by me." Rose took a final,
small puff of her cigarette and put it out. "Actually," she said, tears
welling up in her eyes, "it's perfect. My little Katrina getting her first
date on Mitch and my anniversary - I can't think of anything more special."
The tears began to flood out of Rose, and seeing them Kat felt the same thing
happen to her. The two women hugged, Kat careful to keep the cigarette away
from Rose, and cried holding each other for several minutes.

After they had regained their composures, they separated and moved back to
their seats. Rose then said, "Actually, I've been thinking a lot about what
you just said about how much you love smoking, and I've made a decision. It
looks like you are going to continue the habit, and I would like to offer you
the freedom to smoke anywhere in the house." Kat opened her eyes widely in
shock - this was unexpected. Rose continued, "You've been very good about
going to your room to smoke, but it just seems so anti-social for us not to
spend time together due to one small thing. You keep having to nip out in the
middle of a film or a programme or a conversation to indulge yourself, and it
doesn't seem fair to make you keep missing out on things. Basically, if you
feel like smoking, then go ahead. I won't complain, I promise."

"Oh, mum, you are the absolute best!" Kat responded, feeling another wave of
tears well up inside her. "I love you so much!" Kat got out of her seat
again, and the two women hugged once more.


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