A Series Of Fortunate Events, Part 4

(by Kalithanatos, 10 February 2010)


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A Series of Fortunate Events
by Kalithanatos

CHAPTER FOUR

Nothing much was said on the way back to the nursing home. Katrina was still
shocked she had lit the cigarette, but was not as disappointed with herself
as she once might have been. Somehow the cigarette had tasted different from
the cigar, not as bitter and with what Katrina thought was a mint flavour.
This in itself was a surprise - she had assumed all tobacco products were
alike and had the same foul taste, but the cigarette was not disgusting at
all and had in fact left an almost refreshing feeling in her mouth.

Grandma Lee, after she got over the surprise of the lit cigarette being
presented to her by Katrina, was actually quite amused by the whole thing.
She knew her granddaughter was not a smoker (not that it would bother her one
bit if she were - it would be nice to have another smoker for company
sometimes) and was very grateful that Katrina had gone out of her way to help
out. Grandma Lee decided not to bring the subject up again unless Katrina
did. In fact, Katrina only made one small request - that Grandma Lee not
mention anything to Rose - and the matter was closed.

They said their goodbyes a short while later and Katrina jumped on the bus
home, excited but scared by the prospect of going out that evening. She
showered and changed when she got home, then said goodbye to Rose before
heading to the bus depot. She did not plan on being out late, and fully
expected to be home well before the final bus of the evening.

When she arrived in the city, she headed for the bar where the ladies had all
agreed to meet. Unsurprisingly, she was first to arrive since she was thirty
minutes early. She found a table outside and decided to take the time to
finish her book. She had still not unpacked her bag from the previous week
and as she rummaged around in it, she realized the book was at the bottom. It
was a small handbag and to get the book out she had to first pull out her
make-up bag and the lighter she had been using on the scented candles. She
had the lighter in her hand while reaching for the book when she heard a
familiar voice behind her. Pulling up a chair was Anne, holding two glasses
of wine.

"Hi! I thought I saw you when I was at the bar. You look stunning tonight!"
Anne said quickly, putting the two glasses of wine on the table and reaching
over to hug Katrina. Katrina hugged her back and as they separated, Anne
spotted the open bag and the lighter in Anne's hand.

"Here, allow me," she said, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a packet
of Marlboro cigarettes. Confused, Katrina watched as Anne pulled two
cigarettes out and extended her hand towards Katrina, offering her one. 

"No, it's okay," Katrina said, realizing Anne's mistake, "I don't sm-" 

"Don't worry, your secret's safe with me!" Anne whispered, "The other girls
won't be here for a while; they're all at a beauty parlour. I know a secret
smoker when I see one." Anne gesturing to the lighter in Katrina's hand.

Katrina felt trapped. Just like with the cigars, she was too embarrassed to
simply say `no', especially when the evidence looked so compelling. By now
Anne had lit her own cigarette and was hungrily inhaling the smoke into her
lungs, one hand still extended towards Katrina. Again Katrina pondered her
options; she didn't WANT to smoke, but knew that she could probably pull off
the same tactics as with the cigar and get away with it, saving face. Saying
no meant having to explain why she was carrying a lighter around with her and
possibly embarrassing her new friend.

She reached over and took the cigarette.

"There you go," Anne said, exhaling a trickle of smoke. Katrina put the
cigarette in her mouth, the second time that day she had done so, and sparked
the lighter. She repeated the same process she had done with Grandma Lee and
let the flame dance over the tip, breathing a small amount into her mouth to
get it going. Immediately she breathed the fumes out, noticing that this
tobacco tasted different from the previous two times - it was somewhere in
between the strong taste of the cigar and the mint taste of her Gran's
cigarette.

"I always wondered why you took breaks on your own at the training; I guess
it was so you could sneak out and have a crafty smoke while no one was
looking, eh? I'm thinking you haven't been smoking long and still have that
beginner's embarrassment? You haven't told your parents yet, I bet?" Anne
said all this without giving Katrina a chance to respond. "Anyway, your
secret's safe with me, don't worry. If you need to sneak away later for a
sneaky smoke, give me a shout and I'll come with you. To be honest, I'll
welcome the company. The others are nice enough and all that, but I much
prefer your company, to be honest." Anne stubbed out her cigarette and
immediately lit another; Katrina had only puffed hers three times in the same
amount of time! "Anyway, listen to me prattling on! How have you been since,
oh, yesterday I suppose?" Anne asked, laughing.

Katrina started telling Anne about her day with her Gran. In truth, she was
pretty overwhelmed by the last few minutes. She didn't have the heart or the
guts to tell Anne this was her first ever cigarette, and kept the illusion up
only for Anne's benefit, not mentioning smoking earlier that day at all. As
she chatted she let the cigarette burn down, only taking shallow puffs every
now and then, finally glad when the cigarette was three-fourths gone and she
could stub it out. Anne offered her another and she replied, "No, better not
- the others will be here soon."

Anne winked conspiratorially and said, "No problem. Remember, just give me a
nod later and we'll sneak off together." Katrina didn't think she would be
taking Anne up on the offer but said, "Ok, I will."

The other three women arrived twenty minutes later, all looking very pretty
after their make-overs. They lit up as soon as they sat down (in truth, Anne
had not stopped smoking since meeting Katrina, chaining one after another -
Katrina wondered how she managed it) and began chatting in that way only a
group of energised women can. Anne was pleasantly surprised to be included in
the conversation even though she had not bonded with the others outside of
work, but everyone was very pleasant and fun to be around. The subjects
ranged from fashion to films, work to weddings (Anne was due to be married in
a few months time to a boy named Gio) and whilst not always stimulating, it
certainly was fun.

Anne instructed the bar staff to make sure there was always a fresh bottle of
wine on the table.  Although Katrina had told herself she was not going to
get drunk, she kept up with the others. Within two hours she was pretty
hammered, but still enjoying herself thoroughly. Not long after she felt the
urge to pee suddenly hit her and she tried to stand up. Suddenly, her legs
didn't feel like they were her own and she wavered unsteadily on her feet.
Never having been drunk before, this was a whole new experience for her and
she got a fit of the giggles.

"Whoa, need some help there, Kat?" Anne asked.

"Kat. I like that. No one calls me Kat," Katrina answered, still laughing,
"From now on, everyone call me Kat," she said, gesturing to the others.

"I think madam here has had a little too much to drink," Anne said. "C'mon,
let's get you back to the hotel. We all got rooms for the night." The hotel
was not far from the bar.

"Need a hand?" asked Vic.

"No, it's ok, I'll manage," Anne answered, grabbing Katrina's handbag. "You
guys stay here, I'll be back shortly.

Katrina was still giggling as Anne helped her towards the hotel. As they
passed the bar where Katrina had first seen the girls, she spied the toilets.
"Need to pee," she said.

Anne helped her friend to the toilet and waited outside, smoking. After Anne
finished her cigarette she went inside to make sure Katrina was alright.

Katrina had finished in the cubicle and was trying to work the soap dispenser
to wash her face, something that was beyond her in her current condition.
Anne helped her to wash her face and Katrina looked a bit steadier on her
feet afterward.

"Let's go and sit down in the fresh air for a little while," Anne suggested.

"Ok," Katrina said and they found a quiet space outside. Anne reached into
her bag and brought out her cigarettes. "Want one?" she asked Katrina as she
lit up.

"Don't smoke," said Katrina, slurring her words.

"It's ok, it's just the two of us. The others are gone. You can have one."

Katrina shook her head.

"Suit yourself," Anne said, lighting up.

Katrina watched Anne smoke. She was beautiful, Katrina thought, as Anne
double-pumped her Marlboro. Katrina watched the way Anne breathed the smoke
out through her nose and found herself getting wet. Every time Anne took a
puff, Katrina could feel herself getting more and more aroused. She was
starting to get a crush on Anne, she felt, and the cigarette in Anne's hand
only encouraged her feelings. 

Anne looked at Katrina looking at her and asked, "Is everything ok?"

"Yes, fine," Katrina responded, dreamily. Anne decided she had time for one
more cigarette before taking Katrina upstairs. As she lit up however, she saw
two fingers come from her periphery and remove the cigarette from her lips. A
second later, Katrina had the cigarette in her mouth and was breathing the
smoke in. It was lovely! She took another puff and tried to hand it back to
Anne.

"You keep that one," Anne said softly, lighting another.

Katrina took another puff, trying to match Anne's style, but something was
wrong. Katrina's exhales were all disparate and unfocused, whereas Anne's
were a beautiful, perfectly formed cone-shape. Katrina did not understand
what she was doing wrong and asked Anne.

"The problem," Anne responded, "is that I'm inhaling the smoke into my lungs
and you're just breathing it in and out of your mouth. I take it you've not
been smoking long?"

"That's an understatement," Katrina said quietly.

Anne continued, "Until you inhale, you're not really smoking."

"Can I try inhaling?" Katrina asked.

"I don't think that's a good idea at the present moment," Anne said,
"considering your situation."

"But I WANT to," pleaded Katrina.

"Ok," said Anne, conceding, "But if this goes wrong, don't blame me!" Katrina
nodded. "Bring the cigarette to your mouth and breathe in, just like before."
Katrina did so. "Now, instead of blowing the smoke out, I want you to open
your mouth and SLOWLY breathe in." Again, Katrina followed the instructions.
"Now, hold the smoke in your lungs for just a second, then breathe out. Try
not to cough---," but it was too late. Katrina started coughing and gagging
as she dropped the cigarette and bent over double. The combination of drink
and smoking had been too much for her inexperienced young body and the
effects had now hit home. After making sure her friend could breathe properly
again, Anne rushed to the bar for a glass of water, which she made sure
Katrina drunk fully. The last few moments seemed to sober Katrina up, and it
was with some relief that Katrina entered the hotel room and fell into a deep
sleep.


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