A Series Of Fortunate Events, Part 8

(by Kalithanatos, 10 February 2010)

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A Series of Fortunate Events
by Kalithanatos


The next few days passed uneventfully, with Kat and Anne taking their breaks
and lunches together and getting to know one another really well. Thankfully,
there was no awkwardness between them after Monday's chat, and if anything
they grew closer because of it. Things became more strained at work on
Friday, however, when two of the staff phoned in sick due to a flu bug,
leaving Kat and Anne up front on their own to deal with twice their usual
workload. Matters were not helped much when, just before lunch, Kat got the
customer from hell. Due to a mix-up by one of the cashiers the previous
Friday, Mr. Iredale's account had been frozen and although Kat was trying her
best, she could not placate him. After being shouted at for nearly twenty
minutes, Kat and the deputy manager eventually managed to calm Mr. Iredale
down and come up with a temporary solution. This did not stop Kat's blood
from boiling, however, and she was glad to finally get away for lunch, albeit
ten minutes late. Thankfully, Anne had waited for her and they eventually
managed to collect their things and get outside, Anne as usual impatient to

"Oh, that man, that bad, bad man!" Kat said, angrily.

"C'mon, you can do better than that!" Anne encouraged, "Let rip!"

Kat tried. She had never sworn in her life, not even when singing songs with
curse words in them.

"That...bloody man?" she said, looking to Anne for support. Anne nodded
encouragingly. "That... bast... bast... BASTARD!" Kat cried in triumph. "That
fucking bastard of a man. That CUNT!" Anne laughed as Kat went wild. An old
couple nearby tutted in disgust.

"How do you do it, Anne? How do you stay so calm all the time?"

"Well, I keep a bottle of gin in my handbag and I'm on five different types
of meds," Anne answered, deadpan. Kat looked shocked. "I'm kidding, Kat!" Kat
looked relieved, although her head was still pounding from Mr. Iredale's

"Actually, the things that keep me level are these," Anne said, holding up
her packet of Marlboro's as she led Kat in an unfamiliar direction. "I
absolutely love everything about smoking and as much as some people out there
knock it, the one thing all smokers agree on is that cigarettes have a
tremendous calming effect on you."

As Kat pondered this, she suddenly realized she did not know where she was.

"Hey, Anne, where are we going?"

"Shit, didn't I mention it? I just got a text from my sister, Kate. We're
meeting her and her fiancée Anya for lunch. Is that cool?" asked Anne.

"What? Oh, yeah, cool." Kat was still raging over Mr. Iredale calling her an
`incompetent fool'.

Two minutes later they reached a small pub with a beer garden that served
lunch. Kat did a double take when she saw Kate; she forgot that Anne was an
identical twin! Introductions were made and everyone laughed as Anne
introduced them - Kat/Kate, Anne/Anya, but this only served to break the ice.

As the twins and Anya lit up, Kat absent-mindedly started scratching at the
table with a knife from the cutlery in front of her.

"Are you alright, Kat?" Kate asked, concerned.

"What? Oh yeah, I'm fine," Kat responded.

"Don't mind her," Anne said, "she's just had a bad experience with a
customer. She'll be fine soon. In fact, I was just explaining how smoking
calms me down when I'm stressed. Do you agree, sis?"

"Oh, totally!" Kate replied. "There's nothing better than a cigarette or five
when you're feeling low. Do you smoke, Kat?"

"No," Kat said, shaking her head. "I mean, I've tried it once or twice, but I
never really got into it like you guys."

"Well, you've not really `tried it', have you?" Anne teased. "I mean, you've
breathed some smoke into your mouth, but you've never smoked a full cigarette
and you've never inhaled."

"Actually, that's not true," Kat responded, "I have inhaled."

"When?" Anne asked. "That time when you were drunk you coughed your guts up!
That doesn't count."

"No, not then. Last Saturday. My Gran tricked me into it."

"'Tricked you into it'? How did she manage that?" Anya asked. Kat spent the
next few minutes explaining what had happened almost exactly six days ago.

"Sounds like the old girl suspects something," Anne commentated.

"Oh, for sure. She's testing you," Kate concurred.

"So, what did you think? After you inhaled, I mean," Anne asked, curious.

"Well, it was ok. I mean, it was kind of nice, but I don't want to keep doing
it or anything," Kat responded.

"That's understandable," Anne said. "But what if I offered you a cigarette
right now? After all that's been said about how they can calm you down.
Doesn't that sound enticing?"

"Anne, stop it," Kate warned.

"Sis, don't forget who encouraged ME to smoke!" Anne retorted quickly. Kate
was about to say something, then changed her mind.

Kat looked at Anne. She DID want something to calm her down, but was smoking
a cigarette the best solution? As she thought about it, Anne lit a fresh
cigarette and placed it in the ashtray.

"Kat, I lit that for you. If you don't want it, that's fine, it'll burn
itself out. If you DO want it, however..."

Kat looked at the burning object in the ashtray. It looked so enticing
sitting there  she almost reached out and picked it up, but she immediately
lost her nerve and her hands remained in her lap. She could feel the three
women watching her and felt very self-conscious. Sensing this, Anya turned to
Anne and said, "So, how are the wedding plans coming along?" This started a
conversation and left Kat alone with the cigarette. She could still feel the
rage that Mr. Iredale had provoked within her and wanted desperately to be
free of it. Could smoking really be the answer? She had almost decided it
wasn't when she heard the familiar click of Anne's lighter. Kat turned and
watched as Anne's cheeks caved in, pulling as much smoke into her mouth as
possible before inhaling deeply and exhaling it smoothly out of her mouth and
nostrils. The sight was so perfect, so sexy, that instead of crushing the
cigarette out she had picked up from the ashtray, she found herself raising
it to her waiting lips. As she closed them around the cylinder, she closed
her eyes and took a tentative puff. Remembering her previous experiences, she
slowly inhaled and held the smoke in her lungs before gently exhaling. She
had done it! Immediately she felt the rush of nicotine throughout her body as
the smoke worked its magic, both soothing her and exciting her at the same
time. This time the taste did not seem as bitter and was almost pleasant.
Wanting to experience the feeling again as quickly as possible, she raised
the cigarette back to her lips and, still with her eyes closed, repeated the
process. It was bliss. The head rush was much stronger this time since she
had dared to inhale just a little bit more smoke and as she exhaled she
opened her eyes. Everyone had stopped talking and were staring at her.

"Well, I did it!" she finally said. "Are you all happy now?"

"I don't know about you guys, but I found that HOT!" Anya said, breathlessly.
Kat flushed.

"More to the point, are YOU happy now?" Anne asked back at Kat.

"I guess so." Kat said after a moment's consideration.  She frowned. "There's
something missing though. These don't taste right."

"What do you mean?" asked Anne.

Kat took another puff, letting the smoke drift around her mouth before
inhaling it.

"Well, the rush is definitely there, but my Gran's were more...minty, I
guess. Does that make sense?"

Kate and Anya looked at each other and smiled. Kate reached over the table
and offered her half-smoked, all white cigarette to Kat. "Try this," Kate

Kat looked for a place to put her Marlboro, eventually placing it in the
ashtray, and took the cigarette from between Kate's fingers. She raised it to
her mouth without a second thought and pursed her lips around the tip. As she
drew on the filter, she immediately felt the cool, minty taste in her mouth.
"This is more like it!" she thought, and a moment later the smoke was in her
lungs. As nice as the Marlboro had been, this was ten times better. She was
almost reluctant to breathe out as she felt the nicotine entering her system
but eventually she exhaled a perfect cone of exhaled smoke.

"Is THAT what you were looking for?" Kate asked her.

"Oh, absolutely!" Kat replied. "That was really, really nice. Do you mind?"
she asked Kate, indicating the cigarette still between her fingers. "You can
finish the other one if you like?"

"Be my guest," Kate replied, reaching for her green packet, "but as I can see
you are going to be, I'm strictly a menthol girl! Anne?"

Needing no invitation (and to Kat's astonishment) Anne picked up the
smouldering Marlboro from the ashtray, put it side by side with her own
recently lit cigarette and took a large drag from both filters
simultaneously. "Ahhh," Anne said, the smoke coming out of her mouth as she
spoke, "the only thing that beats one cigarette is two cigarettes!"

Kate and Anya simply smiled and shook their heads. "She really is
incorrigible," Kate said, turning her attention back to Kat. "So, what's the
deal? Have we made a smoker out of you?"

As Kat thought about this, she almost automatically took another drag. This
time she was a little more daring since she had had no ill effects so far
today. She pulled on the filter for four or five seconds and tried not to
open her mouth too wide as she breathed the smoke into her lungs. Already she
could feel how much more intense this made the hit and she struggled to hold
the smoke for more than two seconds before she blew it out. This dismayed her
a little and she thought, "Next time! Next time I'll do better..." She
guessed this answered Kate's question, although the thought both excited and
scared her in equal measure.

"I don't think I'm a smoker," she started to answer, "but I DO think this is
worth doing again. Is there a term for that?" she asked.

"That would be a `social smoker' - someone who smokes to be social, but not
addicted like us three," said Anne.

"'Social smoker'," Kat said. "I like that. I'm a social smoker!" She took her
biggest drag yet, this time managing to hold the smoke in her lungs for four
seconds before exhaling.

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