Anne (2004)

(by Nic, 06 October 2004)


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Anne
by Nic

I 

Anne was fifteen, and she hated her life. She was a tall, gangly girl, 
awkward and even outright clumsy, still growing into her height. She was 
very shy, with only two close friends, Jen and Candace, both of them 
misfits like her. Her classmates, when they thought of her at all, thought 
of her as a bookish loner, a quiet girl who kept to herself, staying silent 
in class, spending her lunch hours in quiet conversation with her friends, 
or reading by herself in the library. 

She wasn't naturally that way, though she'd been shy most of her life. A 
psychologist might have blamed it on her mother, an abusive drunk who had 
scalded Anne with her tongue when sober, and beaten her when in her bottle. 
Luckily for Anne, two years ago her father had finally had enough, and had 
served her mother with divorce papers. Due to her mothers' violent nature, 
the courts had taken the unusual step of awarding Anne's father custody. 
Since the divorce, Anne had seen her mother only a handful of times. She 
and her father had moved into a new, smaller house across town, one that 
fit with his reduced financial circumstances; her mother had moved too, to 
a small one bedroom apartment where she spent the days drinking away her 
alimony and moving from one boyfriend to another. Anne didn't visit her 
mother very often, and her mother rarely made an effort to get in contact, 
except on her birthdays and during Christmas. 

The situation suited Anne just fine. Anne hated her mother, and wanted 
nothing to do with her. Since the divorce, her dad had told her about some 
of the fucked up things her mother used to do, ranging from the 
embarrassing to the sadistic. Anne supposed she was probably getting a 
one-sided view, but had never gone to any pains to get the other half of 
the story. Her mother had given her pain enough. 

Still, two years without her mothers' influence hadn't done much to bring 
Anne out of the protective emotional armour she'd built up around herself. 
She still spent most of her time in private pursuits; as she matured, it 
became increasingly apparent to her family (well, more properly, her 
father, as he was the only family she had) that she regarded most human 
contact as an imposition to be avoided if possible, and endured if not. He 
worried, of course, but there seemed to be little he could do beyond 
suggesting to her that she try and make more friends, perhaps join some 
clubs. In the end, she seemed happy enough, and for the most part her 
father deemed it wise to let her be. 

For two years, Anne and her father had been alone. Oh, he'd seen different 
women, off and on, throughout the time, but they came and went like the 
weather, and Anne mostly ignored them. 

Then, six months ago, there had come a new woman, one about whom her father 
seemed quite serious. Anne hadn't realized just how serious until, one day, 
he'd come into her room, sat down on her bed, and told her that, in one 
month, she was to have a new mother. 

A new mother, Anne could have dealt with. That would have been fine: 
another adult to ignore for three more years, until she left to go off to 
college in some distant city. It wasn't the new mother that bothered Anne. 

It was the new sister that came along with it. 

Anne had always been an only child. Once, when she was much younger, she'd 
wished desperately for a younger sister, but in keeping with her present 
opinion that other people were inconveniences, the idea of a sibling - even 
a step-sibling - seemed like a horrible idea. She couldn't imagine what 
madness had possessed her father, but she figured something had to be done. 
A week before the wedding, she'd suggested to her father - in the same 
quiet, reasonable tones he used with her when advising that she join the 
drama club or stake up some other similarly dull pursuit - that he might 
want to see a psychologist. Her father had laughed, thinking that she was 
joking, and told her to run along and go back to her books. 

She met the other half of her new family some time before the wedding was 
to take place. Her father and soon-to-be step-mother were together two or 
three nights every week for dinner, and, of course, she often brought along 
her daughter, Maria. 

It turned out that Maria and Anne were almost the same age. Beyond that, 
though, they had nothing in common. 

Where Anne was overly tall and thin, Maria was average in height and 
generously curved in all the right places. Where Anne's hair was stringy 
and blonde, Maria's was long and black, falling past her shoulders in 
thick, luxurious curls. Where Anne was naturally retiring, even frosty, 
Maria had a friendly, exuberant nature. They dressed differently, too - 
Anne in sensible jeans and t-shirts, Maria in halter-tops and tight, 
bleach-patterned denim that showed off her figure admirably. 

Anne disliked her on sight, a feeling which intensified with every meeting. 
She told herself that it was because of Maria's bubbleheadedness, but deep 
down, she knew she was just a little envious. 

Strangely enough, Maria didn't return Anne's feelings. It seemed, Anne 
gradually realised, that she was simply unable to comprehend that other 
people might not like her. Maria was unfailingly nice to her, seeming more 
puzzled than hurt when Anne tried to cut her down with a vicious remark, or 
shut her up with a cold shoulder. 

Her father, however, noticed her behaviour, and he scolded her for it 
harshly when Beth, her new step-mother, had gone home with her daughter. 
"Anne," he said, "I know you don't want me to marry, that you just want 
things to continue on as they are, but I love Beth, I'm going to marry her, 
and it's best that you learn to accept that, and everything that comes with 
it. One of those things you have to accept is that you're going to have to 
live with Maria, and it will be easier for everyone, including you, if you 
learn to get along with her." 

Anne had just rolled her eyes and gone up to her room, losing herself in 
whatever book she'd been reading. 


II 

Three months had passed since the wedding. Once again, they'd moved, this 
time into a bigger house, one with enough room for all four of them. 
Luckily it hadn't meant changing schools, like last time, but she was a lot 
farther away now, enough that she was well outside her school's bus route. 
That had looked like trouble, originally, but Beth had volunteered to drive 
her to and from school each day, as it was on her way to work anyway. 
"Besides," she said, "It'll give us a chance to get to know each other." 

Anne wasn't so sure she wanted to get to know Beth. Her step-mother was a 
nice person, of course - a lot like her daughter in many ways, including 
her looks - but still. She was just one more boring human, with her own 
boring life and boring opinions and boring problems that she soon took to 
trying to unload on Anne during their daily drives. Whatever, it was way 
better than taking public transit. Anne would take Beth over a busload of 
ugly random strangers any day. 

Truth be told, Anne only had one real problem with her step-mother, and 
that was that she smoked. Her mother had smoked, too, and Anne associated 
smoking with her mother's abusive ways. She'd soon gotten over that 
prejudice, once she'd learned that Beth was really quite a nice person. Of 
course, the horrible stench still bothered her, and Anne dearly wished 
she'd quit, but failing that, at least Beth was polite about it, holding 
the tip of the cigarette next to the window and blowing the smoke outside. 

Today, though, she wouldn't be getting a ride home. It was a long weekend, 
and her father had made plans with Beth to get away for the weekend, just 
the two of them. A romantic retreat in the mountains, or something. "You 
two girls are old enough to mind the house while we're gone," he'd said, 
"And besides, you wouldn't want to spend the weekend hanging out with a 
couple of old farts like us." 

So today Anne was taking the bus home from school. 

It took her twenty minutes longer than a straight-forward drive, the bus 
stopping at what seemed like every street-corner to pick up and drop off 
passengers. Anne had staked out her territory as soon as she'd gotten on, 
sitting down on the aisle seat and putting her backpack on the seat beside 
her. Once, about halfway through when the bus was pretty well full, some 
creepy guy had tried to sit next to her, but Anne had stared him down and 
he'd backed off, grabbing a rail and standing until his stop came. 

Finally, she got home. She'd been on the bus long enough to get almost to 
the end of The Left Hand of Darkness, a book by Ursula K. LeGuin, one of 
her favorite science fiction authors. That wasn't so bad, she thought, half 
surprised. Better than having to talk to Beth for half an hour. 

She lived in an old brownstone, dating back to sometime near the beginning 
of the last century. It was in an old neighborhood, on the outskirts of 
town. You could tell the neighborhood was old because the trees were so 
big, shading the street even with the sun sitting at the top of the sky. 
Anne had to admit that she liked her new home a hell of a lot more than 
their last one, a tiny, anonymous dwelling in a featureless suburban 
enclave with a forgettable name like Sunnydale or Mapleview or something. 
The new place had character, and history. Anne amused herself sometimes by 
thinking about the kinds of things that must have happened in the house. 
She kept meaning to go down to the public library some time, and search 
through the microfiche to see if something really juicy had ever happened 
there, like a murder or a scandal or something. She knew the odds were 
against it, but she could always hope. 

She knew Maria was inside the minute she opened the door. She could tell 
because the TV was on; she was pretty sure she could hear Bart Simpson's 
voice coming out of the living room. 

There was something else, too. Anne sniffed the air. She smelled smoke ... 
cigarette smoke. That was odd. Beth hadn't been home all day. 

Frowning, Anne took off her shoes and walked towards the living room. There 
was Maria, sitting curled up on the couch with her socks off, a half-smoked 
cigarette burning in her fingertips. 

"Well, well, look what we have here," Anne said. Maria started, twisting 
her head around; obviously, she hadn't heard Anne come in. 

Maria looked down at the cigarette in her hand, then back up at Anne. "Um 
... shit." 

"Shit is right," Anne said, walking into the room. 

"You won't tell, will you? Mom'd kill me." 

"Yeah, she probably would. She's always going on about how hard it is for 
her to quit. Wonder what she'd think of her baby girl following in her 
footsteps?" 

Maria bit her lip. 

Anne sat down. "So," she said, "How long have you been smoking for?" 

"Six months or so," Maria answered, bringing the cigarette up and taking a 
drag. Anne noted, a little clinically, that she smoked almost exactly like 
her mother did. 

"Six months. Guess you're addicted now, huh?" 

Maria smiled ruefully. "Yeah, I guess I am. It just sort of crept up on 
me." 

"That was stupid of you." 

Maria took another drag, blew the smoke up into the air. "Probably was, 
yeah." 

"So it was perfectly in character, then." 

Maria looked at her quizzically, cocking her head. "Anne, why are you 
always so mean to me?" 

"Because I don't like you. And now that my dad isn't here, I can say it to 
your face. I don't like you, I don't like anything about you, and I'd 
prefer it if you just kept yourself to yourself this weekend." She stood up 
to leave; the conversation was beginning to bore her. 

"Anne?" 

She paused, turned her head. "What?" 

"Are you gonna tell Mom and Dad?" 

Dad, thought Anne. So you're calling him Dad, now. Bitch. "Don't bother me, 
Maria. Don't bother me, and you can do what you like." She walked off, up 
the stairs to her room, leaving Maria to puzzle over her cryptic response. 



She spent the rest of the night in her room, finishing off The Left Hand of 
Darkness and doing her homework, coming out of her room only to microwave a 
TV dinner. Maria only bothered her once, coming up to tell her that she was 
going out with her friends and wouldn't be back until late. "Whatever," 
Anne said, and went back to ignoring her. 

III 

Anne woke up late the next day, as she usually did on weekends. She took 
her time getting herself ready for the day, taking a long, hot shower, 
checking her e-mail, and catching up with the news on google over a cup of 
coffee with lots of milk and sugar. Around noon, she went back upstairs to 
her room to settle down for a long day of reading. 

Two hours later, on her way back from the bathroom, she passed by Maria's 
door and heard her step-sister crying inside. Curious, she pushed open the 
door - it was already open a crack - and peered inside. There was Maria, 
lying face down, sobbing softly in her pajamas. 

She leaned against the door frame and stood watching her, strangely 
entranced by the sight. She'd never seen her step-sister like this before. 
Normally she was so confident, so cheerful. Now, she seemed vulnerable. It 
was disconcerting. 

Something must have tipped Maria off to her presence, because she turned 
over and saw Anne standing there, watching her. "What do you want?" she 
said, her voice cracking a little. Her face was streaked with tears. 

"I ... heard you crying from the hallway. I just peered in to see what was 
wrong." 

"Like you care. You hate me. You're probably happy to see me like this." 

Anne was silent for a moment. Then she said, "No, actually, I'm not," 
surprising herself with her answer. 

"Liar." 

"I'm never happy to see someone cry." She favoured Maria with a small 
smile, a rare expression on Anne's face, and said, "I might not like you 
very much, but that doesn't mean I'm a sadist. I don't go in for 
schadenfreude." 

"What?" 

Anne shook her head. Sometimes she forgot that her vocabulary was so much 
larger than most of her peers. Of course, sometimes she remembered, and 
used it regardless, just to rub it in. "It's a German word. It means to 
take pleasure in the pain of others. I was saying I don't do that." 

Maria sniffed. "Oh." 

"Do you want to talk about it?" Anne asked, not really meaning it, saying 
it more to be polite than out of heartfelt concern. 

"No, not really. You wouldn't care. Maybe you should just leave me alone." 

"Maybe I should," said Anne. And stood there. 

Maria turned back over, putting her face back into her pillow, and started 
crying again. Anne sighed. Maria looked like she needed a sympathetic ear 
and a shoulder to cry on, and in lieu of anyone else, it looked like she 
was it. She walked into the room and sat down on the bed. 

Her voice muffled through the pillow, Maria said, "You're still here?" 

"I'm still here," Anne confirmed. There was an awkward silence, and Anne 
mustered up the courage to say, "So, what's wrong?" 

"You don't care." 

"No, I don't, not really. But you're hurt, and I don't like seeing anyone 
like that. Maybe talking about it will make you feel better." 

"So you can walk off and go back to ignoring me?" 

"Pretty much, yeah." 

Maria gave a short, dark laugh. "You really can be a bitch, Anne." 

"I suppose so. But right now I'm a bitch that wants to hear your problems. 
So, come on, out with them. What's eating you?" 

Maria rolled over, sat up against the wall. "It's this boy," she said, and 
Anne thought, Of course it is. "His name's Tod. We've been seeing each 
other for a few months now, since just after the wedding." 

"What's he like?" 

"Well, he's big, handsome. He's got a great ass. He's on the basketball 
team. Really athletic. I've had a crush on him for, like, a year, so when 
he asked me if I wanted to catch a movie with him a few months ago I was 
like, for sure, you know, like, anything you want to see." 

"And?" 

"And it was fun. We had a really great time. We smoked a jay behind the 
theatre, just the two of us, and then we saw the movie and it was pretty, 
you know, whatever, but it was fun cause we just kind of sat there and made 
fun of it the whole time. Then we stopped off at the park on the way home 
and made out for a while, just kissing and stuff. Nothing too heavy." 

"And you've been seeing him ever since?" 

"Yeah. We've been hanging out all the time. I watched all of his games, he 
came to my drama rehearsals, we went to parties together, and we just like 
spent all this time together. It's funny, 'cause most of the girls think 
he's kind of a bonehead, 'cause he's a jock, right, but he's actually a 
really bright guy. Really funny." 

"Sounds like you've got a good thing going on." 

"That's what I thought. I thought we were getting serious about it, I mean, 
I know I was, I was, like totally in love with the guy, right? So then, 
last week, we're at Mac Dylans' party - he's an older guy at my school, and 
his parents were out so there was this big house party at his place, 
everyone was invited - and Tod takes me up to one of the rooms. We're both, 
like, totally wasted, we'd been smoking weed and drinking all night, and I 
was all laughing and buzzing and having a really great time. And Tod takes 
me into the room and we jump into the bed, and things started getting 
pretty heavy, and before long I know that he wants to get laid, right, and 
I kind of want it too, and I figure, hey, he's being a gentleman about it, 
he's got protection, so why the hell not?" 

"And you opened your legs for him." 

Maria nodded. "Yeah, pretty much." 

"Your first time?" 

Maria nodded. 

"Wow," said Anne, then, "How was it?" 

"Oh, it was okay, I guess. Kind of cool, actually, especially towards the 
end. Hurt a little at first, though." She laughed. "Mac's sheets were, 
like, totally ruined, too. I bet he flipped when he saw them." 

"So...." 

"So?" 

"So where's the problem?" 

"I didn't think there would be one. I just thought, you know, that our 
relationship had moved to the next level." 

"And Tod didn't see it that way." 

Maria shook her head, bursting out into tears again. "The next day, he was 
really weird, and he wouldn't talk to me, and then yesterday I found out 
that he'd told all of his buddies on the team that I was a really shitty 
lay and that he was done with me." 

"That fuck." 

Maria nodded, then the tears came streaming out of her face and she threw 
herself at Anne, hugging her and sobbing into her shoulder. Anne froze up, 
not sure what to do, then hesitantly put a hand on Maria's hair and stroked 
it. She searched for something to say, finally settling for murmuring, 
"It's all right. He's a bastard. You can do better with him," all the while 
thinking, Christ, listen to all these platitudes coming out of my mouth. 

Eventually, Maria's sobbing subsided. She pulled back, wiping at her eyes, 
and said, "Fuck. I need a cigarette." She reached over to her jacket, 
hanging on her doorknob, took out a packet and a lighter (the same brand 
Beth smokes, Anne thought, she must steal them from her mother) and 
proceeded to light herself one. Smoking calmed her down visibly, Anne 
noticed. 



They spent the rest of the day talking together, first about Tod and what a 
prick he was, and then about some of Maria's previous boyfriends (as well 
as Anne's solitary, lacklustre affair back in tenth grade; Anne was 
embarrassed to find herself constantly referring back to it, in desperate 
search of common experience.) Soon enough, Maria's tears were gone entirely 
and she was more or less back to her old, cheerful self. The conversation 
wound on to other things: school, movies, plays, hair, makeup, even 
politics. Anne was shocked to find that Maria was not such an airhead as 
she had assumed: many of her opinions were quite astute, cloaked as they 
were in the awkward language of the average sixteen year-old. 

Maria smoked throughout the day, having one cigarette after another, 
averaging about two every hour. Anne was frankly amazed at how much she 
smoked, and commented on it once or twice. "Isn't it gross?" she asked, "I 
mean, they smell horrible, they hurt your throat, they taste like shit ... 
how can you smoke so many of them?" 

Maria shrugged, laughed, and said, "Oh, it's not so hard. They're gross at 
first, yeah, but you get used to them quickly, and then you even get so you 
like them. I like them a lot. I don't usually smoke this much," she laughed 
again, "Except when I'm drinking, but Mom and Dad aren't home right now, so 
I figure, what the hell, might as well make the most of it. It's not every 
day I can smoke at home, you know." 

"Why did you start?" 

"Oh, curiosity, I guess. Watching Mom do it all the time, wondering why she 
did it. One day I just figured, hey, why not try it for myself, see what 
it's like." 

"And then you got addicted." 

"Well ... yeah, I guess. There's more to it than that, though. I really do 
like smoking. I like the way it makes me feel, and I like the way it makes 
me look. Much older, and more of a ... a bad girl, I guess. You'd be 
surprised how differently boys treat you when they see you smoking. It's 
like suddenly, you're a whole new person." 

"Hmm." 

There was silence, while Anne watched Maria smoke her cigarette, giving it 
short, hard drags, letting the smoke escape her lips in thin plumes that 
carried the bulk of it a few feet up towards the ceiling, where it settled 
into a gentle halo around her head. 

"Anne?" 

"Yes?" 

"Would you like to try it?" 

"No...." 

"You sure?" 

"Well...." 

"Just one. Just so you can see what it's like. It won't kill you, you 
know." 

"I'm really not sure if that's a good idea...." 

"Come on, Anne. Live a little. It'll be fun." 

Anne fixed her step-sister with a gaze that could split bricks. "I'm not so 
sure it'll be fun, but okay. I'll take your challenge. Give me a 
cigarette." 

Maria took a cigarette out of her pack, handing it over to Anne. Anne took 
it, holding it awkwardly, not sure what to do with it. "Just put the filter 
in your lips," Maria said. Anne did so, and Maria flicked the lighter, 
bring the flame up to the tip. "Now, when the flame touches the tip, suck 
on the end. The smoke will come into your mouth; don't inhale it just yet, 
though, or it will make you cough, and you might get sick." 

Anne did as she was instructed, and as the tip of her cigarette flared to 
life her mouth filled with the taste of grey, cancerous ash. She breathed 
it out, the smoke escaping in a diffuse cloud. "Ick," she said, "That 
tastes vile." 

"Of course it does," said Maria, "It's your first cigarette. You have to 
get used to them first." 

"I guess," said Anne, not sounding convinced, "Though I'm not sure this is 
something I'd want to get used to." She brought the cigarette up to her 
lips again, dragged on it, breathed out another shapeless cloud of smoke. 
She continued to do so for a few minutes, then, the cigarette almost done, 
she crushed it out in the ashtray. Thank God that's over with, she thought. 

Maria had already finished hers; once Anne was done, she said, "Hey, I'm 
getting kind of hungry. You want something to eat?" 

Anne nodded. "Yeah." 

"I'll cook it. I'm a really good cook." 

Anne rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I know. You spend more time in that kitchen 
than anyone else in this house." Anne had never understood the attraction 
of cooking. For her cooking was, like so much else, an inconvenience that 
distracted from the truly interesting, important things in life. 

They ate dinner half an hour later, their conversation continuing 
uninterrupted. Maria lit a cigarette as soon as her meal was done, sitting 
back in the sofa and saying, "Damn, there's nothing like a cigarette after 
a good meal." She smoked it alone for a bit, then said, "Say, Anne. You 
want to try again? Inhaling it, this time, to see what smoking's really 
like?" 

Anne wrinkled her face. "Eww, no. That first one was bad enough." 

Maria smiled. "You'll never know what it's really like unless you try it 
for real." She took a large drag on her cigarette, pulling the smoke deep 
into her lungs and breathing it out in a long, satisfied stream, "And 
believe me, you're missing out. It's really great." 

Anne pursed her lips, then said, "Oh, fine. Why not. Just one more." 

Maria grinned, and passed her over another cigarette. Anne lit it, while 
Maria said, "This time, inhale the smoke. Once you take the cigarette down 
from your lips, breath in to take the smoke into your lungs." 

Anne did as she was told, and immediately doubled over coughing. Maria 
laughed, and Anne glared at her, still coughing. "Don't worry," Maria said, 
her voice dancing with laughter, "It happens to everyone the first time. 
Take it easy. Try again; you won't cough next time." 

So she waited a bit, letting the cigarette smoulder for a minute or so, and 
then did as Maria had suggested. Maria was right: she didn't cough. 
Instead, the smoke slid into her lungs, and when she exhaled, it came out 
in a stream, just like Maria's, if significantly thinner and harder to see. 

Anne was about halfway done her cigarette when she noticed a funny feeling 
coming over her. "Whoa," she said, "That's weird. I feel kind of dizzy and 
floaty." 

Maria smiled. "Yeah, I remember that feeling. Feels good, doesn't it?" 

"Yeah," Anne said, "It does, actually," and took another drag on her 
cigarette. 

It took Anne about twice as long to smoke hers as it did Maria, as her 
drags were shallower and not as close together. By the end, she felt a 
pleasant buzzing all over her body, as though her nerves were dancing. This 
is kind of nice, thought Anne. I could see how someone could get to like 
this. 

They talked for a couple more hours, Maria smoking four more cigarettes and 
Anne smoking none. The buzz had faded quickly enough, but afterwards Anne's 
throat felt a little sore and she didn't feel like renewing the feeling. 
Around eleven, they bid each other good night and went to their rooms. Anne 
read for a couple of hours, and then went to sleep. 



The next day passed quietly enough, Anne ensconced in her room doing her 
homework, Maria spending less time doing her homework and more time talking 
to her friends on the phone. Around five o'clock, Beth and her Dad got 
back, smiling and relaxed after a romantic weekend spent together in a 
cabin somewhere in the mountains. Maria already had supper ready for the 
four of them, and they had a pleasant meal together, telling each other 
about their weekends. 

After dinner, Anne helped Maria with the dishes, a task which went quickly 
with the two of them working at it. When they were done, Maria said, a 
twinkle in her eye, "I'm going for a walk, Anne. Want to come?" 

Anne shrugged. "Sure, why not. Dad'll be happy to see us hanging out 
together and getting along." 

Once they were out of sight of the house, Maria pulled out her cigarettes. 
She hadn't had one for two hours before their parents got home, not wanting 
to risk getting caught. She placed a cigarette between her lips, pursing 
them as she lit it and gave it a savage drag. "God, did I ever need that," 
she said, the smoke coming out in wisps around her words, then in a stream 
as she exhaled the rest. "Would you like one, Anne?" 

Remembering the feeling the night before, Anne said, "Sure, why not?" and 
accepted the third cigarette of her life from Anne's hand. She placed it 
between her lips, then took the lighter and fumbled around with it for a 
bit before figuring out how to light it. 

She didn't cough at all this time, and was obscurely proud of the fact. As 
she puffed away, she felt the pleasant sensation coming back. The nicotine 
diffused through her lungs, into her blood, finally making its way to her 
brain. 

Ann didn't know it, but it was already starting to work its own special 
black magic on her nervous system. She had taken her third step on the 
short path towards a lifelong addiction. 



IV 

The following week, Anne took three more evening walks with Maria. Each 
time, she had one cigarette, while Maria had two, and each time, she got 
the pleasant buzz that she had grown to love that fateful Saturday night. 

Anne was surprised to find that she actually liked Maria. She found herself 
telling Maria things she would never have told her friends Jen and Candace, 
or even her father, secrets and opinions that she had kept to herself 
throughout her life. She told her about her mother, about the horrible 
things she'd done, about how relieved she'd been when the divorce happened. 
Maria's experience hadn't been like that: in her case, her parents' divorce 
had been far more common, with faults on both sides, with each parent 
trying to poison Maria against the other. Maria admitted to being torn 
between the two, but also to occasionally playing the one off against the 
other. 

The next weekend, Maria invited Anne to come to a party with her. Anne had 
never gone to a party before; at least, not since grade school. She'd 
always looked down on them, but then, that was largely because she'd never 
been invited. 

Getting permission to go was no problem, of course. Anne's father was glad 
to see her getting along with her step-sister, and even happier to see her 
finally take an interest in something social. She went with his blessing. 

They met up with Maria's friends on the way there. They were all girls, of 
course, most of them quite attractive, all dressed much as Maria was 
dressed, in fashionable, revealing, form-fitting clothing designed to 
flatter the figure and attract the attention of the male eye. And, of 
course, all of them smoked. 

It was only natural that Anne smoked with them. She was only intending to 
have one (or maybe two) during the whole night, still intending to avoid 
the addiction that was already sinking its hooks into her brain, but it 
didn't take long for Maria to talk Anne into having one of the vodka 
coolers one of her older friends had purchased at the LCBO. Anne had never 
drank alcohol before, and just one of them went straight to her head. Thus 
loosened, she found herself smoking throughout the night. By the end of the 
party, she'd finished off five or six cigarettes with no problem at all. 

Anne spent the next day doing her homework for the weekend, methodically 
working her way through her math book, taking laborious notes from her 
biology text. 

After supper, Maria asked Anne again to go for a walk with her. Of course, 
Anne accepted. It was equally inevitable that she accepted yet another 
cigarette from her step-sister. She didn't notice it, but her drags were 
already becoming heavier, her inhales deeper, her exhales longer and 
thicker. Her body was starting to get used to smoking, and as she got used 
to it, slowly, inevitably, she began to develop a need for it. 

Two more weeks passed in that fashion. Soon, their evening walks had become 
a daily ritual, the two of them spending half an hour or more walking 
around the neighborhood, talking and smoking. Tuesday nights, she and Maria 
would hook up with Maria's friends to go to a movie, and Anne found herself 
smoking along with them, once on the way to the theatre, and once again 
when they got out. It seemed natural to light up, when everyone else was, 
especially with Maria there, offering her the pack. 

Anne attended another party with Maria. She was already starting to warm to 
Maria's friends, and they to her, accepting her as one of the group. Once 
again, Maria drank, and once again, she had half a dozen cigarettes, though 
not so many as Maria herself, who smoked almost an entire pack in the five 
hours they were there. 

Then came Monday, the decisive day in Anne's new life as a smoker. 

About halfway through the day, Anne became aware of a strange feeling. She 
felt weirdly anxious and nervous, finding it hard to concentrate on what 
the teacher was saying. She didn't want to be in class. She wanted to be 
somewhere else, she wanted.... 

She wanted a cigarette, she realised. In fact, it was all she could think 
about. 

Fuck, Anne thought, it's started. I'm getting addicted. 

The feeling subsided after a few minutes, but it came back throughout the 
day, stronger each time. When Beth came to pick her up, it got particularly 
bad, watching her step-mother smoke beside her, wanting nothing more than 
to reach out and pluck the cigarette from her fingers and suck the sweet, 
grey smoke deep into her lungs. 

Anne resolved, right there, that she would quit smoking. 

That night, for the first time in weeks, Anne stayed home rather than 
accompany Maria out on her walk. 

The next night, though, Maria came up to Anne's room after supper and said, 
"Hey, Anne, you want to come with me? We're going to go see The Two Towers 
tonight." 

Anne hesitated. She really wanted to see that movie. The first one had been 
incredible, and this one was supposed to be even better. She sighed. She'd 
just have to be strong. "Yeah," she said, "I'll come." 

Maria offered her a cigarette on the way there, and again while they were 
all standing outside the theatre, just before it started, but Anne turned 
her down both times. The second time was harder than the first, with six 
other girls all standing around her, satisfying their fully developed 
addictions. 

The movie was long, just as the first one had been. As it stretched into 
the third hour, Maria leant over and said, "This movie's great, but I don't 
know about you, I'm absolutely dying for a smoke right now." 

Anne just nodded. So was she. She'd been managing to ignore it, but Maria 
had just pushed it to the front of her mind, and it stayed there for the 
rest of the movie. 

When they got out, the six girls had their cigarettes in their mouths 
before they were even out the door. Lighters were passed around, and soon 
they were all enveloped in a cloud of smoke, talking and gesturing 
animatedly with their cigarettes as they raved on about how amazing the 
movie had been. 

Watching them all, so happy, Anne just couldn't take it anymore. "Um, 
Maria?" 

"Yeah?" 

"Could I, uh...." 

"Have a cigarette?" Maria finished, a knowing look in her eye. Anne nodded 
sheepishly. "Sure. There you go." 

Anne accepted the cigarette gratefully, placing the filter between her lips 
and bending to accept a light from her step-sister. Her cheeks collapsed as 
she dragged, bringing the cigarette to life, and she exhaled a long, thick 
stream of smoke. Relief flowed throughout her body, her nerves singing as 
they gratefully absorbed the fresh, welcome dosage of nicotine. 

Anne had another cigarette on the way home, smoking as she walked with 
Maria. 

Well, I guess it's official, then, she thought. I'm a smoker, now. 

It felt weird. 

Maria got her cigarettes from her older friend Melissa, the same girl who 
purchased the liquor for their parties. Getting a supply was no problem; 
Melissa agreed without prompting to pick some up for Anne as well, getting 
her the same brand - Benson & Hedges Lights 100s - that Maria smoked. 
Paying wasn't a problem either: Anne's dad gave her a generous weekly 
allowance, one that easily paid for her growing addiction without his being 
any the wiser. 

Soon, Anne was smoking four or five cigarettes a day, sneaking out to the 
smoking pit during breaks and lunch, and smoking two - or more - with Maria 
every night. Anne was now at the point where she felt cravings whenever she 
went more than a couple of hours without. She was past the point of no 
return. 

Candace and Jen were shocked, of course. They would never have expected 
Maria to start smoking, and when she came back in from first break on 
Wednesday smelling of smoke, they reacted with utter horror. Anne's 
reaction was, at first, a genial, "You guys can go fucks yourselves," 
followed eventually by the more reasoned "Don't knock it till you've tried 
it." 

V 

The weeks turned into months, and Anne's addiction continued to grow. 
Before long, she was smoking as much as Maria smoked, easily getting 
through a pack every three days or so, and smoking another pack every 
Friday night at the parties she now always attended with Maria. She found 
it hard to stay home during the week, with the smell of Beth's cigarettes 
awakening her cravings only an hour or two after her nightly walks with 
Maria, making it hard to concentrate on her studies. Once, during one of 
their walks, she asked Maria, "How do you stand it, staying home and 
watching Beth smoke? Doesn't it just drive you insane?" 

Maria rolled her eyes. "God, does it ever."She paused to take a drag on her 
cigarette, and said, "You know, I really wish we were allowed to smoke in 
front of our parents." 

Anne nodded, dragging on her B&H and exhaling a thick, creamy stream of 
smoke. "Yeah, that would be really great." 

"Never happen, though." 

Anne was silent. She wasn't so sure of that, herself. 

Two months into her new life as a smoker, Anne was already spending her 
entire lunch hour outside, where she could smoke two cigarettes with a meal 
in between. By the end of second period, she wanted a smoke way more than 
she wanted to eat, and after she ate there was nothing she wanted more than 
another cigarette. Before long, Jen and Candace had taken to accompanying 
her outside, doing what they could to preserve the unity of their little 
clique. 

Candace had been the first to stop nagging Anne about her dirty new habit, 
figuring that her friend was addicted and there was probably no point in 
pressing the matter. Jen still needled her about it from time to time, but 
far less so than at the beginning. Once the initial shock wore off, her two 
friends steadily became used to her new habit. 

Once, on a Wednesday when Jen was in school during lunch hour doing work on 
the yearbook, Candace and Anne were sitting together under a tree. Anne 
finished off her lunch before Candace did, took out her pack, and placed 
one of the long, white cigarettes between her lips, lighting her fourth 
cigarette of the day. As she smoked, they talked, and eventually the 
conversation worked its way around to smoking. 

"Anne," Candace said, "Why did you start smoking? It's never made any sense 
to any of us." 

Anne shrugged, puffing away on her cigarette. "I dunno. I liked it, I 
guess. My step-sister gave me my first one, and it was a lot nicer than I 
expected it to be. So I tried it again, and I got used to it and started to 
really, really like it." 

"So it wasn't peer-pressure?" Candace asked. 

Anne laughed. "Come on, Candace. Peer pressure? Me? The only peers I have 
that can pressure me are you and Jen. No, I didn't start smoking to fit in, 
I started smoking because I found out that I liked to smoke." 

"That's kind of weird, Anne. I mean, how could you like something so 
gross?" 

"I don't know. It's not something that can really be explained. You just 
have to try it for yourself." 

"Oh." 

Anne smiled, a mischievous grin flickering over her face. "So, Candace. You 
want to try it?" 

Her friend bit her lip, looked around to see if anyone was watching. Of 
course, the smoking area was packed, but no one was paying attention to 
them. "Sure," she said, "Why not." 

Anne took out her pack, opened it and extracted a cigarette. "All right," 
she said, "But only on one condition." 

"What's that?" 

"You have to have at least three. It takes that many before you really 
understand just how much fun smoking is." 

"Three in a row?" Candace looked shocked. 

Anne shook her head. "No, just three. Like, one today, one tomorrow, one 
the day after. Something like that. Deal?" 

"Okay." Candace reached out, accepted the cigarette from Anne's hand. She 
looked at it for a second, as though shocked to see a cigarette between her 
fingers, then raised it to her lips and waited for Anne to bring the 
lighter to bear. Anne did so, instructing her on how to light it, and 
warning her against inhaling. 

Candace brought the cigarette down from her lips; her mouth opened, and a 
shapeless cloud puffed out and into the air. Anne found herself smiling as 
she watched her friend. She looked quite strange, sitting there with a 
cigarette in her hand. 

Candace was a short black girl, only a little over five feet tall. She kept 
her hair short and braided, and wore a pair of thick glasses over her eyes 
to correct for her severe short-sightedness. She was invariably dressed in 
an almost random fashion: her clothes never matched, either in color or in 
style. Underneath the glasses and the unfortunate apparel, however, Candace 
was a very pretty girl, with a nice figure and a pleasant face. 

She was one of the very last people anyone, including Anne, would ever 
expect to see smoking a cigarette. Which was why Anne found herself 
chuckling as she watched her friend struggle with the strange, foreign 
object held awkwardly in her hands. 

"What?" Candace asked, glaring at her friend. 

"Oh, nothing," replied Anne, as she took one last haul on her smoke, 
burning the tip almost down to the filter, exhaling slowly as she crushed 
it out under her heel. She waited for Candace to finish, then said, "Come, 
we'll be late for class." 

"That was gross," Candace said as they walked in. 

Two hours later, Anne walked out the front doors of the school to see Beth 
waiting for her, as always, across the parking lot. The window was rolled 
down, and Anne could see Beth's arm resting on the side, a cigarette 
dangling from her fingertips. Anne sighed. It had been a whole hour since 
her last smoke, and she wanted a cigarette. Seeing her step-mother 
contentedly puffing away made it worse. 

On the drive home, Beth told Anne about her day, Anne making non-committal 
remarks when it seemed as though she was expected to say something. When 
Beth asked her about her own day, she gave her a few monosyllabic answers 
devoid of any real informational content. The two of them lapsed into 
silence, as they usually did at such moments. After a few minutes of that, 
Beth said, "Anne, would you mind handing me my cigarettes and my lighter, 
please?" 

Anne did as she was asked. It was almost painful taking the cigarettes out 
of Beth's purse, extracting a long, white B&H from the pack, and handing it 
over to Beth. Beth placed the end in her mouth, accepted the lighter from 
Anne, and lit her cigarette, her cheeks hollowing in as she drew in a 
massive lungful of smoke. Her cigarette lit, she rolled down the window and 
blew the smoke outside; Anne could still smell it, however, and the smell 
aggravated a need that had been gnawing at her belly the last hour. 

"Beth," Anne said, "Can I ask you a question?" 

"Certainly," Beth replied, a certain amount of shock registering in her 
voice at her step-daughters' uncharacteristic attempt to initiate a 
conversation. 

"How old were you when you started smoking?" 

Beth was silent a moment, blinking in surprise at the unexpected question. 
"Well," she finally replied, "I guess that depends on what you mean by 
'started'. If you mean when did I have my first cigarette, I think I would 
have been about thirteen or so. If you mean, when did I become a regular 
smoker, well, I guess I would have been fourteen." 

"Wow," said Anne, surprised despite herself. "That's really young." 

"Yes, I suppose it was." 

"Why did you start?" 

"Oh, to be sociable, I guess. To act grown up. My parents both smoked, you 
see, so I was always around it. One day, I snuck a couple from my mom's 
purse, and me and a friend shared them. We were both horribly sick, of 
course, and I didn't touch cigarettes for months after that. But then my 
older sister - you haven't met her, she lives out in Vancouver - she 
started smoking, and I caught her one day. She was scared I was going to 
tell our parents, but then I told her that I'd tried it too. So she offered 
me one, to see if I was telling the truth, and I wasn't about to look 
foolish around her, so I took it." 

"And you've been a smoker ever since?" 

"Well, it didn't happen quite that fast. I was still quite young, of 
course. No, for a year or so after that I only had cigarettes quite 
infrequently, mostly with my sister. Maybe one or two a week. I didn't 
start smoking heavily until a couple of my friends started smoking on their 
own. We all started smoking together, and soon enough it went from an every 
week kind of thing to an every day kind of thing," she paused, took a long, 
deep drag on her cigarette, and exhaled a long, thick plume out the crack 
in the window. "It wasn't long at all after that before I found myself 
smoking all the time, five or six times a day." 

"How old were you when your parents found out?" 

Beth laughed. "Oh, God, what a production that was. I was sixteen. My 
sister - she was two years older than I was - she'd gotten caught when she 
was fifteen. Our parents absolutely hit the roof when they caught her, but 
by the time they found out I was smoking, they'd gotten used to her as a 
smoker. I learned from her mistakes, of course - I never smoked around the 
house, which was how she got caught - which was why I was able to get away 
with it a little longer than she did." 

"How did they catch you?" 

"I got careless one day. It was late at night, past the time my parents 
were usually in bed, and I was niccing something fierce. That was nothing 
unusual - by that point I was smoking half a pack a day, and it was 
absolute torture to be home all the time and watching my parents and my 
sister smoking up a storm - but this time it was particularly bad, as it 
was on the weekend and we'd just come back from a family reunion, where I'd 
only been able to have maybe two cigarettes all day. I was in an absolute 
frenzy by the time my parents went to bed, and I don't think I waited five 
minutes before I lit up a smoke. Then, not even a minute later, my mother 
came down the stairs and caught me red handed." 

"Did they freak out?" 

"They did. I was grounded for a month, not just for smoking, but also for 
stealing and for sneaking around behind their backs. They got used to my 
smoking pretty quickly, though. Before the month was out, they accepted it, 
and never said a word about it again." 

"That must have been a relief." 

"Oh, it was, let me tell you. Finally, I was able to smoke at home, and not 
have to go sneaking about and always be worried about getting caught." Beth 
took a last drag on her cigarette and flicked the butt out the window. They 
lapsed back into silence for a while, and then Beth said, "Anne, may I ask 
you a question?" 

"... I guess so." 

"Whatever did you want to know all that for?" 

"Oh," said Anne, "No reason." 

"Hmm." 

That night, after dinner, Anne and Maria went out on their nightly walk. 
They were silent as they left the house, their minds fixated on a single 
goal. As they rounded the corner, they pulled their packs out and lit up in 
unison, both of them proceeding to take three drags before pausing for air. 
"So much better," said Anne, the nicotine working its way through her 
bloodstream. 

"You can say that again," said Maria, dragging on her cigarette. 

"I had an interesting conversation with Beth tonight," said Anne, cutting 
straight to the chase. 

"What about?" 

"I asked her how old she was when she started smoking, how she got caught, 
what her parents did to her." 

"Yeah? What'd she say?" 

"She never told you?" 

"Never asked." 

"Huh," Anne paused, took another drag on her cigarette, exhaled, and said, 
"Well, she started when she was like fourteen." 

"... Wow." 

"Uh-huh. Didn't get caught until she was sixteen, though. And her parents 
let her smoke after that." 

"Really?" 

"Well, they grounded her, first." 

"Well, of course." 

"So, I was thinking. Remember what we were talking about a few nights back? 
About how great it would be if we could smoke in the house?" 

"Yeah?" 

"I'm thinking of just coming out and telling Beth I smoke." 

"Anne! She'll kill you! And if she doesn't, your dad will!" 

"Dad might. But he's pretty laid back. He'll get used to it. Beth, I'm not 
so sure about. I think if I approach her the right way, she'll be cool with 
it. If she is, she'll run interference for me with dad. And if she isn't, 
well, the worst that can happen is that I get grounded for a month or so. I 
can do that kind of time." 

"Yeah, but ... Anne, if you tell her you smoke, she'll think I do, too!" 

"She might. But if she's fine with me smoking, she'll be fine with you 
smoking, too." 

"Anne, you're crazy, you know that?" 

Anne grinned. "Crazy like a fox." 



The next day at school, Candace was as good as her word, coming out with 
Anne for her second cigarette during lunch. Jen made a big production when 
she saw her second friend accepting a cigarette from her first, and stomped 
away, fuming. This time, Anne coached Candace through the 
lighting-and-inhaling process, doing her best not to giggle when her friend 
coughed as smoke touched her virgin lungs. She coughed a couple more times 
as the smoke went down, but by the time she was nearing the end of her 
cigarette she was already exhaling little, thin streams of smoke. They were 
faint - Anne had to work to see them - but they were undeniably there. 

After the cigarette, they stood up to go back. Candace promptly sat back 
down, momentarily too dizzy to move. She giggled, shook her head dizzily, 
and got back to her feet. "Wow," she said, "This feels really cool." 

"I know," said Anne, smiling a secret smile. 



On the way back from school that evening, Anne asked another question. 
"Beth," she said, "How do you feel about smoking? I mean, does it ever 
bother you that you've been smoking almost your entire life?" 

Beth was silent for a while. "Sometimes," she finally replied. "I don't 
usually think about it. Every once in a while, though, I wonder if the 
cigarette I'm smoking is the one that'll finally kill me." 

"But then you go back and have another." 

Beth smiled ruefully. "Yes, well. I am a smoker, you know. I've been 
addicted to nicotine for a long time. So long that it's become a part of 
me." 

"Have you ever tried to quit?" 

"Of course I have, once or twice. I quit for almost a whole year one time, 
when I was pregnant with Maria." 

"Why'd you start again? I mean, they told us in health class that if a 
smoker goes, like, a week without a cigarette, the physical addiction goes 
away. So after a year you can't get cravings any more." 

"No, no ... it wasn't cravings that made me start back up again. It was ... 
well, I supposed I missed it, really. Missed the feel of the cigarette in 
my hands, missed blowing smoke." 

"So you like smoking?" Anne did her best to sound incredulous, as if she 
couldn't really believe anyone could enjoy so vile a habit. 

"Of course I do. I enjoy it a lot. Oh, sometimes I find it somewhat 
inconvenient, like when I'm in a meeting and I've been there an hour and 
I'm absolutely dying for a cigarette but I can't leave. But for the most 
part, I do enjoy it." She paused, sighed, and said, "All this talk of 
smoking is making me want one. Would you hand me one of my cigarettes, 
Anne?" 

"Of course," Anne said. 

"Actually," Beth said, "The driving is rather horrible right now. I'm not 
sure I want to distract myself from the road. Would you mind lighting it 
for me, dear? If it's not too much trouble?" 

"Oh," Anne said, trying to sound virtuous and slightly put-upon, "Sure, no 
problem." She took the cigarette out of the pack, placing it between her 
lips. She didn't want to give away her hand just yet, and she intended to 
look as though she'd never lit a cigarette before. But when she touched the 
flame to the tip, sheer reflex made her pump hard on the end, drawing in a 
lungful of smoke. Not until it escaped her lips in a long, perfectly formed 
stream did she realize her mistake. 

"Just as I thought," said Beth, looking at Anne out the corner of her eye. 
"I knew there had to be a reason for all those questions about smoking." 

Busted, thought Anne. Beth was smarter than she'd thought.... 

Beth accepted her cigarette and gave it a long drag. "So, Anne, I see 
you've taken up smoking." 

"Uh...." 

Beth laughed. "Cat got your tongue? I don't think I've ever seen you 
speechless before, Anne." 

Anne felt her face turning bright red. This wasn't like she'd expected at 
all. 

Beth looked at Anne, a smile pushing up the corner of her mouth. "You look 
uncomfortable, dear. Would you like a cigarette?" 

"Yes, please," Anne said, her voice small. 

"Help yourself." 

Anne did, taking several drags on her cigarette to calm herself down. This 
is weird, she thought, smoking with my step mom. And she isn't freaking out 
or anything. 

"So, Anne, how long have you been smoking for?" 

"Three months." 

"Three months! And you're smoking like that already! You must already be 
quite addicted." 

"Well...." 

"How many cigarettes a day? Three, four?" 

"More like six or seven, actually." 

"Well, I guess there's no point in trying to stop you, then. If you're 
already smoking that heavily, you'd find a way to smoke whether I let you 
or not." 

"So you're not going to punish me?" 

Beth smiled. "For smoking? Of course not. That would be rather hypocritical 
of me, now, wouldn't it?" 

"Are you going to tell Dad?" 

"Of course." 

"But he'll kill me!" 

"I'll see what I can do. I'm sure I can make him see reason. There's one 
thing I'd like to know, however." 

"Yes, Beth?" 

"Was it Maria that got you smoking?" 

Anne looked at her, shocked. Damn, she was sharp. 

Beth didn't even wait for an answer: the expression on Anne's face was 
enough. "Yes, I'd thought so. I've suspected as much for a while, now, but 
I hadn't wanted to say anything." 

"Are you going to get her in trouble?" 

"You and Maria shall share the same punishment, whatever that might be." 



Nothing was said that night at supper, and Anne was temporarily relieved. 
When she and Maria left for their walk, however, she caught Beth giving her 
a knowing look, a slight smile on her face to let her know that she wasn't 
mad, but making Anne blush all the same. 

She told Maria, and her step-sister immediately started yelling at her, 
until Anne managed to calm Maria down by telling her that, just as she'd 
expected, Beth hadn't seemed all that mad, more amused really, and that she 
fully expected that they'd both be allowed to smoke in the house before the 
week was up. "Buck up, Maria," she said, "I'm sure there'll be some sort of 
punishment, but Mom'll make sure it's just a token." 



Anne smoked in the car on the way to school the next day. Beth offered her 
one of her cigarettes, but Anne shook her head and produced her own pack. 
It was just another way of letting Beth know that Anne really was a smoker, 
now. After all, only smokers carried their cigarettes around in their 
jacket pockets. 

This time, Candace came out with Anne on the first break of the day, 
accepting her third cigarette from her and lighting it, only a little 
awkwardly this time. She only coughed once, just a little on the first 
puff, but she inhaled every drag and when she was done she was just as 
buzzed as she'd been the day before. 

"So," Anne asked as they went back into the school, "How do you like 
smoking?" "I like it," said Candace, "It makes me feel really cool." 

She came out with Anne again for lunch, though Jen pointedly didn't, and 
when they'd both finished their meals Candace watched Anne light up and 
said, "Um, Anne? Could I have one too, please?" 

"Of course you can," Anne said, and handed her friend her second of the 
day. She lit it for her, her mouth twisting into a little smile around the 
cigarette dangling from her lips as she did so. 



"So are you going to tell Dad tonight?" Anne asked as she got into Beth's 
car, an unlit cigarette already dangling from her lips. 

"Not just yet," Beth said, "I want to talk to Maria, first. See how she 
feels." 

Anne rolled her eyes, lighting her cigarette and dragging on it heroically. 
"Please, Mom. I could tell you how she feels right now. Hell, I bet you 
could guess." 

"Did you just call me Mom, Anne?" Beth asked, her voice sounding shocked. 

".... I guess I did." 



VI 



Maria and Anne were indeed punished, though it was every bit as light as 
Anne had predicted. They were grounded for a month, forced to stay home on 
evenings and weekends, but at the same time Beth allowed them to smoke - 
even purchased cigarettes for them, when they began to run low - and so it 
was no great hardship. By the end of the month, both were up to half a pack 
a day, and Beth was joking that she'd have to take out a second mortgage to 
support their habits. 

Candace began accompanying Anne outside on an increasingly regular basis. 
Almost right off the bat, she was coming out every day, often more than 
once. Two weeks after giving her friend her first cigarette, Anne asked her 
if she ever got cravings. Candace had averted her eyes, blushed a little, 
and said, well, yeah, now that you mention it.... Two weeks after that, out 
of 'concern for her health', Anne cut her off, just to see what would 
happen. After looking helpless for a bit, and then a little desperate as 
Anne teased her by taking long, deep drags on her cigarette, Candace had 
gone over to one of the other girls in the smoking pit and asked if she 
could please have a cigarette. When she got back, Anne had said, "Guess 
what, Candace? You're now officially a smoker." 

"Huh," Candace had said, lighting her cigarette and taking a drag far 
longer and deeper than the small ones she'd been making only a month ago. 
She held the smoke in her lungs for a few seconds, letting her day's first 
dosage of nicotine sink in, and then after a long exhale said, "How about 
that?" 


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