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(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 13 March 1998)


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an4@anon.lelnet.com

   Adam walked up to the front door of the house and wondered how it was that he
could possibly have the right address. Dr. Grimm had mentioned that this was a
private residence, and there were several cars parked in the street, but still
it seemed odd. This didn't strike him as the right neighbourhood for group
therapy.	
   No, not at all. Especially for his problem.
   And then he saw it. A tan Altima, same late model as two days ago, and
despite the fact that he was here to solve the problem, not encourage it, he
found himself excited by the possibility that she  might be here.
   He hadn't been able to get her face out of his mind, no matter what he tried.
She returned again and again to his thoughts, even though he hadn't actually
seen her smoke.
   That pleasant face- the mechanics of the quick purchase. She had to be a
smoker. Just had to be.
   If there was any justice in the world.
   Of course, there was no guarantee that there was, was there ? He might well
be looking at any of a dozen tan, late model Altimas in the area. No reason to
assume that it was her.
   He flared the black overcoat to ensure that it was hanging properly off his
shoulders, ran one hand quickly through his hair to make sure that the gel
hadn't made it stick up, and walked purposelessly up the short stairs of the
front porch.
   He was hoping ?
   But for her, or a cure. He wasn't sure.

   Maureen paced. To say she was nervous was an understatement. Kristen had
certainly had a breakthrough at dinner last night. Strange, how that other
woman lighting up had been some sort of trigger for her lover. She wasn't sure
that she understand the reason behind it, but she'd been glad for it.
   Except that there had been no relapse.
   But now they were in a stranger's house, two lovers inextricably linked by
the habit one loved and the other didn't. Or at least, it was that way now.
Would it stay that way ?
   There was no risk here, at least not in the traditional sense. The
psychotherapy, as far as you could misinterpret group therapy as true therapy,
was free. And Maureen could hope that another supportive group session would
unlock the smoker lurking inside Kristen, the one she'd seen the other night.
   No questioning the utter sexuality of it. Oh yes. It had been sexuality
encapsulated. A wonderful thing to watch, and Maureen felt for one moment as
though she really did truly have it all. And then the moment was over.
   Kristen did and did not understand the impetus she'd created, would and would
not admit that she had actually enjoyed the cigarette.
   If she would only try to understand what a beautiful sight she'd been, smoke
trailing from her sensuous lips, she might be more willing to open herself to
the idea. She was sitting on the corner of the couch, talking to the woman
who'd inspired her that one single time. What a strange twist of fate to be in
the house of that woman's sister, waiting for the therapy to begin.
   
   "I'm Brandy," the woman said, extending her free hand. "Thank you for getting
the door for me the other day. That was very nice."
   "Actually," Adam said, listening to the strange sensation of David Bowie
singing the opening lines of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt, "I was worried I was going
to hit you with the door. It was kind of awkward."
   "Do you mind me asking what brings you here, Adam ?"
   "Well, actually, it's too embarrassing to divulge."
   Brandy, who had the sort of personality which could almost make a man forget
that she was actually gorgeous, reached out with the hand holding the
cigarette and lightly touched his arm. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt
with a large snail on it, a strange looking snail with an oversized processor
atop it. The edge of the filter tip touched him and it was deliciously moist.
   He wanted to tell her.
   She maintained the contact as she said "If you don't tell me, I'll have to
guess- and I'm a very loud guesser."
   He wanted to tell her more the longer she maintained the contact, and he
found himself torn between the desire to have her touch him and the desire for
her to lift that cigarette back up to her mouth, where it so clearly belonged.
He felt like an high school kid again, with a crush on his ninth grade social
studies teacher, Ms. Isaacs, who smoked everywhere but in the classroom. She
had a way of making even a stubby Marlboro Red look good-
   "I- I'll tell you if you tell me."
   "Deal," Brandy said, flashing the type of smile that was part torture, part
wet dream in waiting.
   "The other day, when your mother pulled up to the store- well, I knew you
must be going in to buy a pack of cigarettes."
   "Ah," Brandy said, knowingly, "the quick purchase. Straight to the counter,
what else could I want ?"
   "Either cigarettes or a lottery ticket and you look too smart to waste your
money on the lottery-"
   "So I am. And so I was. I take it the fact that you were driving like an old
hat-wearing man means that you were hoping to catch me in the act. I saw you
sneak a peak-"
   "Several peaks. God, you must think I'm some sort of-" he lowered his voice,
"- a pervert or something."
   "Actually, I was flattered. And I'm even more flattered to think that would
make you come here tonight. Tell me, did you go home and masturbate about it
?"
   The question shocked him. She seemed to sweet a thing to use the m word. But
that was why he was here. She wasn't a thing, wasn't just a robot provided to
cross his path and smoke for him. That was what had brought him here, a
nagging fear that he was objectifying attractive female smokers.
   "No. I don't do that."
   She looked at him and decided that the answer was as honest as he was cute.
But she wanted to thoroughly shock him, just so that she would know before-
   "You only have one penis, Adam. Don't waste it."
   "Why did you come ?" he asked, thought about how hardly forward the question
was given the previous subject matter. "To this meeting, I mean."
   "The reason is the same reason why I didn't give you want you wanted- what we
both wanted. I knew you knew exactly why I walked into that store, and I knew
why you were lolly gagging it, too. But I have this- problem- smoking around
my mother. She's always been very supportive- hell, she started encouraging me
to smoke when I was fourteen, but I can't seem to bring myself to light up in
front of her."
   "So you're thinking about quitting, right ?" Adam asked.
   Brandy's sweet laugh rolled from her mouth and she finally released her hold
on him to trim the ash from her cigarette. She then drew deeply on it and
smiled.
   "You have no idea what these meetings are about, do you ?"
   "I guess not."
   "You heard Dr. Grimm was a smoking therapy specialist and you decided to come
tonight- to the meeting. But what you obviously don't know is what sort of
smoking therapist Dr. Grimm is."
   Before he could ask for more of an explanation, the good doctor walked into
the living room. The cd jumped to an unreleased version of Twist, a little
pseudo religious piece about the crucifying power of love. Adam felt as though
it described the worst aspects of his tortured soul. It made the room
conformable.

   "I have a few things to say for those of you who've never been in group
therapy or in one of group sessions. Since everyone here to night is new, I'll
give the whole speel, and after that, you'll be doing most of the talking.
First, for any of you who might be confused, we won't cover the topic of
smoking cessation. That's not what I do. I believe that smoking can be
extremely positive on any number of levels, and therefore, I don't deal with
the concept of not smoking. If that's what you're interested I can recommend a
number of very good therapists. See me at the end of night."
   No one seemed to be interested in that, Elisa decided, scanning the group.
   The man was the most interesting of the bunch. He was clearly not a smoker.
Why was he here ? There were those rare occasions where her administrative
assistant didn't seem to do a good job of screening and this might be one of
them.
   "Now, having said that, let me add that this is, in fact, a smoking support
group. Now, when you look smoking support group up on the internet you get a
nice little list of groups designed to help you stop. That is what makes what
you're doing here tonight unique. Past this point, I won't be doing much of
the talking- that's your job. But we're here to support one another's opinions
about smoking, and just as important, one another's smoking. Now, who wants to
go first ?"
   There were a total of eight of them, including Helen and her sister Eileen.
   Elisa made a little bet with herself which would speak first, but she ended
up losing it when Darla cleared her throat.
   She started to speak, paused, drew on her Virginia Slims.
   "My daughter has been smoking for about three months now. I haven't tried to
stop her, but I did tell her that she couldn't smoke in the house- in our
house. I wonder how the rest of you feel about that."
   It was, Elisa thought, somewhat brave of a start for the mother.
   There was a long pause. Two women, Helen and Maureen, lit cigarettes. A third
who had just taken her first deep inhale on a Marlboro Lights 100, smiled and
spoke up. She was a very pleasant looking blonde with a pert smile and
mischief in her eyes.
   "I'm here for exactly the opposite reason. My mother has been trying to get
me to smoke with her for five years. And I have been smoking, but not around
her. I can't think of anything which would make her happier. I'll buy
cigarettes in front of her, talk about how I smoke, but I just can't bring
myself to smoke in front of her."
   "How many people here," Elisa asked, "have either been encouraged to, or were
caught smoking, by one of there parents ?"
   Maureen, Adam, Darla, Robyn, and Eileen raised their hands.
   "Eileen ?" Helen asked, more than a little surprised.
   "It was your freshman year of college. Lisa had talked me into trying it. I
was sitting out on the roof one night in May at about 4 in the morning. She
got up for a glass of water and smelled the smoke. She really gave me an
earful. I didn't have another cigarette until the other night."
   "You never said anything."
   "I thought you wouldn't understand."
   "That's a good point," Elisa said with a smile as she lit a Marlboro 100.
"Everyone has a moment like that. It might be a parent, a sister, or a lover,
but you think there's somebody you don't feel will understand that you smoke.
And sometimes that person is yourself."
   "That's exactly how I feel," Brandy said. "It's as though I have no problem
smoking, until I get in front of my mother. And then, despite all of her
encouragement, it just doesn't feel right. It's not exactly guilt, but, I feel
as though I'm just doing something I shouldn't."
   Darla drew on her cigarette and then smiled.
   "It's just the opposite with me. I know Robyn smokes and really, it doesn't
bother me- and yet I can't tolerate the idea that she is smoking to point of
being willing to allow her to smoke at home."
   "But you don't have an issue with her smoking per se ?" Adam asked.
   "I thought I did at first, but no."
   "And yet-" Maureen said, leading-
   "And yet there's this parent inside, you know. How can I reconcile that
person with the one who thinks that there isn't anything wrong with her
smoking. That doesn't seem like a very adult response, you know ?"
   "Well, we have an interesting combination here, don't we ?" Elisa asked. She
followed the question with a luxurious inhale which caught Adam, Maureen, and
Kristen's full attention.
   Brandy drew deeply on her own cigarette and smiled thoughtfully. "Maybe you
and I can trade mothers, Robyn."
   Everyone laughed.
   "But you're nineteen. Even if you were my daughter, I wouldn't be telling you
that you shouldn't smoke."
   "How old is old enough ?" Elisa said. "That's always a difficult question for
a parent, I think. And it's more, not less, complicated when you smoke
yourself because the awful h word creeps into your thoughts- and while I try
not to be judgmental, I think it should."
   "That's harsh but true," Helen said. "I think that we all have this dual
image of ourselves. No matter how confident you are in your own smoking,
there's that person you don't want to smoke in front of, or maybe it's a
stranger that glances at you across a crowded room with that `look' in their
eyes which says `How can you do that ?' as if they caught you picking your
nose."
   Adam piped up. "That's why I'm here."
   Everyone turned their attention to him and he blanched slightly.
   "I don't mean to speak of turn."
   "There's no out of turn here, Adam."
   "Well, I'm here because- well, I'm attracted to women who smoke. I mean, even
I think that's a little weird."
   Elisa exhaled and smiled. "If you were here because you were attracted to
women who picked their nose, that would be weird. But I think everyone in this
room is willing to admit that women are more attractive when they smoke."
   "That's why I'm here," Maureen added.
   "Well, I'd like to ask. I'm the only man here. Do any of you think that's
weird ?"
   There was a general shaking of heads, except for Kristen. "A little. I mean,
I feel that way about Maureen, but when she told me-" She looked
apologetically at Maureen and then continued. "Well, she told me she
fantasises about me smoking as well, and I did think that was weird, because I
don't smoke. She's never seen me smoke- or never had before the other night."
   "I don't think it's weird at all," Helen said. She paused to light a
cigarette, inhaled, went on. "The day I agreed to buy this house, I was
sitting with the owner, a wonderful woman named Pam. I watched her light a
cigarette and begin to smoke it, and all I could think about was how
thoroughly attractive she was."
   "But you didn't spend the rest of the day thinking about it, did you ?"
   "You spent the rest of the day thinking about me ?" Brandy asked, obviously
flattered.	
   "That's why I'm here. I think maybe their are certain crosses we shouldn't
nail ourselves to."
   She reached out again with the hand holding the cigarette and brushed his
bare arm, again contacting him with the slightly moist tip of her cigarette.
   "I don't think it's a sin."
   "It's why I'm here, too," Maureen added. "After all, as much as I love
Kristen, the fact that I have to relegate some of my desires to fantasy is-"
   "Unfortunate," Eileen finished. "Can I ask the group a very personal question
?"
   "We can't guarantee personal answers, but give it a try," Elisa answered with
a wry smile.
   "Has anyone ever had an auto-sexual response to smoking ?"
   "By auto-sexual do you mean masturbating either during or immediately after
smoking ? I think that the saying `sometimes a cigar is just a cigar' also
says that `sometimes a cigarette is not just a cigarette'. But I'm not big on
the phallic analogy. I think that at the most basic level, a well-smoked,
thoroughly enjoyed cigarette is an extension of your basic sexuality."
   People listened to that mouthful, and then nodded, admitting quietly to
themselves and one another that psychiatrist had found the right words for it.
   "But that's not exactly what I mean," Eileen said, and immediately Helen
thought she knew what it was that her sister did mean. Or rather who.
   "I'm talking about standing in front of a mirror late a night, mildly drunk,
watching yourself smoke- and having a totally sexual reaction, right up
through an orgasm- while you're standing up and you're not touching yourself."
   "Like a waking wet dream ?" Adam asked.
   "Exactly."
   Helen had honestly meant to tell Eileen about Darcy, but now she felt a pang
of jealousy. Darcy had never treated her  that way, after all.
   Elisa's knowing smile made the decision for her. She picked up her universal
remote, pointed it at the old Performa that she used for house management, and
dimmed the lights. She also dropped the level of the music, muting Ruiner to
barely audible levels. 
   "I'll need a little quiet for the next few minutes, if that's okay with
everyone."
   They admitted it would be by saying nothing. Helen finished her cigarette and
immediately lit another, mildly regretting that it would not be hers. Although
she had turned the heat up to 68, it felt colder in the room suddenly. Which
was to be expected. Looking at the dark faces, illuminated only by burning
cigarettes and the distant light over the sink in the kitchen, she could see
clearly that they felt it as well.
   But it wasn't a pall which had descended on the group. There was only
expectation.
   She placed the cigarette in the ashtray nearest her and stepped back. Would
Darcy show herself to so many people ?
   Helen thought she just might, and that would be fine after all.
   For a long time nothing happened. But it was obvious to everyone that
something about the room was different. Of that there could be no question.
That something was going to happen. Only Elisa seemed to be somehow above the
action, and her look was less anticipation than certainty.
   Finally, it moved. Fractionally at first, then more steadily, rising upwards,
held straight out, parallel to the floor. Although they couldn't see the hand
moving the cigarette, they all knew a perfect hold when they saw one, and
perfect was the only word for. Then the tip flared orange and there was a
sound which accompanied this, a satisfied inhalation.
   Smoke trailed out from nowhere. It was a magical thing to watch, the cloud of
it thick, backlit by the cigarette itself. Everyone who was smoking
immediately drew on their own cigarettes and Helen gave in to the undeniable
urge to light one herself. But that was the least of it. Eileen lit a
cigarette at the same time, and Darla put her hand on her daughter's arm and
gave a barely visible nod.
   As Darcy drew on her cigarette again, Robyn lit one of the many cigarettes
she'd smoked or would smoke in this wonderful house. As a second inhale framed
an ethereal face, Kristen reached for Maureen's box of Marlboro Lights 100s
and extracted one with her long beautiful fingers. While she was lighting it,
Brandy handed her cigarette to Adam, who drew deeply on it.
   For her.
   The cigarette and the ghostly, half-visible body moved away from the table,
to stand behind Elisa.
   "This is who we are," the ghost said.

   Brandy reached across the stick and gently caressed Adam's smooth face. She
twined her fingers through his short goatee.
   She then brought her cigarette to her mouth, held it there, and inhaled so
deeply that Adam though he might just have an accident although the car was
most definitely parked. Her exhale was part show, part pleasure, and total
spontaneous. Smoke poured from her ample lips, leaving the cabin filled with
the sweet smell.
   "You really thought about me all day, Adam ?"
   "You are beautiful, you know."
   "And so are you. I can't believe that you thought you were weird for finding
me attractive because I smoke."
   "But it wasn't that you smoked," he said. "It was that I thought  you smoked.
I was imagining the possibility-"
   "And I really, really like you for that."
   He reached up, took her hand in his. She drew on the cigarette again, making
him smile. This time she treated him to a sumptuous nose exhale. The smoke
streamed from her nostrils in endless volumes.
   "What about this thing with you and your mom ?"
   "I'm going to work on it. I want to invite you over for dinner and watch two
beautiful women smoke at once. But not until-"
   She inhaled again.
   "Not until what ?"
   She held the smoke in her lungs until she'd engaged him in deep kiss, during
which she shared her smoke with him.
   "Until I'm sure that you're mine."
   Her free hand drifted far from his face and he found the courage to move one
of his between her legs. He surprised himself by undoing her button fly with a
minimal amount of awkwardness. As he allowed his fingers to drift inside the
gentle lines of her cotton panties and she slowly stroked his swelling penis,
he doubted that would be a problem at all.
   They kissed again after another deep inhale and he knew that if she asked-
and he expected she would- he would gladly taking up smoking himself.
   For her.

   Robyn did not retreat to her room when the therapy session was over. It was
after ten and mom would be ready to turn in soon, but she settled down on the
couch. She placed her purse on the table and waited. After all they had seen
tonight, all they'd experienced, she had reason to hope.
   Her mother walked in from the kitchen, carrying two glasses of white wine. It
would be the first drink she had all evening, and white wine was something mom
saved for when she was happy.
   She'd certainly never offered any to Robyn before. But she handed over the
glass without comment.
   "What a night."
   She then took her Virginia Slims out of her purse and lit one.
   "I'm surprised you weren't scared shitless, you know. Or did you know. You'd
spent a lot of time in that house-"
   "I had no idea, mom. I was as shocked as the rest of you. Even more shocked
when we actually continued with the therapy after it was over."
   "You must be wondering if I've made my mind up," Darla finally said, after
another full inhale.
   "I don't want to smoke in the house unless you really want me to, Mom."
   Darla thought about it, inhaled again, allowed herself a long nose and mouth
exhale which felt luxurious. Even now, after all these years, there was the
occasional forbiddeness of smoking which she still enjoyed. That was something
she didn't want Robyn to miss, but at this point wouldn't that be nothing more
than a charade ?
   "I- you know, watching you smoke I see myself at your age. I remember way
back then. The simple joy of lighting a cigarette in a private place,
forgetting for six or seven minutes that your parents might object or some of
your friends had stopped hanging out with you because they couldn't get passed
your smoking- and being able to realise that real friends don't hold it
against you."
   "We could be friends that way, Mom."
   "I know. That's what makes me want to let you smoke. But the part of me which
is a mother says that I'm not ready to be your friend yet."
   Robyn cleared her throat and forced ahead, taking a long sip of wine for
courage.
   "Don't take the wrong way, Mom, but you could use some friends right now."
   "I know," Darla said, and suddenly they were hugging patiently. Finally she
broke the embrace.
   "I guess it's time to give up the mom shtick and try the two of us being
human beings. Go ahead."
   Robyn didn't need any more encouragement than that. Her cigarette was out of
the pack and lit with a speed that told Darla there'd be no going back on her
decision. As she watched Robyn's first sanctioned exhale in the house, she
decided that she was glad for that.
   
   Eileen and Helen were lying in bed together, smoking a common cigarette. For
a long time- the space of two other cigarettes, neither had spoken.
   Finally Helen broke what had been a surprisingly easy silence.
   "I can't believe that you didn't tell me-"
   "That mom caught me smoking or that Darcy- well, you know-" 
   She drew on the cigarette and handed it to her sister, waiting to exhale
until her sister was ready to as well. They bathed themselves in smoke.
   "Both, but Darcy mostly. I'm jealous."
   "Oh, you aren't the type. You never even masturbate, do you ?"
   Helen had to smile as she said, "No, I write instead. Don't have time for
both, and writing is easier."
   Eileen slid her hand down past her sister's thigh, rounded the top of her
leg, stopping just short of actually touching anything private.
   "I'm sorry I didn't tell you. But it was a little weird." She handed the
cigarette back to Helen, who pulled on it and exhaled, glad they were spending
this time together. It was like when they were kids, and no one thought twice
about them sharing a bed- they would talk about boys and their parents and
school until one in the morning and not care that they would be bone tired
when the alarm rang at six in the morning.
   "I'm just glad that your curiosity about smoking has developed into something
entirely positive. If you'd told me two months ago that both of us would be
lying in this bed sharing a cigarette, I wouldn't have believed it. I just
wish Elisa had told me about Darcy."
   "Well, she did say that it was a patient confidentiality issue."
   Eileen took the half-smoked cigarette and drew deeply on it.
   "I didn't know that extended to dead patients. But she told me that she'd go
into in greater detail in my next session. Not that I really feel like I need
it anymore."
   Eileen handed the cigarette back. Helen drew on it, exhaled, and then lit
another.
   "I know what you mean, though," her sister said. "I felt it even before I - I
don't know- met Darcy. This house. I mean, I already enjoying smoking, but
it's different here. Special."
   "That's right. But it's still good everywhere else. That's what I was having
trouble with. But I think I'll keep going to Elisa for a while. After all, I
like her."
   "I can see why. She's very supportive."
   Helen held the cigarette out and away from Eileen and then hugged her,
enjoying the almost foreign feel of naked skin against her. 
   "So are you, little sister. So are you. Thanks for coming."
   Eileen reached up, took the cigarette from her sister, and drew on it deeply.
   "Thanks for smoking. I never would have started without you."
   "I don't suppose this means you'll let your rich sister off easy at Christmas
time, does it ?'
   They both laughed.

   Maureen was lying naked on the bed, a freshly lit cigarette in her right
hand. As she brought it slowly to her mouth, Kristen came out of the bathroom.
In her left hand she was holding her first pack of cigarettes, bought at CVS
just half an hour ago. In her right hand she was holding a cigarette of her
own.
   She was wearing a black leather bra and tight leather panties, which Maureen
had given her- to some extent- as a gag gift.
   The bra was pressing her breasts up tightly, making her appear even more
buxom than usual. Maureen had expected that she'd look a little sheepish, or
even foolish, in the Victoria's Secret leatherwear. The gear was more along
typical male fantasies and not really either of their styles.
   Although watching the supple way Kristen moved changed that somewhat. She
drew deeply on the cigarette, not pretending, but actually smoking it. She was
taking to smoking quickly and completely, for which Maureen could only love
her more.
   She took only two steps forward and then stopped.
   "I'd like to watch you, while you watch me," Kristen said, and Maureen
understood. She let her hand wander down the length of her torso, stopping
briefly to massage her left nipple before drifting down to her midsection. She
paused at her belly button, tracing tight circles which tickled. That tickling
was arousing- it was one of Kristen's favourite things to do when Maureen was
upset with her. You could never stay mad at someone who knew how to tickle
you.
   Maureen's hand continued downward. The two lovers drew on their cigarettes
together and then Maureen began to masturbate, slowly, erotically, making the
experience last both because it was enjoyable and because Kristen was
obviously enjoying watching. They were both finished with their cigarettes by
the time that Maureen had her orgasm.
   As quickly as it was over Kristen was on top of her, the supple leather
feeling good pressed against her naked breasts. They engaged in a deep, long-
lasting kiss and then Kristen rolled over next to her lover, breathing hard.
They lay pressed up against one another for some time, neither speaking, just
enjoying one another's warmth.
   "You know," she said as she sat up again and drew another cigarette from her
pack, "this stuff is really tight. I think I'm going to need help taking it
off."
   Kristen turned her wrist back, moved her hand down to Maureen's mouth, and
let her draw deeply on the cigarette. As soon as she had, Kristen moved the
cigarette back to her own mouth and inhaled again.
   As Maureen exhaled, a slow smile crept across her face.
   "I was counting on it."
   They shared another kiss, Maureen reveling in the taste of smoke on Kristen's
tongue.
   She decided then and there that therapy was  a good thing.
   
    



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