The Cameo, Part 1

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 13 January 1997)


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From: an4@anon.lelnet.com
Newsgroups: alt.smokers.glamour
Subject: The Cameo, Part 1
Date: 12 Jan 1997 16:09:58 GMT
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   Sarah was sitting on the couch in the living room, holding a copy of
Wuthering Heights in her hand and wondering why she had taken it out of the
library just before the end of school today. It wasn't on her syllabus for AP
Lit, but here it was nevertheless, the sort of novel she usually had little
interest in.
   The fact was that like everyone else in the Juniors Honors path, she already
had more than a full plate of schoolwork.
   She put the book down for a moment, leaned forward, and took a Marlboro
Lights 100 from the box, admiring its long clean white shape. A faint rush of
excitement flooded through her. The thought of lighting it was- it was
strange somehow. She didn't understand why the anticipation was such a strong
emotion.
   Her free hand went to the cameo hanging around her neck. It had been her
great-grandmother's once, a very long time ago. She had passed it down to her
daughter, who had replicated the process. As had hers. Sarah was the fourth
generation of Macdonough to wear it. Mom had just given it to her last week
on her sixteenth birthday, but it already felt as though it had always been
there on its polished silver chain.
   At first, Sarah had thought it was altogether too frumpy for her. But it had
grown on her quite a bit.
   She picked up the lighter slowly, savouring the anticipation. The cigarette
would taste so good- feel so good- that it was hard to be patient. But she
knew that patience would be rewarded.
   Finally her thumb worked the wheel of the lighter. Flame jumped up from it
and the cigarette caught easily. She inhaled deeply, letting the smoke fill
her lungs until there she felt faintly light headed.
   For a moment she simply sat and smoked, enjoying the way it relaxed her.
   Then she picked up the novel and began reading. It was only a few minutes
before her mother came through the front door but by then she was lost in the
story.
   "Sarah Amanda, what are you doing ?" her mother demanded, sounding anything
but happy to see her only daughter.
   The tone of her mother's voice was so surprisingly angry that Sarah was
taken aback.
   "What do mean, Mom ?" she asked.
   "I mean, what are you doing sitting there smoking a cigarette is what I mean
!"
   Ironically, she punctuated the outburst by taking an angry drag on her own
cigarette. She managed to look angry even as she was exhaling. The smoke
seemed to travel on an high, hot wind.
   Confused, Sarah tapped the ash from her cigarette into the ashtray. "Come
on, Mom, I've been smoking for-"
   Strangely, she couldn't remember when it was that she had started smoking.
Or why.
   "I mean, you know I smoke-"
   "I do now !" her mom said, still upset. Even angry, she looked amazing in
her business suit. It was hard to believe that she was going to turn 42 next
week. She took another drag on her own cigarette, and for one brief instant
the anger faded away and something close to a smile snuck across her lips.
But it didn't last.
   She dropped her briefcase, a sure sign of agitation. That briefcase was one
of her prized possessions. The only thing she'd gotten in the divorce- not
that she'd needed anything with the way Macdonough Multimedia was growing.
   "I don't remember giving you permission to start smoking, young lady."
   Sarah sighed and put the cigarette out with a strong pang of regret. It
really bothered her that she'd upset Mom this way.
   "I'm sorry, Mom. I just-"
   The problem was that Sarah wasn't sure at all what she 'just'.
   Her mom walked from the hallway to the living room and sat down next to
Sarah, stubbing her own cigarette out in the ashtray. Her hand strayed to
Sarah's pack and she lifted it from the table, almost smiling again. They
smoked the same brand and Sarah could almost see what she was thinking.
   I know where she got this from.
   "How long ?"
   "I just got home twenty minutes ago."
   That got a slight laugh from Mom. "No, I mean, how long have you been
smoking-" She paused and then added "-behind my back ?"
   "I wasn't doing it behind your back- I-"
   Sarah began to feel a certain sense of dislocation. She knew that her mother
was right, that this was something new, but it didn't seem new, anymore than
it seemed odd that she couldn't remember buying that first pack of
cigarettes-	
   When ? A week ago ? That seemed about right.
   "Why did you start ?" Mom asked, seeming to sense that the answer to the
first question wasn't coming.
   "The same reason you did, I suppose," Sarah answered. It was almost the
truth. Being perfectly honest, she couldn't remember what had made her start,
but it had to be for the same reasons that her Mom had smoking when  she  was
16.
   "I doubt it," Mom said. This time her smile was genuine, and she seemed to
be relaxing a little. "Greg Harrigan is 43 years old now. I certainly hope
he's not why you started smoking."
   She opened the flip top, extracted one of the cigarettes without asking-
although Sarah had a feeling they weren't hers anymore- and lit it casually.
Sat back on couch. There was a far away look in her eyes.	
   "Tell me you didn't start smoking because of a boy-"
   Sarah experienced a certain amount of jealousy watching her Mom light the
cigarette from her pack. It was intensified by the obvious enjoyment it
brought her.
   "No, Mom. I didn't start because of a boy."
   "Well, that's good to hear, at least. But there's to be no more smoking
behind my back."
   Sarah's heart fell. She wasn't even sure why, but the thought of not being
able to smoke was extremely depressing. Her mom read the look and
surprisingly, she smiled. Sarah relaxed a fraction. She'd expected to be
punished. If there was one thing Mom insisted on, it was an open line of
communication. No secrets- and this was almost a lie, wasn't it ?
   Escaping a grounding was something to be happy about.
   "So," Mom continued, "you'll just have to smoke right in front of me." She
handed the pack back to her shocked daughter and received a world class hug.
   "Do you mean it ?"
   She'd always loved the smell of her mother. Faint perfume, some sort of
understated musk, and the sweet aroma of tobacco. It was a comforting thing,
that smell, and it had never been more perfect.
   "I started when I was your age. I always knew it would happen eventually,
just not so soon. You're not my little girl anymore. Next you'll want to
start drinking coffee."
   "Coffee ?" Sarah asked, disengaging.
   "Go ahead," Mom said. "I want to watch my daughter smoke. Just to make sure
you're doing it properly."
   Sarah did as she was told, never in her life so happy to obey her mom. She
took a cigarette from the pack and lit it with ease. Saw the look of approval
in her mother's eyes, which she thought was strange. She hadn't actually
given any thought to how this would all work out until this afternoon and now
she realised that it had gone better than she possibly could have imagined.
She took a long drag on the cigarette, exhaled slowly. Diana watched the way
her daughter brought the cigarette away from her lips and held it upright by
her right ear, her elbow cocked at a ninety degree angle. She was a natural.
   "Coffee ?" Sarah asked again.
   "Honey, there is nothing in this world better than a cup of coffee and a
cigarette. For pure satisfaction- well, at least at your age-"
   "Mom-" Sarah, said teasing just a little.
   She unconsciously fingered the cameo and smiled, amazed at how well
everything was working out.
   Mom at looked at the novel sitting on the table. "Wuthering Heights. I read
that when you were my age. It's still my favourite. Are you reading it for
class ?"
   "No," Sarah answered, not worried anymore about why she'd taken it from the
library. "Just for fun."


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