Casey: A Girl's Curiosity

(by, 06 September 2006)

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    Thirteen-year-old Casey Doyle waved goodbye one last time to her friend
Lindsay Whalen as Lindsay's mom pulled the car out of the driveway to the
apartment building where Casey lived. It was Friday evening and the two
girls had just finished soccer practice and Lindsay's mom was dropping Casey
off. Casey and Lindsay normally would have spent the night at one or the
other's house but Lindsay's parents had recently split up and Lindsay was
spending the weekend at her dad's new apartment.
    Casey hung out on the front porch of the apartment building for a few
minutes not really sure what to do. Her mom was at work and her older sister
Katie who was now sixteen was never home. Knowing that Lindsay wasn't going
to be around this weekend Casey had tried to make plans with some other
friends but none of them were around for one reason or another. She spent
about ten minutes sitting on the top step of the porch counting the number
of cars that drove by her apartment building to pass the time.
   Bored after a little while of this Casey decided to upload some more
songs to her I pod. She'd been writing down a list of songs she wanted to
add to the I Pod, which already had 650 songs. When she looked at her list
she was a little shocked; there were forty songs she wanted to add and she
hadn't realized she'd gotten this far behind in her downloading. She spent
about twenty minutes on a site called Morpheus, downloading the songs to her
computer, which she would then upload from her computer to her IPOD. As she
did this she carefully crossed out the songs on her list so that she
wouldn't upload some of them twice like one of her friends at school did.
She laughed and thought to herself "nothing worse than a sucky play list
that plays the same songs over and over because they're on the I pod ten
times" Casey was answering a friend's email in between checking to see if
her Morpheus downloads were working. She let out a big "Yes!" when she saw
that Avril Lavigne's cover of Metalica's classic song Fuel had completed
downloading. She'd been trying to get that song for a month but the download
kept failing. Now she had every song Avril had ever done, at least as far as
she knew of.
When she was finished she went into her room to brush her hair, as it was
still a little messy from soccer practice.
    While she was brushing her hair her face turned into a scowl because
she noticed a zit forming on the tip of her nose. Despite her minor
complexion problem, Casey was a blossoming beauty. Tall for her age, her
height of 5'7" gave her a huge advantage over her classmates athletically.
She was a devastating goal scorer for her soccer team and along with her
best friend Lindsay who was equally as talented their team had lost only
three games total since they were 9. Casey's long dirty blonde hair touched
the center of her back. She'd wondered occasionally what it would look like
dyed jet black. Lindsay had joked with her that she'd look like a female
version of that kid in The Omen movie because of her dark green eyes. Her
body was of an athletic build and while her breasts weren't as big as she'd
like them they were perky enough for many of the eighth grade boys to
notice. Up till now Casey hadn't dated anyone, as confident as she was in
her sports activities she was still shy around boys. She wondered sometimes
how her older sister Katie, seemed so at ease around them.
    Casey was still fretting over the zit when she remembered that Katie
used to have some Proactiv acne l cream that she'd use sometimes whenever an
ill timed pimple reared its ugly head. She wandered into Katie's room even
though Katie wasn't home Casey figured it'd be ok because the two sisters
always borrowed things from each other. She covered the pimple with the
cream and started to glance at a YM magazine that Katie had left open on her
    Bored after a few minutes she decided to go downstairs and get
something to eat when something caught her eye on the night table next to
Katie's bed.
     Casey stood there not moving for what seemed like an hour though it was
only thirty seconds. For some reason she peeked out Katie's window which
overlooked the driveway to make sure her mom hadn't come home unexpected even
though she knew her mom wasn't due for another four hours. Casey walked over
to the night table and picked up a pack of Newport 100s and held it in her
hand drumming her index and middle fingers on the flip top part of the box.
For a few seconds she playfully twirled the box in her fingers trying to see
how fast she could spin it without dropping it.
    She sat down on Katie's bed still holding the box wondering why her
sister smoked. It was about three years ago that Casey remembered coming
home from school one day and coming in the house and seeing Katie sitting in
the kitchen with a couple of friends. She immediately noticed that both of
Katie's friends were smoking but when she saw Katie holding a cigarette in
her hand as well she didn't quite know what to make of it. Smoking was
something grownups did or at least kids that were older like nineteen or
something. But Katie was thirteen and she seemed different that day hanging
with her new friends. She had never heard Katie swear before but now half
the words Katie and her friends said were swear words. But the other thing
that scared Casey a little that day was the way her sister was acting. Katie
was normally kind of quiet and nice but this day she was acting strange,
even a little mean. In fact the first thing she'd said to Casey was "if you
tell Mom about this you're gonna get your ass kicked"
    Casey didn't tell her mom, she didn't want to get Katie in trouble but
she was worried about her sister. People who smoked got cancer or lung
disease and all she could think about was the movie that she had seen in
school that explained the dangers of smoking and drugs. She remembered a
girl in the movie who was only 20 who had gotten sick from smoking and she
was worried that might happen to Katie. Plus smoking was nasty, it smelled
bad and it wasn't good if you were playing sports and Katie was a good
basketball player.
    Throughout the years Casey bugged Katie off and on about this.
Sometimes she would simply leave an anti-smoking pamphlet on Katie's bed
that she'd gotten at school. Other times she would just tell her sister she
shouldn't smoke so much. Sometimes though Casey would try to take things
into her own hands a little too much by stealing Katie's cigarettes and
throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet. Katie would respond to
this in a variety of ways but most of her responses usually involved a lot
of screaming and yelling and a couple of sister wrestling matches. One time
when Katie's cigarettes mysteriously disappeared the older sister had enough
and decided it was time to put her sister in her place Lighting two
cigarettes at once she marched into Casey's room and started blowing smoke
at her sister. This freaked Casey out because Casey hated the smell of smoke
and now her older sister was smoking in her room. Katie kept blowing smoke
in Casey's direction and even held one of the two cigarettes close to her
sister's face saying "here, fucking try it bitch, if you touch my
cigarettes again I'm gonna make you eat a whole pack" Most of the time
though things didn't get this drastic especially after Katie entered high
school and started spending less time at home because she was always out
with her friends. Still Casey hated that her sister smoked but after awhile
accepted that smoking was part of who her sister was. Still, given all of
this Casey wasn't sure why lately she'd been a little curious herself about
why so many people she knew were smoking. She noticed more kids in her
eighth grade class were smoking than last year. One girl on her soccer team
whose name was Laura was also smoking. Last fall Casey and Laura had been
the first two girls to get to soccer practice and Laura asked Casey if she
wanted to try one but Casey refused. She was the one of the best soccer
players maybe in the state and she knew her teammates relied on her. There
was no way she could do anything like that to her body and let her teammates
and her coach down.
    Casey opened the flip top lid and kept staring at what was in her hand.
There were four brown cork tipped cigarettes left in the box and for some
reason Casey's heart was pounding and she wasn't sure why. She put the box
back down on the night table and went downstairs and started to watch TV or
at least flipping through the channels. After five minutes she was back
upstairs; in Katie's room.
    "Maybe if I just hold one I'll see what everyone else sees in it" she
thought to herself. "I mean I'm not actually going to smoke, I'm in soccer
and it would ruin my running or something. Plus I mean after everything I
did to Katie" Still she took a cigarette out of the box and put it between
her index and middle fingers the same way she'd seen Katie and her friends
do it countless times. Her heart was pounding. She moved her wrist back and
forth as if to examine how the cigarette looked in her fingers from every
angle and even brought it to her nose to smell it. She felt like her heart
was trying to drum its way out of her chest.
    She brought the unlit cigarette to her mouth and took an exaggerated
drag and blew out pretend smoke. It was at that moment that she caught a
glimpse of herself in the mirror. She took another drag and held the unlit
cigarette in front of her the way Katie always did, with her elbow bent and
the cigarette at about the level of her chin. Casey was shocked at how
different she looked in the mirror even with an unlit cigarette she looked
so much older and not at all like a little kid. Her heart was almost
exploding into the walls of her chest.
    "If I just smoke one or have a few puffs to see what its all about that
doesn't mean I'm gonna start smoking or anything, I mean no way would I
smoke regular anyway cuz of soccer" she thought. No one was home, no one
would ever know. She searched around Katie's room there must be a lighter or
matches lying around somewhere. Casey searched for a few minutes and finally
found what she was looking for. Under a Ben Jelen poster that was strewn out
on Katie's computer table was a dark blue lighter.
    Casey went back in front of the mirror put the cigarette in her mouth
and just stood motionless with the lighter in her left hand. The first time
she tried to flick the lighter the flame went out almost before it even lit.
She tried again and this time the flame stayed lit and danced around near
the tip of her cigarette, which she purposely held the edge of the cigarette
just out of its reach. Finally she let the flame dance to her cigarette but
before it was fully lit it went out again.
    "Fuck" she said and flicked the lighter again. Her heart was pounding
and for the first time she felt her legs trembling a little. She flicked the
lighter and this time touched it immediately to the edge of the cigarette
and slightly pulled on it with her mouth and she could almost hear the
crackling of burning paper and tobacco, or maybe she imagined that.
"Ok lets frigging do this" she said. She put the cigarette to her lips and
began sucking but did not inhale. She could feel the smoke in her mouth and
caught a tinge of a minty flavor in the back of her throat. It tasted a
little funny but it was different than she thought. She blew out the smoke.
She held the cigarette in her hand staring at the lit end almost like she
was hypnotized. Her heart and her mind were both racing. She took another
drag this time watching herself in the mirror as she exhaled out a little
more slowly like she'd seen Katie and some of her friends do. A thought
flashed into her head. "Katie and her friends always look cool when they
smoke and I JUST looked like that" The thought was gone before she could
really figure out what it meant. She walked over to Katie's nightstand to
get the ashtray that was there and shook off the ash.
    She realized something as she was walking back to the mirror. She was
holding the cigarette in between her thumb and first finger. That was wrong,
she'd remembered seeing other people holding it between their index and
middle fingers. She held it that way and stared at the way she looked in the
mirror and smiled a little. She took a couple of more drags without inhaling
but each one she took a little more smoke in her mouth. One time she even
tried to blow a smoke ring the way she'd seen Katie and her friends do but
the smoke came out the same way all the time; in streams. . She was
completely oblivious to anything around her now; if her mom or Katie had
walked in she would have gotten caught red handed. But she was too excited
and mesmerized to care.
    She knew that her next step was to try and inhale but her mind was
racing. She had a soccer game the next morning. What if inhaling even one
puff caused her to be out of breath at tomorrow?s game and caused her team
to lose the game. For a split second she thought about putting out the
cigarette. "Whatever" Casey thought, "It's not like I'm actually gonna
start smoking after this so one puff isn't gonna matter anyway, I just wanna
see what its like" Casey put the cigarette to her lips and began to pull on
it but this time inhaled at the same time. Before she'd gotten even a
quarter of the way through her inhale she was on the floor coughing and
gagging. "FUCK! HOLY FUCK what the hell" she yelped in between coughs. She
could feel her forehead getting read from her coughing fit. Just as she was
calming down panic struck her.
   "Shit! The cigarette where the---" she did a half belly flop dive on
the floor to grab the cigarette which was lying on the floor and had just
started to burn a mark in the rug. She rubbed her shoe on the spot on the
rug and the black mark disappeared. Casey breathed a sigh of relief. That's
all she needed was to have a burn spot in the rug from her only smoking
She sat on the edge of the bed in front of the mirror and took a deep
breath. She thought to herself that people who smoked like Katie didn't go
into coughing fits so maybe she just did it wrong. After a few seconds she
thought to herself that maybe she should try inhaling again but to only
inhale a little this time just to see if that worked better. Plus if she
only inhaled a little it wouldn?t affect her soccer as much she reasoned to
    Her resolve intact Casey stood back in front of the mirror, elbow
cocked, cigarette in hand. She took a tiny drag and after holding the smoke
in her mouth for a second or two then inhaled a little and blew out the
smoke which she noticed bounced when it hit the mirror. She smiled.
    She took another drag, this one a little more than the last one. When
she inhaled this time she noticed something for the first time. When she
held the smoke inside her she could almost feel it swimming through her body
and into her brain giving her this calming feeling that she'd never felt
before. She blew out the smoke watching it bounce off the mirror. She
repeated this for four more drags, each inhale a little more satisfied than
the last and she was even feeling a little lightheaded which she thought was
kind of cool.
    When it was time for what she knew was going to be the last drag she
moved close to the mirror and held the cigarette in front of her so that it
almost touched its reflection in the mirror. She took one more drag, the
glow from the burning tip seemed to illuminate her reflection. She held the
smoke inside her a little longer than any other time and then slowly blew
out a steady stream at herself in the mirror and then butted out the
cigarette. She stood there for a minute, staring at the cigarette butt that
she?d just butted out in the ashtray. Her mind was racing wildly and even
though she didn?t realize it right then she was feeling the same euphoric
feeling that she got when she was scoring three or four goals in a game for
her soccer team.

    Casey took the blue lighter and put it back on Katie's table and went
back to look at herself in the mirror. She wasn't sure exactly why but there
was something very different about the way her reflection was looking back
at her. She looked at the clock and realized her mom would be home in a
little while so she went into the bathroom and brushed her teeth.

    Fifteen minutes later Casey was in the living room watching the latest
episode of One Tree Hill when she heard her mom come in. She could hear the
sound of keys hitting the table and the refrigerator opening.

    "Hi Mom" Casey said as her mom walked through the living room which
connected to her own room.
    "Hi honey, sorry I'm late, we'll just do take out tonight okay"
Melanie Doyle said as she shifted through some of the days mail.
    "Sure mom that's cool" Casey said
    "So how was your day hun" Melanie said. "Anything new in the world
of Casey??
   "Umm nope, nothin special here Mom, same old same old" said Casey
smiling although Melanie was too preoccupied with the mail to see that her
daughter was literally glowing.

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