Casual Sex, Part 1

(by, 21 October 2002)

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Casual Sex
Part 1 of 2

Faith woke up. At least she thought she was awake. She looked over to the 
nightstand and the red LED on the clock said 6:04. Her mouth was dry and her 
entire body felt like it was slowly moving while she was lying still.
    She didn't remember coming home last night. 
    'God, I must have been drunk,' she thought to herself. Very drunk. More 
drunk than she had been at any time- even college. She had an horrible 
thought- that maybe she had driven home after- had they really closed the bar 
    She rolled out of bed. There was a strange smell in the bedroom that at 
first she couldn't quite place. It was odd, out of place, something very 
different. She looked back to the nightstand and saw-
    An ashtray and a pack of Marlboro Lights 100s. In the ashtray there was a 
single cigarette butt and some ash. There was a yellow sticky on the pack.
    She pulled the sticky off the pack.
    'You were enjoying these so much I thought I'd let you keep them,' was 
written on the note in Elisa's small, beautiful script. It was punctuated 
with a smiley face.
    'Was I smoking last night ? No.'
    Now she smelled something else. Coffee. Did I already get up ? she 
wondered. The she caught a glimpse of herself in the full-length mirror. She 
was naked, and that brought a wave of embarrassment. Elisa must have brought 
her home and undressed her. That made her feel better and worse- at least she 
hadn't driven home but she'd been so drunk someone else had to undress her.
    And she'd been smoking.
    She threw on a t-shirt, panties, and shorts, and picked up the ashtray, 
the cigarettes and the lighter. She was going to toss them in the waste 
basket in the kitchen. She wasn't sure why Elisa thought she would want to 
smoke now that she was sober, but she didn't care, either.
    When she reached the kitchen downstairs she noticed another larger note 
from Elisa by the coffeemaker. 'Hey, hon. I took the liberty of firing up the 
coffee maker before I left. This coffee is a few hours old but it should make 
you feel a little bit better. You should really get one of those coffee 
makers with the built in timer.
    Oh, and before you throw out those cigarettes I left for you, don't 
forget that a cigarette or two this morning will wipe that hangover away. I'm 
sure you remember that from your senior year of high school, but just in case-
    I'll swing by at eight to pick you up- your car is safe at work where you 
left it.
    The note was punctuated with another smiley face.
    Faith was dumbstruck. She hadn't told anyone that she smoked in high 
school- the memory was so distant that she had all but forgotten that fact 
herself. The thought that she had not only smoked last night but that she had 
revealed that secret-
    Then again, she was better friends with Elisa than she had been with a
nyone she'd met since finishing college three years ago.
    Smoking away an hangover. Yes, she'd done that a few times in high 
school. Not like this, not standing in the kitchen of the house she'd grown 
up in. But walking to school, taking the back way through the woods so no one 
her parents knew would see her. She's spent that last year of high school 
smoking and her parents had never known because they smoked and they took it 
for granted that her clothes were smoky, that sometimes even her hair and 
skin smelled faintly of smoke. Mom had asked a few times but Faith's denials 
had always fooled her.
    Or she blamed Martha and Emma, the English twins. They had been her best 
friends. She would spend hours at their house, talking about the Brontes and 
Austin and all the novels that she had loved so much. Mr. And Mrs. Haverland 
had allowed the twins to smoke 'as much as they liked' and more than once 
Faith had smoked along with them. It was the only time that she smoked 
unselfconsciously around adults- until last night, apparently. She put the 
pack down, no longer sure she just wanted to toss them out. She poured coffee 
into a mug that her mother had given her for Christmas- the message under the 
glaze said 'Mom's Little Girl' in bright yellow letters.
    She added cream and sugar and walked into the study. Her diaries, started 
when she was a freshman in high school, stood in a row on one shelf. She 
pulled 'Senior Year' down and went back into the kitchen. There was the pack 
of cigarettes sitting by the coffee maker. She felt an old familiar urge to 
pick that pack up, take out one of the cigarettes and smoke it.
    Instead, she opened the diary and turned to an entry that she did her 
best to tell herself she truly had forgotten.
    '18 September'. She'd picked that method of dating entries up from the 
twins. 'Well, I finally did it, diary. On the way to school this morning I 
stopped at Bishops and bought a pack of cigarettes. All summer the twins have 
been nagging at me to 'give smoking a go' as they put it and I have 
resisted. But I had a dream last night. I went to visit Josephine at Vassar- 
as if- and I was smoking. That's all I really remember, sitting with Sis and 
smoking cigarettes. I felt as though I must try it.
    And I have. It was hours and hours ago now, the walk home from school, 
but I can still taste the sweetness of the smoke and I must say I should have 
listened to Emma and Martha.'
    The sweetness of the smoke. Memory was a wonderful thing sometimes. She 
took a cigarette from the pack and lit it.
    The smoke was every bit as sweet as she now remembered it being. She drew 
deeply on the cigarette and the hangover did seem to fade slightly.
    That was when the phone rang. Absurdly she thought to stub the cigarette 
out, but why ? Instead, she drew on it again, trimmed the square ash round, 
and put down her coffee to pick the phone up.
    'Hello ?'
    'Sweety. It's mom.'
    As if anyone else would dare call her Sweety.
    'Listen, I decided to take Josephine up on her offer to come visit for 
the weekend. Your father decided to stay over in Birmingham until Sunday 
night so I have some free time. I was wondering if you wanted to drive up 
after work and meet us for dinner and then stay over. Bring a friend- I'm 
    'You know I just broke up with Stephen two days ago, right ? I won't be 
bringing a date-'
    'Yes, dear. I wouldn't expect you to have a new boyfriend two days after 
breaking up with Steve unless you'd taken him back. Bring that friend from 
work you're always talking about, Elisa. We'll meet at the Standish Inn.'
    'All right, what time ?'
    'Sevenish ?'
    Suddenly Faith had to know something.
    'Mom, can I ask you a question ?'
    'Of course, hon. Is everything all right ?'
    'Sure,' Faith said, lifted the receiver up so she could take a drag on 
the cigarette. The pause was just long enough to still be natural. 'Did you 
know that I was smoking my senior year of high school ?'
    'Of course, honey. You didn't think we believed your excuses, did you ?'
    'Why do you ask ?'
    'Oh, I was just thinking about getting together with you and Josephine 
and you two smoking all night-'
    'We could refrain if it really bothers you.'
    'No, Elisa smokes too. I was just wondering why you never said anything 
about it. You gave Josephine an hard time when you found out she smoked-'
    'She was older than you and we thought if she started smoking so would 
you. But by the time she was in college she'd been smoking for four years and 
we'd gotten used to having a daughter that smoked. We thought that if you 
wanted to really be a smoker that you would come out of the closet. We 
decided not to encourage you, that you might grow out of it. And you did.'
    'Yes, I did.'
    'Look, I have to run, but I'll see you tonight, okay ? Love you.'
    Faith told her she loved her too and hung up the phone.
    It was seven-thirty and Elisa would be round in half an hour. Faith knew 
she should be in the shower but she wanted-
    Another cigarette.
    She could put her hair in a pony tail. That would save about five 
minutes, which is how long it would take her to smoke another cigarette. 
    After that, thought, she would toss the pack in the trash, shower- 
carefully to soap away the smell of the smoke, to use conditioner on her 
hair, and proceed to forget that she had spent part of last night and this 
morning smoking as she had for nine months or so when she was younger. 
However, as she lit the cigarette and drew deeply on it, she wasn't thinking 
about throwing out the pack anymore.

    Elisa tried to decide what she was going to smoke today. She looked at 
the two cartons of cigarettes on her dresser. Marlboro Lights 100s and 
Virginia Slims 120s. 
    'Do I feel like being elegant or merely stylish ?' she asked the mirror.
    She smiled at the reflection. 'Of course, both.'
    She took the pack of Marlboro Lights 100s and put them in her purse. 
There was only room now for a lighter and a second pack. She opened the 
carton of VS 120s, took a pack from it, tore away the cellophane, and placed 
the cigarette in her mouth. She then did the same thing that she had done 
last night in Faith's bedroom- she watched herself in a mirror as she lit the 
cigarette and took the first long satisfying drag from it.
    Smoke hung in her mouth, twisting, frothing as she separated her lips. 
Her mouth was a vortex and the smoke trapped there was at her mercy. She 
closed her lips back down, pursing them in that seductive way that always 
turned heads- something she had learned from the only girlfriend she had ever 
had, during her brief flirtation with bi-sexuality.
    Last night. She thought about last night because it had been a coup. How 
long had she know Faith now ? Eighteen months maybe. When she had found out 
that Faith's mother and sister were both smokers, she had of course wondered 
if her friend also had a past with smoking. Faith's denials had always been 
lukewarm. Elisa had asked her four times, and while she had never said 'Not 
really,' each of her nos had been pretty unconvincing.
    Of course, the break-up with Steve had been her opportunity.
    It was amasing what you could do to someone when you got them drunk. 
Faith had never crossed that line with her before, but she was so depressed 
about Steve that Elisa had known beyond a doubt that last night was a night 
Faith would soldier on for as long as it took. 
    Disappointingly, she was closed-lipped even as a drunk, but she had 
finally at least told Elisa where the key to the kingdom was. 

The music was loud, penetrating, techno. Just at the threshold of what shook 
your insides physically. Sitting at Faith's right elbow was a tumbler 
half-full of scotch. Elisa leaned in, trimmed her cigarette in an ashtray 
that had been placed so that the smoke from Elisa's cigarette drifted 
directly into Faith's pretty young face. She was holding in her right hand.
    Sitting to the left of her friend, she brought her right arm around 
Faith's shoulder. Her hand and the cigarette came to rest so close to 
Faith's mouth that she need only move her head an inch to draw on the 
    'You're telling me that your mother smokes, that your sister smokes, and 
you never did ?'
    Faith turned to look at Elisa, her green eyes meeting Elisa's green ones. 
For the first time, she did not say no.
    Instead, she smiled, wrapped her left arm around Elisa's waist, and 
squeezed. 'Only my dairy knows the truth,' she said, not knowing that seven 
hours later she would learn differently.
    Elisa smiled back. She knew exactly where those diaries were.
    Faith turned her head, breaking the look.
    The cigarette was so close to her mouth. Her eyes went to it and memories 
came back to her. Cigarettes held in her own hand, smoke that had tasted so 
good in her mouth, felt so good as she allowed it to drift into her lungs. 
That slightly dizzy feeling that came when you held the smoke just a little 
too long and the oxygen to your brain faded to a memory.
    Elisa just left her hand there, not knowing if Faith would take advantage 
and not knowing what would happen if she did.
    The head moved fractionally. Her lips found the tip of the filter and 
embraced it. She drew deeply on it, pulling the smoke down into her lungs. 
She then moved off the cigarette, kept her mouth closed, and exhaled slowly 
through her nose, her neck arched back. It was a Kodak moment but Elisa 
didn't have a camera.
    In the end, that was the only smoking that Faith did, but it was enough.
    An hour later, Elisa had put a well-plastered Faith to bed. She then 
found an ashtray on the hutch- no doubt for when Mom or Sis came to visit. 
She was holding it in one hand as she read the diary. From the first day to 
the last, it was all there in the one diary with the label of 'Senior Year 
High School' on the spine. She skimmed it, got enough for her needs and went 
upstairs, where she smoked one cigarette. She wrote two notes, and her 
mission complete, left the house with a smile on her face.

    Steve sat up and watched as Tasha drew a long white cigarette from the 
pack of Virginia Slims. There was a look on his face which Tasha didn't 
especially like, but she lit the cigarette and drew on it, enjoying a moment 
of pure post-coital bliss.
    'You know the rules, Steve. After we have sex, I smoke. Just because you 
quit- again- while you were seeing Faith-'
    'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that.'
    'Well, you should be sorry. Look, we need to have a serious conversation 
about what we're doing here.'
    'Having casual sex ?' Steve asked.
    'Yes. I don't want to have casual sex anymore. I want to go back to the 
way things were. So first of all, you are going to start smoking again.'
    'I'm not smoking those VS 120s.'
    'Of course not,' Tasha said. 'I may look gorgeous smoking them, but 
you'd just look silly.' She put her cigarette down in the ashtray and pulled 
a new pack of Marlboro Lights 100s out of her purse. She'd already pulled the 
cellophane off the pack- in fact, she'd smoked one on the way over, enjoying 
the different taste of her other favourite cigarette.
    She pulled the second cigarette out of the pack and lit it.
    Taking a deep pull, she exhaled through her nose and then moved her hand 
over his mouth. He parted his lips and accepted the cigarette.
    He took the cigarette from her and she retrieved her own.
    'All right, now we can have a serious conversation.'
    'I don't like the sound of that,' Steve said.
    'Trust me when I say it's overdue, lover. In the year since we broke up, 
each of us has had three relationships. And every one of them have ended the 
same way- with our boyfriend or girlfriend finding out that you and I are 
still sleeping with each other.'
    'I have noticed that.'
    Tasha trimmed, inhaled, exhaled.
    'Have you thought about why ?'
    Steve enjoyed his cigarette for a moment, watching Tasha smoke as well. 
There was nothing quite the way Tasha surrendered herself to the pure act of 
smoking. She never seemed to do it out of habit. Every inhale was measured. 
Every exhale was sculpted, like the nose exhale she was in the middle of when 
he spoke again.
    'I guess saying that we enjoy it isn't an answer.'
    'No, we can't.'
'Have you considered that part of the reason we keep coming back to one 
another this way is because the sense that we are doing something wrong adds 
a little excitement to the sex ? Our relationship didn't work- and if I 
remember right, you were the one that the broke it off- when I asked you to 
move in with me- into the house I bought thinking- well-'
'That was a year ago, Steve. I'd only been here eighteen months. I didn't 
even know if I was planning on staying in the states.'
'You're making excuses.'
Tasha trimmed again. The cigarette was already half smoked and she'd promised 
herself when she lit it that she would get this done in the length of time it 
took her to smoke it. She drew on it for courage and enjoyment, savouring the 
smoke and speaking as she exhaled.
'You're right. I was afraid. I'm not now. And I do think that maybe you and 
I are two people who need the rush of being unfaithful. If that's the case, 
so be it. We can't really have true affairs until after, well-'
She reached into her small purse- between the two packs of cigarettes and the 
box, there hadn't been room for anything else. She cracked open the top of 
the small box with one hand as she'd practiced because she knew she would be 
smoking when this moment came.
'Steve, will you marry me ?'
    'That was fast-' he said, a little shocked. 'You realise that 
practically in the same breath you're asking me to get married and saying 
that you don't mind if we cheat on one another ?'
    'I might not mind, luv. But I'm saying that I'd rather you cheated on me 
with someone else that with me on someone else. I'm tired of being the other 
woman. I want to be the woman.'
    'You are. And yes, I'll marry you.'
    Tasha threw her arms around him and kissed him hard, her mouth still full 
of smoke. When they broke the kiss, their noses were still touching and she 
was looking directly into his beautiful brown eyes. They were moist with 
tears. 'Call in sick. I made reservations for us at a place up north- a 
little bed and breakfast a friend of mine owns. We're going to celebrate.'
    'You had this all planned,' Steve said.
    'Of course.'
    'What was your plan if I said no ?' he asked.
    'I had an hold on a ticket back to London. I'd have given my two weeks 
today and that would be that.'
    'And you didn't tell me that ?'
    Tasha sat back, took one long last drag on the cigarette and stubbed it 
out. 'I didn't want you making the decision with a gun to your head, lover. 
That's the problem with you men. You think women are manipulative but the 
truth is I wanted you to make the decision for the right reason. She slid her 
hand up the inside of his thigh and encountered his swelling penis.
    'Getting engaged has made you horny.'
    'I don't suppose maybe I could hope for a blow job out of this ? After 
doing the right thing and all that ?'
    She glided down along the length of his chest, grasped his shaft with her 
hand and slid the head into her mouth.
    'I guess that would be a yes,' he said, and moaned.

    Elisa rang the doorbell at seven before eight. She wanted to be early and 
surprise Faith, to see what she'd been doing- assuming she was actually up 
and about after last night. There was a short delay and then the door swung 
open. Elisa took a deep, measured draw on her cigarette and exhaled after 
opening the storm door so that the smoke drifted into the house, straight at 
    She didn't try to move away.
    'I'm almost ready. I just have to grab my shoes. I'll be right back. 
Come on in.'
    Faith dashed up the stairs. Elisa walked into the house and turned into 
the kitchen. She saw the ashtray right away and the cigarette butts in it.
    'Excellent.' She said quietly.
    Faith was as good as her word. She re-appeared almost immediately, feet 
    'Ready ?' Elisa said, smiling.
    She saw the guilty glance Faith made in the direction of the ashtray. 
Then her friend scooped up her purse.
    'Do you have your smokes in there ?' Elisa asked.
    Faith dodged the question. 'Well, I already showered, so-'
    'And you're going to be in my car with me smoking for the next forty 
minutes. You'll be just as smoky when you get to work if you don't smoke as 
if you do. Might just as well enjoy yourself.'
    They walked out of the house.
    'Speaking of being in the car for a while,' Faith said, avoiding smoking 
again, 'I have- well, this is kind of a weird question- especially after last 
    Elisa stopped, put her hand on Faith's bare arm. Her skin was soft and 
warm and Elisa stepped close enough to smell Faith's shampoo. She had the 
clean morning scent of a woman that could drive a person to distraction. Her 
long red hair was dancing in the wind and the look of contrition in her eyes 
was enough to make Elisa a little bit wet.
    'Don't you dare apologise for last night. It was nice to see you finally 
relax and enjoy yourself. You deserved it after-'
    She stopped there to avoid being cruel.
    'I can't believe I told you I smoked. I never told anyone who didn't 
already know. And this morning I admitted to my mom that I smoked in high 
school, too. It was- a relief.'
    'Honesty can be contagious. Did you tell her that you've started up 
again ?'
    'I don't know that I have,' Faith lied.
    Elisa stroked Faith's arm, not exactly sure why or what she was feeling 
but enjoying it nonetheless. It was probably just the thrill of having 
corrupted sweet little Faith that-
    No, that was jealousy, Elisa thought, pushing it back. And the guys at 
work that-
    She arrested those thoughts.
    'You were going to ask me something-'
    'I'm going up north to meet my mom and sister-'
    'So you decided to go.'
    'Yeah, I think I'll take half a day and well, I was wondering if you 
wanted to go with me. It was Mom's idea, actually. We already have '" I 
already have- a room- mom made the reservation- and, well, we'd have to share 
a bed but-'
    Thank you, Mom, Elisa thought.
    '- it's really beautiful up there this time of year and there's lots of 
    'I'd love to go,' Elisa said, punctuating the answer with a long draw on 
her cigarette followed by a sculpted nose exhale.
    'On one condition.'
    'Let me guess. You want me to light up.'
    'You know it- now, during the drive, and I fully expect you to join 
Giselle and I on our smoking breaks this morning. If you're going to be 
hanging out with three other smokers this weekend-'
    'I don't know if I want to smoke in front of my family-'
    Elisa squeezed her hand.
    'I do.'

    Giselle could not believe that Faith was joining them on a smoking break. 
The truth was Giselle had mixed feelings about Faith. She was nice enough, 
but a little too squeaky-clean and wholesome. She never swore, or flirted, 
and she rarely went out with the rest of them, although she'd heard from 
Elisa how she'd tied one on last night.
    It was funny how a woman like Faith could-
    All the guys in the office- well, guys were cruel, but predictable. Faith 
had no idea the things they said behind her back, things Giselle heard 
because although she was every bit as attractive as Faith, she was seen as 
one of the guys. That the problem when you actually socialized with the male 
animal. They either mistook your friendliness as a come on or they treated 
you like their sister. Once Giselle made it clear she did not date in the 
    Faith was the office obsession. That gorgeous red hair, her petite frame 
highlighted by breasts that hung in a tight pert orbit most women needed a 
wonder-bra to obtain. The way she wiggled her ass when she walked without 
knowing it and of course, her aloofness with the men had driven them to 
distraction. If she had a nickel for every time she heard how one of the guys 
wanted to bury their face in her hair, breast or crotch-
    And Faith suspected nothing.
    She decided she was glad Faith was coming out here behind the building 
about to light up- although she would believe it when she saw it-
    Jim Carson was out back, finishing his cigar.
    All three women sighed inside when they saw him. It might be the fact 
that his meteoric rise in the company to VP of Marketing was almost solely 
because his dad owned the company, it might be the way he drove his black 
Corvette slowly through the parking lot like it was the star attraction at an 
auto show. It might be the way he flirted with the women at the office like 
it was a harem.
    No, Elisa thought in parallel with the others, it was the hair plugs the 
twenty-seven year old thought no one knew about.
    'Hello, ladies,' Jim said, his voice professionally pleasant. He was, if 
nothing else, a great schmoozer.
    Giselle and Elisa lit up casually, but it was a windy morning and Faith 
had trouble catching a light.
    Jim had watched with amazement as Faith had pulled a long white cigarette 
out of the pack in her purse.
    'Here, let me,' Jim said, all too eager. He lit the cigarette deftly.
Faith leaned in and accepted the light.
    'I had no idea that you smoked, Faith.'
    'I'm full of surprises,' Faith said archly, smiling.
    'Like what ?' Jim said, turning on his best flirting voice. Giselle 
rolled her eyes.
    Elisa was standing next to Faith and without missing a beat, Faith 
slipped her arm around Elisa's waist. 
    'Elisa and I are going away for the week.'
    Jim's eyes nearly burst from his head.
    'You don't say-' he began, and then his cell-phone chirped. The regret 
on his face was obvious as he reached into his jacket pocket. 'Hold that 
But the call was important and without another word to them he stubbed the 
cigar out in the ashtray by the door and headed back inside. As soon as the 
door closed behind him the three women burst out laughing.
    'That was fucking hilarious,' Giselle said. 'But you know he's going to 
tell everyone-'
    'If it was anyone with a shred of credibility I'd be worried. But what 
if they do believe him ? I'm sick of the way the guys talk about me behind my 
    'You know about that ?' Giselle asked, amased.
    'Of course. They all thought that Steve must be doing something wrong 
that I never loosened up around them- that I was just waiting for the right 
guy to lay me the wood and loosen me up.'
    Elisa was in the act of inhaling and she laughed so hard her cigarette 
almost popped out of her mouth.
    'Can I be honest ?' Giselle asked. Faith trimmed, inhaled, exhaled 
through her nose and mouth together.
    'I kind of resent the way the guys-'
    'Why ? You made it clear that you don't date guys you work with ?'
    It was an innocent question for someone who had just debunked her own 
sexual power.
    'That's just a cover to keep guys like Jim at bay- not that it stops 
him. But it does cut down on the crap. Still, if Jason asked me out-'
    Faith smiled. 'If Jason invited all three of us to go back to his house 
to fuck we'd go, wouldn't we ?'
    No one could answer because of how hard they were laughing.
    'You have a whole other side to you, girl,' Giselle said. 
    Faith blushed.
    'And I like it.'
    'Seriously,' Elisa said, 'This isn't the first time Josh has come up in 
a discussion of ours. Why don't you just ask him out ?'
    'I'm waiting for him to ask me out.'
Elisa tapped ash from her cigarette, drew deeply on it, and expressed her 
frustration with a sharp angry exhale.
    'Goddamn it. It's like in we're back in high school here. The reason he 
won't ask you out is because you made it so very fucking clear that you 
don't date people you work with- and Josh is actually a nice guy. He won't 
ask you out.'
    'Oh, I don't know,' Giselle said, nodding abstractly. 'He doesn't even 
    'If he did, would that make the difference ?' Faith asked. Her mind was 
already spinning up a plan. She felt like the cigarette she was smoking was 
making her sharper somehow.
    'I suppose, but I guess I don't have to worry about that.'
    That was all that was said about Josh. The women finished their 
cigarettes and went back inside.

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