Change of Heart (1997), Part 1

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 21 February 1997)


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Article 642 of alt.smokers.glamour:
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From: an4@anon.lelnet.com
Newsgroups: alt.smokers.glamour
Subject: Change of Heart, Part 1
Date: 21 Feb 1997 06:26:34 GMT
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   Cynthia saw her sister before she got off the train.
   It was like looking at a slightly older mirror image of herself. The long
brown hair. The slightly chubby cheek bones that made her face look oddly
pleasant, the only thin about her that wasn't thin. She was wearing
sunglasses, the black lens hiding crystal green eyes that were always vaguely
mocking yet not unkind. She was, of course, smoking a Marlboro Lights 100. 
   She was being watched by a twenty-something in a business suit, doubtlessly
on his way to the city for a job interview. He had that hungry look but part
of it was because he was trying to watch Rindi out of the corner of his eye.
   Cynthia's older sister brought the just lit cigarette back to her mouth.
Inhaled deeply. The man's eyes almost bulged.
   The exhale was completed as the cigarette came to rest by her waist, her
wrist cocked, the slender fingers caressing the burning brand. She turned her
head to the man and smiled, tossing her hair as a long, milky jet of smoke
raced from her mouth.
   The smell of cigarette smoke was in every piece of clothing Cynthia owned.
Until last week, she had hated it. Mom and Dad had always smoked and Rindi
had started when she was 15 and Cynthia was 9. With Mom and Dad's tacit
blessing.
   Cynthia had always hated everything about their  habit.
   Last fall she'd even written an essay entitled '100 Reasons to Quit
Smoking.' Ms. Kendall- the hypocrite, a pack a day Virginia Slims smoker who
could barely make it through class without getting the shakes- had cooed over
her writing skills and then had her read it to the whole student body at the
annual Health Fair.
   She'd mailed a copy to Rindi, who fired off an email the next day. 'One
Hundred Reasons Why You Should Start Smoking, You Little Brat.'
   The man looked embarrassed at having been caught by Rindi. He turned away
quickly just as the doors opened and hastily pushed passed people trying to
get off.
   Cynthia had read that email again last week and decided to spend spring
break with her sister.
   She got up and made her way off the train, for the first time in her life
truly not embarrassed by that smell on her clothes. When she left next week,
she intended that smell to be a part of her.
   "Hey, sis, how are you ?" Rindi asked, little wisps of smoke escaping from
her mouth with each syllable. What did that smoke taste like, Cynthia
wondered to herself.
   "Fine."
   "Do you mind if I finish this before we walk back to the car ?" Rindi asked,
holding up the cigarette. "I expect that you won't let me do too much of this
while you're here."
   "Go ahead," Cynthia said. "But don't treat it like it's your last one.
They'll be plenty more."
   She was already double-pumping on the cigarette, something she never usually
did. Rindi smoked about a pack a day, but she never looked like one of those
nicotine starved kids you saw outside school, trying to smoke two cigarettes
in the seven minutes between class. She always took her time with every
cigarette, really enjoying the experience.
   Her exhale was monstrous.
   "What do you mean ?" Rindi asked suspiciously. There was always plenty of
underlying tension between them about the whole smoking issue- which Cynthia
intended to diffuse before her pride-
   Your stubbornness, she corrected herself-
   interfered and made this impossible.
   "Do you know why I'm here ?"
   Rindi inhaled again, a little more moderately. The barest hint of a smile
crept onto her face as she held the inhale.
   "Because Dad would sooner chew his own leg off that let you drive the
convertible and Mom doesn't have time to teach you how on the Camry."
   "That's what I told them. That's not the real reason."
   The real reason was obvious to her like never before as she watched Rindi
smoke. People were collecting on the other side of the platform for the
Boston train, and several men- and one woman- were all watching Rindi.
   Watching her smoke.
   There was something sensuous about the way she did it. She held the
cigarette so elegantly. The way her lips accepted the cigarette was
undeniable compelling. This time she let go a slow, lazy exhale from her nose
that wrapped her in a wreath of smoke which Rindi would tell you was
sweet-smelling.
   "Promise you won't make this hard ?"
   "Me ?" Rindi asked with vague sarcasm. The cast of her mouth said what she
didn't to. You're my little sister. Of course it will be hard.
   When Cynthia paused, Rindi took advantage. "You're having boy trouble,
aren't you ?"
   If there was one thing they saw eye to eye on it was boys- or men, in
Rindi's case.
   Cynthia fought the urge to back out, to say yes and make something up. The
bulge of the box of Marlboro Lights 100s in the chest pocket of her smoky
leather jacket gave her the courage she needed to quell that urge.
   Buying those cigarettes had been one of the most exciting moments of her
life. She'd walked into the Gas 'n Go, expecting to be carded and refused.
But Beth Kinney had been behind the counter. Beth was another junior at Hasek
High, a smoker, and she'd taken the cigarettes from the rack over her head
and handed them to Cynthia with a smirk on her face. "You smoke ?" you said,
somehow finding it funny.
   Cynthia felt that same excitement now, of doing something just a little bit
bad or wrong.
   And all the embarrassment as well. She remembered how she'd crammed the pack
into her coat pocket and looked around to make sure no one had seen.
   Of course, just as she reached the door Beth had yelled- screamed for all
the world to hear- "Do you want your receipt for those cigarettes, Cynthia ?"
   "Remember that email you sent me, Rindi ? About why I should start smoking
?"
   Rindi took one last long exhale on the shrinking cigarette, double pumping
it again before dropping it down onto the tracks. "I've apologised up and
down for that. Besides, Mom and Dad told me about sixty papers published that
essay. Your health teacher mailed it out to a wire service, from what I hear,
it was so good."
   Grudgingly she added "I was kind of- well, almost proud of you."
   "Yeah, well, people change their minds, Rindi."
   "About what ? You think maybe you can get me to quit now ?" There was open
hostility in her voice. A week of this- well, Mom and Dad were taking
advantage of Cynthia's vacation and having one of their own- in Jamaica.
Going back to an empty house would suck.
   Cynthia found her courage, pulling the pack from the pocket. It was still in
its cellophane- she knew from what Rindi said that they got stale after a few
days once you opened them, so she'd waited almost a week to do what she did
now. Her fingers slipped on the cellophane a bit but she finally caught the
thin golden strip and ripped the shiny clear plastic free, feeling a release
she hadn't expected.
   "I want you to teach me how to smoke."
   Cynthia saw she'd managed to catch her older sister by surprise.

   -End Part 1- Any feedback would be welcomed-


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