Dani

(by anonymous3, 12 September 1996)


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    Dani

    "I might as well be living on my own," Dani thought as she sat in the
dimly lit living room, smoking an after dinner cigarette, TV on in the
background. Terry, her mom was out as usual with God knows who and when her
sister Michelle got pregnant, she went to live with her boyfriend and his
parents, so Dani usually had no one home with her. Oh sure her dad was around,
sometimes, somewhere, but they hadn't seen or heard from him in over a year.
He was a fisherman and a drunk. Gone to Alaska during the various seasons,
halibut fishing or crabbing, he couldn't be depended upon for anything except
money. Except when he drank it all away or spent it on a whore and didn't have
any to send, which was most of the time.

    At 14 years old, Dani enjoyed freedom that not many girls her age had. Her
mom was never home to tell her what to do, being either at work or out with
some guy. She could stay up as late as she wanted, eat when and what she
wanted and she was allowed to smoke. One day out of the clear blue sky, just
before she turned 13 her mom had asked her if she had started smoking yet. She
admitted that she had tried a few puffs, but was not smoking everyday. Her mom
then told her that she had started smoking when she was Dani's age. Her
parents however, absolutely forbade her from smoking until she was 18. Terry
explained that she had to sneak around and smoke behind her parent's back. She
vowed she would never do that to her kids. Terry then told Dani "Since you
have already started, help yourself to cigarettes whenever you need them. Just
let me know when we are getting low." With the help of Michelle, who had been
told the same thing by Terry and given the freedom to smoke when she was 13,
permission from her mom, and practice, Dani learned to inhale and smoke
properly. Her mom didn't even make a big production the first time Dani
smoked in front of her that night at dinner. With the freedom to smoke
whenever she wanted and her mom not around much to regulate her smoking,
Dani's habit quickly grew into a pack a day.

    Dani took one last drag off her Winston 100 and stubbed it out in the
ashtray. She looked at the clock and it read 10:17. Thursday night, bored
stupid, nothing on TV, homework done. She had spent two hours on the phone
talking to her best friend Sandy. It was too late to call anyone else. Dani
trudged down the hall into her room, lit another cigarette and flopped onto
the bed. As she lay on her bed indulging her habit, she picked up her pack of
cigarettes and realized that she only had 2 cigarettes left from the pack that
she had opened this morning. Smoking had become so automatic, so much just a
habit that some of the time it was just mechanical. Something to pass the
time. She got up and was walking down the hall to get another pack, when her
mom came home.
    "Oh, hi mom. I didn't expect you home so early," Dani said, reaching into
the carton of Winston 100's and retrieving a pack. "How was your date?"
    "Aghhh. The guy was a real jerk. Toss me a pack too, would you?" Terry
replied. "All this guy wanted to talk about was his ex-wife. Like I give a big
rats' ass about his ex-wife. Thanks," she continued, catching the pack that
Dani tossed. "How about you, what did you do today?" she asked peeling the
cellophane and then the foil from her cigarette pack.
    "Nothing really. Talked to Sandy. Did my homework. Watched a little TV. By
the way, we're almost out of smokes." Dani replied dragging on her cigarette.
    "I'll get some tomorrow at the store. God Dani between the two of us,
we're going through almost two cartons a week." Terry pulled a cigarette out
of the pack and lit it with her Bic. As she took a drag and inhaled, Terry
noticed for the first time, that Dani had developed a smoking style almost
identical to hers. Long drags, deep inhales and when she exhaled, the smoke
exited her mouth and nose simultaneously.
    "I went through almost a pack today alone," commented Dani.
    "Isn't that a little much, Dani?"
    "Mom, admit it. You know I smoke a pack a day during the week and most
times 2 packs a day on the weekend and have for more than a year. It's a
little late now to start being concerned."
    Terry knew that Dani was right. She thought to herself 'I've been so
preoccupied with my life that I didn't even realize that Dani's habit had
increased to that level. She's smoking almost as much as me.'
    "OK Dani, I will admit I haven't made any attempts to put a limit on how
much you smoke and if you want to know the truth I really hadn't paid much
attention."
    "Anyway mom, it gets boring sitting around the house with nothing to do.
You're not home half the time, Michelle's gone. There's nothing to do except
sit around, watch TV and smoke cigarettes, especially on school nights." Dani
rebutted, taking a double drag to make her point, then crushing out her
cigarette. "Michelle smokes that much or more and she's pregnant."
    "She's almost 18 plus she doesn't live here anymore. I have no control
over her smoking but I do have control over yours." Terry replied. "But like
you said, it's a little late now. I can't ask you to cut back and I'm not
going to smoke lights. To get back to our original conversation, surely
there's something else you can do besides hang out here. Why don't you go
roller skating or to the mall or something?" Terry inquired. "I mean not every
night, but maybe one or two nights a week."
    "I don't know. I can't ask everyone else's parents to drive me everywhere
all the time and I hate taking the bus at night," said Dani. "If I go over to
Sandy's house we do the same thing. Sit around, smoke cigarettes and watch TV
or talk." Sandy's mom had just recently let her smoke at home.
    "I just think you could do something else besides lounging around here,"
her mom replied.
    "And you could try staying home at night more often."
    "Listen Dani, I'm not going to curb my social life because of you."
    "Then let me go to the bar with you," Dani replied jokingly.
    Terry looked thoughtfully at Dani for a minute and said "You'd want to?"
    "Mom I was kidding."
    "I wasn't. We'll put some makeup on you and you can put on some really
tight jeans. You'd look 18. Hell, the way you smoke puts most adult women to
shame. They know me in there, they won't card you. They've never met you or
Michelle.
    "Mom I'm not going to a bar with you" said Dani, lighting another
cigarette. "Besides, I don't drink."
    "You could order a Pina Colada. Something foo-fooey. You think you're so
grown up anyway, smoking like an adult.
    "You really think so, mom?" Dani said, massaging the tip of her cigarette
in the ashtray. It started to sound like fun.
    "Think about it Dani. It'd be fun. We'll be like sisters. You'd have to
call me Terry instead of Mom, though."
    "Well tomorrow is Friday and I was going to go to the dance at school
tomorrow night. I'd have to call Jason and cancel." Her resistance was
breaking down. "What the hell, I'll go" Dani said.
    "Dani! I've never heard you swear in your life."
    "If I'm going to act like an adult, I might as well talk like one" Dani
replied laughing.
    Dani and Terry stayed up a little longer talking and Dani finished the
last cigarette in her pack plus one more.

    Dani's alarm went off at the regular time of 6:30. She could hear the
shower running. Her mom was up getting ready for work. Dani didn't really need
to get up so early, but it gave her time to smoke 3 or 4 cigarettes before she
went to school. She reached over to her night stand and shook a cigarette out
of the pack that was always there waiting for her in the morning. She propped
her pillow up on the headboard and lit the Winston 100. She took a deep double
drag, savoring the taste of that first in the morning cigarette, and held it
for as long as possible before exhaling. She felt a slight buzz as the
nicotine entered her bloodstream. Dani quickly smoked her cigarette as she lay
in bed, thinking about the conversation she had with her mom the night before.
She was actually starting to get excited at the thought of going out with her
mom. Dani crushed out her cigarette, got up and plodded into the bathroom and
got in the shower. The hot water felt good as it pelted her back. She got out
of the shower, dried herself off and lit another cigarette. As she stood in
front of the mirror, with the cigarette dangling out of the corner of her
mouth, she looked at her body. Dani was pretty popular with the boys. She was
fairly tall and had a good body (at least the boys thought so, especially
Jason) with long dark hair and bright blue eyes. Her eyes were the only good
thing she had gotten from her father. She got dressed and went out to the
kitchen. "Mornin' mom."
    Her mom was already for work and was sitting having a cup of coffee and
judging from the ashtray, her third cigarette. "Hi sweetie, did you sleep
good?"
    "Yeah, like a log." Dani poured herself a cup of coffee and popped a bagel
in the toaster. She finished her cigarette as the bagel was toasting. "Are you
still serious about us going out together, tonight?" Dani asked, crushing out
the remains of her cigarette and pulling the bagel out of the toaster.
    "Of course I am. I think it'll be fun."
    "What if I get drunk?" she asked.
    "Just don't get sick all over the inside of my car" Terry replied,
laughing. "Oops, I've got to run or I'll be late. Make sure the house is
locked up when you leave for school and call me when you get home. Have a
great day." Terry gave her daughter a kiss and a hug and walked out the door.
    Dani finished her bagel and lit her third cigarette of the morning. As she
sat there drinking her coffee and smoking her cigarette, there was a knock at
the door and Sandy walked in. "Hey girl" Sandy said. "You about ready?"
    "Yeah, almost, but first I got something really awesome to tell you" Dani
replied. She went on to relay the conversation she had with her mom the night
before.
    "No way, that is so totally cool. You get to go to a bar with your mom!"
Sandy exclaimed, extracting a Virginia Slims menthol from her purse.
    "Yeah, she thinks I could pass for 18. She knows the bartender, so she
doesn't think I'll get carded."
    "What kind of drink are you going to order?" Sandy asked, lighting her
cigarette and taking a long drag.
    "My mom suggested a Pina Colada or something. As she called it, a foo-foo
drink. I better go brush my teeth so we can get out of here. We can talk about
it on the way." Dani stubbed out her cigarette and went into the bathroom.

    Dani and Sandy both smoked two more cigarettes each as they were walking
to school. As usual they met up with some of their friends along the way and
the conversation consisted of the upcoming finals and sharing gossip. Finally
the school day started and this was one that Dani could hardly wait to have
end. Dani and Sandy managed to have a cigarette in the bathroom between 2nd
and 3rd period, both taking double drags mostly to satisfy their cravings and
also because they only had seven minutes between classes. Their lunch time
cigarettes were consumed at a more leisurely pace, with each girl being able
to smoke three before having to return to school. One more was had between 5th
and 6th period, again smoked rapidly. Finally the school day was over and it
was the weekend. Dani and Sandy generally walked home, but today Sandy's mom
was waiting with the car.
    "Hi Mom. I didn't expect to see you here" Sandy said getting in the front
seat.
    "Hi Mrs. Johnson." said Dani, piling in the back.
    "Hi girls. I was in the neighborhood and figured you two could use a
lift."
    "Yeah, that walk does get to be a drag after awhile" replied Sandy as she
pulled out her pack of cigarettes and lit one. Dani agreed as she too
retrieved her cigarettes from her purse and lit one.
    The drive home was short and quiet as the girls concentrated on getting as
much nicotine in their young bodies as quickly as possible. They both finished
their cigarettes in the 10 minutes it took them to drive home.
    When Dani got home, she checked the messages on the answering machine.
There was one message. It was from her mom saying that they wouldn't be going
out because one of the guys at work, whom she had been pursuing, had finally
asked her out. Dani was hurt. Hurt and angry. It was so like Terry. She picked
up the phone and called her mom like she did everyday when she got home. "Mom,
how could you do this? You said me and you were going out together. I even
told Jason that I couldn't go to the dance with him," Dani said into the
phone, barely giving her mom a chance to say hello.
    "Sweetie, listen. I think this guy could be the one. He's really sweet.
He's got a good job..." Terry replied, trying not to sound defensive.
    Dani interrupted, "Mom, every guy you meet you think is the one. You never
have time for me."
    "I don't need to defend my actions, Danielle. He will be over to pick me
up after work. He's bringing his daughter over too. You two can stay together
while we go out. It should be fun."
    "Yeah, loads," Dani said sarcastically. "What's her name?"
    "Her name is Jillian. I think Tom said she was about your age. I have to
go. I'll see you when I get home. I have to stop and get some cigarettes so
I'll be a few minutes late. Bye." and with that she hung up.
    Great, Dani thought. Friday night and I'm stuck at home with some nerd. I
should be out with Jason. Dani rummaged through her purse and took out her
cigarettes and a lighter. The more she thought about it the madder she got.
Dani lit her cigarette and puffed hard on it until it was gone, then
immediately lit another. After she calmed down, she thought to herself that
maybe Jillian was cool and not a nerd. I'll soon find out.
    At 5:30 her mom came home. She was carrying four cartons of cigarettes and
a pepperoni pizza. "I thought you and Jillian might like pizza for dinner. Tom
will be here any minute and I have to change. If he gets here before I'm
finished changing be nice OK? Stick the pizza in the oven to keep it warm
would you please?"
    "Yeah sure, mom"
    Ten minutes later the doorbell rang. Terry was still in changing. "Get
that would you Dani?" she yelled.
    Dani opened the door. "Hi, I'm Tom, you must be Dani."
    "Yeah. Hi Tom. Come on in," replied Dani "My mom will be ready in a
minute."
    "Dani, this is my daughter Jillian."
    Both girls said hi and Dani sensed that Jillian was going to be OK after
all. She looked pretty cool. Tall and thin, dark brown hair, cut like Jennifer
Aniston. Pretty alright clothes.
    "Where are you guys going?" Dani asked Tom.
    "I'm taking your mom to Le Maison. Then maybe out to a movie"
    "Cool. What school do you go to Jillian?"
    "JFK Jr. High, what about you?"
    "I go to Maplewood. Are you in 8th grade too?" Dani asked.
    "Yeah."
    Right then her mom came out. "Hi Tom. I take it you've met Dani. You must
be Jillian. I've heard alot about you. Well we should probably go," said
Terry.
    "Yeah, I made reservations for six thirty. We should make it in plenty of
time."
    "You girls have fun. We'll see you later." Terry said.
    "Bye," both girls said simultaneously and Terry and Tom walked out the
door.

    "Are you hungry?" Dani asked Jillian.
    "Yeah, I'm starving."
    The girls wolfed down three quarters of the pizza along with some soda as
they sat in front of the TV watching music videos.
    "Do you smoke?" Dani asked Jillian as she took the last bite of her pizza.
    "Yeah" replied Jillian. "Do you?"
    "Yeah. Do you want a cigarette?"
    "I'm dying for one. I managed to sneak one outside while my dad was taking
a shower, but that was an hour ago."
    "I take it your parents don't know you smoke?" Dani asked.
    "No, my dad doesn't know and my mom isn't living with us anymore. She left
when I was 8."
    "My mom and dad are divorced and I haven't seen my dad in over a year."
Dani said sympathetically as she walked over to the kitchen counter and got
the pack of cigarettes and lighter that were sitting there. "Here." Dani shook
a cigarette out of the pack and handed it to Jillian.
    "Should we really take two from your mom's pack? Won't she miss them?"
questioned Jillian. The thought of getting caught smoking was always in the
back of her mind.
    "These are mine. I just take a pack whenever I want," and to emphasize her
point she lit up, took a deep drag and handed her lighter to Jillian.
    "Your mom lets you smoke? That is so totally cool." said Jillian totally
amazed as she lit up too.
    "Yeah. She told me when I started smoking to let her know and I did and
she let me smoke."
    "That is so awesome. I wish my dad was that cool." Jillian said exhaling a
thick cloud of smoke.
    "Maybe you should just tell him. Does he smoke?" asked Dani, blowing three
smoke rings in a row.
    "Yeah. That's where I get some of my cigarettes from."
    "Has he ever told you that you couldn't smoke?"
    "No. He's never come right out and said I couldn't," replied Jillian
taking another drag off her cigarette.
    "It never hurts to ask."

    The girls sat and talked and smoked until Tom and Terry got home. Between
the two of them they managed to smoke a pack and a half of cigarettes. Tom and
Jillian said good-bye and Tom ended the evening by giving Terry a long kiss.

    "Dani, Tom is wonderful" said Terry to Dani after they had left.
    "You know mom, Jillian is really cool. We had a pretty good time. Don't
tell Tom, but Jillian smokes," Dani confided to her mom.
    "We talked alot about you two girls and Michelle. I told Tom that I let
you smoke. I didn't want it to come as a surprise later if you wanted to have
a cigarette when he was around. He was astonished, but didn't say anything. He
said he suspects that Jillian smokes, but didn't want to encourage it."
    "I really think that he is Mister Right, Dani"
    "We'll see mom."

    Tom and Terry continued seeing each other all the time for the next six
months. Her mom hadn't dated anyone else since she started going out with him.
It seemed that if Tom wasn't over at their house then they were over at Tom's.
Dani grew very close to Tom and Jillian. Tom turned into the father that Dani
should have had and Jillian was like having another sister. He met Michelle
and her new baby daughter. Since Dani had permission to smoke, Tom allowed
Dani to smoke at his house but he still didn't know about Jillian. This gave
Jillian an opportunity to smoke more because they would go into Jillian's room
and they would both light up. If they heard Tom coming down the hall, Jillian
would stub out her cigarette and Tom would be none the wiser, attributing the
smoke to Dani's cigarette. Terry treated Jillian like her daughter and allowed
her to smoke when she was over there and even bought her cigarettes. The girls
made Terry promise that she wouldn't tell Tom for fear of getting Jillian in
trouble, although Terry every once-in-a-while would suggest that she tell her
dad. Terry told Jillian she didn't know how much longer she could keep
deceiving her father. Finally, Terry's conscience got the best of her and she
made a decision. Later that afternoon, Dani, Jillian and Sandy had gone to an
early movie and Terry and Tom were at Tom's watching TV, Terry looked at Tom
and told him there was something that she needed to confide in him about.

    "Tom there's something I need to tell you," Terry started, lighting a
cigarette. "I promised Jillian that I wouldn't tell you, but our relationship
has progressed to the point that I can't keep secrets. It wouldn't be fair.
Besides it's something that you should know as a parent."
    "What is it?" Tom asked.
    "Well, do you remember on our first date, we were talking about the girls
and I told you that I let Dani smoke? And you said that you suspected that
Jillian was smoking?"
    "Yeah, I do"
    "You were right. Jillian does smoke and very well, I might add" said
Terry.
    "I knew it! You've seen her smoking?" asked Tom.
    "Actually Tom, I've been letting her smoke at our house." confessed Terry
dragging nervously on her cigarette, not knowing how Tom might react.
    "You what? How could you do that? She's not your daughter. If you want to
let Dani smoke, that's your business, but I don't want you giving my daughter
permission to smoke. That's a decision I have to make." Tom was livid.
    "Tom listen, she was already smoking when we met, it's not like she
started because of us. If you think about it, she more than likely started
smoking because you did. You suspected it but you just didn't want to admit
it. You must remember how hard it is to sneak around, trying to bum cigarettes
or stealing from your parents, always living in fear that one day your parents
would catch you smoking. Wishing for that freedom to smoke whenever you
wanted." Terry countered, taking one last deep drag off her cigarette and
crushing it out. "I wasn't allowed to smoke in front of my parents until I
turned 18 and I started smoking when I was Dani's age. I had to sneak for five
years. I didn't want my girls to have to go through that hell, so I made the
decision with Michelle and then with Dani that they would be able to smoke
when they wanted to. I just told them to tell me when they started smoking."
    "I know, but you still should have told me sooner about Jillian. I really
don't have a problem with her smoking," Tom confessed, "well, maybe I do. I
don't know. I don't want her hooked on cigarettes. She's so young, just barely
14. I see you and Dani and the relationship that you two have and I want
Jillian and me to have that same bond. I want her to be able to come to me
about anything. It's damn hard being a dad and a mom, but you know that.
Jillian has you to talk to from a woman's viewpoint, but you can't be there
all the time. You have Dani and Michelle."
    "Well you know she isn't going to stop just because you want her to,"
Terry said. "Why don't you just talk to her. Let her know how you feel about
it. I know that Dani and I talk alot when we're sitting around after eating or
whatever having a cigarette. It's a relaxing time. You can develop that bond
with Jillian that way."
    "I don't know how to approach it. I don't want her to think that you
violated her trust by telling me. I just don't have it in me to come right out
and say 'Here Jillian, It's OK if you smoke."
    "Tom if you'd like, I could talk to her for you and I think once I tell
her that you have agreed to let her smoke she will forgive me for talking to
you about it. You said earlier though that it was your responsibility."
    "I know it's my responsibility, but Terry she looks up to you. She adores
you. I think if you broke the ice for me it would be easier, let her know that
it's OK."
    "If that's the way you want to handle it, that's fine with me. Just don't
make the mistake of making a big deal out of it. Jillian's going to be nervous
enough without you pointing out her smoking. Just act like you don't even
notice, at least until she gets used to smoking in front of you. You don't
make a big deal out of Dani smoking so try to do the same with Jillian. It'll
be tough not to stare or say things. Listen, I have to go pick the girls up
from the movies. Do you want to come with?"
    "I think I'll stay here."

    Terry got in the car and reflexively lit a cigarette. She started thinking
about what Tom said. Maybe she shouldn't have let Jillian smoke. Maybe she
shouldn't have let Michelle or Dani smoke. He made her feel guilty. But for
what? Chances are both her girls would have started smoking with or without
her permission. 13 was the age most girls started smoking anyway. Terry
decided that she wasn't going to worry about it. She pulled up to the front of
the theater and the girls were standing there waiting for her. All three had
lit cigarettes, Dani with her Winston 100, Jillian with her Benson and Hedges
100 and Sandy with her Virginia Slims 100. They all looked older than their 14
years. She watched as men and boys walked out of the theater and past them.
Most looking at them. The boys trying to figure out how old they were and the
men wishing they were that young again.
    "Hey girls, how was the movie?" Terry asked as they climbed in the car.
    "It was great, you and my dad have to see it," said Jillian.
    "I'm glad you guys had a good time." Terry said, taking one last drag and
flicking her cigarette out the window.

    On the way home to Tom's after dropping Sandy at her house, Terry decided
to tell Jillian about the conversation that had transpired. All three had just
lit cigarettes so Terry figured this was a good time to tell her.
    "Jillian," Terry started, "there's something that we should talk about."
    "What's that Terry?" asked Jillian, not really knowing where this
conversation was leading.
    "Well it's about you smoking. I had no choice but to tell your dad"
    "TERRY! I thought I could trust you. I thought we had agreed that you
wouldn't tell him."
    "You can and yes we did have an agreement. But he had to know Jillian and
he said it was OK if you smoked."
    "WHAT?"
    "He acknowledged the fact that you were smoking and agreed to let you
smoke."
    "Oh my God. How am I ever going to smoke in front of my dad?" Jillian
exclaimed, now terrified at the prospect of actually being allowed to smoke.
    "That's totally cool," interrupted Dani. "Now you won't have to hide it."
    "You smoked in front of me," replied Terry, dragging deeply on her
Winston.
    "That was different. You let Dani smoke. You're cool. I never imagined my
dad being the type to let me smoke. He always seemed soooo,soooo, I don't know
stuffy maybe is a good word," said Jillian exhaling a thick cloud of smoke
through the open window.
    "Your father was actually pretty open about the whole thing. He seems just
as nervous letting you smoke as you are anticipating smoking in front of him.
You're still his little girl. It's hard for a dad to let go, to admit you're
growing up."
    "I just don't know if I can do it," replied Jillian.
    Dani spoke up, "the first time you smoke in front of him, it will be
pretty weird. I know I felt funny the first time I smoked in front of my mom.
After awhile though, you just don't think about it. Smoking just becomes
something you do, like eating or talking. You'll get used to it. I did," and
she took a double drag off her cigarette to emphasize her point.
    "Jillian, do you want me to tell your dad that we had this conversation or
do you want to bring it up yourself?" asked Terry.
    "I think I'd rather tell him myself," Jillian said, taking one last drag
off her cigarette and throwing it out the window.

    Five minutes later they were back at Tom's place.
    "Hi guys," Tom said as they all came walking in the door. "How was the
movie?"
    "It was wonderful daddy," replied Jillian. "You guys gotta see it."
    "Maybe we will." Tom said as he lit a cigarette.
    "Well Dani, you about ready to hit it?" Terry asked.
    "Daddy, can Dani spend the night?" Jillian asked.
    "I don't care," Tom replied.
    "Mom, can I? It's not a school night. Please?"
    "I don't see why not, but what about a toothbrush though and something to
sleep in?"
    "I brought a toothbrush and I can wear one of Jillian's T-shirts."
    "You guys had this all planned out didn't you?" Tom asked.
    "Well yeah, sorta," said Jillian.
    Everybody laughed and then Tom looked at Terry. "What about you? Do you
want to stay here too? You can sleep in my bed, and I'll sleep on the couch.
I'll get up in the morning and fix us all a big breakfast."
    "Tom, I can't kick you out of your bed, besides I didn't bring a
toothbrush or anything to sleep in." Terry replied hesitatingly.
    "That's OK. I fall asleep on the couch all the time and we can always go
to the mini-mart and you can buy a toothbrush. I have some old pajamas that
you can wear."
    "OK, OK. You talked me into it."
    "Boy I really had to twist your arm, too." Tom joked.
    "That's awesome," said Jillian. "Lets go in my room." Terry, Dani and now
Tom, knew what for.
    "Umm Jillian." stammered Tom. He had never been this nervous in his whole
life. "You don't have to go in your room."
    Jillian knew what he meant, but wanted to hear it. "That's OK daddy, I
know you and Terry want some time alone."
    "I know why you want to go in your room. It's OK, I know you smoke."
    Jillian looked at Tom with a look of surprise, panic and relief. "I know
you do daddy. Terry told me. I wanted you to give me permission."
    "Jillian, giving you permission to smoke was the hardest thing I've had to
do in a long time." said Tom, breathing a sigh of relief. "Anyone want a
cigarette? I know I could sure could use one."
    "Remember what we talked about Tom," reminded Terry.
    "What Terry?" asked Jillian.
    "I didn't want your dad to make a big deal out of this. Smoking in front
of a parent for the first time can be kind of intimidating. I didn't want him
to embarrass you," replied Terry.
    "It's OK, Terry. I'm kind of excited about it now. I'm not as nervous as I
thought I'd be," said Jillian.
    Tom extended the pack towards Jillian and she took a cigarette. Her heart
was racing. She was actually going to smoke in front of her dad. She felt like
everyone's eyes were on her. Her dad brought his lighter to life. She placed
the long white Benson and Hedges between her lips. Her father extended his arm
and the flame touched the end of the cigarette. Jillian drew deeply on it and
tasted the smoke as it caressed her tongue. She felt the smoke as it slid down
her throat to finally end, swirling in the dark recesses of her lungs. It
seemed all her senses were at a heightened awareness. She exhaled a thick
stream of spent smoke, her body having taken all it needed from the burning
tobacco.
    "Thanks, dad" said Jillian. "This is the best day of my life. I hated the
fact that I was lying to you, smoking behind your back, stealing cigarettes
from you."
    "That's OK. I had a feeling you were smoking. It took Terry to bring me to
my senses. It's hard growing up," Tom said. He looked at Jillian and in that
instant he saw her change, blossoming into young womanhood, no longer the
child that she had been when she had awoken this morning.
    "Congratulations," Terry said hugging Jillian, then watching as she took
another drag off her cigarette. "I hope this opens up a whole new chapter in
the relationship with your father. I know it did with Dani and me. Like I told
your father some of our best times are had sitting around smoking and
talking."
    Terry proved herself correct as all four sat up into the wee hours of the
morning talking, bonding, sharing and smoking.


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