Ellie, Part 1

(by SSTORYMAN, 13 February 2005)


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   This fictional account contains adult language and sexual themes. If 
such language and themes offend you, please do not read further. The 
persons and events described in this work are purely fictional. Any 
similarity to actual persons or events is strictly coincidental. Copyright 
2005 by SSTORYMAN. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to 
reproduce this story in any form and for any purpose as long as this notice 
is reproduced and no financial remuneration is received, directly or 
indirectly, by the person reproducing or using it. 

   ELLIE 
   
   Author's Note: This story was inspired in part by anon2's classic "Miss 
Vicki" from 1995. My story has a little different plot, but I encourage you 
to go back and read (or re-read again) "Miss Vicki" and enjoy one of the 
true classics in the archive. I also hope you enjoy this one of mine. 
   
   1. An Innocent Start. 
   At first, being married to Jim was a dream, too good to be true. I mean, 
we had it all, literally. He and I were college sweethearts. We got married 
after graduation and, to top it off, Jim was selected in the first round of 
the pro football draft that year. He was a spectacular college quarterback. 
Scout drooled over him for two years before the draft. He signed a contract 
that summer for an unbelievable amount of money, which included a big 
signing bonus, and then went off to training camp, leaving me behind in our 
fabulous new home. Yeah, we had it all. 
   
   Even Jim's first two years holding a clipboard on the sidelines didn't 
seem so bad. He was learning, after all. His day in the sun would come 
eventually. We were sure. Of course, it never did. That injury to his right 
shoulder was more than he could overcome. His pro career was over and he 
officially became a first round bust. 
   
   Even so, we had the money. Jim's dad was a whiz with finances. His 
investments meant neither of us ever had to work again. That wasn't Jim, 
though. He wanted to work. After his football career ended, he worked at 
his dad's financial planning firm a couple years. But we got tired of being 
surrounded by people who only remembered Jim as a former football hero. So 
we packed up and moved to a new city, a place where no one remembered his 
glory days, a place he could make it on his own merits. 
   
   Ellie was born the year Jim had his shoulder injury. She was three when 
we moved from Jim's parents' hometown. From the beginning Ellie was 
precocious. She always seemed to get in trouble. As a stay-at-home mom, she 
was all I could handle. We decided not to have more kids. We loved Ellie, 
but I wasn't sure I could handle more than one. Of course I never had to 
work. The income from investing Jim's football signing bonus let us have a 
very comfortable lifestyle, and very soon his income as a financial planner 
surpassed our investment income. Jim was as successful as a financial 
planner/money manager as he'd ever been on the football field. His clients 
loved him, Ellie loved him, and I loved him. 
   
   Then it happened. Ellie was 8 that year. I paid Jim an unexpected visit 
at his office and found him screwing one of his female assistants. I felt 
livid; livid and incredibly betrayed. We had a dream life, but in that 
instant my dream became a nightmare. That night I threw Jim out of the 
house and got myself the best divorce lawyer in town. My lawyer did some 
investigating and discovered it wasn't Jim's first indiscretion. Behind my 
back he'd apparently fucked girls all over town for years. Nearly everyone 
but me knew all about it. I was devastated. My life crumbled and I fell 
apart. 
   
   That was what got me smoking again. I started smoking in high school at 
16, and smoked through the end of my second year in college. But once I was 
dating Jim, the idealized college quarterback and big man on campus, he 
gently urged me to quit. After all, he said, it was sort of bad for his 
public image. So I did it, for him. He was right. It wasn't good for a 
highly visible college quarterback, a guy scouted by thirty pro football 
teams, to be engaged to be married to a girl who always had a cigarette in 
her hand. So I went from being a pack a day smoker, at least, to a total 
non-smoker. It hurt like hell to quit. But I did it, like I said, for Jim. 
   
   My relapse occurred a week after I threw Jim out of our house. I got 
together for drinks with Lisa that night. Lisa was a classic soccer mom. 
Wendy, her daughter, was then and still is Ellie's best friend. Lisa and I 
got along great, except she never lost the bad habit I gave up. Lisa still 
smoked. Well, that night I drank too much while bitching to Lisa about Jim. 
In my inebriated state, I couldn't stop staring at Lisa and her cigarettes. 
Eventually I succumbed. I couldn't help it. I asked Lisa for a cigarette. 
She tried to dissuade me but I ignored her warnings. I thought, just one 
won't hurt. I was right. It didn't hurt. Not at all. It felt great to smoke 
after all those years. Too great. Soon I had a second cigarette, and then a 
third. Well, you know what happened. I finished off almost an entire pack 
with Lisa that night. By the next morning my old cravings were back and 
badder than ever. After a few hours of internal struggle I ultimately waved 
the white flag. I drove to a supermarket and bought myself a carton of my 
old brand, Benson & Hedges Menthol 100's, some disposable lighters and, 
most significantly, half a dozen ashtrays. I was a smoker again. 
   
   Ellie was furious at me. She didn't understand, but then, non-smokers 
never do, do they? I tried to explain it was her dad's fault, not mine. I 
told Ellie I needed comfort in the aftermath of Jim's betrayal, and that my 
cigarettes were always there for me. They always had been. So dependable, 
so loyal, so incredibly reliable. In high school and college I relied on 
cigarettes to get me through stressful times. They never let me down. Once 
Jim and I began dating I instead relied on him to support me. But he was 
gone, I explained, so I begged my daughter to have some compassion. I was 
brutally honest with 8 year old Ellie that night. Lots of things would be 
harder now that her dad was gone. I needed the comfort my cigarettes so 
faithfully provided me. I was sorry it made her unhappy but it couldn't be 
helped. I was a smoker again, and that was that. 
   
   In the ensuing weeks and months Ellie unsuccessfully tried playing the 
health card. She didn't want me to die. She was afraid smoking would kill 
me. She didn't want to lose me. Blah, blah, blah. I did my best to answer 
her honest objections. After all, I pointed out, her friend Wendy's mom 
Lisa smoked and she'd been a regular smoker for as long as we'd known them. 
Lisa was the picture of good health, upbeat, outgoing and attractive. 
Nothing would happen to me because I fell off the wagon and started 
smoking; at least not for many, many years and probably never. 
   
   After a while Ellie realized I wouldn't back down. By the time her 9th 
birthday rolled around she finally quit lecturing me about smoking. I was 
relieved. I still wasn't exactly happy about being a smoker again, but I 
was still in no condition to give it up. The divorce proceedings with Jim 
seemed to stretch out forever. We still weren't done finalizing our 
property settlement or his support obligation. I didn't stand a chance of 
giving up my `comforters,' as I called my faithful cigarettes, while our 
legal haggling continued. Even when it was over, which happened when Ellie 
was 9 and a half, I still had neither the will nor the desire to give them 
up. My `comforters' were with me to stay. I knew it. I told Ellie it was 
the way it was. It took awhile, but eventually she seemed to accept it as 
part of our new life. 
   
   Jim still lived in town. Part of our struggle to resolve our differences 
involved his visitation rights. Ellie wanted nothing to do with him. It 
broke Jim's heart. He loved her dearly, but she blamed him for destroying 
our happy home. I took secret comfort from her bitterness, though I tried 
to dissuade her from feeling that way. Jerk or not, he was still her 
father. But Ellie was intractable. She didn't cooperate for a long time, 
which led Jim's lawyer and mine back to court over and over. By the end, 
Jim and I were actually on relatively cordial terms. Even though he was 
living with another woman, I'd gotten over him at last. 
   
   But then Jim launched a battle for legal custody despite, or maybe 
because of, Ellie's stubborn refusal to visit him every other weekend. He 
thought if he got her away from my influence he'd win back her affections. 
I tried to tell him I wasn't the problem. It was all Ellie. But he didn't 
believe me. It set the stage for my first hint that Ellie's feelings about 
my smoking had begun to change. 
   
   It was a summer afternoon. I wasn't home. Ellie was 10. We'd lived alone 
for two years. A social worker from juvenile court paid an unexpected 
visit. Jim's lawyer knew I wouldn't be there. I know they planned it so the 
social worker could talk to Ellie without me. She was a matronly woman, 
Ellie said later, sympathetic and likable. She introduced herself to Ellie 
and asked if she could come in. Ellie told her she had to check and see if 
I was home first. 
   
   Once inside, Ellie collected all my ashtrays and hid them. In the past 
we talked about the negative way the authorities felt about my smoking, so 
Ellie suspected the social worker was searching for something negative like 
my smoking to report on. Ellie was sure the lady was looking for evidence 
that I smoked around her. Of course, I did smoke around Ellie all the time. 
It was impractical not to. But Ellie understood, and she covered for me 
that day. After she hid my ashtrays, she invited the social worker in and 
told her I wasn't home. The lady proceeded to ask Ellie about our living 
conditions, did she have enough to eat, did I keep the house clean, that 
sort of thing. She specifically asked her if I smoked in the house. Ellie 
smiled her most winsome and sincere smile. She assured the social worker 
that no, I never smoked in the house, that I only smoked on the back patio 
or the screen porch. It was a total fabrication, but the social worker saw 
no evidence to the contrary. There wasn't an ashtray in sight. She reported 
to the court and to Jim's lawyer that I kept a very clean home and 
apparently never smoked around my impressionable young daughter. 
   
   I was proud of Ellie, and I told her so once I heard what happened. She 
may have been just protecting herself from outside interference, but I 
sensed her old antagonism about my smoking was softening. She said she had 
to protect me and my smoking from `them' because `they' didn't approve and 
wouldn't understand. It would've been easy for Ellie to sell me down the 
river, to complain about my smoking and about me to the social worker. But 
she didn't. She understood why I needed to smoke even though `they' didn't. 
I felt my lovely 10 year old was wise beyond her years. I told Ellie how 
much I appreciated her, how I valued her willingness to accept my nicotine 
habit as a permanent part of our life. Ellie just smiled. She said it was 
"no problem." 
   
   Jim finally dropped his custody request. After some court-mandated 
counseling sessions, Ellie relented and agreed to visit her dad two 
weekends a month. We fell into a new routine and for the first time in 
years I felt myself settle down. My divorce was final and I began to date 
occasionally, though not seriously. A woman with an 11 year old, even 
someone as good looking as me, and I'm still pretty attractive if I do say 
so, isn't what most men are looking for. But I didn't mind. I had Ellie. We 
had each other. And of course, I still had my cigarettes. 
   
   Once things did settle down, I again considered giving them up. But I 
had to admit I didn't want to. I loved smoking too much. I always had. I 
relished each cigarette I lit up. I smoked not only because I needed to, 
though I did, but because I liked it. I cherished the whole smoking 
experience. I loved the delectable taste, the ritual of lighting up and 
puffing, the gratification I got from inhaling smoke in my lungs and from 
exhaling through my lips and nostrils over successive breaths, the 
relaxation it gave me; in short, everything about it. I was a smoker. I'd 
always been a smoker. And I was now sure I'd always be one. 
   
   So I kept smoking, leveling off at one and a half packs a day. I always 
smoked full flavor Benson & Hedges Menthol 100's simply because I liked 
them best. I tried lights but they just didn't do it for me. Time and again 
I returned to my yummy old friends, the full flavor B&H Menthol 100's in 
the dark green pack. By the time Ellie turned 12 I stopped hearing any more 
complaints from her. She clearly was used to me smoking. She knew why I 
smoked, too, since I'd told her many times. I never hid things from Ellie. 
She was aware that I enjoyed smoking and simply accepted it. But soon I 
found out she was accepting it too much. 
   
   Ellie just turned 12. It was a week before Christmas. As usual, we were 
home alone. Ellie was watching TV. I was half watching and reading a 
magazine. I just lit up a cigarette when the phone rang. I couldn't find 
our portable phone, so I jumped up to search for it. I finally found it in 
my bedroom. It was a store calling me about a Christmas gift I ordered, and 
the call went on awhile. At one point I remembered I left a cigarette 
burning in the TV room, so I slowly walked back, still listening to my 
call. 
   
   As I reached the door I nearly fainted. I saw Ellie reach in the ashtray 
and brazenly pick up my cigarette. Looking around furtively, though not 
carefully enough to notice me in the next room, she tapped off an ash and 
hurriedly raised the cigarette to her lips. She puffed. After breathing out 
a diffuse cloud of uninhaled smoke, she returned it to its position in the 
ashtray. 
   
   I was stunned. I knew Ellie had quit complaining about my smoking. But 
it didn't occur to me she was interested in trying it. Thinking back on it, 
though, I should've known. She'd recently begun quizzing me about it, 
asking why I smoked, why I liked it, that sort of thing. At the time it 
seemed innocuous. But now I realized what she was doing. She was 
investigating it because she wanted to try it herself. 
   
   I finished my call. Marching in the room, I stood there, towering over 
my daughter. 
   
   "Ellie, I just lit up that cigarette before the phone rang. Someone 
tapped off the ash." 
   
   She stared at the ashtray, seeming to realize her mistake. An untouched 
cigarette would have a long ash. This one didn't. 
   
   She looked up and gulped. "Oh, yeah. Well, I just thought I'd fix it for 
you, Mom." 
   
   "Bullshit," I grumbled. "Nice try! Ellie, have you been smoking?" 
   
   "Uh, no, Mom, of course not." 
   
   I couldn't stand her lying to me. 
   
   "Ellie, I saw you pick up that cigarette and puff on it. So don't lie to 
me. How long's this been going on? I mean, how long have you been smoking?" 
   
   She seemed very distressed. "I just wanted to try it," she whined. "I 
don't smoke, Mom. Honest." 
   
   "How long?" I repeated. "Tell me." 
   
   "I've tried a few puffs like that half a dozen times or so the last few 
weeks." She was crying. "I only did it a few times when you left a 
cigarette burning. I'm sorry, Mom." Her face was red and tears streamed 
down her cheeks. "I don't smoke, Mom. I really don't." 
   
   I was mad. She lied to me. She'd sneaked puffs for weeks. I'm a smoker, 
but at that point I was sure I didn't want my daughter to be one, 
especially not at 13. Full of fury, I felt I had to take dramatic action. 
   
   "Okay, Ellie. I believe you, but I'm gonna make sure." 
   
   I crushed out the cigarette and grabbed my pack. I shook out a B&H 
Menthol 100 and gave it to her. She took it, dumbstruck. I got a second one 
for myself. 
   
   "What - what's this for, Mom?" 
   
   "I want to find out if you smoke," I replied angrily. "You're gonna 
smoke an entire cigarette with me. We'll see if you think it's so neat!" 
   
   Ellie shook her head. She looked mortified. 
   
   "Listen, young lady. I won't have you lie to me, or sneak behind my 
back. You say you don't smoke. Fine. Let's find out. Put it your mouth." 
   
   Ellie was bawling, but obediently slid the unlit cigarette between her 
trembling lips. She held it there awkwardly with her fingers. She could see 
I was really mad. I was. 
   
   I clicked my lighter. "Now suck on it while I light it for you." 
   
   "Mom, but - why are you doing this?" 
   
   "You need to see what smoking's like," I fumed. "Not just an occasional 
puff, but smoking for real. It's not as great as you think, Eleanor. So get 
ready to suck on it." 
   
   I only called her Eleanor if she was in deep shit, and she knew it. I 
touched the flame to the tip of the cigarette in her mouth. She sucked on 
it and released a diffuse cloud. No negative reaction, though she was still 
crying. It was time to punish her before her experimentation got out of 
hand. 
   
   "Tell me, do you inhale, Ellie?" 
   
   "No," she whimpered tearfully. 
   
   I knew she didn't. I'd just seen her and she didn't inhale then. But she 
needed to feel the full fury of nicotine. So I angrily persisted. 
   
   "Let's see. Do this." I demonstrated, pulling on my cigarette and 
summoning a ball of smoke down my windpipe and into my chest. "Now you, 
young lady. You'll learn what smoking's all about!" 
   
   Ellie puffed on the cigarette and breathed in. At once she had a 
coughing spasm. She was out of control and convulsed, gasping for air as 
her chest heaved. In the process she spewed smoke in all directions. 
   
   "Oh, it's terrible," she finally gasped. "How can anyone do that?" 
   
   I smiled viciously. "That's what smoking does," I crowed. "Now, again." 
   
   "No, Mommy, please. I promise I won't smoke. Never. I promise." 
   
   "You're right, Eleanor. You'll never smoke and this will make sure. Do 
it again. I mean it. Now!" 
   
   She did. Ellie puffed on the cigarette. Once more she inhaled smoke into 
her young chest. This time she didn't gag till she exhaled, when another 
coughing fit overtook her, her eyes watering and crying harder than ever. 
   
   "Ooh. You made your point, Mommy," she begged. "I won't do it again. I 
promise." 
   
   I was still angry. A cruel smile formed on my lips. "So, you thought 
you'd try smoking? It's not so cool now, is it? But you don't get off so 
easy, Eleanor. Keep doing it. Smoke that whole cigarette. The punishment 
should fit the crime. You wanted to smoke? Well, smoke!" 
   
   I wasn't about to back off and Ellie could tell. Silently she continued 
to drag on the cigarette and inhale the smoke. Her complexion turned pale 
and her hands shook violently as she repeatedly raised the cigarette to her 
lips. 
   
   After Eliie's eighth or ninth repetition, I could see she was feeling 
sick. "One more," I proclaimed victoriously. "Then you're done." 
   
   She hit on the cigarette a last time, not too forcefully, and inhaled. 
Smoke spurt from her lips as she crushed it in the ashtray. "I'm sick," she 
moaned. "I'm afraid I might throw up." 
   
   "Then into the bathroom," I mocked angrily. "Don't you dare barf in my 
living room!" 
   
   Ellie rushed to the nearby bathroom. I heard her losing it in the 
toilet. I sat back smugly. Well, I made my point. The kid learned her 
lesson! As I cooled off, though, I started to feel guilty. Maybe I was too 
hard on the poor kid. I didn't need to make her sick. Ellie wasn't a 
smoker, not really, and she hardly ever lied to me like that. Ignoble 
noises kept coming from the bathroom. I decided I'd gone too far. I knew I 
should apologize. Ellie and I had always had a good and open relationship. 
I didn't want to hurt it by losing my temper over one relatively small 
infraction. If someday she did decide to smoke, I didn't want to shut down 
her willingness to talk to me about that or anything else. 
   
   Ellie came back to the living room; her face was white as a sheet. I 
cleared my throat. 
   
   "Honey, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have reacted like that. But when I saw 
you puff on my cigarette, God, I don't know. It freaked me out. You're only 
13. That's way too young to smoke. You know that, don't you?" 
   
   "Yeah," she sniffled, falling into a chair. "I understand, Mom, I 
guess." She wiped her nose with a tissue. "I was just curious about it. 
That's all. I didn't mean to lie. But when you asked me, I was afraid to 
tell the truth because I thought you'd be mad. I guess you were." 
   
   I should've let it go. But I couldn't. I kept talking. 
   
   "Well, I'm sorry. I never should've made you smoke a whole cigarette. I 
knew you'd get sick, and you sure did," I said with a compassionate smile. 
"I'm sorry. God, it was a dumb thing for me to do." No response but a 
begrudging nod. I went on. "I should've realized why you'd be curious about 
smoking. You live with me. Look at me. I smoke all the time and I obviously 
like doing it. So I understand. It's just that I don't want you doing it. 
Even though I like it, it is a bad habit. Just because I can't quit doesn't 
mean you should ever smoke." 
   
   Again, a nod. "Yeah, I know, Mom. I was just curious. For years I've 
seen you smoke and I started to wonder what it's like." She sighed deeply. 
"But after today, I don't think I'll ever try it again." She gave a rueful 
smile. "Mostly I don't like you being mad at me, Mom." 
   
   "I don't like it, either, honey. I'm sorry." I gave her a big, long hug. 
"Still friends?" 
   
   "Yeah, still friends," Ellie nodded. Her color was returning. "Can we 
just forget about it now?" 
   
   But I didn't forget. I couldn't. Ellie's interest in smoking was my 
fault, and I knew it. The only reason she tried it was because I smoked 
constantly and refused to quit, despite the times she used to beg me. She 
hadn't asked me to recently, but I was sure all my refusals only piqued her 
curiosity. It was the forbidden fruit thing. So despite her assurance she 
was done, I doubted if a little nausea would end her curiosity forever. 
Eventually she'd probably want to try again. So I kept my eyes open to see 
if my suspicion was right. Turns out it was, and it didn't take long to 
find out. 
   
   A few weeks later, after Christmas was over and Ellie was back in 
school, I was sitting on the couch in the living room with Ellie one 
evening. She was struggling to finish a novel for English class at school 
and I was immersed in a murder mystery. Since the night I made her puke we 
never talked about smoking again. But I suspected her interest hadn't left. 
She was sitting a couple feet away from me on the other side of the couch. 
As usual, I was smoking. I'd just lit up a fresh B&H Menthol 100 and held 
it in my fingers. 
   
   As I turned a page of my novel, I noticed Ellie moving her head. She 
moved it so she was directly in the path of the smoke wafting off my 
cigarette. I returned to my book, but kept watching from the corner of my 
eye. I hit on my cigarette and exhaled slowly, unhurriedly, as I usually 
did. Her head moved again, this time so my exhale hit her face. 
Significantly, she opened her mouth and breathed in. It looked as if she 
was trying to capture some exhaled side-stream smoke for herself, thinking 
I wouldn't notice. But I did. 
   
   I was amazed, but really not all that surprised. I thought something 
like this might happen sooner or later. With my eyes still fixed on my 
novel, I decided to see if I was imagining things. So after my next drag I 
exhaled more forcefully, in Ellie's direction. Sure enough, my daughter 
tipped her head again so this thicker stream of exhaled smoke intercepted 
her. She breathed in. Clearly she was trying to get some. I smiled but 
didn't say a thing. Mostly, I think, I was amused by her supposedly covert 
activity. 
   
   In due course I crushed out my cigarette. We kept reading and after 15 
minutes I was ready for another one. As I reached for my pack, all of a 
sudden Ellie silently laid down on the couch and rested her head on my lap. 
With a surreptitious smile I slipped my next cigarette in my mouth and lit 
it up. So the little minx wants smoke, does she? I'm not sure why, but this 
time I wasn't mad. It was like we were playing a frivolous game, a game she 
didn't know I was aware of. I decided to play along. What the hell? It 
wasn't hurting anything. 
   
   I took a drag and sucked some smoke deep into my lungs. It felt good, of 
course. It always does. This time I decided to exhale through my nostrils 
instead of my mouth, to push my exhaled smoke straight down into my 
surprised daughter's face. From where Ellie was positioned with her head on 
my lap she couldn't see I was monitoring her reaction. Opening her mouth, 
she breathed in deeply as I exhaled. As best she could she pulled my 
exhaled smoke into her body. She thought I didn't know what she was doing 
down there, but I saw the whole thing. The next several puffs I repeated my 
tactic, breathing out through my nostrils and directing my exhales right at 
her. Each time she opened wide and breathed in. It seemed to work for her 
just fine. I even thought I saw tiny bits of smoke coming back out of her 
lips. 
   
   Frankly, I should've been mortified by this. But I wasn't. It was cute, 
so pixyish, so- playful. Ellie looked so relaxed lying on the sofa with her 
head on my lap, supposedly reading her book but in reality taking in as 
much side-stream smoke as she could. Without comment I finished the rest of 
my cigarette that way, exhaling only through my nostrils and letting Ellie 
catch my smoke on its way down to where she laid. 
   
   I really don't know why I did, but immediately I lit another cigarette. 
It's not that I never chain-smoke. I did then, and I still do, too much. 
But I didn't need to or anything. I just wanted to continue the experiment, 
to see what the serene little girl with her head on my lap did next. 
   
   Sure enough, as I exhaled through my nose after my first puff, Ellie 
opened her mouth to breathe in again. She had such a sweet smile on her 
face. She looked like an angel. It was clear Ellie was enjoying it and 
frankly, for some reason, so was I. I decided to test her a little. After 
my next drag I lowered my hand to rest my cigarette on my thigh, only six 
inches from her head, instead of off to the side where I held it before. My 
exhale jetted downwards while smoke from my cigarette simultaneously 
drifted past her face. Quite comfortably, Ellie kept breathing. She had a 
big smile on her face and it never left. Her eyes remained on her book, but 
she paid more attention to my exhales and my smoldering cigarette than she 
did to her novel. 
   
   Devilishly, I made up my mind. I had to take it further. It was like I 
couldn't help it. I dragged hard, tapped an ash in the ashtray, and 
returned the cigarette to my thigh by Ellie's head as I exhaled forcefully 
downwards through my nose. Still she breathed contentedly. Then I moved my 
cigarette directly in front of her face. Still she didn't flinch. Smoke now 
swirled all around her. She seemed to love the fragrant aroma. God, it was 
so obvious, so innocent and sweet. She was clearly having a good time 
playing this game. 
   
   I took another puff, this time exhaling upward from my mouth instead of 
down through my nostrils. I saw disappointment on Ellie's face. She was 
afraid the game was over. But it wasn't. Not by a long shot. Silently I 
returned the cigarette to where I held it previously. Then slowly, gently, 
I moved it slightly, right in front of her mouth. I turned the cigarette 
around so its filter nearly touched her shocked lips. For the first time 
Ellie gazed up at me. I could see something in her eyes. She had a 
quizzical look on her face. But it was also a look of hope. 
   
   I smiled. "Having fun, Ellie?" My cigarette didn't budge. I kept it 
right where it was. 
   
   "Yeah, Mom," she sighed, relieved and shocked that I wasn't mad. No, I 
wasn't. 
   
   Impetuously, I shifted my cigarette so it lightly brushed right up 
against her lips and touched her mouth. I did that on purpose. I wanted the 
temptation right there. The silky white smoke flowing from the burning 
cylinder literally enveloped my daughter's bewilderment. 
   
   Ellie let out a surprised little gasp. I smiled. She didn't mind the 
cigarette touching her lips. Yeah, she _was_ having fun. But it was about 
to get better, lots better. 
   
   "Know what? I'm actually glad you like it, honey," I whispered tenderly. 
"But why don't you try having a puff yourself?" 
   
   Ellie froze. She didn't budge. I laughed. "Oh, go ahead, honey. Don't 
worry, it's okay. I don't mind. I've been watching you down there. I know 
what you've been doing. You might as well get some smoke the easy way, 
instead of trying so hard to breathe in mine secondhand. So don't sweat it. 
It's fine. Have a puff!" 
   
   Ellie said nothing. She was too shocked. Then hesitantly, carefully, she 
wrapped her lips over the white filter that was touching her lips as I 
continued to hold the cigarette. She took a small, tentative drag. I pulled 
it away. She opened her mouth and a ball of thick white smoke disappeared 
into her chest. She inhaled. Obviously she remembered the technique, if not 
the consequences, of her prior smoking experience. She parted her lips to 
release a tenuous exhale. 
   
   "That was really nice, Mom. Thanks." She didn't move an inch and said 
nothing more, afraid of breaking the magical spell in the smoky air. 
   
   I decided to let her probe further. I took a drag of my own, then 
carefully repositioned the cigarette so it brushed against her lips again. 
This time I slid it back and forth up against her mouth, teasing her. She 
understood. She took another puff, this one more generous, and inhaled 
deeper. She had a wry grin on her lips as she exhaled. Without meaning to, 
the last time I'd taught her how to inhale. Now she pulled the smoke in her 
lungs avidly, eagerly, not seeming to feel any of the adverse consequences 
that she had only a few weeks earlier. 
   
   I shifted around on the couch, forcing her to lift her head off my lap. 
I looked at her. 
   
   "Ellie, did you enjoy doing that?" 
   
   She grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, Mom, it was really cool. Thanks." 
   
   "You're welcome, honey," I heard myself say unusually graciously. "I 
understand why you like it. Hell, I do, too," I laughed, as I dragged on my 
cigarette. "If you want to, I might let you do this every once in awhile. 
Would you like that?" 
   
   She nodded eagerly. "Oh yes, Mommy. I really, really would. I don't know 
why, but tonight your smoke just smelled _so_ good. I liked breathing it 
in. But I liked it even better when you let me do it myself." She frowned. 
"But you said you didn't want me to smoke?" 
   
   "I don't," I said with a lilting laugh. But my words sounded 
surprisingly half-hearted. "I don't want you smoking cigarettes on your own 
or anything. But I understand your curiosity. So I suppose as long as we 
don't do it all the time, nothing's wrong with letting you enjoy a little 
treat now and then. But only when I say it's okay. Do you think you'd like 
that, honey?" 
   
   Again, an enthusiastic nod. "Yeah, I'd really like that, Mom. Thanks so 
much!" 
   
   With no warning Ellie wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me. I 
saw I made her very, very happy. And that in turn made _me_ very happy. 
   
   So the very next day I began to fulfill my promise. Periodically I would 
unexpectedly offer my 13 year old daughter a puff. I never worried about 
what it meant. I only knew that Ellie's delight over our new shared 
activity pleased me, probably because I knew it'd make her stop harassing 
me about smoking for good. So from then on, if Ellie and I were alone in 
the house and I was smoking, which was most of the time, I occasionally 
offered her a single puff from my cigarette. Invariably she accepted my 
gestures graciously, obviously liking her "little treats," as we began to 
call them. I kept it under control, never offering more than one puff at a 
time and never letting her hold a cigarette. 
   
   Soon Ellie began to put two fingers up against her lips as a signal to 
let me know when she wanted a puff. I didn't always cooperate with her 
requests. I wanted it unpredictable, and I didn't want her having too many, 
or to let her have them too often. But she was so sweet about it, and so 
enthusiastic, that it quickly became a regular part of our routine. 
   
   I should've known these small innocent beginning soon would escalate and 
Ellie would be smoking a lot more. That's exactly what happened, and that's 
the next part of Ellie's story. 


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