Encouragement, Part 1

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 05 February 1997)


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Subject: Encouragement, Part 1
From: an4@anon.lelnet.com
Date: 4 Feb 1997 16:32:50 GMT
Message-ID: <199702040902.EAA21006@mail.msen.com>

   Kirsta sat down at the bar and waited for the bartender to notice her. It
took all of about three seconds.
   She returned his smile and asked for a Bass Ale. As he turned to grab a
fresh glass she considered lighting a cigarette, deciding against it. Hating
the nervousness the idea brought to her. It was ridiculous, really.
   He handed her the glass, asked if she wanted to run a tab. She handed him a
five and told him to keep the change.
   Sean was down at the end of the bar, watching her. He knew immediately that
she was a smoker. It was his special instinct. He wasn't sure how it had
developed, or when. Well, he was to an extent sure of how. No man on the face
of the earth got more enjoyment out of watching a beautiful woman smoke. The
cultivation of that instinct had been a necessity.
   She wasn't comfortable with it. He'd seen her reach towards her purse,
hesitate while the bartender had his back turned, only to decide against it.
   In short, she needed a nudge, and he was just the man for it. She was pretty
rather than georgous, but that was what Sean liked. She was fresh-faced and
maybe a little too self conscious, attractive without maybe really knowing
it. Her long strawberry-blonde hair was stunning and her face, still sporting
the last vestiges of what some people might call baby fat, was so pleasant it
had a unique appeal. Much better than the angular model faces you saw on
magazine covers.
   He got up and walked slowly to where she was sitting, glad to see the empty
bar stools on either side of her.
   "This seat taken ?" he asked, adding just enough disinterest to the question
to keep it from being a line.
   "No," she said, hesitantly. He got the impression maybe this wasn't what
she'd had in mind when she'd walked in the door.
   "My name's Sean," he said without looking at her. He was waving his empty
glass at the bartender. When he came over Sean said "Another Guinness. And an
ashtray."
   The bartender traded a clean ashtray for the empty glass.
   "Do you smoke ?" she asked, suddenly a little bit more interested in the man
intruding on her moping. She'd been a little afraid of being decended upon.
Her roommate Dawn always said that guys had a thing for depressed women, and
today was certainly one of those days.
   "Not very often. But you do, don't you ?"
   Kirsta wanted a cigarette, but she also wanted to know how Sean knew that.
She'd never seen him before, not that she could remember.
   "Do I know you ?" she asked guardedly.
   "No. I just saw you reach into your purse there and-" It was a white lie,
and it was also the first time he'd gotten up the nerve to actually do
something with his- well, gift was a strong word, at least until she reached
into the purse and pulled out a brand new box of Marlboro Lights 100s. She
stripped the cellophane and extracted one of the long white cigarettes.
   He scooped up her lighter, which had slid from the purse, and got her
started, this time finding it hard to fake that disinterest.
   She inhaled, her lips tightening down on the cigarette. It was a wonderful
inhale, the best one he'd seen in days. She lifted her head to exhale,
courteously blowing the smoke high and to the right of his face. That was
disappointing. But correctable. Gift was definitely the right word for it.
   As she moved the cigarette away from her mouth Sean saw that she did indeed
know what to do with it. The hold was picture perfect. The hand was near her
own head, the wrist at an angle, the two fingers not holding the cigarette
curled in, showing short but fastidiously trimmed nails. She held it there
for a moment while they sort of just stared at one another.
   She took another pull on the cigarette as his stout arrived and he didn't
bother to look away to the bartender.
   Her inhale was perfect again. The orange tip at the end of the cigarette
glowed, smoke trailing from it. It was a deep inhale, strong enough that her
eyes closed down slightly. As she released the cigarette from those pouty
lips they curled into the slightest smile. There was no question that she was
enjoying herself immensely. 
   Sean was hoping silently that she would not again inhale away from him. He
leaned closer, smiling. "So. Tell me your name." He asked, hoping she would
not pause to exhale first.
   "Kirsta," she said, smoke billowing forth from her mouth on each of the two
syllables. This time she nearly avoided turning her head entirely. He could
see the curiosity in her eyes, knew that this was the moment he'd been
working up to for weeks- no, months.
   "What brings you here ?" It was typical bar chatter, and inside Sean cringed
slightly. This wasn't his strong suit, not by a long shot.
   "I wanted to be alone-"
   Some sort of look must have crossed his face because she reached out and
touched his arm with her left hand. It was a warm, open, even forward touch.
   "I didn't mean that the way it sounded," she added. It was hard to find the
right words. Very hard. She took another pull on the shrinking cigarette.
Noticed the way that Sean seemed to lean towards her, which was a little
strange, especially after-
   She exhaled without turning her head at all, knowing it was rude but having
the strangest feeling that he wouldn't mind. He was raising his glass to his
lips and he never even paused as the smoke crashed over his face like a misty
wave. The look in his eyes made it very clear that he most certainly hadn't
minded.
   Either that or he was really  desperate.
   "I wanted to be alone someplace public," she added. "That probably sounds a
little bizarre, but I've always found it's easier to be depressed in public.
It's-"
   "Easier to feel sorry for yourself, right ?"
   There was something kind about the way he asked the question. It could have
been very rude and pointed but it wasn't.
   "Yeah. Some people go to sappy movies alone in the afternoon. This works
better for me."
   Sean was in uncharted waters now. He decided on the direct approach. Fewer
what-ifs that way. "What could someone like you possibly have to be depressed
about ?"
   Kirsta smiled wanly. "What do you mean ?" she asked.
   "I mean, you're young, attractive, uh-"
   It was hard to tell in bar light when someone was blushing. Kirsta brought
the cigarette to her mouth and inhaled slowly, calmly. That calmness spread
through her whole body like a wave of faint pleasure. She saw the way Sean's
eyes watched her, almost seeing a certain hunger there. She liked that glint
in his eyes. She spoke, exhaling smoke with each word, liking the way it made
her voice sound fuller, more textured.
   "And very single. My boyfriend and I- well, it's only been about a month
and, well, some days you can't help think about it, you know." 
   If Kirsta was perplexed by her own forwardness, Sean was equally surprised
by her openness. This was the chance that he'd been looking for.
   "What happened ?" he asked, as she drew one last time on the cigarette.
   There was something he wanted her to say, something that would be perfect.
Impossible. There were millions of reasons why two people would break up and
there was no chance that she would say the one thing he wanted most to hear
because there wasn't that much luck in the whole world, was there ?
   Kirsta stubbed out the cigarette in the ashtray, amased at how great it had
been. There was something about being a public place like this. Drinking a
beer, sharing conversation. And smoking. With no inhibitions, the same way
that it was at home with Dawn, the way it had been here before Hank. 	
   Dawn's obvious enjoyment of smoking in public was what had finally pulled
her over the edge and made her take that first cigarette from her friend. A
night at this same bar, just six months ago. Curiosity, wanting to know what
that look of pleasure on Dawn's face was about. Wanting to break down that
particular inhibition, which looking back, seemed so inane. Curiosity had
quickly given way to pleasure that first night.
   "It's really kind of silly, Sean."
   She thought about whether it was silly or not. Felt a spark of defiance. She
picked up the box and flipped open the top. 
   "Would you like one ?" she asked Sean as she took one for herself.
   "I don't really smoke, Kirsta," he said, smiling.
   "That's too bad. After Hank, I promised myself never to date anyone who
didn't."
   "That's why you broke up, isn't it ?" Sean asked. He knew his eyes were wide
as saucers and he didn't care. This was million to one time. No more watching
from a distance. It might just be impossible, but it had happened anyway. She
was going to tell him yes and then he would know exactly what to say.
   "Yeah. He didn't like it," she said, putting the cigarette in her mouth as
soon as she was done speaking, parting her lips and accepting it dead centre.
She pulled hungrily on it as soon as it was lit and once again held it
perfectly, this time down at her waist, the wrist angled just precisely to
Sean's tastes, the small fingers curled, the larger ones holding the
cigarette gently.
   Once more she exhaled while speaking and for the first time in his life,
Sean felt excitement in the very tips of his toes. It was like nothing he'd
ever experienced- or even imagined. 
   "It got to the point where I was too nervous to smoke in public, even around
his friends- most of whom smoke. I'd only been smoking a few months, and
yet-"
   "He gave you an ultimatum and that was it, right ?"
   "Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing ? I mean, that was two years of
my life- including my senior year of college-"
   Twenty-three and she'd only been smoking a few months ? She looked as though
she'd been doing it for years. Another inhale, this time with an awesome,
unnerving exhale that made Sean glad he was sitting down. Certainly his knees
would have buckled watching that warm, gentle fog of smoke waft towards him.
The inhale was so slow, so measured, so full of indulgence that Sean
abandoned every last pretense of caution or indifference.
   "He was insane, Kirsta," he said forcefully, and he meant it, even if such a
snap judgement sounded a little bit unbalanced itself. He answered the
quizzical look on her face immediately. "I could watch you smoke all night-"
   She drained her beer glass, ran her tongue along the entire surface of her
lips slowly and deliberately, and then inhaled once more before returning the
cigarette to a perfect rest by her waist.
   "Really ?" The sound of each letter seemed to be punctuated by a tiny puff
of sweet-smelling smoke, her voice deep and sultry. She held the bulk of the
smoke in for another exhale that was magnificent, this one a jet-engine
release directed squarely at him.
   "Oh yes. And that's just the beginning-"
   
   Sean was right about that. 
   


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