Family Ties

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 03 January 1998)


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Family Ties
an4@anon.lelnet.com

   Dear Diary (1 Jan 98),
   Well, we hardly know each other, yet I find myself telling you my resolutions
for the new year.
   - Lose ten pounds.
   - Tell Marcus that I'd like to go out with him. You know Marcus almost as
well as I do now, so you can understand that one.
   - Start smoking. You probably think this is weird. Most people resolve to
stop smoking. Maybe next year that will be on the list. But when I watch Mom-
she's smoking right now, I know I have to at least try it. I wish that Lisa
had stayed home for Winter break longer- she would have helped me with this
one. I don't know how Mom is going to take this. It's been hard deciding, but
I have to tell her, and since this is the only one of my resolutions I can
start today, I want to tell her in- well, in a few minutes-

   "Honey, what are you doing ?"
   It seemed like a silly question to Mariella. She was obviously writing in the
diary Mom had given her for Christmas. It had seemed like a strange gift at
first- her Powerbook was better suited for this sort of thing but she had
grown attached to it quite rapidly, and now it seemed really cool, even if it
was just a collection of paper, thread, and glue.
   "Writing my New Year's resolutions, Mom."
   "Can I see ?"
   Mariella thought about that. It sure would be the easiest way to tell her mom
what she was planning, and yet-
   No, she wanted to speak those words.	
   "Mom, have you ever regretted that you smoke ?"
   As Mariella asked the question, she wondered why should would of. At thirty-
eight, she didn't have the look a smoker was supposed to have. No wrinkled
skin, no morning cough. She smoked a pack of Parliament Lights 100s every day
and still ran five miles in the morning, lifted weights at lunch, and did
three or four road races a month. She was a killer on the racquetball court.
   And she was beautiful. Long blonde hair, luxurious even if she had that
Jennifer Anniston straight cut. Sparkling grey eyes. A round pert face and
very stand-up breasts. Hips that Mariella would have killed for.
   Beth straightened her robe, inhaled deeply, thinking. Not about the answer to
the question. There had never been so much as a single moment of regret about
her decision to smoke.
   But other things.
   "I used to regret choosing Yale over Harvard. I still regret telling David
Duchovny that I didn't want to date him because I thought he was a bookworm.
If I had known- and I still occasionally regret marrying your father- don't
look at me that way- he's a gem where you're concerned, but- no, I don't
regret smoking. Do you think one of my resolutions should be to quit ?"
   "No," Mariella said quickly, almost urgently.
   "I regret buying that two thousand dollar pentium paperweight to replace my
LC III, but no, I've never once wished I didn't start smoking. Now tell me
what your resolutions are-"
   Mom had that way about her. Once she had an idea in her head, there was no
deflecting it.
   "I want to lose ten pounds, tell Marcus that I want to go out with him, and-"
   She hesitated. Mom drew deeply on her cigarette, obviously enjoying the way
the smoke expanded into her lungs. It was fun just watching her smoke, and
Lisa was the same way. When they got together- things hadn't gone well for a
while after the divorce, but then Lisa started smoking and there was suddenly
this bond between them.
   "-I want to start smoking."
   Mom's exhale rushed from her mouth and the strangest look came over her face.
   "That's an unusual resolution, young lady."
   Mariella cringed. ‘Young lady' was rarely a good sign. It usually presaged a
lecture of some sort.
   Well, at least the hardest part of all this was over. Now Mom could give her
the one thousand reasons why what was good for her wasn't good for her
daughter.
   "I know, Mom."
   "Do you understand what you're asking me as well as what you're asking
yourself ?"
   "I think so-"
   Beth looked at the half-smoked cigarette in her hand. The thought of taking
another pull on it was so settling, so calming to her.
   Was there any part of her which would deny her daughter the same pleasure ?
   Of course. 
   Of course not.
   "Well, I guess I should ask if you've tried it."
   "No. I've wanted to, but none of my friends smoke-"
   "That's not true. Your cousin Janice smokes- don't look at me like you didn't
know. I think Aunt Diana knows too, but she won't say. There's going to be
trouble when she can't deny it any longer, too."
   "Well, yeah, I knew, but she's very careful about it."
   Beth managed a wry laugh. "There's no such thing as careful enough when a
parent like Diana is involved."
   "You sound like you don't approve-"
   Tapping ash off the cigarette, Beth inhaled again, enjoying it for what it
was. A simple, guiltless pleasure.
   "Well, Diana was always the pigheaded one of the family. And considering that
both she and Uncle Harry smoke, it's a little silly that they don't want
Janice to. It makes me feel sorry for her."
   "How do you know that she smokes, Mom ?"
   "Remember last week when I took her to have her hair done at my stylist's ?
The first thing she did when she got in the car was asked me if I minded if
she smoked." It hadn't happened exactly that way, but that was close enough.
"That's why I decided to take her for lunch afterwards."
   "Lunch and shopping. You two were gone all day."
   "Well, she can't smoke at home, and with school out, there's been almost no
chance for her to smoke at all. I felt sorry for her. She really enjoys it and
Diana's just being an ass about it all. Uncle Harry would just as soon she did
smoke, instead of finding all sorts of lame excuses to get out of the house."
   "You were never that way with Lisa."
   "Lisa was very honest about it. Just like you. But have you really never
tried it ?"
   "What makes that so hard to believe ?"
   "You're fifteen, almost sixteen. When I was your age I'd been openly smoking
for a year and an half."
   "I never had to do that. Lisa would have let me have one if I wanted. She
offered me one just the other day."
   "Why didn't you take her up on it ?"
   "She smokes those Marlboro 100s. They're so strong."
   "I know. I was out with her last weekend and ran out of my own. I tried one
of hers and it made me dizzy. But she likes that full-flavour and it's what
her boyfriend smokes, so-"
   "I can't believe that were having this calm discussion about smoking."
   "Honey, when your mother smokes, you have to expect as a child-"
   "A teenager, Mom."
   "As a teenager, that her opinions about your smoking are going to be a little
bit different. I may have voted for Bill Clinton, but that doesn't mean that I
share his opinions about my ch- my teenager smoking. You know that Lisa and I
started getting along better once her smoking was out in the open."
   "You and I never had the problems she had with you about-"
   "I know. But I would never trade that bond we've formed for anything. And I'm
glad it formed around smoking, because of all the pleasures which I allow
myself, smoking is the one I could never regret."
   "Are you saying your chocolate ice cream habit-"
   "Gives me pause. Yes. Every spoonful. Now, would you like to try one of my
cigarettes ?"
   Mariella thought about this. She'd had her heart set on Janice's brand, the
Marlboro Lights 100s, but then again, was there really a difference ? Janice
seemed to think so. She said that she didn't like her mother's Salems Lights
100s, but that was because of the menthol.
   "My feelings won't be hurt if you'd like something different, honey. Just
tell me what you want. We have to leave for Diana's in a few minutes anyway.
I'll stop and you can get whatever you want."
   "Well, I was thinking that I'd try the cigarettes that Janice smokes."
   "That's perfect. Maybe you and I can kill two birds with one stone."
   "What do you mean ?"
   "Well, Janice asked me if I'd be willing to talk to Diana about her smoking.
She seems to think it would be better coming from me, and she may have a
point. Diana is the one who got me started way back when. I can't think of a
better way to get the ball rolling then to have you walk into the house
smoking a cigarette."
   "Aunt D will have a bird, Mom."
   "Aunt D is not your mother. If you want to smoke at her house, you're going
to smoke at her house and that's all there is to it. Get dressed and let's
go."
   
   She walked into the Stop ‘n Shop and went straight into a checkout line.
Mariella took two packs of cigarettes and a five pack of lighters from the
cigarette rack and put them down on the belt, noticing the ‘Not 18 ? No
Tobacco !' sign on the ATM card stand.
   The girl behind the counter scanned the cigarettes and the lighters. Looking
down, Mariella could see a pack of Virginia Slims 120s in the girl's smock
pouch. She was also wearing a small black button with the pink triangle in the
centre. She looked at Mariella and smiled.
   "Seven oh seven."
   Mariella passed her Mom's ten and that was that. She reached it to plastic
bag, pulled out one of the packs, and tore away the cellophane. This was it.
Her first pack of cigarettes. It had a very cool feel to it, very taunt, the
lines of the cardboard straight, inviting. She cracked open the top, noticing
how stiff it was. The foil was smooth and perfect, until she opened it,
folding it away to expose twenty cigarettes, the filters pure white.
   As she walked through the outside door, she managed to free one of the
cigarettes.
   She placed it between her lips, amased at how light it was.
   "Can I give you a light ?" a familiar voice asked.
   She looked up and there was Marcus. He had a lit Marlboro 100 in his hand and
he'd already fished his lighter from his pocket.
   "Sure."
   "I didn't know you smoked," he said, his voice full of encouragement.
   "It was a New Year's resolution to join the rest of the family."
   He held the lighter to the cigarette. It didn't catch immediately, but on the
third try he got it going.
   She pulled a small amount of smoke into her mouth and then let it slide down
her throat.
   The feeling was one of immediate, intense pleasure.
   "Wow !"
   "Don't tell me I got to light your first cigarette ? That's so cool." He
sounded ridiculously thrilled.
   Mariella smiled coyly. "It's not like you just popped my cherry, Marcus."
   He redden. "Well, I remember my first cigarette. You know Kelli Langdon ?"
   "Kelli ? Who doesn't ? The prettiest cheerleader in the history of Hansen
High."
   "Yeah. She was my babysitter until I turned fourteen."
   "You had a babysitter when you were thirteen ?"
   "If Kelli was your babysitter- and you were a guy- you'd beg your Mom to be
sat just like I did."
   "So you've been smoking since you were thirteen ?"
   "Kelli insisted on it. She said that- never mind."
   Mariella punched him playfully on the arm. "She said what ?"
   "Oh man, I wish Mom hadn't gotten caught in the deli line, you know ? Well,
Kelli and I were very close- I mean, she was just sixteen and I was thirteen
and-"
   "You didn't," Mariella said, shocked.
   "It all started because Kelli used to go outside to smoke. She had this
stupid idea that mom wouldn't want her smoking in our house- as if. Well, she
put a pizza in the oven, we went outside so that she could smoke- and the
pizza didn't make it. After that, Mom told her she'd rather she just smoked in
the house. Well, this was in the last few months that I ‘needed' a babysitter.
We started fooling around-"
   "In other words, you were really  close."
   "Yeah. We started, I don't know, fooling around, and then one day that turned
into something more- only she stopped. I mean, I had her bra off and- do you
really want to hear this ?"
   "Yes, I do," Mariella said, although she was far from sure that she did. 
   "Well, there I am with my hand on her breast, stroking her nipple-"
   Mariella realised that she'd forgotten entirely about the cigarette. Her
first one, and she was wasting it. She had been unconsciously tapping the ash
from it, holding it the same way that her mother did, down by her waist, wrist
bent, working it with her index finger to keep the ash trimmed.
   She brought it to her mouth, wrapped her lips around it, and inhaled. The
thing she hadn't told her diary was that she didn't plan just to start
smoking, but to really smoke. Inhaling the way Mom and Lisa did, something
Janice still was only half-heartedly doing.
   The sensation of satisfaction was more intense this time, more fulfilling.
   Her exhale was thick and luxurious.
   "Do that again," Marcus said. His smile as she repeated the inhale was
matched by her own.
   "Your story," she said, her voice thick through the smoke. She inhaled again
and this time treated her boyfriend-to-be with a nose exhale.
   "Well," Marcus said, pausing to draw on his own. "She says ‘I can't do it
with someone who's not even old enough to smoke.' That was how she put it. ‘Do
it.'"
   "You were pretty young. Did you even know what she meant ?"
   "Yes, we get HBO. So I said that I was old enough and she asked me to prove
it. She put a cigarette in my mouth, lit it for me, and a few puffs later-"
   He didn't say any more. Mariella drew on her cigarette, noticing with
disappointment that it was almost gone already.
   "Yes-"
   "Gentlemen don't kiss and tell-"
   "Or fuck and tell-" Mariella said, trying her best to be good natured about
it. "I just-" Taking one last draw on the cigarette, she felt suddenly bold.
"-hope she didn't ruin you for the rest of us."
   Just then the car horn finally honked, a quick, half-hearted bleat that was
Mom's way of saying, ‘I hate to interrupt.'
   They exchanged a few more sentences and then Mariella was back in the smoky
safety of her mom's Lexus.

   Dear Diary (1 Jan 98 £2),

   Well, unless I can find a way to get liposuction by sundown, only two of my
three resolutions will be brought to fruition today. Marcus asked me out-
although after his story about Kelli- and I have to say that I do believe it-
I'm a little intimidated. It's like following Seinfeld on open-mike night. I
should have bought a box of tissues in the store.
   That's silly. Marcus isn't like that.
   Mom was so cool about it when I told her I had a date tonight. Then again,
I'm sitting here in the car smoking a freshly lit cigarette and I can tell she
couldn't be happier. I wish Lisa was here to see this. I was she'd seen the
way that Marcus almost wet his shorts watching me smoke, too.
   I can understand that. After having Kelli, I'll bet he never so much as think
twice about a woman who doesn't smoke. Maybe that's how it starts with most
men. The first love of their life, real or imagined, is a smoker. Mom was
saying a few minutes ago that it was that way with Dad, and-
   
   "You'll have to put your diary up, dear. We're here. Try not to think about
Marcus the whole time. We have work to do."
   Work. No way. It was going to be pure pleasure, smoking for Diana. Or rather,
smoking for Janice.

   Harry answered the door. He smiled at them and said "Welcome, ladies. Happy
New- uh oh."
   "Uh oh, what ?" Beth asked, as if she didn't know. She punctuated the
question with the sort of exhale that she knew would give Harry half a jones.
Good old reliable Harry.
   "Diana's not going to like the fact that you've let Mariella smoke, Beth. You
might want to put that out, Mari."
   "No, she wouldn't. And you can't tell me that my daughter isn't welcome in
her mother's sister's house because she smokes."
   Harry parsed the family relation, smiled, stepped outside and closed the
door.
   "I know Janice has been smoking, Beth. And that you encourage her. You forget
that we have the same stylist."
   Beth considered cracking wise about whether or not Harry still needed hair
styling with that chrome dome of his, thought better of it.
   "And-"
   "And I wish that Diana would lighten up and let Janice light up. Frankly,
it's been causing a little tension lately. Janice looks for any lame excuse
she can find to get out of the house and I know that if Dee would just let her
smoke that would stop. But she's dead set against it, and she'd going to piss
a river if-"
   "You know, I'd think a licensed therapist-"
   "The problem is that we're both  licensed therapists. Every argument I throw
up she shoots down."
   "Well, Mariella is my  daughter-"
   Mariella spoke through a nose exhale. "Mom, I don't want to piss off Aunt D."
   "Well, maybe I do. Janice is a good kid, Harry. So she smokes ? We all smoke.
Mari, tell Uncle Harry what your resolution was."
   The girl reddened slightly This was already going far less smoothly than
she'd hoped.
   "Come on, Mari. You know I won't judge."
   Mariella looked at Uncle Harry, who was honestly the least judgmental person
she knew.
   "I made a resolution to start smoking."
   "That's interesting. Why did you do that ?"
   Beth rolled her eyes. "I'm sure we both appreciate the free therapy, Harry,
but this is about Dee and Janice. Do you want my help or not ?"
   "Do you really think that Dee seeing Mari smoke is going to change her mind
about Janice ?"
   "I hope so. I- yes, I do. Dee has always been very fond of Mari. You know
that."
   "Yeah. Both of us are. She's a lot like Janice- and we didn't have to raise
her." He smiled at his own joke. "Look, I'm all for anything which gets this
out of the way, but-"
   "You have to live with Dee and we don't. I know."
   "Exactly. But then again, you're her sister. If anyone has the right to
interfere, it's you."
   Mariella finished her cigarette.
   "Can I light another one, Uncle Harry ?"
   She cuzzled up to Uncle Harry, pressing the length of her body against his,
her right breast pushing into his arm. She looked at him with sky blue doe
eyes and he melted.
   "Of course, honey. But don't blame me if things get a little ugly."
   Beth saw that the old Mariselle charm still worked on Harry. She didn't
follow that thought any farther. Harry was a good man- now.
   Mariella lit another cigarette, amasing her mother with the veracity with
which she smoked.
   The inhale was full, measured, intentional. A life time around smokers had
certainly done her good.
   They walked inside.
   
   Diana noticed almost immediately. She was sitting on the couch, playing
Scrabble with Janice when they walked in.
   "Happy- Oh, I see you've started smoking, Mari. I'll bet your mother is very
proud of you."
   Janice was smart enough to see what was coming. She stood up, took Mariella's
arm, and halfway dragged her into the kitchen without so much as saying a
word. Harry considered sticking around, but one look from Diana told him that
this was between sisters. Thinking bowl game, he was more than happy to
oblige- for now.
   The first thing that Janice did when they got to the kitchen was put out her
hand, practically demanding the cigarette. Instead, Mariella passed over her
pack and the lighter.
   "Are you crazy ?"
   "Come on Janice, you know Mom and Aunt D. Once they decide to argue, that's
it for the next hour or so. Go ahead."
   Without further argument Janice slid one of the cigarettes from the pack and
lit it with a trembling hand.
   "What are you so nervous about ? I've seen you smoke in the house before."
   "Not when Mom is actually home. I can't believe that you've started smoking.
What happened ?"
   "Mom asked me what my New Year's resolutions were and I told her one of them
was that I wanted to start smoking. She was all for it. Not only that-"
Mariella stopped in mid-sentence, inhaled deeply, and tried another nose
exhale, liking the subtlety different feel of it. "-Marcus Aero asked me out
tonight. I came out of the Stop and Shop and he lit my cigarette for me."
   "Sounds like a black and white movie."
   "I don't care what it is. Except-"
   Seeing how confidently Mari inhaled- on her first day of smoking- Janice
found herself inhaling more deeply than she was used to. She knew she wasn't
really inhaling the way her mom and dad did, but it wasn't until she saw Mari
doing it that she realised she was missing something.
   The truth was, the feeling was even better, more intense. And it wasn't
making her dizzy or nauseous like the last time she'd tried to really inhale.
   A smile spread across her face.
   "Except what, Mari ?"
   "Do you who Kelli	 Langdon is-"

   "She is my daughter," Beth said, angrily tapping ash into the expensive
crystal. "Not yours. Mine."
   "I know that," Diana said angrily. "And I also know a few other things. I
know that Janice smokes. I know that when she's with you, you let her smoke. I
know Harry would just as soon we let her smoke. And now Mariella will be
pressuring her to smoke more or more openly. But she's my  daughter, Beth. If
I wanted her to smoke, she'd be smoking right now, this very minute."
   Beth inhaled, paused, exhaled slowly. It was a nice exercise in relaxation.
When she'd first started smoking openly she'd noticed that her smoking changed
when she was nervous or agitated. She would attack the cigarette with her
mouth and then try to blow the smoke into the next county. Mom had called it
angry smoking, and Beth had asked her why she never did it herself.
   ‘There aren't many thing important enough to waste a good cigarette about,
honey,' had been her answer.
   Not once since that day had Beth smoked that way.
   She watched Diana jam the filter of her own cigarette in her mouth, pull
hard, and almost immediately blow a fast moving jet of unenjoyed smoke from
her mouth.
   Diana had always been the emotional one.
   "When you talk like that Diana, it's not about Janice, it's about you. What
about her ? What if she wants to smoke."
   "It's not about her, not really. I mean-" This time Diana's inhale was more
reasonable, and shew actually held the smoke long enough to relax her at least
a little bit. "I don't know how you managed after the divorce. I guess that
you've just never felt a lot of pressure where Lisa and Mariella are
concerned- don't get me wrong, you've done a great job, but- I mean, you don't
go to the PTA meetings and the parent-teacher conferences the way I do, you
don't interact in those circles-"
   "And you're not trying to criticise," Beth mocked.
   "I'm not. You've always had a chip on your shoulder about that. As if I can't
understand that you have a living to make and a life to live you're already
working twice as hard as Harry or I without the PTA or whatever. I do
understand that, Beth."
   "Why do you let those people get to you ?"
   "Get to me ?"
   Beth stubbed out her cigarette and lit another one, thinking back to when
they were kids and they'd just started smoking. Diana had been sixteen, she'd
been fourteen. They'd started together and it was a very short number of days
before Mom had found out. She'd immediately given their smoking her
unequivocal stamp of approval. Beth had taken full advantage, lighting up in
public at every chance because she wanted the whole world to know that she was
a smoker. Not Diana. Her smoking had remained almost furtive.
   "Remember when we first started. You were thrilled that Mom was letting us
smoke, but you were still afraid to light up when we went anywhere, as though
the wrong people might see you. The four of us would go out to eat and sit in
the smoking section and Mom, Dad and I would light our cigarettes and you'd
sit there glancing around. It was always ‘there's the principal or there's
Mrs. Green or there's the priest."
   "So-"
   "Well, you haven't changed."
   "You don't think this should be about me at all, even though when people look
at Janice, they see Harry and I as an extension of her, do you ?"
   Beth paused to inhale again. Her sister's body language was slowly changing
for the better. She too inhaled again and this time it was slow, patient,
well-measured. Which told Beth that she was slowly winning her case.
   "I think if you look at an eleven or twelve year old girl and she's standing
with her mother smoking a cigarette that you have to question that. But Janice
is fifteen. She's old enough to enjoy smoking in her own right. Your whole
problem is that you've fallen into this nineties trap that smoking is somehow
bad or evil or socially pariahical."
   "Well-"
   "That's just the media. Millions of people see millions of other people
smoking every day, and you know what the majority of them think ?"
   "No, because we're in the minority."
   "Not everyone is a judgmental bastard, you know. Most of them just think,
‘Hey, she's smoking.' Not ‘She's smoking, her parents must suck' or ‘she's a
bad person.' In fact, I value Mariella's judgment very highly, and what she
took from watching Lisa and I smoke was that she might enjoy it herself. You
have to get it out of your head that everyone out there has a negative
association with smoking."
   "Everyone's not Harry, Beth."
   "We'd live in a better world if they were. You know, I asked Janice why she
started smoking the other day. I didn't really need to. When she got in the
car I waited until we were out of sight of the house to tell that she could
smoke. She lit up so fast- and she glows when she smokes. She loves it. But I
asked anyway, just so that I could hear her say that it wasn't because we
smoke or anything stupid like that. She looked at me with those big brown eyes
of hers and said ‘The same reason Mom smokes. The same reason you smoke. I
enjoy it.' All you're doing by refusing her that is alienating her and
instilling the same fear of others that you have."
   "That's not fair, Beth. I don't have an avoidance complex."
   Beth laughed, exhaled, then drank the second hand smoke back in. "Of course
you do. You're one of the most non-confrontational people I know. Which is why
you're such a good therapist. But you overcompensate in the home environment.
You do things because you think you have to, because the other parents in the
fucking PTA might not look kindly on you letting your daughter smoke. Rather
than take them on, you're making Janice very unhappy."
   "She's not unhappy-"
   "Because she sneaks out every day to smoke. She told me some of her
favourites. As if you don't know why she'd rather walk three miles to the
store to get a Diet Coke at the convenience store than drink a glass of milk."
   "She knows I know."
   "Of course she does. But you let that go because it's easier to say ‘not in
my house' than face your own fears. Who knows what she'll miss, and what
she'll take away from her last two or three years here before college. Do you
want her to resent you ?"
   "No. But parents can't just cave in all the time to avoid resentment. And
what do you mean ‘What she'll miss ?'"
   Beth's nose exhale would have made Harry's pants seem too tight.
   Actually, it did. The two sisters didn't know that Harry was watching the
discussion from the hallway. He'd snuck past the kitchen where Janice and
Mariella were smoking. Janice looked so calm, so peaceful. She had her
mother's way of working a cigarette, perfect holds, nice inhales- much better
today than he'd ever seen, actually. Seeing the open enjoyment on her face was
making him wish that Beth would work her gentle magic on her sister.
   "Well. I let Mariella go buy her own cigarettes this morning. Seeing as
nothing is ever closed anymore, we swung by the Stop ‘n Shop. I remember how
much I enjoyed buying cigarettes when I was her age- anyway, she was walking
out of the store and there was Marcus-"
   "That gorgeous kid that's she's in love with ?"
   "Well," Beth said, smiling as she drew on her cigarette. "Love is kind of
strong. She hardly knows him, you know. But yeah, she thinks she's in love.
Wouldn't you be ?"
   "I almost am. That day at her birthday party- made me wish I was fifteen, you
know."
   "Exactly. Don't we all. Well, there she is, so eager she already has the
cigarette in her mouth. Well, you could see that he was getting a jones just
lighting it for her, and now she has a date tonight."
   Diana finished her cigarette, lit another. Beth couldn't help but notice the
way her sister's hand crept towards her crotch and she wondered if there
wouldn't be a little pretending tonight when she went to bed and started in on
Harry.
   "True. I would never have met Harry if I didn't smoke- but the same could be
said for you and Johnny."
   That was Diana for you. Back her far enough into the corner and she would get
a little mean.
   "We've been over that ground. But I have two wonderful daughters because of
that man and he's not a bad person. He is helping to put Lisa through college,
and he'll do the same for Mari. I just got to a point where living with him
wasn't the right thing to do. But I don't regret the result and I still think
back very fondly of that day my lighter ran out of fluid and he was there for
me."
   "That trick always did work for you," Diana said, her voice now tinged with a
narrow sort of anger.
   "Please, Dee. This is about Janice, not Harry."
   "I know. I'm sorry."
   "I'm not. Look, what do you say you try it ? Let Janice smoke and see what
happens."
   "You mean the whole nine yards. Let her smoke in the house and the car and
when we go out."
   Dee wasn't convinced yet.
   "Is there any part of you which is proud that Janice made a decision, on her
own, to start smoking ?"
   Diana said nothing. She merely sat there, thinking and smoking.
   "Do you like to smoke, Dee ?"
   "Of course I do."
   "Would you say that you're pro-smoking ? That there isn't part of you that
enjoys going into a restaurant and lighting a cigarette in an environment
where you can proudly proclaim that you smoke ?"
   "Of course."
   "Well then ?"
   "Okay, yes, I'm proud of her. But I don't want to make this so easy for her
that she thinks I don't care about her."
   Beth and Harry both knew that the game was over.
   "It's because she knows that you care about her that she wants you to approve
of her smoking. That should be obvious."
   "All right. Harry, stop standing behind the wall and go get your daughter."
   When Janice walked into the room, she was holding an unlit cigarette in her
hand.
   Mariella's was lit and she drew deeply on it, a smile creeping across her
face.
   "Can I, Mom ?"
   "Come over here, young lady."
   Janice went and sat down next to her mother, who picked her lighter up off
the table and used it to light her daughter's cigarette.
   "No more long walks to the store, Janice."
   They all laughed.

   Dear Diary (1 Jan 98 £3)
   What a day. I've always thought that the New Year was a boring day. Adults
getting over their hangovers. Nothing on television but college football and
old movies. I've never been a fan, you know. But I'll think that I'll have to
change my mind about that. I can't believe how much a little thing can change
your life.
   One of the first things I did after Marcus picked me up was ask him point
blank the question that had been nagging me all day.

   Part of Mariella couldn't believe that she was really here. It was amasing
that just twenty-four hours ago there had been no hope in her mind that Marcus
would want to be doing something like this and now-
   Now she had one doubt which needed to be answered.
   "Marcus, did you just ask me out because I smoke ?"
   "You mean," he said, backing out of the driveway slowly and forcing himself
to pay more attention to the road than to the fact that his date was lighting
a cigarette. "-am I just looking for another Kelli ?"
   "Something like that."
   There was no one else on the road so he did spare a glance at Mariella. It
was more than worth it. Creamy white smoke was just pouring from both her
mouth and nose. It was impossible to imagine that he'd lit her first cigarette
for her just hours ago. All he could think about was pulling the car over and-
   Watching her smoke.
   That would be plenty for a first date.
   In fact, although it was an hard thought to reconcile, Marcus knew he'd
probably go home tonight and masturbate himself to sleep thinking about her
sitting in his sister's car, smoking those cigarettes.
   "No. I mean, yes, the reason I finally asked you out was because you smoke.
That's an huge turn on for me. I won't lie. We've been friends for a long
time, but until I saw you with that cigarette in your mouth-"

   I have to say, diary, that there was a part of me which didn't much like
that. But think about it. Makeup, hair, clothes, the way you talk and smile
and bat your eyes at a guy- well, not you, but the rest of us. And you don't
enjoy most of those things. I've only been smoking for one day, but I can tell
you that I'm going to be smoking for a long time, and enjoying it.
   It's a good thing I bought two packs this morning. I had to share with Janice
and then all of the sudden Marcus and I are slipping out in the middle of this
boring movie to have a smoke. If I hadn't had that second pack-
   I was glad he was honest because I knew.
   No question.
   After the movie we just stayed in the parking lot. It was the last show so
the place cleared out. We made out for about half an hour and then I asked him
if he wanted to move to the back seat.
   I lit a cigarette. It tasted so good in the cold air with the windows open.
   I told him to unzip his pants, which he did. Then I sat back and started
smoking. It was about three inhales before the head of his penis came sticking
up through the top of his briefs. Right then I knew what to do.
   I told him to start playing with himself. As I said it I let go of this
perfect exhale. Creamy white smoke, like liquid ivory. It drifted between us,
hung, this perfect haze.
   An haze of open sexuality. I had never felt so alive. He put his hand on the
head of his penis and began- it looked almost like he was tickling himself.
This dreamy look came over his face but he kept his eyes wide open and I just
sat and smoked. Nose exhales. I tried a double but that was too much. 
   I leaned close and exhaled right in his face and he came. It went everywhere.
But he just sat there, watching me. When I finished, I lit another one and he
stayed hard the whole time. So hard. I took a few puffs and then traded my
cigarette for him.
   When he came again, I had a lungful of smoke. So I swallowed for him and then
asked him to open his mouth.
   I thought he'd say no, but he did and we kissed, trading the smoke back and
forth until it was gone.
   After that he insisted that it was his turn.
   His hands are amasing. We were both in the middle of inhales when I climaxed
and I thought that I was going to die. It was the most perfect moment of my
life, and he was so turned on he came a third time.
   Talk about remembering your first time.
   We just sat and smoked after that. I wanted to have sex, but he was exhausted
and finally around two he drove me home.
   I'll have to go buy more cigarettes tomorrow. 
   I can't wait.

   There was a knock at the door.
   Mariella was dreading that knock, but she knew she'd have to tell her mother
something.
   She only hoped she could decide what. 
   As she lit one final cigarette for the day she knew very well it would have
to be the truth.
   And that was just fine.


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