Julia

(by anonymous5, 23 June 2000)


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Julia

Julia had never smoked before, growing up. She went through high school and 
college without ever touching the stuff, surrounding herself with friends 
who largely stayed away from it. When she was 22, and graduated from college 
after two terms in summer school, she was hired at an announting firm 
downtown.  She was apprehensive about the job, unsure about meeting new 
people, although her old friends from college still lived in the area, 
although most were engaged or in committed relationships. She realized that 
she had to meet new people, and she hoped work would be a way to do it. The 
firm she started in had an eclectic mix of people in terms of ages, but it 
was a big company.

Julia was a fair-haired girl, about 5-6, a quiet girl who smiled a lot and 
friends enjoyed company with.  She had been in and out of relationships, 
nothing ever that serious, except a boy her sophomore year who she saw on 
and off. She wasn't loose, but she wasn't a prude either. But she worked 
hard, and was smart. People liked her, especially once they got to know her.

She started in early October at her job, working on the third floor on a 
busy street. Her cubicle put her in the middle of the office. During 
training, which comprised the first two weeks of her job, she met a couple 
of women her age who were also starting. Chlarissa was a more outgoing girl, 
with okay looks. Angela was also outgoing, but with a more sly, quick wit. 
She also smoked, her brand being Marlboro Lights. She had started during her 
senior year of college as a light smoker, and was up to about 10-12 a day by 
the time she started at the firm.

During training, Angela would occasionally smoke on breaks. Chlarissa rolled 
her eyes when the three went to lunch and Angela would request a smoking 
section table. They compromised and half the time sat in smoking and half 
the time in non-smoking. Angela wasn't a chain smoker, so she could do 
without it at times. But she was still addicted.

After training, Julia settled into the job well. She sat across the way from 
Angela, while Chlarissa sat a few desks down. Julia had always been curious 
about smoking, but never enough to start. She never really had the 
opportunity either. But she had always been curious, wondering what it was 
like, and what all the allure was. A couple weeks into her job, Julia was 
stuck with a tough assignment. She was supposed to go out with her college 
friends that night, a Thursday night, but was stuck at work because she had 
procastinated and had a Friday deadline. It was about 8 p.m., and pretty 
much everyone had left, while Julia stayed at her computer, slaving away. 
She needed a break. She walked over to the candy machine and grabbed a 
Hershey's. While she munched on it, she noticed she needed a paper clip to 
bind some loose note papers together. She looked around but was surprised to 
see that she didn't have any. So she went over to Angela's desk, since that 
was the person she was closest to. None were on her desk in the open, so she 
fished in the front drawer, then in the first drawer to the left. Still no 
luck. But Julia did spot a pack of Marlboros sitting there, apparently a 
backup that Angela had there in case she ran out or something. Julia thought 
for a moment, then thought the better of it and finally opened the second 
drawer and found the desired paper clips.

Julia continued working for about 20 more minutes, still having trouble 
moving on. Her thoughts kept turning back to Angela's desk, and finally she 
couldn't resist. She just wanted to try, something to break up the monotony, 
and satisfy her lifelong curiosity about smoking. She made her way over, 
opened the drawer and grabbed the Marlboros. They felt a little strange in 
her hand, and she put them back in. But then she reconsidered, and picked 
them up again, looked at them for a second. The pack was a little over half 
full. She put them in her pants pocket. She realized she would need a light, 
and looked around for one. Luckily, there were matches in Angela's front 
door. "I can't believe I'm doing this," Julia thought as she headed 
downstairs.

She got off the elevator and headed outside. She wanted a secluded area, in 
the off chance - and sheer improbability - that somebody she knew passed by. 
She went to the left, near the shadows. Standing up, she pulled the 
cigarettes out of her pocket, inspected them again, reached in and pulled 
one out. Slowly, she put it to her mouth. It left a weird feeling in her 
lips. Before she could change her mind, she took out the matches, cigarette 
still in her mouth, took a match out, flicked it, and brought the match to 
the tip of the cigarette. When it lit, predictably, she coughed. She 
couldn't handle it at first. The cigarette had gone out because she hadn't 
inhaled. Undetered, she tried again, and this time was able to fully inhale. 
She still felt a little overwhelmed, not realizing it would be such a full 
brunt of smoke going in her lungs. But when she took the cigarette out of 
her mouth, she was able to exhale some smoke. It looked a little weird 
coming out of her mouth. She brought the cigarette back up to her lips, 
inhaled again briefly, then exhaled again. It was still hard for her to 
understand the attraction to smoking. But at least she was getting her mind 
off work. She took several more inhales, holding it in longer and longer, 
and with the cigarette about half smoked finally stubbed it out on the 
ground. She headed back upstairs, feeling a little different, and put the 
cigarettes back where she found them in Angela's desk.

Julia worked for about another half hour, with the smoke seemingly having 
invigorated her. She wasn't sure if she had liked it or not. As she left, 
she thought about having another cigarette. After packing up, she decided to 
try again, and went back to Angela's desk, reached in the drawer and took a 
cigarette, along with some matches. As she walked outside, knowing she had a 
two-block walk to the subway, she lit the cigarette, inhaled, and made her 
way to the subway. This time, while still somewhat disgusting, she was able 
to digest it more, and it was soothing to her after a hard night of work. 
She stubbed it out just before she went into the subway. She had to brush 
her teeth hard, and went to sleep that night smelling the smoke, and woke up 
the same way. She resolved that it had been a one-time thing.

The next day she thought of the cigarettes when she first saw Angela. But 
she was able to put it out of her mind as the day wore on, and Julia went on 
to enjoy her day and the rest of her weekend.

The next Tuesday, she once again had to work late, and once again was the 
only one there around 9 p.m. Again, Julia thought about the cigarettes in 
Angela's desk. She went over to the desk, reached in the second drawer and 
again saw the Marlboros. Angela hadn't needed to reach in the pack for any 
since then. Julia picked out another cigarette, found some more matches in 
Angela's front drawer, and made her downstairs and outside again. She went 
to the shadows again, lit the cigarette, and once again it was a little 
rough on her senses and lungs. But she could deal with it better. By her 
third or fourth inhale it was getting more satisfying. Julia found herself 
thinking, `What if I do get addicted to this?' She put that thought out of 
her mind, and she kept inhaling, about once every 15 seconds or so, her full 
thoughts on the cigarette, and feeling a little self-conscious on the rare 
occasion that someone walked by. She finished the cigarette when it was near 
the filter, then went back upstairs. This time, she didn't grab another one 
before leaving, mostly worried about Angela missing them.

A couple nights later, she was home at night, after another long night of 
work. There was nothing to do. So Julia put on her jacket and went for a 
walk. Her path took her a few blocks away, and past a 7-Eleven. She went in 
to grab some iced tea. While waiting in line, with no one behind her, she 
noticed the various cigarettes near the counter. Impulsively, she grabbed a 
pack of Marlboro Lights. She hadn't really enjoyed them before, but she 
hadn't minded them, and they'd given her some sort of odd feeling she was 
interested in again. Besides, they were only two bucks. She asked for some 
matches as well.

On the way home, she opened the pack, taking the cellophane off for the 
first time, and kind of enjoyed the sight of an entire pack in front of her. 
She grabbed one, lit it without problem, and smoked it on the way home. She 
enjoyed it this time. It was a good way to pass the walk home, and she was 
satisfied as she went into her place and prepared for bed. She put the pack 
of cigarettes in her front sock drawer, almost like a kid hiding them from 
her parents, although she didn't have anyone to worry about.

She went out the night night after work with Chlarissa and Angela to a bar. 
Angela smoked several cigarettes, and Julia thought seriously of having one 
too. But she felt too self-conscious to ask. After a couple beers, at about 
10 p.m., everyone went home. Julia was to go out the next night with her 
college friends, so she wanted to save money. When she got home she watched 
TV for a little bit, then took a shower. Julia then reached in her sock 
drawer and decided to have another cigarette. She took the pack, which had 
the matches in it, and went for another walk. She lit the cigarette once she 
was out of her parking lot, walked around the block while smoking it, then 
came back home and went to bed.

The next day she went out with her friends, didn't mention her new habit, 
but had a craving for a cigarette while they were at a bar. She ignored it, 
but once she got home she took another walk and had another cigarette. With 
the effects of the two beers still having her, she decided to smoke another 
one when she got home, this time just opening a window.

Sunday went by without a craving, as did Monday - until that night, when on 
an impulse she got up from her living room and grabbed the cigarettes from 
her sock drawer and took another walk.

By this time she was really starting to enjoy it. Julia worried about 
getting addicted, but once again wrote it off, figuring it wouldn't be a 
long-term thing. She would finish the pack, if that, and that would be it. 
The routine was a nightly one that week - whenever she felt like it she 
would grab the cigarettes, walk outside and have a cigarette. She didn't go 
out Friday night, so this time she did something unusual: She had one 
immediately when she got home, just opening the window in her apartment, 
then had two without the windows apartment along with a bottle of wine and a 
couple TV shows. She looked in the pack Friday night and realized it was 
over half empty, and Julia was surprised to see that she had smoked all of 
those. She resolved to stay from it during the weekend, when she was to go 
help her family with some chores around the house and then go out with 
friends at night.

She did go until Sunday night without another cigarette, but had to have one 
on Sunday night, once again taking a walk. She was enjoying it more and 
more, and starting not to mind if she got hooked. Her inhales were more 
smooth now, and the smoke felt good coming in and then going out. She knew 
it was probably unhealthy, but figured since she was so young and was 
certain not to get hooked that she had plenty of room for error.

Julia went Monday in its entirety without having another one. She was too 
tired once she got home that night to do anything but take a shower and plop 
into bed. Tuesday was a different story, however. She found herself craving 
one at different times during the day, as work stressed her out. She 
wondered if she should have left her pack in her sock drawer. A couple 
times, she contemplated asking Angela for one. The two and Chlarissa went to 
lunch, and when Angela lit up in the smoking section (it was her turn to 
choose) Julia found herself envious. Then the thought struck her as to how 
much she had matured as a "smoker." She had only been doing it at night, 
when it was dark. Now she had cravings for one during the day, and in 
public. But she abstained.

That night, the first thing she did when she got home was go for the sock 
drawer and grab a cigarette. She smoked it in her kitchen, only opening the 
window after a couple inhales. She talked on the phone for awhile, made 
herself dinner, and when she was done the next thing she needed was another 
cigarette. This time she went out on her deck (she didn't have a backporch 
patio) and smoked there, knowing her neighbors were away. She was able to 
got bed with Letterman's monologue at about midnight.

Her last thought before leaving was about bringing her cigarettes with her 
that day. But Julia decided not to, figuring she could bum one off Angela if 
it came to that. But when she got to work she was disheartened to see that 
Angela had called in sick! Maybe that would allow her the chance to sneak in 
her desk and grab one? No, she thought the better of that, for several good 
reasons. Besides, it was a much more relaxing day, and when she got home she 
only had the craving to have one cigarette, this time with a glass of wine 
after dinner.

The next day at work got brutal, however. More work, more calls. Julia had 
to skip lunch, with Chlarissa and Angela bringing back a sandwich from the 
deli. At about 3 p.m., Angela reached in her purse for her pack of Marlboros 
and headed outside. Impulsively, Julia decided to follow her. She got 
Angela's attention near the elevator. "Heading out for lunch?" Angela asked 
with a smile, with the cigarettes in her left hand and a lighter in her 
right. "Actually -. No," Julia answered slowly. "I was wondering if I could 
bum a cigarette?" She chose the word "bum" because it was slang. It would've 
been "have," if she was more experienced in asking. "What?!" smiled Angela. 
"Julia!"

Julia smiled sheepishly as the elevator went two flights downstairs. "Yeah, 
it's been a long day, a long week. "Do you mind?"

"Of course not, here," said Angela, reaching in and taking one out, then 
handing it to her friend. "But Julia, when did this start?

"Recently," said Julia. "Work has been so tough. Stress. That kind of 
thing."

"Oh, yeah, I hear that!" Angela said, as they got out of the elevator and 
headed outside. They went to a bench that was under the overhang and almost 
out on the street. Angela brought the lighter up to Julia, who quickly put 
the cigarette in her mouth and moved to the light. Angela lit Julia's, then 
her own. Angela noticed that Julia didn't appear too new at smoking. She 
took deep breaths, and blew out medium-sized plumes of smoke.

"So what's it been like, smoking I mean?" Angela asked, taking a puff.

"It's-..it's good, it's good," Julia said, taking another puff. "I wouldn't 
consider myself a smoker or anything, but you know. Sometimes I need it. 
Please don't tell Chlarissa about this, or anyone else for that matter. I'll 
be other this, this little faze soon, once I settle into work."

"Understood, your secret is safe with me," said Angela, taking another puff. 
They switched the conversation to work, and went inside once they were done, 
with Julia stoping at the business store for some gum.

That night the friends went out with some more friends from work, a couple 
guys and another girl. They sat in the smoking section, and the guys and 
Angela all smoked. Julia found herself badly wanting one, and at one point 
when Chlarissa went to the bathroom Angela offered - and Julia accepted - a 
pull on her cigarette. They left at about 11, and on the way out Julia 
smoothly followed Angela to the subway. When they said their goodbyes to 
Chlarissa, Julia smiled at Angela, who without a word smiled and brandished 
the pack to her. Julia pulled a cigarette out, Angela lit it, and Julia had 
an enjoyable smoke before saying goodbye to Angela and heading for the 
subway.

When she got home, Julia needed one more cigarette before bed, this time in 
the kitchen with the window open. Her place was starting to smell smoky, so 
she resolved to buy some air freshener the next day.

When she woke up the next day, she was feeling under the weather. She called 
in sick, and spent the whole day in bed, and canceled plans to go out on 
Friday night. On Saturday she went out with her college friends, and had an 
occasional craving for a cigarette, but Julia was able to survive. However, 
her flu bug entirely gone, when she got home she went back to the sock 
drawer, pulled out a cigarette and went for a walk. The next day she stayed 
in, cleaning up her room, and around 5 - when it got dark - decided she 
wanted to smoke. When she looked at the pack she noticed she was down to her 
last few cigarettes. So she went on a walk to 7-Eleven - enjoying a 
cigarette along the way - then bought another pack of Marlboro Lights - and 
enjoyed another cigarette on the way home. She also had one just before bed.

That week at work she and Angela took cigarette breaks every day around 3 
p.m. At lunch Angela agreed never to sit in the smoking section out of 
respect for Julia, who still didn't want anybody but Angela knowing about 
her new habit. And each night when she got home Julia would have a 
cigarette, usually one but occasionally two.

On Friday night the three work friends went out with the same friends they 
had gone out with the previous week. This time, after her first beer, Julia 
accepted Angela's offer for a cigarette. Chlarissa smiled in a confused way 
when she saw this, and thought it weird when she saw Julia smoking like she 
was experienced. But she didn't say anything. On the way out (they didn't 
stay long) Julia asked for another one from Angela. This time Chlarissa 
asked, and Julia said she had smoked in college and was considering starting 
again. Chlarissa chided her, and said she shouldn't start again. Julia said 
not to worry, she probably wouldn't. Nevertheless, when Julia got home, this 
time once again she had to have another cigarette. She went without one 
during the day Saturday, as she had lunch at her parents and then went to 
the home of a college friend at night. But she had to have another one when 
she got home that night.

It continued that way for another couple weeks. She would join Angela for a 
cigarette break once - and sometimes twice - a day, and occasionally join 
her at lunch for one. And at night she would have one and sometimes two. She 
bought another pack of Marlboro Lights, but now kept them out in the open, 
usually on her TV stand.  She bought a pack for Angela that week to make up 
for all the ones she was bumming from her, although Angela didn't mind, 
because she like having someone to join her on breaks.

Julia was now smoking four or five cigarettes a day, sometimes six, she 
couldn't keep count. One Friday night she went out alone with Angela, and 
since Angela had smoked her last one late in the day - each bought a pack 
from the cigarette machine at the bar. Julia and Angela chain-smoked that 
night. Julia must have had about half of her pack in the two and a half 
hours she was there. She had another on the way home and a clincher before 
she went to bed. When she got up she felt like her throat was burning, but 
this time she had a cigarette just after breakfast - a first. She had 
another in the afternoon, and another before she went out with her friends 
that night, thinking she wouldn't be able to have another before bedtime.

But her college friends brought along a new friend, Kara, who smoked 
Parliaments. Julia's friend Mia had been a social smoker, so she had a 
couple. When Julia went with Mia and Kara to the bathroom, she lingered 
outside the bathroom and asked Kara if she could have one. Mia was 
surprised, and asked, and Julia let it all spill out, as the three lit up in 
front of the bathroom and had their cigarettes.

When they got back to the table they went another 15 minutes without one, 
then Kara offered one to Mia and Julia. Their friend Derek was incredelous: 
"Julia! Why are you asking her? She doesn't smoke! Don't you," he said, 
smiling at Julia, who smiled sheepishly. "Oh, whoops," said Kara. "Julia!" 
yelled Derek and his fiance Sheryl, in unison, realizing Julia was being 
sheepish. Julia smiled, said she had a friend at work who had gotten her 
started, and accepted Kara's offer. Julia felt strange lighting up in front 
of all her friends, but she had badly needed the cigarette. She bummed 
another two or three more from Kara before the night was over. She had 
another one on the way home, then of course one before bed at home.

On Sunday she had five or six, and had to return to the 7-Eleven for another 
pack. But this time, remembering last night, she decided for Parliaments, 
which had gone down a little easier. She also bought  a lighter. She 
wondered if it had just been the alcohol, but when she lit up after leaving 
the tore she agreed that the Parliaments were more suitable for her.

The next day, Julia decided to do a first - she brought the cigarettes with 
her to work. She and Angela took several breaks during the day, but kept 
their arrangement with Chlarissa to sit in a non-smoking section half the 
time. Julia now estimated she was up to about eight cigarettes a day 
altogether. She and Angela went to a bar on Wednesday night and chain-smoked 
again. Julia had to buy another pack of Parliaments at the bar.

On Thursday night the three friends were supposed to go out together, but 
Angela had to bow out. So Chlarissa and Julia went alone. The pair sat down 
at a round perch table a level up from the bar. Julia waited a few minutes 
to take out her cigarettes, and of course asked Chlarissa if she would mind 
before she lit up. Chlarissa said no, but did have a few questions.

"So, do you like, do you like smoking?" she asked.

"Sure, sure I do," said Julia, blowing out a plume of smoke. "I take my 
cigarettes with me everywhere now. I haven't told my family. Maybe I never 
will."

"So you'll quit after awhile, and pretend you never did," Chlarissa asked.

"Maybe," Julia responded, taking another pull and exhaling. "I'm not looking 
that far ahead. I don't know, I'm still kind of ashamed."

"Hmmm," Chlarissa muttered. "So-.can I have one? See what it's all about?"

Julia smiled. "Have you ever tried?"

"No," Chlarissa said. "Never, ever. - I won't let you get me addicted, 
though."

Julia picked up her pack and extended it to her friend. Chlarissa 
tentatively reached in and grabbed one. She put it to her mouth, took the 
lighter from Julia, and lit up. She was able to inhale in one breath.

"Better than me the first time," Julia smiled. "I must have coughed up a 
storm."

Chlarissa put the lighter down, held the cigarette in her mouth then finally 
exhaled. "It's okay. It might take me awhile."

Chlarissa was able to finish the cigarette, and about 20 minutes later asked 
for another one from Julia. All told, she had about four or five that night, 
before the pair left at around 11. They said their goodbyes, since Chlarissa 
was taking a three-day weekend to be with family.

The next day, Julia worked hard to finish early with a big project that had 
been handed her, but wasn't able to. She only finished it around 7, well 
after most people had left. Her plans for that night - dinner with Derek and 
Sheryl - had been canceled because of the work. When she exited her work 
building she headed away from the subway to a store a half a block away. She 
had run out of cigarettes at lunch, and had gone without one since then. She 
bought a pack of Parliaments and a new lighter. As she left the store, she 
opened the pack, taking the cellephane off. As she walked to the subway, she 
reached in and took out a cigarette. Holding it in her left hand along with 
the lighter, she opened her purse and put the Parliaments in there. She 
closed the purse, then stopped to light the cigarette. She put the cigarette 
in her mouth, and before lighting it took a whiff of the feeling of tobacco 
and nicotine in her lips. Then, she brought the lighter up, flicked it, and 
lit her cigarette. She inhaled, started walking slowly again, put the 
lighter in her left hand and took the cigarette out with her right. She 
reached back, let out a nice long breath of smoke, then picked up her pace. 
She opened her purse and put the lighter away, and walked down the street 
with the cigarette in her right hand. It was a good feeling.


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