Karleen's Surprise, Part 1

(by anonymous, 21 December 1996)

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    Karleen's Surprise

    As had been the case for the last ten years, Karleen's friend woke her
from her sleep long before her alarm clock. Her "friend " was not a husband or
boyfriend but her term for her smokers cough. The cough didn't bother her even
though she knew what it meant in terms of her health. In a strange sort of way
it was a comfort to her. She couldn't describe why, but it did. She slowly got
out of bed , put on her robe and reached for her pack of ever present Salem
100's. No Lights or Ultra-Lights for her, after 30 years of smoking only a
full flavor cigarette would do. She went out to the balcony for her first
cigarette of the day, the one that would stop the cough and give her body the
nicotine it craved. She liked smoking on the balcony in the morning, the
sunshine reflecting against the smoke that had just delivered what she needed
to make her life pleasurable.

    The lighter flashed to life and the first puff of the day was suddenly in
Karleen's lungs. She tilted her head backwards and exhaled the puff. Long and
slow inhales and exhales, just like her mother taught her so long ago. This
day would be hard for her, as a realtor her days showing property often forced
her to go without smoking. To combat this day long deprivation she always
smoked heavily in the morning . It was tough being a 2 pack a day smoker when
you can only smoke about half the day, but she refused to give in and cut down
or quit. She had gotten to like the craving for a cigarette after a hard day,
much like when she had started and as yet hadn't told her mother.

    She quickly smoked two cigarettes and started to make her way down to the
kitchen. She stopped at the full length mirror and took a hard look at
herself. At 48 years old she still had the figure of a much younger women. She
looked at her hair and saw no signs of gray, none of the facial wrinkles
doctors said smoking caused. All in all not a bad looking old broad she
thought. Serves her husband right, after all he left her 5 years ago for a
younger women and the last time she saw her she looked pretty bad. She took
the time while looking in the mirror to light a cigarette. She always prided
herself in how she looked while smoking. Long slow inhales, cheeks mildly
pulled in, cigarette held just so. She slowly pulled the cigarette away from
her mouth and allowed the smoke to curl out of her mouth as she performed a
"french inhale". She held the smoke in her for about 3 seconds and as always
tilted her head back and slowly exhaled. Perfection she thought, if this was
the 1950's I'd have every man in this town after me.

    She opened the door and the smell of coffee greeted her, Sarah must be up
already. Sarah was her 25 year old daughter who was staying with her for
awhile. Sarah was married to an Army officer who was stationed in the Gulf and
she was also 4 months pregnant. Karleen didn't want her spending this time
alone and it also benefited her since Sarah was helping out in the office
scheduling appointments, preparing contracts, etc.. She made her way
downstairs and suddenly realized how much Sarah was showing. "Morning honey",
Karleen said. "I can't believe how big you've gotten in the last 2 weeks. If
you keep this up you'll have to quit smoking in public or you'll have
everybody and their brother preaching at you about the evils of a pregnant
women smoking." Sarah took a deep drag off of her Salem Ultra Light, which at
this point was her only concession to the pregnancy and smoking debate. She
hated how weak they were, she missed her regular Salem's so much! It seemed
she had to drag on these Ultra Lights until her cheeks caved in to get enough
smoke to satisfy her, and to top if off she was smoking twice as much as
before she switched. "I know Mom, its already started", Sarah said. "I was
outside the mall yesterday and two women stopped and said how I was killing my
unborn child. I kindly told them that my doctor said I could smoke until my
last trimester and that they should mind their own business. God I was pissed.
I mean up until 2 years ago everyone smoked while they were pregnant and no
one had a heart attack. I really hate doctors."

    Sarah lit another cigarette and gingerly sat down at the kitchen table.
Karleen wished her daughter could quit now but it really wasn't her place to
preach to her. After all Karleen had smoked throughout her pregnancy and the
last thing she wanted to do was to be a hypocrite. She had felt the same way
when Sarah had started at age 14. The only thing she ensured was that Sarah
was as an attractive smoker as possible, just like her mother had done for
her. "Speaking of doctors", Sarah stated. "Today's the big day, you have your
appointment with the well renowned cardiologist. You're looking at quite a
commission if you sell her in the $500,000 range." Karleen who was in the
midst of lighting yet another cigarette, triple pumped on the inhale and
exhaled about enough smoke to fill the kitchen. "Why do think I'm smoking like
a fiend" Karleen laughed. "God knows I wouldn't be able to smoke today. I
can't imagine the lecture she'd give me." Sarah who was grinning from ear to
ear said, "Yeah, like she won't be able to tell from the little smokers cough
you have. I heard you this morning and it sounded like you were coughing up a
    "Well I'm hurt", Karleen gushed. "You always liked my little cough, you
always said it made me easy to find in a crowd." Sarah laughed again and said,
"Well you sound like a fog horn now. I guess we both should be thinking about
cutting down." With a look of mock horror Karleen practically screamed, "Don't
say those evil words. The next thing you'll be saying is that we should quit!
But I guess you will be quitting in a couple of months won't you." Sarah
looked down at the cigarette in her hand and sheepishly said, "Actually I
don't think I want to stop. I've read a couple of articles that said women who
are heavy smokers shouldn't attempt to quit. Quitting causes too much trauma
to the body and it can be worse to the fetus than smoking." "That's you're
decision honey." , Karleen said softly. "Luckily it wasn't a decision I had to

    The two women talked and smoked for about an hour before Sarah had to
leave for the office. Karleen had about a half hour left to smoke before she
had to shower and meet the good doctor. By the time she hit the bathroom she
had somehow managed to smoke a full pack. She mused that that should be enough
nicotine to get her through the day. Of course she knew she was lying to
herself. By lunch she'd be climbing the walls for a smoke and would become
extremely bitchy. Not the best way to act around a client, that's for sure.
She then reached into the medicine cabinet and pulled out the box of nicotine
patches. This would be the day she tried it. Not to quit mind you, but to
ensure she had a supply of nicotine flowing into her body. Yes she'd miss the
taste and visual satisfaction of smoking a cigarette, but at least she'd have
the magic drug in her system. She just hoped it worked, the nurse at the her
doctors office said all the nurses did it, she prayed the nurse was right.

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