Labor Day

(by, 01 September 1997)

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Labor Day

   "Well, it's up to you, Charity. I mean, I don't want you to feel like you
have to come or anything."
   "What kind of party is it, anyway ? Just your typical labor day bash ?"
   Heather was filling her backpack with overnight clothes, but she paused to
light a Marlboro Lights 100. She put the cigarette to her lips and proceeded
with a slow casualness that Charity was already getting used to. She'd had
doubts about living with a smoker- there had been a mistake with the random
lottery room assignments and housing had offered to put her in a six person
suite until they could find her a non-smoking roommate, but she'd passed.
Almost fifty percent of the women at Browing smoked, and it might have taken
weeks. Besides, she was getting used to Heather's smoking, strange as that
seemed to her.
   Once the cigarette was lit, Heather took a long draw on it and thoughtfully
blew smoke towards the open window.
   "Not exactly. My youngest sister Anna's birthday is today, and she's going
to- well, this is probably going to sound demented, but today is the day she
starts smoking. That's a big thing in my family. I'll never forget the party
we had the day I started."
   "Your parents have a party when you start smoking ? That does sound
   "Well, our family's a little different. I mean, I don't want to sound like
I'm bragging or anything, but you can probably tell that we have a little bit
of money."
   Charity looked out the window at the brand new Toyota Celica convertible and
nodded. Yeah, it was clear that Heather's family had a few spare dollars
lying around.
   "Tobacco money ?"
   "Yeah. There were some- well, farms isn't the right word- Grandad on Mom's
side converted their holdings into stock. Dad did the same thing with his.
But it certainly has coloured the way we look at smoking as a family. Not to
mention the fact that it's one of the most enjoyable things I know."
   She demonstrated her enjoyment with a deep inhale followed by a languorous
nose exhale. No one would question how much she enjoyed smoking.
   "Will I be welcome ?" Charity asked.
   "Of course. Why wouldn't you be ?"
   "I don't smoke, in case you haven't noticed."
   "Are you kidding ? That will make you the most popular person there- at
least with my mother. She's never met a woman who she doesn't think should
smoke. It will be difficult getting her away from you."
   "I don't know. Don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds a little weird."
   Heather sat down on the window sill and tapped ash out the open window. She
then paused to inhale, turning her head to look out the window as the tip of
the cigarette hissed. In one of the first floor windows of the dorm across
the way, a male head ducked out of sight. She turned her neck until she could
just see the window in the corner of her eye and exhaled slowly. Sure enough,
a face appeared in the window. She tossed her blonde hair and then inhaled
again, holding the smoke. When she was ready to exhale she snapped her head
around quickly and caught her watcher red-eyed.
   She flashed him- he looked like a freshman- a killer smile. He confirmed her
suspicions by ducking out of sight rather than smiling back.
   It was hard to believe that she had ever been like that.
   Charity watched this exchange with a smile on her face. She was standing so
that she could also see her roommate's admirer.
   Certainly it wasn't the first time in the last four days she'd seen someone
watching Heather smoke. She was almost as curious about that as about the
habit itself. Why did some people find it so attractive ? Heather was
entirely worth looking at without a cigarette in her hand or mouth, but the
smoking act itself seemed to be some sort of a catalyst.
   Which had been a productive observation. Charity had signed up for an
independent study in psych this semester, and she'd already pitched her idea
to Professor Islis. She was still waiting to hear back, but she expected
Kelly to approve her topic- 'Smoking as a Sexual Stimulant.' Meaning that she
had every reason to go to the party.
   Unfortunately, it wasn't the only aspect of smoking she'd developed an
interest in.
   They'd gotten pretty drunk last night, just sitting in the dorm room and
tossing back beers, and for the last hour before they'd crashed, Charity had
been certain she was going to ask her new friend for a cigarette. It had
seemed like such a small thing at the time. Just one, just to try it. It had
seemed like a small step, really. In actuality, it had been a burning desire
that she had just barely shook. Now, looking back, she was certain that it
wasn't trivial at all.
   She didn't want to smoke. She'd been very devoted to never even trying it-
not even when she'd turned sixteen and her mother had offered to let her. She
knew well enough what would happen if she did- she'd like it and she'd start
smoking, which was something she didn't want. No, she had no desire to smell
smoky all the time the way her mother did, to have that stench clinging to
her long red hair and her clothes, to not be able to go an hour without
lighting up.
   "I remember my party like it was yesterday," Heather said, breaking
Charity's train of thought. "Mom- oh, Dad was so mad. She hired one of the
r-rated Chippendale dancer clones. It was a lot of fun- but Dad never did
quite see the humour in it. Which won't stop mom from doing the same thing
today. You should come- it will be a lot of fun- and the beer is free."
   "Can I take notes ?"
   Heather tapped more ash out the window, looked to make sure her shadow was
still watching, and then treated him to a wonderful nose-mouth combination
exhale. This time he only half-heartedly tried to act as though he wasn't
watching and Heather got a good enough look to decide that shy freshman or
not, he was cute.
   "Notes ?"
   "I'm doing a-" Charity dropped the word abnormal "-psych independent study.
'Smoking as a sexual stimulant.'"
   "Sounds like an easy project. Sure."
   "Okay, I'll come. But try to keep your mom off me-"
   "Easier said than done. But I'll try."
   There were so many cars lining the suburban street that Heather had to park
six houses down. She killed the engine, lit a cigarette, and got out of the
car with a smile on her face. "It looks like this is the biggest party yet.
But then again, Anna is the star of the family. She got all the good looks
and the brains."
   Looking at Heather, Charity found it hard to believe that her sister was
more attractive. Heather had a perfect nose, a round but stunning face,
sparkling green eyes and the sort of hair most women would kill for, long and
naturally active. Not to mention the way her breasts heaved with every
   "You ready ?"
   "I suppose," Charity said. In way, she wasn't looking forward to this.
Parties on campus were one thing, but in the real world, when you only knew
one person it was usually a long day. Not to mention that she was sleeping
over. She grabbed her pack from the back seat and slung it over her shoulder.
All she could do now was make the best of it, take good notes, and hopefully
get enough to make something out of her project.
   Everyone was outside in the surprisingly huge backyard. The house was
deserted as they walked inside, except for Heather's mother, who came running
up to her daughter to plant a wet kiss on her cheek. As Charity had expected,
Mrs. Walker was holding a freshly lit cigarette, same brand as her daughter.
   They broke the hug and took twin inhales on their cigarettes. It was obvious
they were very fond of one another. That was something that Charity admired.
She'd never been particularly close to her mother.
   "So this is your new roommate ?" Mrs. Walker put out her hand and Charity
gripped it. The woman had a strong, friendly hand.
   "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Walker."
   "None of that," she said, waving an admonishing finger. "It's Katherine. I
hear you don't smoke-"
   "But your mother does, right ?"
   Well, Heather had been right. Katherine wasn't wasting any time.
   "A pack of Parliaments a day. It just never caught on with me."
   Katherine studied Charity for a moment. "That's because you've never tried
it. Have you ?"
   "Mom thinks she's psychic," Heather said, rolling her eyes.
   "It's my hobby." She studied Charity more closely, narrowing her eyes down
to slits. Then she took another long inhale on her cigarette, and spoke
through the exhale.
   "You were never really fond of your mother's smoking. In fact, it's always
been a sort of wall between you. But recently you've been thinking about
starting, because you think it would make the two of you closer, right ?"
   "I suppose," Charity said cautiously.
   "Well, today's your day then. I'll be right back."
   Just then, Anna came down the stairs, trailing smoke from a newly lit
Marlboro Lights 100.
   "What are you doing, young lady ?" Katherine demanded. "You know you're not
supposed to be smoking. What if someone sees you ?"
   Charity looked at Heather, shocked.
   Katherine saw her reaction. "The high point of the party is when Anna lights
her first cigarette in front of everyone."
   "I need to practise, Mom," Anna said. "You don't want me to look like I
don't know what I'm doing, do you ?"
   "No. But don't let anyone see you. How many is that this morning ?"
   "Just three. This is the last one in the pack. I won't have another until
it's time."
   "All right. But stay in the house."
   As Katherine headed for the kitchen, Charity studied Anna, and she had to
admit that as attractive as Heather was, Anna was already gorgeous. It was
hard to believe that a fourteen year old could have such large breasts or
such an attractive, adult face. She moved with an easy grace as she walked
over to her sister and gave her a hug.
   "How's college ?"
   "Same old. Guys staring at me all the time, lots of beer. The usual. But
you'll find out next year for yourself."
   "Next year ?" Charity asked.
   "Anna's a regular prodigy. She's going to be a senior this fall. By summer,
she'll be taking classes with us at Browing. You are doing the summer
internship this year, right ?"
   Charity nodded. "Yeah. It's means I can start grad school in the spring.
Saving that six months is supposed to give you a real edge in the job market-
not that I plan to work if I can get a post doc."
   "What's your major ?" Anna asked, smoking with the same easy grace that
defined her other movements. She held her cigarette daintily, wrist angled
away from her waist and then brought it to her mouth with a flourish. She
seemed to wrap her lips around the filter and then puckered them inward
slightly- the exact way that her sister smoked.
   "Abnormal psych."
   "I'll bet you think this is pretty abnormal, having a party for a fourteen
year old girl because she's starting to smoke, huh ?"
   "It's different. But I have an open mind."
   "I heard what Mom said. Is it true you've been thinking about starting ?"
   "Anna-" Heather said, warningly.
   "Sorry. Mom is a little creepy sometimes, but she's almost always right."
   Just then Katherine walked back into the living room. She was carrying an
unopened pack of cigarettes and a lighter.
   Without ceremony, she handed them to Charity. "Everyone who comes to the
party gets a pack, whether they smoke or not. You know, you can feel free to
indulge yourself. We won't tell anyone."
   Charity took the cigarettes and the lighter and dropped them into her purse.
"Maybe later."
   "I heard there's some beer in the house, Mom. Can Charity and I-"
   "It's not even noon," Katherine said, but she was smiling. "Sure. Bottom two
shelves of the fridge, or you can have Guinness. That's warm, the way it's
supposed to be."
   Charity followed Heather into the kitchen. The first thing she saw was  ten
cartons of cigarettes sitting on the kitchen table. When Katherine had said
everyone who came to the party got a pack, she'd thought it was a joke.
Apparently it wasn't. Heather cracked open two Molsons, handed one to her
friend, and suggested they go upstairs and ditch their gear.
   Halfway up the stairs, Charity missed a step and spilled a goodly amount of
her beer on her shirt, soaking it.	
   "You bought extra clothes, didn't you ?" Heather asked.
   The truth was, Charity had brought only enough clothes to get by and no
more. Heather had been very good about not smoking on her side of the room
and therefore her own clothes were not getting smoky. She hadn't wanted to
bring things she didn't wear just to add them to the laundry pile.
   "I bought jeans and a sweatshirt to sleep in, but that's it. It's too damn
hot for the sweatshirt."
   "We'll grab something for Anna's room. I'd let you borrow something of mine,
but all my clothes are back at school, except for what I brought with me.
Throw your pack in the room on the right at the top of the stairs and come on
across the hall."
   Charity walked dejectedly into Heather's room and tossed her pack on the
bed. She then stripped her shirt and bra off, regretting the decision to only
bring spare panties. Peeking out the doorway, she scooted across the hall,
not noticing that someone who looked remarkably like Heather was at the
bottom of the stairs getting quite an eyeful.
   Anna's room smelled slightly off smoke. Charity didn't notice that she'd
begun to associate that as an homey smell. If course, her own home had always
been smoky, but until she'd come back this fall, school had never been that
way. She'd had two different non-smoking roommates, and while she'd gotten
along with neither of them, at least they hadn't smelled up her room.
   There was an ashtray by Anna's bed with two cigarette butts in it. On the
bed was an Advanced Calculus text with a bookmark about three-quarters of the
way through. Heather looked at the book and shook her head. "Just once I wish
that girl would crack a novel and act human. She took two calc courses this
summer at Central. Sometimes she makes me feel downright dumb."
   "You are eighth in the class, aren't you ?"
   "Out of eight hundred. Big deal. But don't think I'm jealous." She smiled as
she said this and then reached into her sister's closet. She pulled a t-shirt
off an hanger and handed it to Charity.
   "She hangs up her t-shirts ?"
   "She even matches her bras to her socks."
   Charity tried to fight around the embarrassment of asking for a bra. "Well,
I don't need socks, but-"
   "Oh, a bra, right ? Hers will fit you, I think."
   Charity took the one that Heather handed her. It was just a little bit
loose, but it would do the trick. She then unfolded the shirt and saw there
was an embroidered Marlboro Gear patch on the left breast. She experienced a
brief twinge of deja vu, but it passed.
   "Come on into my room and we'll unwind before we meet and greet."
   Charity followed Heather into her spartan old room. What with all her
belongings at school, there was nothing but an old LC III and a yearbook on
her desk.
   "Do you mind ?" Charity asked.
   Heather lay down on the right side of the bed and patted the open space.
"No. I'll show you my prom night in there. What a disaster that was."
She pulled her ashtray from the nightstand and set it down between them as
Charity rolled onto the bed. She lit a cigarette and took one long inhale
before putting the cigarette on the ashtray, the tip of the filter facing
directly towards Charity.
   She watched the smoke curl lazily towards the ceiling and began thinking how
easy it would be to reach out and pick it up. Instead, she handed the book to
Heather and took a long draw of what was left of her beer. She then idly
pulled at the shoulder of the shirt and sniffed the cotton. It had a faintly
smoky smell which was strangely pleasing.
   "You were prom queen ?" Charity asked, looking at the page Heather had
opened to.
   "Yup. Junior year. Which is why I didn't go senior year. All they do is take
your picture all night. See me there-"
   "Your hair-"
   Heather studiously ignored her cigarette. "Dyed it black and curled it
because that was what my date wanted. I felt like the Pharaoh's wife. But
everyone liked it. Only problem was, my date got so pissed that I could spend
any time with him that he left early with her-"
   She pointed out a Kate Moss want-to-be in another picture. "I found them in
the back of the limo my parents rented. He was smoking a big fat cigar and
she was dragging on a Newport like some trailer trash. Of course they'd
   "Sounds horrible. And to think, I would have given my right breast to be
prom queen-"
   "That's a little Amazonian, isn't it ?"
   Charity smiled. Then yawned. She was still tired from drinking last night
and she'd slept like shit and was sore from that and the forty minute car
   "You look beat," Heather said. She tossed the yearbook aside. "I give a
killer back rub."
   Charity wasn't in the habit of accepting back rubs from other women, but
given that it felt as though she had a bowling ball lodged in her lower back,
she wasn't going to object. She nodded and Heather straddled her, sitting up
on her knees and somehow holding most of her weight off Charity's behind.
   She turned her head and there was the cigarette, burning slowly, the ash a
little long.
   Heather's hands went to her neck and began a slow but stern circular motion
which immediately brought the first vestige of relief.
   The ash on the cigarette was getting too long, Charity though. With the way
the bed was shaking as Heather began to work in earnest on her back, it would
fall out of the ashtray soon.
   Feeling a little entranced, Charity reached for the burning cigarette. It
did not, as she half-expected, bite her. It was lighter than she anticipated
but otherwise perfectly normal. A quick tap from her index finger trimmed the
ash. She was about to put it down again when Heather hit an especially
sensitive spot on her lower back. The pain subsided immediately, and Charity
found herself struggling not to giggle.
   She was terribly ticklish, and while the rub felt good, it was also vaguely
arousing her.
   Heather leaned forward, still rubbing, and put her mouth hard by Charity's
   "Go ahead and take a puff, Charity. You know you want to."
   Heather's voice was sultry and compelling. She had a very pleasant trill to
her voice, which was accented by her six years of smoking into what a man
would have called smoldering.
   "Just a puff. If you don't, it'll just go out, and that would be a waste. I
won't tell anyone."
   It was hard to imagine anyone being so impatient that they'd ditch her. She
had such a convincing sound to her voice, an haunting compulsion.
   Charity brought the cigarette towards her mouth. Heather sat back and began
rubbing her upper thighs, the kneading action of her fingers perfectly
complementary to the urge to indulge this other desire.
   The cigarette was enticing and threatening at the same time. 
   Charity decided that it really couldn't hurt her.
   She brought it to her mouth, wrapped her lips around it the way that Anna
had, and inhaled slightly. Just enough to fill her mouth with smoke.
   It was-
   In a word, delicious.
   She exhaled, turned her head and pulled on her beer.
   Heather's mouth was down by her ear again. "You liked it, didn't you ?"
   Her hands had moved a little farther up the inside of the thighs and it
still felt wonderful.
   Their lips were inches apart as Charity turned her head to look at Heather.
   "Try it again- inhale if you can."
   Charity turned back to the cigarette, pulled again, but didn't quite get it
right. The smoke escaped from her mouth too quickly and she felt
   "That was close," Heather said. She dismounted, rolled over next to Charity,
and took the cigarette from her. "Roll over onto your back."
   Charity did as she was told. Right now, Heather seemed to be a little bit
dangerous, but it was a nice sort of dangerous.
   She could still feel her hands on her thighs.
   Heather inhaled deeply on the cigarette- the last good one left on it. She
held the inhale while she crushed the cigarette in the ashtray, then spread
herself over Charity. "Open your mouth," she said throatily between clenched
teeth, holding all but a tiny portion of the smoke.
   Charity knew what was about to happen, and normally she would have never
allowed it.
   She opened her mouth, just enough for Heather to kiss her.
   Their lips met first, and then they clasped their hands together. Charity
felt her nipples go hard and the small white hairs on her arms stand up on
end. She squeezed Heather's hands tightly and then their tongues met. As they
kissed, Heather exhaled all the smoke from her lungs into Charity's mouth.
She had no choice but to inhale. The smoke drifted down into her lungs,
making her feel light-headed and a little drunk.
   They didn't break the kiss for some time. When they did, Charity muttered a
breathless thank you and made a beeline for her purse.

   It was close to midnight. Anna had her first 'official' cigarette at about
two, and the party had kicked in earnest soon after. Although Heather had
left her almost an hour ago to make a beer run, Charity was no longer worried
about being alone.
   She'd discovered that great kissing ran in the family.
   About six, she'd finally met Heather's twin brother Harris. They'd spent
about an hour talking about Heather, another hour talking about school, and
   Well, Charity wasn't really sure what they'd talked about, and it was hard
to remember because it had been quite a while since either of them had spoken
at all. Finally, they came up from air, and Harris suggested that they
adjourn from behind the large willow they'd been hidden by and go into the
   As Charity agreed, Harris lit a long cigar, puffing gently but repeatedly on
it until it caught. Charity was glad to see him do it- she liked the way his
mouth tasted after he smoked, and it had been almost an hour now since his
last one, although he'd taken a few token drags from her last cigarette.
   She lit another, saw that the pack was half full- or half-empty.
   She had a feeling that Katherine would be able to find her another pack
   The party was still in high gear, so no one saw them slipping into the
house. Which was good. Charity wanted to go into the house with Harris, but
she felt a little strange about it at the same time. After all, she and
Heather had really known each other only a few days, and she wasn't sure how
she'd react.
   She took a long pull on the cigarette and felt herself beginning to relax
again. If she knew Heather as well as she thought, she'd be happy for her and
her brother.
   They snuck into the house, which was strangely dark. As they walked past the
living room they saw a couple sitting on the couch, alternately necking and
smoking, the glow of their cigarettes the only visible certainty.
   Harris grabbed a rubber band off the desk by the stairs. "It's how Heather
and I- you know."
   "Can't we use your room ?" Charity asked with a whisper as they climbed the
   "No. That's Mom's office now. Heather won't mind- she used my room once or
twice when she came to visit me at Harvard. She kind of has a thing for my
   As they walked into Heather's room Charity noticed that the walk-in closet
light was on and she moved to shut off the light and close the door, but
Harris grabbed her hand. "Don't. The backlighting will be perfect."
   "For what ?" Charity asked.
   "I was hoping- well, you're going to think this is a little weird, but-
would you mind finishing your cigarette while I watch."
   Charity heard an odd noise, as though Harris had laughed, although it was
high-pitched and out of place.
   "Harris, I just started today. I hardly know what I'm doing."
   "You don't give yourself enough credit. I could watch you smoke all night.
I'm just going to sit down on the bed and-"
   "Would you like me to strip too ?" Charity asked playfully.
   "Of course."
   Harris took a second ashtray from inside Heather's dresser and handed it to
Charity, who set it on the floor. He then sat down on the bed with the other
one and puffed on his cigar.
   Maybe she did understand. She thought about how much better it was kissing
him after he'd been smoking and decided that if he would enjoy it, she'd put
on a show.  
   She put the cigarette down for a moment and pulled the Marlboro T-shirt off.
She was going to ask Anna- who had five or six of them- if she could keep it,
because it was-
   It was a nice memento. Tomorrow, she was planning on calling her mom and
letting her know that she'd started smoking. Katherine was right- weird, but
right. Part of the distance between them had always been about her mother's
habit, something that Charity now regretted deeply.
   Harris was watching her attentively, so she did her best not to disappoint.
She took the deepest inhale that she could manage, and then arched her head
and blew the smoke into the air. It created a cloudy wreath around her.
Holding the cigarette close to her face, wrist bent, she used her free hand
to undo her jean shorts, which dropped around her ankles. She stepped out of
them and inhaled again, stronger, enough to make her slightly dizzy.
   He smiled and she suggested that he begin relieving himself of his own
clothes, which he did with the usual speed of the male of the species, as
though they'd been irritating him all day.
   As she inhaled again she could see that even in the faint closet light, his
stiff penis was visible bulging through his jockeys. Judging from the size of
that bulge, she wasn't going to regret this in the least. Her bra and panties
were quickly added to the pile and his wide smile told her that he was
enjoying this.
   She walked over to him, putting the cigarette in her mouth so that both
hands would be free. It was different, holding the cigarette between her lips
and smoking it at the same time. The smoke was stronger and she was somewhat
afraid that she was going to drop it, but she forged ahead. When she reached
him, she took the cigar from his hand and held it to his mouth. He puffed
eagerly and then she reached down and began stroking his penis.
   His breath was ragged as she pulled the cigar from his mouth, and he came
even as he exhaled.
   That was slightly disappointing. And yet it wasn't, not at all.
   The cigarette spent, she stubbed it out. She was still holding the cigar,
and just as she moved to hand it back, he lifted her up and spun her down
gently on the bed. Before she could ask what he was doing he put his head
between her legs and she found out immediately that kissing and smoking were
not the only things she did well.
   As she started breathing heavily he paused and lifted his head. His brown
eyes sparkled in the pale light.
   "Go ahead. Try the cigar."
   At just about any other moment in her life, Charity would have said no. But
after what had happened today-
    She brought the cigar to her mouth and pulled on it, careful not inhale.
The smoke was strong but enjoyable. Harris reared up momentarily and she
actually saw his penis harden as she exhaled the thick blue smoke. He then
dove back in and as Charity puffed on the cigar again she climaxed. Inhaling
accidently, she found the cigar smoke dizzying but acceptable.
   Harris moved to lay next to her and Charity turned her wrist over so that
she could put the cigar in his mouth. She noticed that he'd thoughtfully put
her cigarettes on the night table and she lit one.
   Heather was right. There was nothing like a good smoke after sex.
   As she was showing Harris her best nose exhale, there was a noise from the
   "Come on out, Heather. You could have told us you were in there-"
   Heather revealed herself. "The rubber band only works if I'm not already in
the room. I was-"
   "Hiding and hoping, just like always." Harris turned to Charity. "She likes
to watch almost as much as she likes to participate. I don't suppose that we
could have some privacy ?"
   "It is my room, Harris," Heather said, lighting a cigarette. "And I thought
we agreed to share everything."
   "We were eight at the time." He looked at Charity. "But we did agree to
that." There was an open question to the look.
   Charity thought back to this morning, to that smoky kiss, and all she could
say was "I don't mind if you don't."
   Heather turned out the closet light and made her way to the bed.
   Charity wondered if this qualified as abnormal, but quickly forgot all about

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