Lara

(by anonymous3, 21 August 1996)


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    LARA


    "We're getting a divorce." Those words still haunted Lara, even after 2
years. She had been 11 when her parents, Silvia and Dean, came to her and told
her they could no longer live together. Her dad had moved out on a cold
October day. She kissed him good-bye and said she'd see him soon, after all he
only lived across town. They decided that he could see Lara two weekends a
month, but her Dad would come over more frequently than that, maybe once a
week and they would go out to dinner and talk. That arrangement was fine with
Silvia because she was always busy, either on the phone with a client or
typing like crazy on the computer, chain smoking cigarettes, trying to get
work done. "Later Lara, we'll talk later" was her motto. Later never came.
That was one of the reasons they were divorcing. They never talked. Her dad
said all the communication was gone from their marriage and that Silvia was
too devoted to work. He said he missed the old spontaneous Silvia, always
willing to drop everything and do something crazy. He realized the climb up
the corporate ladder was tough, but not worth shutting out your family.

    Lara could pour her heart out to him. He was easier to talk to then her
mom. She could talk about boys and school and the latest fashions and Dean may
not have understood it all, but at least he would listen.

    Now he also spoiled her rotten. It was a guilt thing, Lara decided. She
could ask him for anything and he would try his hardest to get it. She always
pretty much got what she wanted anyway, being an only child, but now her dad
suggested things too. One weekend he came over to the house with a brand new
stereo for Lara. She hadn't even asked for it. Silvia was furious. "What are
you trying to do, buy her love?" she screamed dragging deeply on her Virginia
Slim and spitting out the smoke in great heaves. The one thing that Dean had
found very sexy about Silvia was now his biggest turn-off. She was smoking
like a truck driver. Cigarette dangling from between her lips as she was
hunched over the computer keyboard, ashes dropping all over. "She used to be
one of the sexiest smokers I knew" he was thinking. That's what first caught
his eye that night at the student union at college. Long drags, French
inhales, long creamy exhales. Silvia did not start smoking until she was in
college, but had picked up the habit with a vengeance and had developed into a
very sexy smoker. Until recently. Lara's voice shook him back to the present.
    "Can we go now daddy?" she asked.
    "Oh, sorry baby. I was just thinking about something"
    "Have her back early. It's a school night" her mom said.
    "I know that Silvia" Dean said with more than a trace of irritation in his
voice.

    As soon as they got in the car, her dad lit a cigarette. "Boy your mom has
a way of just pissin' me off." he said backing out of the driveway. "Where do
you want to go for dinner?" he asked.
    "How about that Italian place out on route 5, Mama Leones?" replied Lara.
"They have a smoking section there."
    "What do you care about smoking sections?" he asked somewhat cautiously.
    "Mom likes to go there and that's why" replied Lara. "Plus they have an
awesome cannelloni"

    They got seated in the smoking section of the restaurant, in a booth in
the corner. Being a Tuesday night, the restaurant was not busy and so they
pretty much had the place to themselves. The waitress came, took their drink
order and when she left Dean lit a cigarette.
    "Can I have one daddy?" Lara asked.
    "What?" he said not believing that he heard what he thought he heard.
    "Can I have a cigarette?" she repeated.
    "You don't smoke" he replied, still stunned by her question.
    "Yes I do. I've been stealing them from mom. She's too busy too notice.
Besides, she smokes so much she can't keep track of how many are left in her
pack. Sometimes I take whole packs."
    "She hasn't noticed?"
    "If she has, she hasn't said anything to me" replied Lara.
    "I don't know about this. You're so young."
    "Daddy, please. I'm 13. That's old enough to know that I like smoking."
she pleaded.
    "How long have you been smoking?" he asked.
    "I don't know daddy. Probably about 6 months."
    "Lara, I don't want you smoking. I can't condone this."
    "Dad, I've already started. It's not like you're offering me my first
cigarette."
    Dean couldn't really argue with her logic. She'll smoke anyway, he
thought. "Here" he said as he reluctantly pushed the pack across the table
toward her.
    Lara looked at him in amazement. "I didn't think you'd actually let me"
she said taking the pack and removing one of the Marlboro Reds. "This is so
cool."
    "God don't tell your mother. She'll go nuts."
    "Don't worry dad, this will be our secret. I asked her once about smoking
and she yelled at me for 10 minutes about how she didn't EVEN want me smoking
cigarettes at least until I was 18. How I would be grounded for life if she
ever caught me smoking."
    "Your mom overreacts sometimes. I mean I don't like the thought of you
becoming a smoker either. It's not healthy, your clothes stink, your breath
smells. You could get hooked on these things."
    "Dad my clothes already stink from being around mom, plus I've been
breathing second-hand smoke for all my life. I might as well smoke. I think I
am already hooked dad. I can't go very long without thinking about smoking."
    "Then how come you haven't lit your cigarette?" Dean asked her.
    "I'm nervous I guess. I've never smoked in front of an adult before. Let
alone my dad."
    "Here, let me light you then. There's nothing to be nervous about."
    Lara leaned forward across the table and her dad touched the flame to the
tip of the cigarette. Lara sucked on the cigarette to get it started and let
some of the first smoke escape from the corner of her mouth. She then took her
second puff and inhaled it deeply.
    He watched some of the smoke escape through her nostrils as she exhaled.
"My god you really do smoke."
    "I told you I do" she replied, taking another drag off her cigarette as if
to make her point.
    The waitress came back with Dean's beer and Lara's coke and took their
dinner order. She kept eyeing Lara, trying to figure out if she was old enough
to be smoking. "Excuse me for being nosy, but how old are you?" she asked.
    "I just turned 13" Lara replied inhaling another deep drag.
    "I thought you were young. I just let my 14 year old daughter start
smoking at home. Better than sneaking around behind my back" and with that she
was off.

    Dean watched Lara in disbelief as she consumed the whole cigarette. If he
didn't know any better he would have sworn he was looking at Sylvia. Lara's
style was just like Sylvia's before the divorce. The way she held her
cigarette and the way she inhaled and exhaled the smoke was like a miniature
Sylvia. Even the way she gently crushed out her cigarette butt.
    "I like mom's cigarettes because they last longer, but yours taste better"
observed Lara.
    Here she was, 13 years old and already making comparisons about which
cigarettes she liked better. This was absurd. "Well if you like 100's we could
get you Marlboro 100's." He couldn't believe what he just said. Dean realized
he had passed the point of no return. He just gave implied permission for his
13 year old daughter to smoke freely in his presence.
    "Would you daddy? Thank you. Can you get a pack for me from the cigarette
machine now?"
    "Can't you wait until after dinner? Our meals will be here in a minute."
    "I suppose."
    A few minutes later the waitress brought their salads and then their
cannelloni. The conversation during dinner was light and nothing more was said
about Lara's smoking. Dean and Lara slid their plates back at the same time.
    "God I'm stuffed" said Dean.
    "Me too" moaned Lara. "I always gorge myself on their cannelloni."
    Dean was going to light a cigarette when Lara reminded him that he was
going to buy her a pack of Marlboro 100's.
    "Sorry, I forgot. I'm just not used to you smoking yet" he said as he got
up and made his way to the cigarette machine.
    Dean came back a couple of minutes later and handed the pack to Lara.
    "Thanks dad." she said as she packed them on her wrist then pulled the
little gold tab and unwound the cellophane top.
    Dean watched her as she carefully tore open the foil and tapped out a
cigarette.
    Lara reached across the table and took his lighter. "Can I give you a
light?" she asked.
    Dean realized that he had been so intent on watching Lara that he had
completely forgotten about his own cigarette.
    "Oh, sure, thanks" he said as Lara reached across the table and held the
flame for him. Lara then touched the flame to her own cigarette. This time she
inhaled on the first drag then immediately took a second long puff. She
exhaled through her nostrils and took a third drag to ensure that her
cigarette was lit.
    "I can't believe I'm sitting here with my little girl, smoking cigarettes
together. You look so grown up. You smoke just like an adult."
    "I've had a lot of practice. Mom always leaves in the morning before I go
to school and sometimes she doesn't get home until seven o'clock. That gives
me alot of time to smoke."
    "Who taught you how to inhale like that?" questioned Dean.
    "Nobody. I've watched mom and you do it so many times, then figured it out
on my own."
    "How many cigarettes are you smoking every day?" he asked.
    "Dad what's with all the questions? Maybe 5 or 6 or as many as I can get
from mom. Like I said, I've taken whole packs from her."
    Dean just shook his head. If Sylvia could see her now.

    Dean paid the bill and they walked to the car. "Can I spend the night?"
she asked her dad. "I've got some clothes at your place and toothbrush and
stuff."
    "We'll have to call your mom and ask her." replied Dean. "The only reason
you want to stay at my place is so you can smoke, right?"
    "Well partly that and partly because it's boring at home with mom working
all the time on the computer."
    "You can call her from my cell phone."
    "Thanks dad"

    Lara continued to smoke throughout the evening with her dad. He was amazed
at how she could keep pace with him. Through the course of the evening Lara
smoked another 5 cigarettes, more than she had ever smoked in a row.
    She awoke the next morning and came stumbling out to the kitchen. Her dad
had been up for awhile and was sitting at the table drinking his coffee and
smoking a cigarette. "Hey bright eyes" he said.
    "Mornin' daddy" she mumbled. She retrieved her purse from the couch and
pulled out her cigarettes. "Can I use your lighter?" she asked as she took a
cigarette out of the pack. Dean handed her the lighter and she lit her
cigarette, taking a deep double pump, her young body craving the nicotine it
had been deprived of for 8 hours.
    "You like that cigarette first thing in the morning, just like your mom.
You're not even awake" Dean said. "I have to have at least a couple of sips of
coffee before I can light one up."
    "It drives me crazy when I get up in the morning and mom is puffing away
on a cigarette. I want to ask her if I can have one. I've come this close" she
showed her dad holding her thumb and forefinger an eighth of an inch apart.
    "Why haven't you?" Dean asked.
    "Dad" she replied dragging deeply on her cigarette, "I told you last
night. Mom would blow up and I'd be grounded forever. I just wait until she
leaves."
    She sat and finished her cigarette, then got up and made herself a bowl of
cereal and got ready for school.
    "Come on I'll drive you" Dean told her.
    "OK, let me just grab my purse"
    As soon as they got in the car Lara pushed in the cigarette lighter. "I
need a cigarette to hold me until I can have one at lunch." Lara explained.
    "You don't need to justify your smoking to me, Lara. As far as I'm
concerned you can smoke anytime. By the way, where do they let you smoke at
school?"
    "We can't smoke at school so we all go across the street to the parking
lot. The teachers don't harass us over there" Lara replied, lighting her
cigarette.
    "Are there alot of kids who smoke?" he asked
    "Ummm, maybe 10 or 15 that are there all the time" she said exhaling a
large cloud of smoke out the window.
    As they approached the school, Dean could see the parking lot. There were
a few kids there already, smoking.
    "Dad, drop me off here OK?" she said pointing to the entrance. He stopped
and Lara got out of the car and she waved to some of her friends. "See you
later dad. Thanks for the ride." and away she went.
    "Lara, was that your dad?" asked her friend Shelly.
    "Yeah. He dropped me off."
    "He lets you smoke? That is sooo cool!" said Heather.
    "Yeah, I told him last night. Actually, I asked him. We went out for
dinner and I asked him if I could have a cigarette. He was kind of upset at
first that I was smoking, but he said yes. He even bought me a pack of smokes.
Now all I have to do is find a way to tell my mom." Lara said exhaling a cloud
of smoke.
    "I wish my parents let me smoke" said Heather dragging deeply on her
Virginia Slim. "They said they'd send me to a convent if they ever found out I
was smoking. They both smoke so, like what's the big deal?"
    "God, same here" agreed Shelly.
    "We better go, the bell is going to ring in a minute." Lara said, taking
one last deep drag from her cigarette, dropping it to the ground and crushing
it out.

    During the course of the day, Lara was able to smoke 3 or 4 cigarettes
across the street. After the amount she had smoked with her dad the night
before, she found that smoking every couple of hours was not enough and she
wondered how she was going to get through the evening. She couldn't spend
every waking hour at her dad's and she certainly couldn't tell her mom. Not
yet anyway.

    When Lara got home, there was a message on the answering machine from her
Mom that said she had to meet a client for dinner and wouldn't be home until
about ten thirty or eleven. Lara was elated. She had almost seven hours to
smoke all she wanted. To celebrate she lit a cigarette and smoked the whole
thing in the living room. Normally she would go up to her bathroom and sit in
there with the fan on. That's where she went to smoke when her mom was home.
"Screw it" she thought to herself, "I've got plenty of time before mom gets
home." Lara took her school books and headed out on the patio to do her
homework. As she sat there smoking her cigarette and doing her math, a
terrible thought hit her. She looked in the pack and discovered she only had 5
cigarettes left. She went inside to where her mom kept her cigarettes. Much to
her dismay, there was only one pack left and there was nowhere close that
would sell her cigarettes. She would have to cut back for tonight. At ten
o'clock Lara finished her last cigarett

    e. She had a cigarette after dinner and just couldn't control herself and
ended up smoking the rest of the pack over the course of the evening. What was
she going to do now? She needed cigarettes for tomorrow, after all she
couldn't expect Shelly and Heather to supply her with cigarettes. Now that one
of her parents allowed her to smoke, she was expected to have a steady supply.
Lara was having a nicotine fit, just knowing that she didn't have anymore
cigarettes. She was watching TV and thinking about her dilemma when her mom
walked in. It was closer to eleven than ten thirty, but that was
    to be expected.
    "Hi sweetie, how was your day?" her mom asked.
    "OK" she answered, "up until I ran out of cigarettes" she thought to
herself.
    "Well that's good. I think you should go to bed. I have some work to do.
After this client meeting there are some new developments that I have to work
on." Sylvia answered, not really listening. "I'm going to go change into
something more comfortable. I've had this damn suit on all day." Silvia pulled
her cigarettes out of her purse, lit one and set the pack down on the table
and walked out of the room. Lara eyed the pack, raced over, pulled two of the
Virginia Slims out and took them to her room. She slept better knowing that
she had a couple of cigarettes for tomorrow morning and also knowing that her
mom would be buying a couple of cartons at the first opportunity. She couldn't
depend on her dad to buy her cigarettes and she didn't know if he would buy
her a carton.

    Sylvia was leaving for work early as usual and woke Lara up before she
left. "Have a good day. Oh by the way, dad's coming over tonight. We have some
papers to sign. You don't need to be present, but I just thought you might
like to know."
    "What time is he coming over?" Lara asked.
    "I told him that I'd be home about six. So sometime around there. I told
him you'd fix him dinner."
    "Gee, thanks. I always get stuck cooking and cleaning around here."
    "Listen here, young lady. I bust my ass to keep a roof over your head. We
don't have your dad to depend on anymore. I'll see you later" and Sylvia
walked out slamming the door.
    As soon as she heard the car drive away, Lara ran to her room and got the
cigarettes she had hid from the night before. She took some matches from the
drawer and lit her first cigarette of the day. As she took that first deep
drag, she couldn't believe how much she needed that cigarette. It was like she
could feel the nicotine coursing through her veins and relaxing every part of
her body. She realized at that moment that she was hooked on cigarettes. There
was no way she would quit for her mom or anybody. Lara took a deep double
drag, exhaled through her nostrils then took another and another until she had
smoked it down to the filter. Lara didn't even bother waiting between
cigarettes. She lit the second one off the first. As she crushed out her
second cigarette in the ashtray, Lara picked up the phone and called her dad.
    "Hi daddy. No nothings wrong. I'm fine. I just have a favor to ask you but
I don't want you to get in trouble from mom. Could you pick me up a pack of
cigarettes on your way over to our house tonight? I've decided that I am going
to tell mom that I've started smoking. I can't stand having to go hours
between cigarettes. Would you help me explain it to mom? You will? Oh thanks
dad, you're the best."

    Lara struggled through school, bumming one cigarette each from Shelly and
Heather explaining that she had smoked them all last night and hadn't had the
chance to ask her dad to buy her some. She came right home after school and
started preparing dinner. She was dying for a cigarette though. "Patience" she
told herself. Her dad would be over soon. At five the doorbell rang and there
stood her dad. "Hi daddy, you're early." she said.
    "I know. I figured that since you ran out of cigarettes that you were
probably dying for one, so I came over early. It'll give you a chance to have
a couple before your mother gets home. With me being here, you can smoke in
the house and your mom will think it's my cigarette. I brought you two packs
and a lighter."
    "Thanks dad!" and she took the packs and lighter from him and opened them.
She pulled out a cigarette and lit it with her new lighter. She savored the
feeling of the smoke in her lungs and the taste of the tobacco in her mouth.
Lara kept a cigarette lit practically the whole time she was cooking dinner.
At six thirty Sylvia pulled in the driveway. "She's almost right on time"
commented Dean sarcastically.
    "Hi mom. How was work?" asked Lara as Sylvia walked through the door.
    "The pits. Hi Dean. Almost forgot you were coming."
    "Dinner is ready. Any later and it would be burned to a crisp" said Lara.
    "Don't start Lara, OK? We lost a major account today and I'm not in the
best of moods. Let me change and we can eat." Sylvia walked to the bedroom and
closed the door.
    Her dad said "I don't know if this is the best night to tell her about you
smoking."
    "You know mom, no time is the best. She's always in a crabby mood when she
gets home. After a couple of glasses of wine she'll be OK."
    Sylvia came out of the bedroom as Lara was setting the table. "Are we
ready to eat?" she asked. "I'm starving."
    "Yeah we are. You want a glass of wine, mom?"
    "Sure, thanks honey" replied Sylvia
    "Dad, you want some?"
    "Please"

    "Lara you seem pre-occupied. Is everything OK?" Sylvia asked as they were
eating dinner. "You're so quiet."
    "I'm fine mom, honest" Lara replied even though her heart was beating so
loud she was positive her mom could hear it.
    "School OK?"
    "Yeah. Everything's fine."
    They ate the rest of their meal in relative quiet. Dean and Sylvia talked
about their impending court date. All the details had been worked out already.
It was just a matter of going to court. Finally everyone was done eating.
    "That was a very good dinner" her mom said pushing her plate away. "You
didn't eat very much though" she said to Lara as she got up to retrieve her
cigarettes and ashtray from the counter. Sylvia sat back down and lit her
cigarette.
    "I just wasn't very hungry" Lara replied.
    Dean said to Lara "Would you hand me that pack of cigarettes on the
counter?"
    "Sure dad." Lara got up and retrieved the pack of Marlboro 100's that her
dad had brought over and shook two out of the pack and handed one to her dad.
As Sylvia watched in disbelief Lara brought the lighter to life, put the
cigarette in her mouth and lit it.
    "What in the hell do you think you're doing" Sylvia screamed. "Get that
cigarette out of your mouth this instant. You're too young to smoke. I'll
ground you until you're 18 young lady."
    "Mom!"
    "Sylvia!"
    "Did you know about this Dean? Did you start her smoking to get back at
me?" she wouldn't let Dean or Lara get a word in edgewise.
    "MOM!"
    Sylvia stopped and looked at her daughter.
    "Mom listen, the last thing I wanted to do was disobey you. I know you
think that I shouldn't smoke. But it's too late for that. And it's not dad's
fault. It's nobody's fault. I just started because I was curious. I've lived
around smoking all my life. It's just natural that I'd start smoking."
    "I should have never started smoking." said Sylvia. "Or maybe if I had
paid more attention to you lately, you wouldn't have started. I don't know.
Dean how long have you known about this?"
    "Since Tuesday night and believe me, it came as quite a shock to me too. I
was so surprised that by the time I realized what had happened, she had me
giving her permission to smoke. I'll admit I did buy her these cigarettes."
    "Why didn't you tell me?" she asked him.
    "I don't know. I was going to, but Lara said you were so adamant about her
not smoking that I didn't want to make her life miserable. Plus I wanted her
to tell you when she felt the time was right."
    "Mom, don't feel bad. All I want from you is to give me permission to
smoke" with that she took a drag from her Marlboro and inhaled deeply.
    "I guess I have no choice. It looks like you've already given yourself
permission. I'm not really happy with this whole situation though. After all
you are only 13."
    "I know I'm young Mom, but I enjoy smoking. I know it sounds weird, but I
do. I'm not smoking because I want to be cool or anything and I didn't do it
to hurt you. It was a decision I made on my own. An adult decision."
    Sylvia approached Lara and did something that she hadn't done in a long
time, she gave her a hug and told her how much she loved her. Dean left for
the night, papers signed and the two women sat up until late, sharing dreams
and cigarettes.


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