Marlboro Country, Part 3: Rachel

(by, 08 May 1998)

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Part 2: Donna

Donna hated being the "new kid."  Back in Texas, she was part of The 
Gang.  She knew everyone, and everyone knew here.  Here in Boston, 
though, all that meant nothing.

All day long as she tried to figure out her way around her new Junior 
High school, she'd felt disoriented, alone, and completely lost.  She 
couldn't find any of her classes, and few of the kids would even talk to 
her.  Oh sure, she got the "Say hello to the new kid" stuff from 
teachers, and a kid here and there would say hi, and even smile.  But, 
compared to Texas anyway, these Northern people were cold and 

And lunch was the worst.  As she exited the line with her barely-edible 
looking meat loaf (at least that was her best guess) and whatever passes 
for vegetables in Boston, she looked over the sea of faces in the 
cafeteria.  It was full, she couldn't make out any empty tables, and all 
of the faces were involved in animated conversations with old friends, 
people who've had years to get to know each other and form 
relationships, cliques and friendships.  Just like she'd already 
done....back in Texas.

As she started to circle the room for the second time, almost ready to 
just put her tray on a windowsill and each standing up, she saw a table 
with only one person sitting at it.  The girl had an opened book in 
front of her, a paperback novel of some kind.  She was looking up at 
Donna and smiling.  "You look lost." she said.  Donna smiled back, even 
though she didn't feel much like it.  The girl had that kind of smile.

"Uh, yeah," she said.  "Crowded room."

"Sit down," she said, pushing out a chair and moving her stuff off to 
the other side.  "My name's Robin."

"Hi, my name's Donna," she said, sitting.  "I'm new here."

"Yeah, I thought so.  I saw you this morning in Chemistry."

"Still getting used to the place.  Quite different from where I came 

"Where was that?  Your accent's pretty cool....someplace south I'd 
guess...Virginia, Georgia?"

"Texas, actually," she said.  "My accent?  It sounds normal to me, 
you're the ones I have trouble understanding."

"Why, just because we pahk owah cahs on the pahkway?"

Donna smiled.  She liked this girl.


The day went a little better for Donna after lunch.  She saw Robin again 
in English, her last class of the day, and the two sat next to each 
other and made faces about how boring the teacher was making the stories 
they were reading.  After class, Robin helped Donna find her locker 
again, and the day was finally, blissfully, over.

As they exited the building, Robin started down one of the sidestreets 
that led away from the school.  Donna knew her way home from the main 
street in front of the school, but figured it was best that she find her 
way around town anyway, rather than only know one way home.  A block or 
two away from the school building, Robin reached into her book bag and 
took out a pack of Marlboros and lit one up.

"You smoke?" Donna said.

"Yeah.  My mom wants me to wait until high school before smoking 
outside, but, well, you know," she said, blowing a stream of smoke into 
the air.  "It's only next year, right?  What's the big deal?"

"Your mother knows you smoke?"

"Oh sure.  Actually, I've been smoking for years, but only around the 
house, only when she's around.  She only let me smoke in my room by 
myself last summer, when I turned 13."

"Wow, your mother sounds pretty cool.  If my mom caught me smoking, 
she'd probably skin me alive."

"You smoke, too?" Robin asked, smoke trailing out of her nose as she 

"No, no.  Hell, no," she said, laughing nervously.  "I couldn't.  I 
mean, it's bad for you and all that.  Oh, sorry," she said, catching 

"Nah, it's okay.  I know all that stuff, and I get it a lot.  I dunno, I 
just like it, so I don't pay attention.  I figure you'd probably be 
worse off worrying about stuff, right?"

"I guess," Donna said.

"You never even tried one?"

"No, not really.  There were some older kids back home who smoked, but 
no one I knew."

"You want to?" Robin asked.

"Oh, no.  I couldn't."

"It's no big deal...if you don't want to, that's fine.  I just hope you 
don't mind if I do."

"No, it's okay," Donna said, quickly.  "I'm cool with it." 

She watched as Robin breathed deep on her cigarette and blew smoke into 
the air.


Over the next few weeks, Donna spent a lot of time hanging out with 
Robin.  School was starting to get a bit better...she was slowly making 
a few more friends, but Robin remained her best friend.  After school, 
they walked home together, Robin smoking the entire walk.  There was a 
time or two Donna thought about asking to try a cigarette herself, but 
something always held her back.  She wasn't sure which she was more 
afraid of...that she wouldn't like it...or that she would.

One friday afternoon, Donna decided to take the plunge.  As she walked 
down the back street with Robin, she asked, trying to keep her voice 
non-chalant, "Hey, mind if I have a smoke?"

Robin looked at her, a knowing smile covering her face.  "I was 
wondering when you'd ask."

"I just want to try it," Donna said, "I probably won't even like it."

"Probably not.  Here, lets stop walking.  There's a small park up ahead 
in the next block, we can sit down there."

They sat on a bench, and Robin took out her Marlboros.  She handed one 
to Donna, and took one for herself.  "Now," she said, "just watch what I 
do.  And remember, take it easy, slowly.  Until you're used to it."

Donna nodded.  She put the cigarette to her lips and watched Robin.  
Robin breathed in through the cigarette and the flame from her lighter 
actually moved slightly toward the end of the cigarette, and lit 
it...the tobacco burning slowly.  Donna took the lighter, and tried to 
do the same thing.

It was strange.  As soon as the flame started to burn the tobacco, she 
felt the taste.  It wasn't what she'd was kind of sweet, 
sort of, and not unpleasant.  Not at all.  She took in some of the 
smoke, and then blew it out right away.

"What do you think?" Robin asked, "do you like it?"

"Yeah," Donna nodded, "I think so."  She continued to watch Robin, and 
tried another puff on the cigarette.  Robin took in more of the smoke, 
and let it sit inside for a minute or two before letting it out in a 
steady stream.  Donna tried the same.  She took in quite a bit, and 
coughed uncontrollably.

"Take it easy," Robin said, smiling.  "It's okay...I did the same thing 
when I tried my first cigarette, too.  I think everyone does."

Donna smiled back, and smoked again, this time taking it slower, easier.  
With each puff, she was able to take a bit more in, and hold it in a 
little longer.  She was starting to get used to it.  She was also 
startiing to feel a bit lightheaded, she found out as she tried to stand 
and felt a little dizzy.

"Yeah, that happens when you start.  You just have to get used to them, 
that's all," Robin said.

"I don't know if I'll get used to them," Donna said, as she stepped on 
the remaining cigarette and put it out.  "I doubt I'll smoke all that 
much.  Maybe once in a while, though."

Robin smiled a knowing smile.


Donna's smoking became a little more than "once in a while," but she 
never actually admitted it.  By the end of the school year, Donna was 
smoking at least two or three cigarettes a day with Robin, two on the 
walk home, and sometimes one at lunch, if there was time to sneak 
outside and have one.  Still Donna refused to admit she was a smoker.  
"I don't smoke," she'd say, "I just have a cigarette once in a while."  
Robin still didn't see the difference, but she didn't argue.

As the summer approached, Donna found herself missing Texas all over 
again.  Summers back there were the best...hanging out with her friends, 
there'd always been a million things to do.  While she had lived in 
Dallas, which wasn't exactly wide open prairies, it was still much less 
crowded and urban than Boston was.

She said as much when she was on the phone with her Uncle Ken, who had a 
ranch not that far from Dallas.  (Not that far, she was 
probably as far away from the city as the entire State of Massachusetts, 
but it wasn't far by Texas standards.)  "Why not come out here this 
summer," Uncle Rich said.  "I'd put you to work, it won't be a vacation, 
but there'd be time to go into town on the weekends and you can see your 
friends.  Get you out of that city for a while and back into the fresh 
air and sunshine!"  Donna had to admit, it sounded great.  Another thing 
was, Donna had grown a lot in the past year, almost 8 full inches, and 
she was still feeling awkward and gangly.  It might be good to get to 
use her body again, get used to what it can do again.  Donna was never 
one for sports or exercise, but when there was a purpose behind it, as 
there would be on her uncle's farm, it was easier.

She said her goodbyes to Robin for the summer as the two of them shared 
a cigarette in the small park down the street from school.  Robin 
offered Donna a full pack of cigarettes, but Donna waved them off.  "No, 
I probably won't smoke out there anyway.  I just do it when I'm around 

It did feel good to be back in Texas, Donna realized once she got to her 
Uncle's ranch.  It was an actual working ranch, and she'd be given 
plenty to do.  But hard work never bothered Donna, truth is, she was 
looking forward to it.

While it was fun seeing her Uncle Ken again, Donna found she really 
liked her Aunt Sherry.  She'd only married Ken last year, and Donna 
hadn't seen her since the wedding, and there hardly at all, so she 
didn't know her well.  Sherry was really nice, and Donna found herself 
liking her a lot.  Sherry was also a pretty heavy smoker.  And she 
smoked Marlboros too, the same brand as Robin.  But, over the first 
couple of weeks she was there, Donna found herself thinking less and 
less about cigarettes.  It was probably just a phase, she thought, 
nothing that's gonna become a habit or anything.

The only time it really got to her, though, was when Sherry would drive 
her somewhere in the car.  Sherry smoked a lot when she drove, and that 
was the time Donna thought about smoking herself.  But she wasn't sure 
about how cool Sherry would be if she just asked for a cigarette, so she 
didn't say anything.

After about a month on her uncle's ranch, Donna was sitting at Sherry's 
computer sending email messages back to her friends in Boston, and 
eyeing a pack of Marlboros Sherry had left there.  She peeked inside, 
and it was about half full.  She started to remove a couple of them, but 
put them back quickly when she thought she heard someone behind her.  
Finally, she made up her mind, and put two of the cigarettes into the 
inside pocket of her coveralls.  After she sent her messages, she went 
outside to the barn.  Just inside the doorway, she took one of the 
cigarettes out of her pocket and put it in her mouth, and she fumbled 
with the matches she'd taken from the pile of them Sherry had in her 
desk drawer.  She breathed the familar taste of smoke into her lungs, 
and let it out slowly, deliberately.  Yes, she had to admit to herself, 
she did miss it.

She was about halfway through her cigarette, and trying to remember 
where Sherry kept her fresh packs, when a small movement out of the 
corner of her eye made her jump.  Mitch, one of her uncles' hands, stood 
there, just watching her.  She'd just inhaled on the cigarette, and was 
about to blow it out when he'd startled her. She noticed a cigarette 
burning in his big hand, though, and, since he'd undoubtedly seen her 
inhaling, there was no real reason to hide it from him.  If he told her 
aunt and uncle, well, at least she wouldn't have to hide it any more.

But he didn't say anything.  He just watched her as she exhaled.  There 
was something in that look, Donna realized.  Something she wasn't sure 
about, but was beginning to figure out.  She drew on the cigarette 
again, and let the smoke out slowly, through her pursed lips and her 
nose as well.  Mitch contiued to stare.  He only moved to bring his own 
cigarette up, draw on it deeply, and toss it down on the ground.

He's turned on! Donna said to herself.  He's actually getting excited 
watching me smoke!  Donna took another slow drag, and formed a thick 
column of smoke blowing up to the roof.

As she took her last drag, Mitch came over and grabbed her, forcefully, 
but not hard.  He kissed her as the smoke lingered in her mouth.  She 
was startled, but responded.  Mitch's hard body brought her down into a 
pile of hay, and he took off her coveralls.  He was deliberate, with no 
wasted motion, but not hard or painful.  He knew what he was doing, and 
did it without any fumbling.  A lot different from the time she and 
Bobby Monroe had gone to third base.  A lot different.

Donna felt Mitch's hard body, and smelled his musk. It was more than she 
could stand.  She grabbed ahold of him, and went at it as furiously as 
he did.  Afterward, she was spent, feeling like a wet rag tossed aside.  
A very satisfied wet rag, though.  Mitch gave her a cigarette from his 
pack, and the two of them smoked in the moonlight, lying on the hay.

Later, around 3 am, Donna got up from her bed.  She wasn't able to 
sleep, after what happened in the barn.  She hadn't had time to stop and 
think about it at the time, but now, hours later, she couldn't help but 
think, why me? What came over him to want me so bad?

She got up and looked out the window.  It was a clear, quiet night...a 
quiet she hadn't seen back in Boston.   A quiet she could only find in 
Texas.  She looked over and saw a full length mirror behind the door.  
Walked over and looked at herself in the mirror, reflected by the 

She took off her nightgown, and just looked at her naked body.  She had 
started to fill out, she noticed; she no longer looked tall and gangly, 
but she now had curves.  Her breasts had developed a bit earlier than 
many girls her age, but now they were in proportion to the rest of her.  
She ran her hand along her hips, and just reveled in the body that she 
was only now beginning to realize was....damn it, she'd admit it, it was 
sexy!  She stared at her own body, and realized that Mitch couldn't have 
known how young she really was!

She found her coveralls, and found the remaining cigarette in the 
pocket.  She took the matches, and lit it while watching herself in the 
mirror.  She took the smoke in slowly, and watched as she let it out.  
She watched as the smoke curled up her arm and circled her body in the 
moonlight, and watched as it drifted out of her nose and from the 
corners of her mouth.  She watched the experession on her face as she 
tasted the tobacco, and remembered the look on Mitch's face when he saw 

She finished the cigarette, and wished she'd taken more than just the 
two.  She got into bed, and told herself that tomorrow, she'd have a 
talk with Sherry.  She'd understand.  Donna was sure Sherry wouldn't 
have a problem with her smoking.

After all, Sherry's a smoker too, she thought.  Just like I am.

Continued in Marlboro Country, part three: Rachel

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