She Owed Her One, Part 8

(by Kalithanatos, 20 December 2009)


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She Owed Her One
by Kalithanatos

CHAPTER EIGHT

The next day was Saturday, and Julianna's parents asked her if she wanted to
take time off from studying to go to the local annual funfair with them, as
was the tradition in the Posey household dating back over ten years. Julianna
was glad of the break, and phoned Debbie to say she would not be over today.
Study leave was now officially over and the final exams were due to begin on
Monday. Julianna was starting to feel that any more studying might actually
be detrimental to her chances of success and that she was as prepared as she
could be. A day out might take her mind off things and help her achieve a
final focus.

At around 10 am, the three members of the family jumped in the car and drove
the five miles to the funfair. Julianna and her father particularly enjoyed
going on the rides, while Julianna's mother tried her luck at winning teddy
bears on the toy-grabber machines. Julianna was having a great day out and
never once thought about smoking until the family stopped for lunch at a
nearby café. As it was a nice day, they got a table outdoors beside other
diners. At the table next to them were a couple smoking some all-white
cigarettes, one after another. Julianna found she could not take her eyes of
the female smoker, who looked the spitting image of Debbie. Julianna's mother
noticed Julianna staring, asking if the smoke was bothering her and that they
could easily move to another table.

"No, no it's fine. Just thinking of my exams, that's all." In truth, Julianna
was thinking how much she would like to inhale some of the creamy white smoke
into her waiting lungs. This was now the longest time she had gone with out a
cigarette since she had started smoking, and for the first time she felt a
craving developing within her. Instead of fearing this as a sign she was
becoming addicted, she welcomed it - she really, really wanted to smoke so
badly it hurt.

After they had eaten their meals, Julianna ordered dessert while her parents
declined. As she was tucking it to her ice cream, her mother spied an arcade
that she remembered from last year had a toy-grabber machine in which she had
won several teddy bears quite easily. Julianna's mother suggested they all
head over, but Julianna said she wanted to finish her dessert first.

"Would you mind if we went over and you could meet us in there?" Julianna's
mother asked.

"Not at all," Julianna responded, sensing a chance she might be able to get a
nicotine fix while her parents were away. The arcade was a few hundred metres
away, out of sight of the café. Her parents gathered their things and
Julianna promised she would be over in ten minutes or so.

Julianna gave them a few moments to make sure they weren't going to
unexpectedly return, then stood up and approached the couple next to her, her
blood now pumping rapidly throughout her body. What she was about to do was
so out of character for her that she felt both awkward and excited at the
same time.

"Excuse me," she began, "but I couldn't help notice you were smoking, and I'm
out with my parents..."

"...And they don't know you smoke, right?" the woman said, smiling "Don't
worry, been there, done that."

Julianna's relief was palpable - they understood the situation!

"I don't suppose you have a spare cigarette that I can borrow. I can pay you
for it, if that helps."

"Don't be silly," the woman said, "but the truth is, this is my last one."
She indicated the half-smoked cigarette in her hand. "Do you have any, Dan?"
she asked her partner.

"Afraid not, I'm all out too," he responded.

Seeing the disappointment in Julianna's face, the woman extended her hand
towards Julianna.

"Why don't you take a drag off of this one?" she asked. "See if that helps."

Julianna gratefully accepted the cigarette and took a medium drag from it,
noticing two things simultaneously: that the cigarette tasted differently
from the ones she was used to, it seemed to be more `minty' for some reason,
and also that it gave more of a `kick'. The second thing she noticed was the
sense of relief the cigarette seemed to give her. The woman noticed this too,
and said, "Why don't you take another drag - it looks like you need it!"
Julianna brought the cigarette to her lips for the second time and inhaled
much deeper this time before handing the cigarette back to the woman.

"Thanks, that was nice," Julianna said.

"No problem, glad to help. It must be murder to be out with your family and
not be able to smoke. My name's Hayley, by the way," the woman said, offering
her other hand for Julianna to shake.

"Julianna, and it is hard, not to be able to smoke. I never thought it would
be this way - I've only been smoking for a week, and I didn't expect to feel
like this."

"That would be you experiencing a craving. The longer you go without a
cigarette, the more you want one. It's unusual to feel like this after only a
week, but I guess you've got it bad. I would say you were well on your way to
becoming addicted," Hayley offered.

"Really?" Julianna asked, surprised. "I only intended to smoke for a few days
to help a friend out, then stop. Will I always feel this way?" she asked.

"Well, if you can give up now, the feelings will go away after a few days,
but if you continue smoking, you will start to feel more intense cravings the
longer you go without a cigarette. You have to ask yourself - are you ready
for that?"

Julianna pondered this. She hadn't prepared for smoking to sink its teeth
into her this quickly, but she had to admit she was enjoying smoking more
each time she lit a cigarette. In fact, trying these minty ones, she was
considering what it would be like to smoke an entire cigarette that tasted as
good as that.

"I don't know, to be honest," she responded. "I think I MIGHT smoke for a
little while, but I don't want to smoke forever. That cigarette you had," she
said, indicating to the all-white that Hayley had just stubbed out in the
ashtray, "was really nice. I had only ever smoked Ultra Lights before, but I
liked the taste of that one more."

"That's because these are Menthol cigarettes. No offence, Julianna, but
smoking an Ultra Light is equivalent to smoking air." This was the second
time Julianna had been told this. She wondered exactly what Hayley and Hannah
meant by this, and asked Hayley.

Hayley answered, "Well, all cigarettes have different strengths, lengths and
tastes. For instance, these," she said, indicating the empty packet in front
of her, "are Berkeley Superking Menthols. That means they are longer than the
cigarettes you have been smoking, they taste like mint, and they are a lot
stronger. This gives you a bigger `kick' and for an experienced smoker, that
is a vital part of smoking - you want and need to satisfy the cravings that
nicotine provides. Ultra Lights, unfortunately, simply don't do it for me -
they are weak and tasteless."

Julianna was learning a lot by talking to Hayley. She now understood why
Hannah smoked Benson & Hedges - they were longer and stronger and gave her
the satisfaction Ultra Lights couldn't provide. That is why Hannah even
turned down some free cigarettes - they would not have done the trick for her
anyway.

Julianna looked at her watch and realised nearly fifteen minutes had elapsed.
If she didn't find her parents soon, they might come looking for her. She
thanked Hayley and Dan for the chat and the cigarette and made her way to the
arcade.

A few hours later as the funfair was winding down, Julianna started to feel
another craving building within her. It didn't help that everyone at the fair
seemed to be smoking, and Julianna was finding it difficult to muster much
enthusiasm for wandering round anymore. As the family were walking toward yet
another toy-grab machine Julianna's mum could see in the distance being
loaded with fresh teddy bears, Julianna spied Hayley and Dan at a candyfloss
stand. Hayley waved and Julianna made a small gesture back, rolling her eyes
in her parents' direction. Hayley could see Julianna's discomfort and reached
into her pocket, pulling out a fresh packet of cigarettes. She waved the
packet back and forth, then made a two-fingered motion towards her mouth and
pointed towards a dark alley between two trucks. Julianna recognised the
gesture for what it was - Hayley was offering her a cigarette that she could
smoke out of sight of her parents. Julianna gave a small nod, and then said
to her parents, "I fancy some candyfloss. You guys want any?" Her parents
both said `no' and they agreed to meet in the arcade later. Julianna then
quickly made her way to they alley, where Hayley was waiting with her hand
extended containing a fresh, all-white cigarette. Julianna grasped the
cigarette and put it between her lips. Understanding the need for speed,
Hayley lit Julianna's cigarette for her before lighting Dan's and finally her
own.

Julianna's gratitude was obvious from the moment she took her first drag and
inhale. She loved the taste and kick these new cigarettes provided, and by
her second draw her cravings had almost completely gone.

"My god, girl, if you keep smoking like that, you really are going to get
addicted!" Hayley offered.

"At this point, I don't care. These cigarettes are AWESOME!" She emphasised
this by taking her first ever double drag, holding the smoke in her lungs
from the initial inhale while breathing in more of that sweet smoke on top
with her second. She really did enjoy smoking Menthol cigarettes, and started
to contemplate the chances that she might actually become a full time smoker.
She continued smoking at this frantic pace until, in under two minutes, the
cigarette was sadly gone.

"You really enjoyed that, didn't you?" asked Dan.

"Fuck yeah, I did," Julianna said, her profanity both shocking and
electrifying her. She almost never cursed out loud, but something was
changing in this formerly timid girl. She actually started feeling like a
grown-up; not a girl anymore, but a young woman.

Dan and Hayley looked at each other knowingly. They had both been through
what Julianna was experiencing and only one thing would do. Hayley handed the
pack of cigarettes to Julianna.

"Why don't you have another?" she asked.

Julianna looked at the pack in her hand, then at her watch, and decided she
had time to smoke again before she would be missed.

"Okay, thanks," she said happily, extracting another all-white cigarette from
the pack. Hayley again lit her up again, and as Julianna took another
grateful drag, she started to hand the packet back to Hayley.

"Why don't you keep those?" Hayley asked. "It sure looks like you're enjoying
them, and besides, we have another pack to keep us going."

"Oh, no, I couldn't, really," Julianna protested, but Hayley refused to
accept the packet back and would not take the money Julianna started to offer
either.

"Really, it's fine," Hayley said. "Anyway, it's always nice to have another
smoker in the world, isn't it Dan?" Dan nodded his head in agreement.

"Actually, you seem like a nice girl," Hayley said, "do you fancy going for a
drink sometime?"

"Well, I'm only seventeen, so I can't go for a drink," Julianna said,
exhaling yet more smoke as she spoke (something she was endlessly fascinated
with), "perhaps we could go for a meal or something, maybe? But not until
after my exams!"

"That sounds nice, doesn't it Dan? Why don't we exchange details and you can
get in touch when your exams are done?"

The two women exchanged phone numbers and email addresses as Julianna
finished her cigarette. She hid the packet deep in her handbag and sprayed
herself with perfume before popping a mint in her mouth and saying goodbye to
her two new friends, thanking them profusely for their support.


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