Suzie Stars Smoking

(by, 30 May 1999)

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The flash interrupted the darkness of Suzie's room, then the flame from a 
disposable lighter.  Suzie started sneaking cigarettes from her mother about 
three months ago when she just turned 13.  Meg, Suzie's mother, smoked 
almost two packs of Carlton 100's a day, so she didn't notice that only a 
few were missing each day.  Suzie liked to start her day like this.  Moments 
before, Suzie's eyes barely open, she reached over to her night stand where 
she had carefully placed one cigarette and her lighter, poised, ready for 
her first thing in the morning.  It was safe to smoke first thing in the 
morning in her bedroom, carved out of what once was a dingy space in the 
basement.  As she rolled onto her back, she held the smoldering cylinder to 
her lips and slowly drew the smoke through the unburnt tobacco, into her 
mouth.  After four seconds, she withdrew the cigarette from her mouth and 
took the weak diluted smoke from the Carlton into her lungs.  Suzie 
preferred stronger cigarettes, but beggars can't be choosers.

After satisfying her need for nicotine, Suzie made her way upstairs.  As 
usual, it was already smoky from Meg's unending need to get her nicotine to 
a comfortable level after being deprived for the seven hours that she spent 
sleeping.  Suzie went about her usual morning routine to get ready for 

At 7:10 she headed to the bus stop.  The bus didn't come until 7:40, but 
going there early afforded Suzie time with her friends and, of course, time 
to smoke.  Meg didn't leave for work until just after 8:00, so the risk of 
getting caught was pretty slim.  Suzie left the house and walked down the 
driveway and the 1/4 mile down the dead end street that they lived onto the 
main road.  Suzie met Kim and Karen at the end of the road.  Judging from 
the length left to their cigarettes, Suzie guessed that they had only been 
there for a couple of minutes.

"Hi Kim, Hi Karen!  Which of you can let me bum a smoke?"  Suzie secretly 
hoped that Karen would offer her one of her Marlboro 100's.  She liked them 
a whole lot better than Kim's Marlboro Lights 100's Kim took from her 
mother.  Suzie was lucky today.

"I managed to take a whole pack from mom yesterday" said Karen as she held 
out the almost full pack to Suzie.

Suzie casually lit her cigarette.  Just then, they heard a car coming down 
from their street.  It was Mrs. Jones, Kim's mother.  All the girls cupped 
their cigarettes in their hands as she passed by them and gave a polite wave 
with the other.

"Whew, that was close.  Why is your mom leaving so early today?" asked 

"She has a new boss that is starting down at the plant today, and she wanted 
to be one of the first people to be there."

Suzie and the other girls chit chatted and gossiped about the boys that they 
liked and smoked their ritual morning cigarettes.

Suzie looked at her watch.  7:30.  Time for one more quick one.  She asked 
Karen for another cigarette, which she, of course, got and fired it up.  She 
was taking her first drag from the cigarette when she saw something move out 
of the corner of her eye.  It was her mother.  She was walking down the 
road, her purse over her shoulder,  a briefcase and in one hand and a 
half-gone cigarette in her free hand.  The look on her face was one of 
amazement, seeing her daughter holding a cigarette in her lips loosely 
between two fingers.  She was less than 30 feet from Suzie now.  All that 
went through Suzie's mind was "Busted."  She decided that she didn't have 
anything too loose, so she removed the cigarette from her lips and inhaled 
the smoke deep into her lungs.  She was waiting for the hammer to fall as 
her mother came closer.

Meg walked up to Suzie.  "I forgot to tell you that Mary from the office and 
I were going to start carpooling today.  She's picking me up in five 
minutes.  By the way, when did you start smoking?"

Suzie, her hand slightly shaky, but the tip of her long cigarette was 
shaking wildly replied "um, a few months ago."  Suzie still didn't know 
exactly what her mom's reaction was going to be, but so far, she hadn't 
blown her stack.

"How much are you smoking a day?"

"I guess about five or six, I think." Susie took this pause in the 
conversation to bring the cigarette back to her lips and take another drag.

"Well, we'll talk more about this when I get home from work.  Here comes 
your bus"

Suzie looked down the main road and saw the yellow bus approaching as she 
exhaled.  Only then did she notice that her friends had slowly and 
deliberately moved away from Suzie and her mother, as if to distance 
themselves from her smoking habit.

Suzie started walking toward her friends and looking over her shoulder said 
"OK mom, I'll see you tonight" as she approached Karen, Suzie took another 
long drag from the cigarette, handed it to Karen who took a long drag, who 
handed it back to Kim, then handed it back to Suzie.  She took one more 
drag, looked back at her mother, then flicked the butt to the ground, 
blowing the smoke out as she got on the bus.

On the bus, Suzie, Karen and Kim talked about what Suzie's mom might do to 
her.  The possibilities ranged from grounding to being allowed to smoke.  
The anxiety was driving Suzie crazy.  She just wished that the whole thing 
was over.

Finally, the school day ended and Suzie and Karen were on the bus home.  Kim 
was caught smoking at lunch by a teacher and had to spend the afternoon in 
detention.  Before the bus could pull away after dropping them off, Karen 
had pulled the cigarettes from her purse, took one out for herself and 
handed Suzie one.  They were about four steps off the bus before they got 
them lit.  Suzie asked Karen if she wanted to come over her house and wait 
with her until her mother got home.  Of course, Karen agreed.  The two girls 
waited, watching TV and smoking.

At about 6:00, they saw the headlights of her mother's ride coming up the 
road.  The moment of truth was finally here.  Suzie left Karen's cigarettes 
out on the coffee table because she thought that it might force the issue 
with her mother.

Meg walked through the door with a bucket of chicken and asked Karen if she 
wanted to stay for supper.  One phone call was required to get permission.  
During the middle of dinner, Meg, with no warning just asked "Are you going 
to continue smoking?"

"I guess so.  I really like it."

"Well, based on what I saw this morning, I think it may be too late to try 
to stop you.  I do need to tell you that I don't like it very much.  I think 
that you're kind of young.  On the other hand, I started when I was about 
your age.  Smoking is a big responsibility you know.  You've got to be 
careful.  Whatever you do, don't fall asleep in bed with a lit cigarette.  
I've worked too damn hard to get this house for you to burn it down.  And . 
. . no smoking out in public yet.  I don't think that everyone would be as 
understanding about your smoking as I am."

"Deal" Suzie replied.

After dinner, Meg got out her big crystal ashtray and put it in the center 
of the table.  Her Carltons already on the table, she pulled one out, lit 
it, and pushed the pack across the table toward her daughter.  "Do you want 
one of these?" she asked?

"No, I like Marlboro 100's" Suzie replied as she got up, went to the coffee 
table and got Karen's pack and lighter "but thanks anyway."

As Suzie opened the pack, she noticed that there were only two left.  She 
pulled one out, let it hang in her lips while she lit it.  The cigarette 
glowed red and hot as she took her first drag and made her way back to the 
kitchen table.  She put the cigarettes in front of Karen and said "the last 
one is yours."  Karen looked nervously at Meg, then at Suzie, then back to 
Meg.  "It's OK.  I don't mind" said Meg, easing Karen's fears about smoking 
in front of an adult.  "Besides, I already talked with your mother about 
your smoking after I saw you this morning."

"Oh, how could you?  She's going to kill me!" the cigarette bouncing up and 
down as she was speaking.

"No, I don't think so.  She didn't seem too mad at all.  She was wondering 
why it appeared that her cigarettes were going so quickly.  She and I talked 
for a long time after I had told her that I saw all of you smoking at the 
bus stop this morning.  She's the one that convinced me that it would be the 
right thing to do to give Suzie my permission to smoke."

They all sat around the table talking about their day, and Meg detailed her 
conversation with Karen's mother.  Meg also mentioned that she had thought 
about talking to Kim's mother as well, and although she was a smoker too, 
Meg knew that she wouldn't accept Kim being a smoker at all, so she decided 
against it.

After about an hour, both Suzie and Karen were craving another cigarette.  
Since Suzie or Karen most definitely couldn't buy their own being only 13, 
Meg offered to run down to the 7-Eleven down the street and get them a pack. 
  Suzie and Karen each had one of Meg's Carltons while Meg was gone.

Meg came back with a carton of Marlboro 100's.  "Karen, I was on my way to 
the store, and while I sure don't mind you smoking here, I don't think that 
it's my place to be buying you cigarettes.  If you want to smoke some of 
Suzie's, that's up to her, but I'm only going to but her a carton every two 
weeks, and that's her limit, unless she gives me money."

Suzie broke open the carton, took out a box, packed the cigarettes against 
her wrist several times.  She then took the cellophane off and slipped out 
two cigarettes, and gave one to Karen.  Before they knew it, it was 9:00.

It was time for Karen to go home and it was nice to know that Karen only had 
a short walk through the woods to her house on the next street over.  It 
only took two minutes.

When Karen arrived at home, her mother, father, and her little sister, 
Sheila, were sitting on the sofa watching TV.  As usual, there was a haze of 
smoke in the house.  She announced her arrival to the family, everyone 
turned around.

Her mother stood up, put her hands on her hips, holding a cigarette (of 
course), and said "well, if it isn't our little smoker girl.  Are you going 
to continue to smoke behind our backs or are you going to be a grownup and 
smoke with your parents?"  Then she cracked a little smile and threw her a 
full carton of Marlboro 100's.  Just as Suzie had just a little while 
before, Karen opened the carton, then a pack, fumbled in her purse for her 
lighter, then lit up.  Just then, she noticed why the house seemed a little 
smokier than normal.  There, between her little sister's fingers, was a 
Marlboro 100's.  Karen's jaw dropped to the floor. "Mom, how long has Sheila 
been smoking?  She's only 11!"  "Well, we couldn't hide it from you any 
longer, especially since you're smoking now too" Karen's mother said.  Karen 
looked at her sister.  The cigarette looked so big in her hand.  Sheila 
raised the cigarette to her mouth and took a long, measured drag and did a 
snap inhale.  "Sheila came to me one day about six months ago and asked what 
smoking was like.  I couldn't really describe it, so I asked her if she 
wanted to try one.  Ever since that day, I've been giving her two or three a 
day, if she asked."  "Well, I guess that's one reason that it wasn't a big 
deal when Suzie's mom called you today, huh?"   Karen's mother explained to 
Karen that she and Meg had talked about reasonable rules for smoking and 
that Karen couldn't be seen smoking in public quite yet, and that she was 
not to be smoking in bed.  Additionally, there was a limit to be put on her 
smoking: One carton every two weeks . . . Just like Suzie.  They all sat in 
the living room as the whole family watched TV for the rest of the evening.  
Not another work was spoken about Karen or Sheila's smoking that evening.

The next day at the bus stop, a stunned Kim walked to the bus stop to see 
not only Suzie, but Karen smoking.  Suzie and Karen quickly filled Kim in on 
the previous night's events.  Kim slowly walked over to Meg and said "Um, 
will you tell my mother if I smoke in front of you?"  "Of course not" was 
the reply.  With that, Kim pulled a Marlboro Lights 100 from her purse and 
started looking at one of the other girls for a light.  Kim heard the click 
of a disposable lighter behind her, turned quickly around, only to see Meg 
holding a lit lighter at arms length toward Kim.  Kim held the long 
cigarette between her fingers as she leaned into the flame.  Suzie and Karen 
decided that there was enough time to chain one more cigarette before the 
bus came.  As a result, Kim had just finished her cigarette and stamped it 
out on the ground when she heard her mother's car coming around the curve.  
This time, the kids make no attempt to hide their cigarettes from Kim's mom. 
  Ms. Jones stopped the car to talk with Meg about an upcoming party they 
were to attend.  It took Ms. Jones a minute or two to figure out that the 
smoke that was in the air was not from Meg, but from Suzie and Karen.  Kim's 
mother blew her stack.  She stared right into Meg's eyes and said "How can 
you just sit there as your 13-year-old daughter is killing herself?"  She 
paused to take a drag from her own cigarette, then looked directly into 
Kim's eyes and said "Don't you EVER start smoking, young lady, I won't be so 
easy on you as Meg has been with Suzie!"  With that, Ms. Jones got into her 
car, slammed the door and took off down the street.

Both Suzie and Karen took advantage of the privilege of being able to smoke 
at home, but both were responsible in the way that they smoked.  They knew 
that they could never exceed the limits that their parents had put on their 
smoking or else they may be forced to go a few days without smoking until 
their two weeks was up.  Neither girl smoked at school, but were free to 
smoke at each other's houses.  The exception was when they went to Kim's 
house.  Kim's mother would never allow them (or her daughter) to smoke in 
her house.

A couple of weeks later, everyone met at Suzie's house for Karen's birthday, 
well, almost everyone.  Kim's mother was sick and couldn't attend, but Kim 
was happy to walk down the hill to Suzie's house.  It was late Saturday 
afternoon and all the kids, Meg, and Karen's mother and father piled in 
their van and headed to the Olive Garden.  Just minutes into the 30 minute 
drive, everyone in the van was took out a cigarette at once.  Two lighters 
made the rounds to get everyone lit.  At the restaurant, everything went 
well.  They were seated in the smoking section, of course.  After filling 
themselves, Karen's parents and Meg all lit cigarettes.  All the kids could 
do was look at their parents smoke, envying every inhale.  Meg noticed Suzie 
fidgeting in her seat and asked what was wrong.  "I need a cigarette too, 
mom.  We've been sitting here for over an hour!"  Meg looked up at the 
ceiling and pondered what solution she could offer her daughter.  Looking 
around, Meg saw that the smoking section was pretty empty.  There was an 
older couple a couple of seats down, a mother and daughter (about 15 or 16 
years old, she guessed, and both of them smoking) next to them, and a young 
couple that looked to be out on a date across the way.  "OK.  Just this 
once, go ahead and have a cigarette.  Do you need one, or did you bring 
yours?"  Suzie reached for her purse, retrieved her Marlboro 100's  and 
lighter, and placed them on the table.  "I've got mine, thanks."  The other 
kids just looked at Suzie.  They were green with envy.  Karen's mom looked 
at her two daughters and gave a nod to Karen, but whispered to Sheila "I'm 
sorry honey, we just can't let you smoke in public yet, you're just too 
young."  The first thing that Sheila did when they all got back to the van 
for the ride home was to light a cigarette.

Shortly after that, Kim was caught smoking at school with Karen and Suzie.  
Calls were made to all of their parents, and all said that they would take 
care of the problem.  Karen and Suzie's parents simply told their kids not 
to smoke at school anymore.  It was a different story at Kim's house.  Her 
mother verbally lashed at her.  Kim's mother said that "there was no way in 
hell that I'm going to put up with you smoking while you're living under my 
roof!  Suzie and Karen's parents can do what they want, but you're not 
smoking!"  Kim thought that this was pretty hypocritical of her mother since 
the whole time that Kim was getting read the riot act, her mom was chain 
smoking.  Kim tried every argument in the book.  The "you smoked when you 
were my age" argument, the "you can't stop me anyway" argument, and the "I'm 
an adult" argument.  None worked.  Kim's mother said that from this day 
forward, she would make sure not to make cigarettes available for Kim to 
steal.  Kim was grounded for one month.  Kim was not allowed to go to 
Karen's house or Suzie's house without her mother being present.  Kim would 
be driven to and from school by her mother.  She was bound and determined to 
do everything that she could to discourage her daughter from smoking.  Kim 
dealt with the news well, but ended up being set to her room where she spent 
the night crying.

The next morning, Suzie and Karen were at the end of the driveway waiting 
for the school bus as Meg waited for her ride to work.  It was one of those 
windless days and there was a noticeable cloud of smoke around the 
threesome.  Everyone was wondering where Kim was.  After a couple of 
minutes, Kim and her mother came down the driveway in the car.  Karen and 
Suzie's heart jumped.  They watched as Kim and her mother drove by, and Kim 
gave a sad, slow wave to her friends.

As soon as Suzie and Karen arrived at school, they went to Kim's locker.  
Kim told them what had happened the night before.  Kim said that she was not 
going to smoke anymore, because her mother had said that if she even smelled 
smoke on her clothes, that she would ground Kim for another month.  This 
saddened Karen and Suzie, because they knew that they wouldn't be spending 
much more time smoking with their friend.

As the months passed, Suzie and Karen's habit slowly increased until the 
leveled off at the pack- a-day level.  As a result, Suzie and Karen's 
parents relaxed their rules and said that they would by them a pack a day, 
but no more.  They had seen Kim less frequently after school, as they were 
not allowed to smoke at Kim's house and Kim was not allowed out of her house 
unless escorted by her mother.  She was relegated to a life close to her 
mother.  At school Suzie and Karen kept Kim supplied with a stash of 
cigarettes, but she had more cigarettes than opportunities to smoke them.  
Kim could only smoke when her mother was out of the house and even then, she 
had to be ever so careful.  She would only smoke outside, carefully burying 
her butts and taking a shower afterwards.  As time went on, she became more 
and more depressed.  Kim's mother sent her to counseling, but nothing seemed 
to help.  One day when Kim was particularly depressed, Kim's mother came 
home from work and sat at the dining room table with her daughter as she 
finished her homework. The smoke from Kim's mother's cigarette was driving 
Kim crazy. Her mother couldn't see what she was working on, so she stood in 
back of Kim's chair and saw that it was an algebra problem.  Kim lost her 
concentration for the simple reason that she knew that there was a burning 
cigarette only inches away from her.  She was just about to ask her mother 
to leave, when something strange happened.  Kim's mother lifted the 
cigarette from the back of Kim's chair and slowly placed it in front of her 
daughter's mouth.  Kim was scared to death, because she didn't know if it 
was some kind of test that her mother was giving her, or what.  Her mother 
pressed the filter lightly to Kim's lips and said "It's OK dear."  With that 
permission, Kim slowly opened her mouth and began to draw on the cigarette.  
After about two seconds, her mother pulled the cigarette away and Kim 
inhaled the smoke into her lungs.  It felt good.

More to follow.

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