Thanksgiving 2000, Part 1

(by, 28 November 2000)

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Thanksgiving 2000 (part 1 of 2)

It was a bitterly cold day, nothing really to be thankful about, except that 
it was bright and sunny. Unfortunately, the next door neighbours were still 
at their football game. Diane watched as Rachel caught a pass and ran 
untouched to the cones. She spiked the ball and there was a celebration 
involving the five members of what looked to be the winning team.
    'Still waiting for the Wilkins to finish their football game ?' Diane's 
mother asked, reaching around her daughter's waist to hug her.
    'Yeah. I'm dying for a cigarette.'
    Kelley squeezed her daughter tightly. 'Don't worry. Once we get your 
grandmother to have a few glasses of wine, she'll loosen up and you and I can 
smoke right here in our own house.'
    'I think the game is wrapping up. I'm going to go outside and have a 
cigarette. Want to join me ?' 
    'I'd love to, but I have to do a few things in the kitchen before 
grandma decides that she's needed in there. You know what'll happen if I try 
to grab a smoke when I should be cooking.'
    'Yeah, there'll be hell to pay.'
    'Well, don't let that stop you, dear.'
    Diane patted her mother's hands, walked to the hall closet, and grabbed 
her leather jacket and a wool cap. She checked the pocket to make sure her 
cigarettes were inside and walked out the front door.
The game was over and everyone but Rachel headed back inside the Wilkins 
place. She walked over to Diane, her face flush from running around for the 
last hour in the cold.
    Diane lit a cigarette, her first of the day, and inhaled deeply, the 
smoke feeling good as it filled her chilled lungs.
    'Got one for your best friend ?'
    Diane handed over the pack and lighter with a smile. 'Are you going to 
smoke right out here when your brother-in-law might see you ?'
    'Fuck that,' Rachel said, pulling one of the cigarettes from the pack 
and lighting it. 'I'm so sick of him. 'What about your grandmother ?' she 
asked, blowing a thick white plume of smoke.
    'She so weird. I hate to be insensitive, but she's just never gotten 
over grandpa's accident. Any time she sees someone smoking it reminds her of 
him, and she gets all upset. I've never heard of anyone quitting because of a 
car accident, and- well, it's not like Kevin. I mean, she gave me grandpa's 
lighter. She has no problem with me smoking-'
    Rachel looked at the old-fashioned silver lighter. 'It is nice.'
    Diane took it back, felt its smooth silver casing. 'I'd much rather have 
him back.'
    'Take Kevin, too. Please. He's probably inside right now, bitching.'
    Paula sighed.
    'I can't believe they let her smoke. She's seventeen years old, for 
christ's sake.'
    'Just drop it, Kevin. Everyone in this family bends over backwards when 
we get together- for you. The least you could do is keep your mouth shut and 
just let her enjoy herself.'
    'You probably wish you were out there with her.'
    'Kevin, don't push me-'
    'You wouldn't.'
    'I would and I will. You're not her parent.'
    'She wouldn't be a smoker if it wasn't for you.'
    'That's it !' Paula said, annoyed now. She pulled her sweatshirt back 
over her head.
    'Paula-' Kevin pleaded, but it was too late. His wife stormed out the 
front door, closing before her could start swearing.
The two girls looked at her and Diane smiled.
    'How's it going, Paula ?'
    'That depends,' she said, smiling back. 'You wouldn't have an extra 
cigarette, would you ?'
    She pulled the pack from her pocket and lit Paula's cigarette for her the 
same way that Paula had done for her the first few times she'd smoked.
    'Kevin must have really pissed you off.'
    'The thing that kills me is that if the family really knew why he was such
 an anti, Mom would never speak to him again and Dad would pop him one in the 
mouth. I mean, the whole family bends over backwards for him, and except for 
Rachel here, no one has the least idea.'
    'Well, and me. I still can't believe that you told us,' Diane said.
    'I had to tell someone. I know you guys a little young to try and 
understand what it's like to marry someone who's cheated on you, but-' Paula 
trimmed the ash from her cigarette, inhaled deeply, and blew a voluminous 
cloud of smoke which hung in the damp cold air. 'You guys have been very 
supportive, and that means a lot to me.'

    Kevin was trying to pull himself away from the window, but he couldn't 
because he knew that look on her face. She was talking about it. Why she 
choose two such young confidants-
    Well, they were fellow smokers. In fact, like a vampire siring others, 
she was the reason, orat least a major part of the reason, both of them 
    He tried to tear himself away, but he was enjoying watching her smoke.
    No, that was a lie. He was enjoying watching all three of them smoke. Had 
he pissed her off on purpose because he knew what it would lead to, and would 
he be an hypocrite and punish her the rest of the day for having done it, 
ruining another holiday for them both ?
    He tried to talk himself out of doing that, tried to walk away into the 
house where everyone would half-pretend and half genuinely like him.
    Instead, he watched Rachel draw on her own cigarette, looking just like 
Paula always did, that half smile on her face as she enjoyed the smoke. It 
brought back the memory of that last day and-
He picked the lighter up and thumbed the wheel. Flame leapt up and he applied 
it gingerly to the tip of Paula's cigarette.
    'Thanks, hon,' Paula said, exhaling smoke. She bent her head and reached 
up to kiss him, enjoying the mingled tastes of smoke and the coffee he'd just 
taken a swig of. 'You're the best. I'm really sorry I'm going to be gone 
all day- I can't believe that I'm still going on field trips three weeks 
before a read for my masters.'
    'Just try to enjoy yourself. I wish I could go with you,' he added, 
trying his best to sound convincing.
    She drew on the cigarette again and hugged him as she exhaled. He watched 
the smoke stream from her perfect pert nose, felt the faint hardness of her 
nipples against his chest, and started to harden. He bent his head down and 
kissed her again, drinking in the taste of the smoke on her tongue. God, how 
he loved that. She took one final pull, grabbed her purse, and after slinging 
it over her shoulder, stroked him gently.
    'Keep that just that way for when I get back, lover.'
    With that she was gone. He watched her walk to her Eclipse, smoking as 
she went, and got a little harder.
    Settling behind the wheel, she grabbed it with her left hand, the one 
holding the cigarette, as she worked the shift with her right.
    She waved as she drove away and he saw smoke trailing out the slightly 
open driver-side window.
Immediately he picked up the phone, enjoying the smoky smell that surrounded 
him. There would be plenty more of that today.
    'Hello ?' a sweet young twenty-something voice on the other end of the 
line answered.
    'She's on her way.'
    'Okay. How soon will you be over ?'
    'Give me fifteen minutes. We still headed for the mall ?'
    'Yes. I have to get presents for Mom and Dad. That Europe trip came 
through, so we're having Christmas in two weeks before they go. Which means 
real shopping pressure.'
    Kevin nodded although Monica couldn't see the gesture. He was glad. If 
she had something to concentrate on, it would reduce the amount of time she 
spent talking about their relationship. 
    He didn't want a second relationship. He just wanted Monica to try and 
help him keep his odd sexual desires in check. If he could just get through 
another six weeks-
    Of course, that was the whole issue, wasn't it ? She didn't want just 
six weeks.
    The phone chirped, a second call coming in, but he ignored it because 
Monica hated when he switched off from her.
    'I'll be waiting for you. Don't be late. We only have  six or seven 
hours. Love you.'
    'Love you,' he said perfunctory. 
    With that he was gone.

    Monica walked out of the house, stopped on the step, pulled a VS 120 from 
a new pack, and lit it, taking her time, making a show of it.
    She opened the door to car and sat down, a swirl of smoke and long blonde 
hair which danced around the collar of her long black overcoat. Her warm open 
smile made him feel at least a little bit of actual love for her. She 
followed that smile with a sharp inhale, then reached over and kissed him 
square on the lips, filling his mouth with the different taste of her smoke. 
She was an heady mix of musk and smoke and they shared a long deep tongue 
kiss that made him  forget all about the mall and his fiancée and many other 
    'You want to fuck right here, don't you, lover ?'
    'Yes. But we should  take care of business first.'
    'I agree,' she said. 'But I have to be honest with you. Just because 
I'm all nervous about trying to find the right things for Mom and Dad, that 
doesn't mean that I'm not going to put the screws to you about your 
impending marriage.'
    The look on his face was like an avalanche as it fell.
    'What do you want me to say, Monica ?'
    'Throw me some kin d of bone. Tell me if you'd met me first that maybe 
you be cheating on me with her and we'd be registered for china somewhere 
instead of me just fulfilling your smoking fetish.'
    'I could say that,' he said, 'but that's not the way it happened. At 
least I've always been honest with you.'
    Monica blew a thick cloud of smoke which filled the car. 'Yeah. You're 
brutally honest with me and you're marrying her. You won't even tell her 
that you smoke.'
    'I only smoke when I'm with you, hon.'
    'Yes. And you tell yourself that's only because you and I share the same 
little fetish, don't we ?'
    Kevin smiled. 'No, I have to be honest with you. I enjoy it. Did you-'
    She pulled a pack of Marlboro Lights 100s from the pocket of her coat.
    'Her brand- and yours.' She pulled the cellophane from the pack, holding 
her own cigarette in her mouth as she extracted one of his from his pack. She 
placed the cigarette between his lips and lit it for him as he drew eagerly 
before taking it in his left hand. As he found the wheel again he couldn't 
help but think how he looked like Paula doing that-

    Walking into the mall several hours later, Paula was trying to overcome 
her aggravation. Why hadn't someone called her to let her know that the 
oncoming storm had cancelled the trip. She stopped just inside the mall and 
decided she wanted another cigarette to wash the annoyance away. This wasn't 
really so bad, after all, since she needed to jump start her Christmas 
shopping. But first- 
She walked back outside, pulled her cigarettes from her purse, and prepared 
to light it. Before she could finish, a young girl of perhaps sixteen wearing 
the smart clothes of a retail agent- definitely the Gap, Paula thought- 
walked up to her.
    'Could I- do you-'
    'Would you like a cigarette, uh-'
    'Jill. And yes, I would. I just tried to buy a pack at CVS and they 
carded me.' She extended her hand and Paula shook it.
    'It's Paula. And yes, you most certainly can have a cigarette.' She 
handed over the pack, lit first her own cigarette and then Jill's.
    As Jill exhaled she smiled sheepishly. 'It doesn'˜t bother you that I'm 
just sixteen ?'
    'No, I was fifteen when I started, and if other smokers hadn't been 
willing to help me out-'
    The girl pulled hard on the cigarette like a committed smoker. She was 
cute in a way that made Paula slightly uncomfortable.
    That discomfort made Paula turn her head away and she found herself 
looking into a restaurant attached to the mall. The smoking section was up 
against the glass and-
    There was Kevin, sipping on a beer with one hand and-
    Holding a cigarette in the other. She looked harder, sure she was 
mistaken. No, it was him. He put down his beer, reached out with his hand, 
and stroked the face of-
    It was a familiar face. She was a grad student at Southern, but she 
didn't know her name.
    'Are you all right ?' Jill asked.
    'Yeah, I was just looking at the couple sitting there.'
    'The blonde and the guy with the brown hair.'
    'Know them ?'
    'Nah. That guy just looks like my boyfriend.'
    'They look happy, don't they ?'
    Paula pulled hard on her cigarette. 'Yes, they do.'
    She was in the midst of giving him the benefit of the doubt when he 
reached across the table and kissed her.

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