The Deal

(by anonauthor02@yahoo.com, 30 November -0001)


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***

"The Deal"

Pam looked in through the open door of her daughter Julie's
bedroom. As usual, Julie has seated at the small desk that was
stuck in the corner of her room working on a report for school. 

"How's it going? Anything you need?", Pam asked. 

"No, I'm Ok. Thanks.", Julie answered, without even lifting her
head. 

"All right.... well, don't work too hard", Pam responded. Julie
didn't say anything in reply so Pam walked away after a few awkward
seconds. Oh, well, at least she was civil, Pam thought to herself.
These days, that was about as much conversation as was likely to
occur between them. The thought made her spirits sink as she walked
into the living room and sat down.

She picked up the remote and turned on the TV but nothing appealed
to her. Not much appealed to her these days it seemed. She became
lost in her thoughts and ignored the images and sounds coming from
the box against the far wall. This wasn't at all the way it was
supposed to turn out, was it? 

Pam reached for her pack of Virginia Slims 120s and lit one
reflexively, hoping it would help her organize her thoughts. How
did it come to this, she thought. Just me and my daughter, who
seems to hate me; no husband, no man in her life at all in fact,
other than the jerks at work whom she had no interest in
whatsoever; a job that had no future and offered little prospect of
advancement or satisfaction for her, regardless of how well she
performed; a crummy 2-bedroom apartment in a less-than-nice part of
town, because between her meager earnings and the often-late
support payments from her ex, that was all they could afford; an
old, worn-out car that she could never count on, because she
couldn't even think about getting anything better if it meant
spending any money; in fact, not being able to think about almost
anything that wasn't a necessity because of the money problems that
never seemed to end. The thoughts began to cave in on her and she
choked back a sob as her eyes began to well up.

"Dear God", she whispered to herself, puffing on the cigarette. As
she inhaled the smoke, the sensation she felt from it helped bring
her thoughts back to reality. She looked at the pack of cigarettes,
new this morning, now nearly empty, and thought for a moment about
whether they were now a luxury she could no longer afford. No, she
quickly concluded, thinking about past attempts to quit, you've
tried that before and it didn't work. Jesus, she thought, you
couldn't even give it up when you were pregnant with Julie, could
you -- the best you could do was to cut down a little for those
months. Just one more thing you've failed at. Besides, they're
about the only thing in life that you enjoy these days. Hell,
they're not a luxury -- they're an absolute necessity! 

She drew a long puff into her lungs and exhaled the smoke with an
audible sigh. She didn't deserve this. Sure, she always was too
independent for her own good -- just about right from the start,
she always had to be different. She glanced at a pictureframe
sitting on a table at the end of the room, containing a collage of
snapshots from her life. There, in the top corner, was the shot of
her that she always liked best, from 1964, of the little 6-year-old
Pam with the long, honey-blonde hair, part of the cast in the
school play, who refused to wear the hat that belonged to her
costune because it covered up her hair, which she loved. The
teachers gave up trying to get her to wear it backstage when it
came time to raise the curtain and she refused to allow them to put
it on. She got her own way then, and the pattern continued
throughout her growing years. She smiled ruefully at the memory,
taking one last quick puff from her cigarette before crushing it
out in the large ashtray next to her.

Her thoughts now cascaded in free-association. She thought of her
parents, who, she now realized, she had been pretty hard on over
the years. Her father was just like her, with a stubborn streak a
mile wide. Her mom always tried to be the mediator but Pam was
never able to see any side of things other than her own, be it
concerning the boys she brought home, none of whom ever measured up
to her parents' standards; or her schoolteachers, who never seemed
to be able to listen to her side of things; or her two brothers,
both of them older, who watched over her (or so she felt) like
hawks. Growing up she felt stifled by the necessity to conform to
someone else's standards and she responded by being ever the rebel.
At 13, she would make her self up in the washroom at school first
thing in the morning, ignoring her mother's edict against makeup,
and defiantly arrive home in the afternoon looking considerably
different from when she left. A running battle ensued for months
until her mom realized the futility of it all and arrived at a
truce, giving up considerably more than Pam did. 

Pam's thoughts then moved to the following year and the next family
crisis, when she began identifying herself with the feminist
movement in vogue at the time. In response, she had one of her
school friends teach her how to smoke, since she felt this would
make a statement. She soon became used to the taste of smoking and
the effects of inhaling, found it very much to her liking, and
would save her allowance and lunch money to spend on packs of
Virginia Slims (all her girlfriends smoked Marlboros or Salems, but
she had to be different). On the day she arrived home and announced
to her family that she had decided to smoke, and (naturally) pulled
out her pack and lit up theatrically, it was like World War III had
broken out in the kitchen. None of her family were smokers, she was
reminded, and she wasn't about to start a new tradition now! Oh
yes, she would if SHE wanted to, she replied, and another battle
erupted. Threats were made, counter-threats hurled, and hostilities
prevailed for months until finally her mom brokered a deal: if Pam
would not smoke until she was 16, then, if she still wanted to,
there would be no sanction. Pam agreed to this and stopped smoking,
but in a matter of just a few days she found that she missed it -
both the smoking itself and her smoking buddies - so she gave in
to the temptation and simply continued to smoke, but only away from
home. Over the next year she began to hurry out the door early in
the morning, to give herself time to enjoy a couple of cigarettes
before school, and spent less and less time at home in the
evenings, so she could be in places where she could satisfy her
growing but still largely subconscious desire to smoke. She hated
the secrecy of it, not only because she didn't like deceiving her
parents, but also because she discovered she simply enjoyed smoking
tremendously and the need for secrecy (after all, a deal was a
deal... sort of) considerably limited her opportunity to smoke.
This, Pam found, was becoming a significant problem for her as she
began to feel increasingly familiar and insistent cravings inside
her body more and more often that only another cigarette would
satisfy. On her 16th birthday, Pam quickly produced her Slims right
after breakfast and enjoyed a cig and a coffee for the first time
at home, while everyone else in the room glowered at her. Over the
next year, now able to smoke freely - at least when she had enough
money to buy them - she fell quickly and completely under the
power of the habit. Her body rapidly adjusted to the higher and
higher level of nicotine intake she was allowing herself each month
without her even realizing it, and before long she had become truly
addicted to her cigarettes. By her next birthday she found she
needed almost a carton of Virginia Slims a week to maintain
herself, which her mom would now quietly purchase for her on her
weekly trips to the market.

She always had to grow up so quickly, Pam reflected. Now she wished
she could go back to the environment that she couldn't wait to
leave 20 years ago. But she'd always been too proud to admit she'd
made a mistake, and this present situation was no different. There
was NO WAY, she thought, that I'll ask them for help. I should have
listened to them about a lot of things, she thought.... about
college, when they offered to send her, but she wanted to "see the
country first"; about Tom, the man she met on her journey, who was
the first and only man that she fell in love with, the man she
married against her parents' advice, only to prove them right and
himself not worthy of her when he began sleeping around when Pam
was pregnant with Julie, and despite battles royal on a regular
basis thereafter, continued to do so until the day Pam got home
from work with young Julie at her side, found him screwing some
local lovely he had picked up at his favorite bar, and walked out
on him for the last time. Damn, what a fool she had been, she
thought. Tom, you miserable bastard, she thought; because of you I
don't have a university education, even though it would have been
easy - I always found school almost ridiculously easy , didn't I?
- and that's the reason I'm stuck in this shitty job, isn't it?
And why did he have to make her distrust all men, now? No wonder
you've been alone for four years, you idiot, she thought... no guy
who looks twice at you even gets a chance the way you treat them...
and it's not like guys don't look at you all the time, is it? 

In fact, Pam took justifiable pride in her looks, and especially
her hair, still long, full, and honey-blonde. If she could have
afforded to get it cut half-decently, and with a little makeup, she
still could knock guys' socks off. She could easily pass for 30, or
even younger, at least on a good day... it's just there were fewer
and fewer of them lately. She bit her lip at the thought, reached
for her Slims, and lit up again. She had switched to the 120's a
few years ago when they first came out because she thought they
were more stylish, and she did like them a lot. But a hell of a lot
they can do for you now, she thought, when most of the time you
look like hell because you're too tired to take care of yourself
and too broke to afford anything to pamper yourself with.  She
extended her hand, glancing at the very long, white, smoldering
cigarette between her fingers, then placed it between her lips and
took a huge puff, almost as if she wanted to punish herself, 
inhaling it as quickly and deeply as she could. She exhaled slowly,
feeling the familiar sensations as she thought about how long ago
it was that she first experienced these. God, she thought, I've
been smoking almost a carton a week for over 20 years now. Shit, my
lungs must be in rotten shape. She knew that she had experienced a
little shortness of breath sometimes, and had a minor but
consistent smoker's cough, but, she recalled, she had had those
from shortly after the time she started and it really wasn't much
different now. She knew that she was addicted, but she also knew
she still really enjoyed smoking, even at times like this, and
decided not to load up on any more guilt over it than she already
had to deal with.

Julie suddenly appeared at the entrance to the living room, and -
could it be? - was actually going to say something to her. When she
left Tom and took Julie with her, there's no doubt it was just as
hard on her as it had been on Pam, if not harder. The girl needed
a father, after all, and not understanding the reasons behind the
divorce, could only see that her mother had taken her away from her
dad. Pam had tried to explain to her over the years why she had
done it, and she was sure that Julie, now 14, understood at least
the hard facts of the situation - Julie was brilliant in school
and was smarter than she was, at least in native intelligence -
but over the last couple of years, as she began to enter
adolescence, her bitterness began to show. She blamed Pam for all
of the things in her life that she didn't like - sounds familiar,
Pam thought - and showed it by cutting off most communication
between them. 

So Julie now spent most of her time either in the library, or
closeted away in her room, doing schoolwork or reading books,
always trying to somehow "do better" as if straight A's weren't
good enough. Pam had growingly worried about Julie and her lack of
friends but whenever she tried to talk about it with her Julie
would cut off the conversation and eventually end up back in her
books. In that respect, Pam thought, Julie was about as unlike her
as possible, but in other ways she was so similar it was almost
frightening. For instance, she had the same stubborn streak as Pam,
only in Julie's case she tended to direct it inward -- rather than
run out immediately and do something to defy you, as Pam would,
Julie would instead go back to her room and work and study and
prove herself right by simply outworking you, wearing you down.
And, she had a temper, just like Pam. Most of the time she kept it
well hidden and to outsiders she was just a sweet young lady, but
around Pam she would let it loose sometimes in displays of
brattiness that drove Pam mad with frustration. Physically, Julie
looked much like her mom, but with slightly softer, rounder
features and more of an reddish tint to the same long, thick hair.
Pam noticed that on the rare occasions that Julie allowed herself
to be seen in public with her, the teenage boys would almost always
look twice at her daughter - unless, she would allow, they might
have been looking at her too - but Julie had never been on a date
and made no effort at all to even be friendly to the rare boy who
might attempt to get past the icy wall she had built around her.
Instead, she tended to kill most attempts at contact by a short,
cutting remark, something that Pam was all too familiar with. But
perhaps...

"Yes, honey?", Pam asked, managing a smile.

"I need ten dollars tomorrow for a field trip. We're taking a bus
to the museum, then they're taking us to the wild animal park",
Julie said flatly.

Oh, shit, great, Pam thought. "Julie, I wish you had told me
sooner. I only have about $25.00 and that has to do us until
Thursday when I get paid", she said. "Why didn't you tell me
sooner?"

"I forgot, I guess. But I really want to go. It's only ten
dollars", she responded.

Pam thought before she answered. She really wanted to be able to
let Julie go - anything that might give her a chance to develop a
friend was worth it in her mind - but money was really short just
now. "Is everyone going?", she asked, wondering about the
circumstances.

"Just about", her daughter replied. 

That's a lot of help, Pam thought. "Hon, I don't know if we can
afford it, that's all. There's just not enough money to go around
these days, and when you don't give me any notice, I just don't
have any to spare. Do you need it first thing?"

"Oh, forget it, then! I suppose you went and spent it all on those
stupid things that you use to kill yourself with, didn't you!",
Julie spat, gesturing at the cigarette in Pam's fingertips.

This was an increasingly familiar theme. Julie, like all kids, had
been educated early on that smoking was bad and in Julie's case,
everything they told her in school was gospel. When she was six
years old she came home one day and began telling both her mom and
dad how terrible it was for them to smoke and that they would get
sick. This continued, at a slightly lesser frequency, for years,
but at least when Tom was around he would get half of it, which
made it somewhat easier to handle. Now that they were on their own,
Julie began to focus on Pam's smoking addiction with increasing
stridency. Given everything else that had been playing on her mind
this evening, Pam's temper erupted.

"Goddamn it! I'm sick of you constantly criticising me and
everything I do. So what if I smoke! It's about the ONLY thing that
I do! It's not the reason I can't give you your goddamn ten
dollars!", Pam exploded.

"Yeah, like they just give you those at the store every week",
Julie responded. "If you didn't smoke so much we'd have money to
spend on good things, but you just waste it on them so you can kill
yourself sooner."

"Listen, you little bitch, I don't want to hear it any more!
Goddamn it, the only thing that's killing me is trying to get
through this life and make ends meet so that you can have something
decent every day! Besides, how the fuck would you ever know,
anyway? All you know is that goddamn shit they fill your head with
in school! Why the hell, just for once, don't you try to actually
experience something on your own!" By now Pam was far beyond the
boiling point and was speaking as roughly to her daughter as she
ever had.  

Julie was shaken by this use of words she knew, but which she had
never heard directed by her mom towards her before. As a result her
response was less than sparkling: "What... uhhh... what do you
mean?", she said, almost breaking into tears.

Pam was still running hot and was on a roll. "Well....", and she
thought for a second. The only thing Julie ever really responded to
consistently was a mental challenge. This wasn't the perfect time
for her to come up with one, but suddenly the words came out of her
mouth. "I just don't know how you can constantly criticise me for
smoking when you've never even tried it. How the hell do you know?
I think you should try it for yourself before you go around
spouting stuff you don't know!".

Pam heard her words as she spoke them. Well, that's brilliant, she
thought. Nice comeback. Is that the best you could do?

But something in Julie's mind caught a meaning that escaped Pam at
first, the possibility that Julie might be wrong. She had noticed
that more and more people around school were smoking, not her
friends, but then again, she didn't really have any. They had heard
all of the same things she had, so why were they doing it? She had
read studies indicating that the number of girls her age who smoked
was actually increasing. And she saw that regardless of what was
known about it's effect, that people like her mom had been smoking
for a long time and they weren't dead yet, the way the books sort
of claimed. Could she actually have missed something? No....

"Why would I want to do that? It's gross!", Julie argued.

"Ten dollars, right now! That's why you'd want to do it", said Pam.
If nothing else, she thought, maybe she could make the ungrateful
kid turn green and puke. That'll teach her to stop haranging me.
She continued, still with some heat, "You smoke a cigarette with
me, right now, and do it the way I tell you, and I'll give you the
ten dollars. Wait a minute, I'll do even better," Pam said,
thinking too fast. "If you'll have one right now, and agree to
smoke a whole pack -- no, make it a carton, I want you to give it
an honest try -- over the next while, and you can take as long as
you want, I'll not only give you the ten dollars right now but I'll
make a deal with you. When you finish them, if you still honestly
believe that smoking is evil, or whatever the hell you think it is,
and don't want me to smoke any more either, I promise I'll go to
the doctor and get him to give me some of those things to help me
quit. But if you tell me it's not all bad, you've got to promise
not to ever, ever criticise me for smoking ever again. Deal?"   

Julie had to think fast herself. She badly wanted to go on the
field trip, and the ten dollars would be hers if she would just do
once what her mother did all the time. Even though she felt smoking
was gross, there was a dichotomy in her mind that she never quite
could reconcile. Her mom was a beautiful-looking woman, she knew,
for not only did she realize it from looking at pictures of models
and actresses in books, but she had noticed how the men around town
would look at her when they went out together. She had even heard
some of the boys at school commenting on her when she visited! Her
mother was anything but gross, but she smoked. Maybe there was
something about it that was redeeming? Her heart began to pound,
for this went against everything every authority figure had ever
told her. The dilemma was agonizing. But she reached a decision.

"OK, deal! Give me the ten dollars first", Julie demanded.

"No frigging way! Sit down here!", Pam ordered, indicating the
adjacent seat of the sofa. "You do it the way I tell you, when I
tell you. You finish the whole thing. Then I'll give you your ten
dollars. Now sit!" She was still running a little more than warm.

Julie, if nothing else, would do as she was told by an authority
figure, and right now there was no question who was in charge. She
sat down tentatively next to her mother, who was placing the large
ashtray on the table in front of them. She then turned and reached
for her pack of Slims, shook one out and handed it to Julie, then
took one herself. The smooth paper felt odd in Julie's fingers, and
the smell of the tobacco was vaguely disgusting to her.

Pam reached for the lighter and lit up hers, then turned to Julie.
"Here, hold it like this," she told her, displaying her hend. Julie
complied. "Now, I want you to hold it to your mouth and when I
bring the lighter up to it, suck on it some."

Julie moved the long, white cigarette so that it just brushed her
lips but was not grasped by them. She smelled the rich aroma of the
tobaccos and again felt that this was not something she could do.
As Pam attempted to ignite the cigarette, she noticed that Julie
had not done completely as she had been told and she wasn't in the
mood for negotiations. With her free hand, she pushed the filter
well into Julie's lips, held the flame to the other end, and
ordered her to "Suck on it!".

Julie may have been afraid of her mother's unusual anger, but she
refused to back down from the deal she made. Her eyes focused on
the flame and conscious of the heat it threw, she drew on the
cigarette as she had been told and was surprised to see the flame
first move towards, then disappear into, the end of the tube
between her lips. For a second she detected nothing different
inside her mouth, but then she noticed a slightly bitter,
unfamiliar taste beginning to fill it. 

As Pam withdrew the lighter, Julie quickly pulled the cigarette
from between her lips and immediately spat out a cloud of smoke.
Now she could smell it all too clearly and it reminded her of times
when her mom had accidentally allowed smoke to get too close to
her, and she didn't like it. Her mouth had involuntarily begun to
water, and she swallowed to remove some of it. The taste was even
more unpleasant now.

"OK, I want you to watch what me here," Pam said in a stern tone.
"Here's what I want you to do. I'm going to teach you how to smoke
just like I do, and I want to see you do exactly the same thing as
me. Now watch! I take a puff...", Pam drew on the cigarette for at
least three seconds, then inhaled deeply, "and I breathe it in.
Then...", pausing as she exhaled, "I blow it out. Simple. Now, do
it."

Pam watched as Julie, with a look of serious trepidation on her
face, slowly moved the cigarette back to her lips. She closed them
around it and noticed the curl of smoke coming from the end
decreased as she gradually began to apply light suction to the tip.
As she continued to focus on the burning end, she detected a
yellowish-orange glow that she had seen so many times before with
her mom, and realized that this was herself causing it to happen.
Her heart began to pound even harder than it had previously. After
a second or two, she released the cigarette from her lips and the
curl at the end suddenly became much thicker. Opening her mouth as
she had seen her mother do, Julie inhaled her first puff.

The sensation was quite unlike anything she had expected, not that
she had ever thought about it much. She felt something for a split
second in the back of her throat, then it disappeared only to
return much more strongly in her chest. It felt like something had
decided to punch her from the inside and she became almost
breathless for a moment before realizing what had happened and that
she was still breathing in. She had nver felt any sensation
actually inside that part of her before except on very cold, winter
days when she exerted herself. But this wasn't cold, it was, well,
tingly was the best word she could think of and she tried to get
rid of it by blowing it out. As she did so, it again caught in her
throat but this time it didn't disappear right away and the tickle
quickly caused her to start to gag, then the cough reflex kicked
in. As smoke now entered her nose and mouth uncontrollably the
taste and smell almost made her nauseous, and she bent over,
turning away from her mother's gaze. It WAS gross!

Pam watched her daughter's reaction to her first inhaled puff with
both surprise and understanding. I'll be damned, she thought, she
actually did it. And look what it got her! Pam remembered her very
first time, and recalled that she refused to allow herself to react
as Julie now did because she absolutely wouldn't let her friend who
was instructing her get the satisfaction of seeing her choke, as
she had told her she would. But it was all she could do to resist
the reflex. Now, Pam took a little bit of sweet revenge seeing her
daughter's discomfort, and allowed herself a tiny, smug smile.
Serves her right, she thought.

Just as this thought was expressing itself on Pam's face, Julie
turned back to face her and, through watery eyes, saw Pam's
expression and immediately understood the meaning of it as well.
Her stubborn streak reacted immediately and suddenly there was no
question in her mind what to do next. She was not only going to get
her ten dollars, she was going to stuff the whole bet right down
her mother's throat. She swallowed again. It still tasted terrible.

"Is that all there is to it?", she said, defiantly.

"Seems to me it was more than enough!", Pam responded, chuckling. 

"It's no big deal," Julie replied, glancing at the long white
cigarette burning between her fingers and feeling the warmth of it.

"Oh, good then. Let's have another one, shall we?," Pam responded
sarcastically, knowing that the more she got her daughter to smoke,
the sooner would come the unavoidable rookie smoker's nicotine
overdose and the unpleasant consequences. Pam took her usual long
puff and observed Julie mimicking her this time. As she inhaled,
Julie again did the same.

As Julie drew on the cigarette she felt the heat from the agressive
puff she took against her face and a much more intense bitter
feeling inside her mouth. I'm not going to choke this time, she
promised herself, as she prepared for what she knew came next.
Maybe if she did it quickly, she thought, it wouldn't be so bad, so
she opened her mouth and drew in a sudden, deep breath. Again she
felt something at the back of her throat and then again as the
smoke entered her lungs. The tingle was much more intense this
time. As she began to exhale, she was able to manage the flow in
such a way that she avoided coughing. She was astounded to see a
long, gray-white stream exiting her mouth as she blew it out
towards the TV in the background. She had done it! While she felt
a strange sense of accomplishment, she also found the taste and
smell of the smoke extremely unpleasant. Now her mouth was watering
even more than before and every time she swallowed it made her
stomach turn. Her heart was still beating extremely quickly, but in
a different way, no longer due simply due to the tension and
nervousness she had felt earlier.

Pam watched Julie exhale the smoke with some surprise at the ease
she demonstrated and realized that she had overcome the initial
obstacles to smoking. Now if she wanted to make her daughter ill,
she had to get her to finish the cigarette and absorb as much of it
as possible. "Well, you've done OK so far. Let's see how the rest
of it goes. Every time I take a puff, I want you to do it too. I
want you to inhale it like I do, and hold it in as long as I do.
Let's go, all right?", she commanded.

Julie, still stubborn as ever, nodded her agreement. As Pam's hand
moved the cigarette towards her lips, so did Julie's. Pam tried to
take an extra long puff this time, but Julie matched it and inhaled
right along with her. Pam now made a conscious effort to hold the
smoke inside her far longer than was her custom, and Julie didn't
break either. Finally, Pam exhaled the remains of the puff in
resignation as Julie did as well. She immediately repeated the
performance, and so did Julie. Tapping the ash off the end of her
cigarette and puffing deeply again, Julie mirrored her movements.

The first puff in the sequence was the easist one yet for Julie.
She found that the sensations in her throat and chest were less
intense this time, and she had gotten used to the taste and smell
somewhat. When her mom made her hold it it for so long, though, she
felt a different tingle, almost a burning sensation, in her lungs
and after she exhaled, she felt her whole body starting to get
cool. The next puff, immediately thereafter, was not difficult at
all compared to the initial ones, but she again felt that tingly
feeling start to spread throughout her midsection and into her arms
and toes. She was gratefel for the few seconds it took for her to
remove the ash from the end of her cigarette as it let her take a
deep breath and try to clear her head. It helped a little but not
much, and the next puff reversed any progress she had made towards
that goal by making her extremely light-headed, tingly, cold and
weak all over, and her ears began to ring just slightly. Did her
mother experience this all the time?

Pam looked closely at her daughter for signs of the effect of
nicotine intoxication. Julie had become significantly more pale,
and her eyes didn't appear to be focusing very well. Her breating
was shallow and Pam noticed that the half-consumed cigarette in
Julie's fingertips was shaking slightly. Here she goes, Pam thought
with some sense of satisfaction, but a growing feeling of regret.
She loved her daughter more than anything in the world, and she
would never try to hurt her intentionally. But tonight she may have
gone too far.  

"How are you doing?", asked Pam, in somewhat softer a tone than
before. 

"I'm fine. How can you do this to yourself all the time? It's
awful!", Julie responded defiantly but somewhat shakily.

"You get used to it", Pam answered. "Think you can finish it?" she
asked, hoping Julie would now give up.

"Yeah. You're going to lose," Julie mocked.

"We'll see about that!" Pam answered, again letting Julie get under
her skin. "C'mon, let's do it again", she said, taking another long
pull on her cigarette. Julie followed suit, and this time she
noticed few immediate effects from the puff itself, because she
began to feel extremely woozy and numb all over. This time when she
exhaled she needed to immediately concentrate on her breathing in
an attempt to keep control. She knew that she was on the verge of
getting sick but was determined not to let it happen. Please, just
give me a minute, she thought. 

Pam watched her daughter carefully. It was obvious that Julie was
now suffering the effects of her first cigarette. It was time to
let her off the hook before she went too far.

"You don't have to finish that, honey. I understand. Put it out if
you want", Pam offered. 

"Are you going to give me the money?", Julie asked thickly. She was
barely able to speak. Still, she concentrated on her breathing. 

"Well, no. You didn't keep up your part of the deal," said Pam.

"Why? This is almost gone. I want the money!", Julie argued. In
truth there was still about half the cigarette remaining in Julie's
hand. Perhaps, she thought, if she could get her mom in an
argument, she would be able to buy a little time.

The strategy worked. Pam got off the sofa and walked into the
kitchen. Julie closed her eyes and blew air through puffed-out
cheeks. Don't get sick, she told herself. You can do this.

Pam emerged from the kitchen clutching her wallet and returned to
the sofa. Opening it, she pulled out a $10.00 bill and placed it on
the coffee table. "You finish that down to here," she indicated,
pointing to a spot on Julie's cigarette, "and it's yours. Go
ahead."

Julie hesitated slightly. Pam was no longer forcing her to follow
her lead. She slowly puffed on the cigarette again, and inhaled
more shallowly. She blew out a thick stream of smoke. Looking at
the cigarette, she calculated how much that puff had consumed and
figured that two more ought to do it. She puffed again, this time
taking in somewhat more smoke, a mistake as soon as she realized
it, for the smoke was becoming stronger the shorter the cigarette
became. Again she became quite woozy and felt nauseous as she
exhaled. She needed to buy a little time. One more puff ought to do
it. A few more breaths, then she puffed for the final time. A quick
inhale, and she just had to get rid of it and retain her composure
long enough to get the money and get out of there. She blew out
smoke and said, defiantly but shakily, "There! I did what you
wanted. I'm going now." She placed the cigarette in the ashtray and
went to stand up. For the first time she realized she was extremely
dizzy. Wobbling a little, she was able to grab the money from the
table and walked slowly, almost drunkenly, into her bedroom. 

Pam watched her daughter depart with a mixture of sadness and
satisfaction. Sad, because the adversary relationship  between them
still was obviously thriving; satisfaction at least from watching
her smart-ass daughter suffer the effects of smoking for the first
time. Pam put out the remains of Julie's cigarette, shaking her
head, and replaced the ashtray where it had been. She'd have to be
really careful with her money the next couple of days, she thought.

Julie staggered into her bedroom and collapsed on the bed. She had
never, ever, felt like this before, even the time she had the flu.
She didn't know whether breathing deeply helped or made it worse.
She felt her heart beating quickly but almost uselessly it seemed,
her ears were ringing, her stomach swirling, and the room began to
go out of focus. Within a minute she became extremely cold and
realized that she was passing out.

After about 20 minutes Julie regained consciousness. She felt
remarkably better. She looked and saw she still grasped the $10.00
bill in her hand, and felt a feeling of satisfaction at what she
had accomplished. She also felt satiated physically, and remarkably
relaxed. She went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, went to bed,
and fell asleep almost immediately.

The next day Julie went on the field trip and returned home. The
events of the night before were not discussed when Pam arrived home
from work, and neither were the events of the day as Julie resumed
her regular pattern of reticence during the evening. Pam was glad
that the next day was payday, since Julie's $10.00 win left her
almost broke.

On Thursday, Pam stopped at the mall on her way home from work to
deposit her check. She then made her weekly trip to the supermarket
to get their next week's groceries. As she passed the cigarette
display in the front of the store, she stopped as she always did
and placed a carton of Virginia Slims 120s in her cart. She then
remembered her bet with Julie, and paused to wonder if she would
really make her go through with it. But then she remembered the
cold reception she got the night before - the brat wouldn't even
tell her anything about the goddamn trip - and she grabbed a
second carton of 120s and tossed them into the basket.

Julie wandered into the kitchen as Pam was unloading the grocery
sacks. If she's looking for something good, Pam thought, have I got
a surprise for you. "Here, I brought you your cigarettes," Pam said
offhandedly. Julie looked surprised. "Oh, and, I got you your own
lighter, too. You'll need one. You remember the deal, don't you?",
Pam asked sarcastically. "Take them, they're yours. Or don't you
want them now?". Pam half-figured that her goody-two-shoes daughter
would refuse them and she would simply add them to her stash.

But Julie would not give her mother the satisfaction of watching
her back down. She picked up the carton and the lighter, looking
closely at them. "200 Class A Cigarettes" said the fine print on
the box. She swallowed, remembering Tuesday night's experience. She
would have to find a way to make this work. "How long do I have to
finish these again?", she asked.

"As long as you want," Pam replied. "It should only take you a few
months."

God, Julie thought, can that be right? Let's see, if I can have 2
a day, that's 100 days, that's... over 3 months! I can't do that!
What about 4 each day? That's 50 days... Well, she'd just have to
do it, that's all. She wasn't about to back down. She'd find a way.

By now. Pam had finished her chores and was ready for a smoke. "I
think I'm going to have a cigarette, dear. Why don't you open yours
up and join me?", she said coyly.

Well, Julie thought, may as well get it over with. She slid a
fingernail under the cellophane wrapper of the carton and tore it
open. Extracting her first pack, she pulled the tape surrounding
the top as she had seen her mom do every day, then opened the top
of the package and pulled off the foil paper cover. She looked at
the array of cigarettes inside the box and felt discouraged. How
would she ever finish all of them? One at a time, I suppose, she
thought, and withdrew one from the package. It looked just as long
and unappetizing as the one on Tuesday night did. She walked into
the living room and joined Pam.

"Oh, here honey, let me give you a light," Pam continued in her
sarcastic tone. Julie bent over towards the offered flame and drew
on the cigarette, again tasting the bitter sensation in her mouth.
Pam then lit up herself. "Ah, that's nice", Pam said, exhaling
smoke. "Now Julie, I want to lay down a few ground rules. First of
all, I don't want you to smoke anywhere but here. Don't take them
outside with you." Well, that won't be hard, Julie thought. "And I
want to be able to see you smoke just to be sure that you're doing
it right. I just want to make sure that you are living up to your
end of our deal", Pam said.     

"Don't worry, I won't cheat you", Julie responded. "Just leave me
alone. I don't want you to make fun of me," she said sincerely.

"OK, honey," Pam replied, her tone softening. "Just do what you
think best." She began to again feel some compassion for her
daughter.

Julie moved the long cigarette towards her lips and took a puff.
The taste still caused her mouth to water, but it somehow wasn't
quite as bad as the other night. Inhaling, she again felt the
sensation inside her chest and began to feel the tingle. She blew
out a stream of smoke, still amazed as she watched it exit her
mouth. Over the next couple of minutes, she took a few more puffs
and began to feel the same effects as the other night - a speeded-
up heartbeat, some drop in body temperature, a little light-
headedness - but somehow, they weren't anywhere near as bad. She
learned quickly that by controlling the amount of smoke she took in
herself, rather than having Pam force her to overdose, she was able
to tolerate the effects quite well. She began to feel better about
her chances. Carefully, she continued to puff periodically on the
cigarette until it was almost gone. She still didn't like the taste
or the smell, but she never felt in any danger of passing out,
although she definitely felt a little wobbly and out of focus.
Taking one last puff, she crushed it out in the ashtray as she had
seen her mom do countless times. She raised her chin and blew out
smoke.

Pam watched her daughter with barely concealed amazement. She
handled it like a trooper, Pam thought. I wonder if she had ever
done this before, she pondered, then remembered the other night and
realized that wasn't the case. Shit, if she keeps that up I've got
no chance of winning, Pam thought momentarily. But then, hell, if
she keeps that up, I won't have to worry about her bugging me about
smoking any more anyway. Pam took some satisfaction at the thought.
She didn't have to worry about winning... she couldn't lose! 

Meanwhile, Julie arose from her chair without a word and walked
into the kitchen in her best, most icy manner. She retrieved the
carton and carried them into her bedroom, stowing them on an empty
corner of a shelf in her closet. She placed the open pack and
lighter on her desk at sat down, examining them closely. She read
the writing on the package carefully, and admired the artistic
design. She practiced using her lighter and mastered it easily. She
moved to the bed and stretched out as her thoughts raced. She could
barely conceal her giddiness. It felt good!, she thought, and
almost blushed at the naughtiness she allowed herself. She could DO
this, she thought. It's not that hard.

Later that evening after dinner, Julie arose from the sofa and a
rare evening of watching TV and retrieved the package of Virginia
Slims. Returning to the living room, she announced to Pam, "I think
I'm going to have a cigarette now", and Pam simply nodded as she
watched her daughter light up and, while watching TV, smoke the
entire cigarette as she had earlier. About halfway through, Pam
joined her daughter and the room was soon filled with the smoke of
both women. Finishing the cigarette, Julie returned the package to
her room.

For a couple of weeks Julie allowed herself two cigarettes a day:
one after she got home from school, before dinner, and a second
mid-evening. Pam observed her daughter's smoking carefully and
realized that it was becoming more and more like her own as Julie's
puffs became longer and as she draw the smoke more deeply into her
lungs. Julie herself was largely oblivious to these changes and
instead simply was trying to get through her second pack. Progress
was frustratingly slow, and Julie decided that since she now didn't
mind smoking very much, she would try to have a few more each day.
Thus the next morning after breakfast, Pam was slightly surprised
to see Julie emerge from her bedroom and light up along with her.
Much to Julie's surprise, she found that she actually enjoyed most
of this cigarette. That evening, in addition to her usual one
before dinner, she had another immediately afterwards along with
her mom and two more, not one, later that evening. 

After another couple of weeks, Julie was pleased to note that the
carton was now half-gone. She now didn't even think twice about
smoking and Pam no longer made a fuss over noticing each one she
consumed. Julie actually began to look forward to her next
scheduled cigarette, her mind and body eagerly but unconsciously
anticipating her next dose of nicotine and the feeling of new-found
satisfaction it would give her. Secretly, she had practiced holding
and moving with a cigarette in front of the mirror in her bedroom
and was pleased with the image she saw. She even lit up once and
watched herself smoke, trying to do it the way Pam did, with long
puffs and deep inhales, and it gave her some sort of strange,
naughty thrill. In turn, Pam was pleased to notice a new maturity
in Julie in that they now actually had a conversation several times
a day, usually at the times when she joined Julie for a smoke. The
brattiness was gone and she felt closer to her daughter than she
had in years.

That Saturday, Julie opened pack number 7 after breakfast and lit
up as usual. Returning to the kitchen, she saw Pam was already
enjoying her second cup of coffee and, judging from the ashtray,
her third cigarette of the day. Julie poured herself a cup and
sipped, then inhaled a long puff. As she exhaled she felt her body
respond to the effects of the smoke, realized that she was now
really enjoying the smoking experience and, looking at her mom,
understood why she had smoked for so long. At that moment Julie
decided she would no longer follow her usual smoking pattern but
would rather simply smoke when she felt like it. During the course
of the day, Pam noticed that Julie was joining her more and more
frequently for a cigarette, no longer restricting herself. By the
time she turned in that night, Julie had smoked a total of 14
cigarettes that day. The next day she was not quite up to
Saturday's performance, but had to open pack number 8 just after
lunch, and by the end of the day had managed to consume another 12
of the long white 120mm cigarettes that she had grown to enjoy as
much as did her mom.

On Monday morning Julie had two cigarettes at home before heading
off to school, arriving slightly late as a result. After lunch she
found herself wishing for one of her cigarettes, and during the
afternoon her attention would drift from time to time as she began
to think about when she would next be able to smoke. Once she even
missed a question a teacher asked her, daydreaming about smoking.
As soon as she was able to leave, she headed straight home and lit
up as soon as she could, inhaling the rich smoke as deeply into her
lungs as she dared and holding it in forever, truly enjoying the
effect it had on her. She puffed on the cigarette quickly and
agressively at first until her initial craving had been satisfied,
then proceeded to smoke the remainder in a more relaxed fashion.
When it was finished she found herself wanting a second almost
immediately and decided to treat herself to it. When Pam arrived
home from work she knocked on the door of Julie's room and entered
to see her daughter doing schoolwork at her desk and the room thick
with smoke, one of the long white cigarettes smoldering next to her
in a small ashtray she had appropriated from the living room. Julie
almost, but not quite, kept up with her mom's smoking pace
throughout the evening and finished off the pack with one last
smoke with her mother before they went to their rooms for bed.

Over the past few days Pam had observed Julie's noticeably higher
cigarette consumption with both satisfaction and concern. She had
expected this to happen, remembering her own behavior of years ago
and understanding all too well the extraordinary and subtle power
of the habit. In watching her daughter, there was now no doubt in
Pam's mind that Julie was slowly becoming addicted just like her,
since her smoking style mirrored that of Pam's almost exactly.
While that fact made Pam confident she would no longer be subjected
to endless harangues about the perils of smoking - she had heard
none of that since Julie had started to satisfy her end of the deal
- she felt a little regret at what she had done. She had gotten
her own daughter hooked almost for certain, just to satisfy her own
selfish need to win a bet. She felt a pang of guilt briefly before
mentally brushing it away. Well, it should be interesting to see
what happens over the next little while, she thought.

The next morning Julie opened a fresh pack of Slims and noticed
that she had only one more left in the carton. She felt strangely
disappointed, thinking about how just a few weeks ago she felt this
day might never come, now almost anxious about what would happen
when it did. She fell into her new morning routine and smoked along
with her mom before and after breakfast. She was dawdling in her
room before leaving for the day, playing with her hair and a little
makeup, and had just lit up her third cigarette of the morning when
Pam entered and announced that they were very late. Julie looked at
the clock, realized that twenty minutes had somehow just flown by
and there was no way she would be able to get to school on time.
"C'mon, I'll drive you," said Pam, pulling on her coat in her own
usual morning rush. She noticed Julie glance quickly at the long
cigarette that she had just lit, and understood immediately what
was going through her daughter's mind. "Let's GO... you can take it
with you," said Pam. 

The women rushed out of the apartment and into the parking lot.
While Pam fumbled with her keys, cursing, Julie stood next to the
passenger side of the car waiting for Pam to get in and unlock the
door. She absentmindedly raised the cigarette to her lips and took
her usual long puff, inhaling deeply as had now become almost a
reflex for her. As she turned her head to exhale the smoke
downwind, she saw a young man she recognized from down the hall,
two cars over and about to get into his own vehicle, looking at
her. When she saw him, he nodded and gave her a smile before
getting into his car. Julie blushed with embarassment. It was her
secret no more - someone else knew she was a smoker, and not only
that, he seemed to like it! She heard the door lock pop open and
got into the car. As they pulled away, Julie rolled down the window
a bit to let the smoke escape as she had often seen her mother do.
She was hyper-sensitive during the drive to school that someone she
knew would see her smoking, and scanned the surrounding cars and
area carefully for familiar faces before she dared take each puff.
She soon noticed that they were now getting close to school, so she
began to take several long puffs in quick succession so that she
would finish the cigarette before they arrived. God forbid, she
thought, her heart pounding with both anxiety and excitement, that
anyone I know sees me doing this! Two blocks from her destination
she finished the cigarette, taking one final puff even before she
had totally finished exhaling the one previous, and added to the
car's overflowing ashtray.

"Better give yourself a quick shot of this," Pam said with a
chuckle, reaching into her purse for a small spray bottle of eau de
toilette. "You probably smell like that ashtray. And here's some
gum for your breath." The benefit of her mom's experience was not
lost on Julie so she followed her advice. Getting out of the car
she gave Pam a quick hug - something that would not have even been
possible to imagine a month ago - and hurried into school, overly
conscious of the scent of tobacco still lingering on her hand. 

The rest of the day was much like Monday. The morning was fine, but
after lunch Julie again recognized the same craving for a cigarette
she had noticed the day before, and the afternoon classes seemed
interminable as she waited to head for home. Again she lit up as
soon as she arrived at the apartment and gratefully drew smoke into
her lungs. She looked at the cigarettes remaining in her package
and did some quick mental math. She would probably run out Thursday
night or Friday at this pace, and the thought caused her to frown
in dismay. She thought for a moment and decided that she had better
try to ration herself somewhat over the next few days to make her
remaining supply last a little bit longer. She allowed herself only
four more the rest of the night, and a total of eight on Wednesday,
feeling somewhat deprived. On Thursday afternoon she had to open
her last pack after she got home and was saddened to see the now-
empty carton that only weeks ago seemed too much for her to even
consider finishing. With considerable self-control, she rationed
this last pack even more tightly but on Sunday evening she appeared
in the living room holding the package in her hand.

"Well, this is the last one. I've finished them," she announced to
her mom, lighting up before tossing the empty package into the
trash. Pam looked at her daughter standing across the room with one
arm crossed in front of her waist, supporting the elbow of the
other arm in the hand of which a long white cigarette was extended
stylishly. Pam realized that her little girl was now a beautiful
young lady, much like she had herself been years before. She felt
a sense of pride in her daughter now, and did not want to return to
the hostilities of 6 weeks ago. Thinking about what to say, Pam
spoke softly. 

"Well, Julie, you've lived up to your end of the deal. I didn't
really think you could do it, but you did and I'm proud of you. You
should be too. The ball's in your court now, honey. I'll do what
you say and live up to my promise. If you want me to try and quit
smoking, I will. It's up to you. What do you think?" 

Julie had been thinking about this moment for the past few days.
The satisfaction she once thought she would get from making her
mother give up her habit was long gone. She understood Pam's
smoking now, even though she didn't really understand her own, and
didn't want to deprive her mother of this thing they now both
enjoyed so much. It just wouldn't be right. Plus, she now related
to her mother more than she ever had before. She actually enjoyed
being around Pam now, as she had when she was a baby, and the love
that was rekindled between them needed a chance to grow. She knew
what she would say. "Mom, if you want to give it up sometime,
that's fine. But I won't force you to. I know now what it's like to
smoke and I sort of like it. At least, it's not as bad as I used to
think it was. Let's forget the whole thing," she said, walking over
to Pam and embracing her. Pam responded with a hug of her own and
both women felt tears of happiness welling up in their eyes.

"Thank you, honey. Tell me," Pam asked curiously, "do you think
you're going to keep on smoking now? I won't mind if you do."

"No, I don't think so," Julie answered, fighting the battle in her
mind between her old self-image and the new. "It's OK and
everything, but I don't want to smoke all the time.", she said,
telling her mother what she thought Pam wanted to hear, but not
really believing it herself.

Monday morning Julie awoke and as if by reflex went to light a
cigarette before realizing there were no more. She took a deep
breath and sighed. During the day at school the nagging craving she
previously had felt only in the afternoon was with her all day.
Arriving home, she entered her mom's bedroom and began to search
for an opened package of cigarettes but could not find any and
became extremely anxious. She thought about going out and buying
some but realized that she had no money. It will pass, she thought,
trying to calm herself, and for a time the desire seemed to recede.
After dinner, though, especially when she watched her mother smoke,
the craving was back with a vengeance. She returned to her room,
realizing that she was suffering from the effects of nicotine
withdrawal, and thought about how she could stop it. Her stubborn
streak refused to let her admit to Pam that she might have been
wrong about saying she didn't want to continue smoking, and she
couldn't bring herself to ask her mom for a cigarette. After a time
she heard the phone ring and recognized her mom talking with one of
her friends on the telephone in the kitchen. She knew that when Pam
talked on the phone there was almost always a cigarette being
smoked along with it. She emerged and looked around the living
room. There, on the table, was Pam's pack of 120's, with Pam out of
sight in the kitchen. Julie had to move fast, and she did with the
guts of a burglar. She quickly picked up Pam's pack and -- Damn! --
saw that there were only four cigarettes left. She had been going
to grab a few, but Pam would notice more than one missing right
now. She quickly extracted one of the long, white cigarettes,
replaced the pack on the table, and rushed back to her room,
closing the door behind her.

She lit up quickly and surreptitiously, using the lighter Pam had
given her weeks earlier, and welcomed the now-familiar taste and
smell of the smoke. She puffed heavily on the cigarette, inhaling
it all in, enjoying the sensation as she drew the smoke into her
lungs and feeling the edge go off her earlier frantic state as the
nicotine went to work. She listened for her mom's footsteps, for
she didn't want to be discovered, but Pam continued her phone call
and Julie was able to smoke the entire cigarette in five minutes,
taking an extra puff or two past the point where she would normally
have put it out. She felt much better now, but also somewhat guilty
and concerned about whether these damn cravings would ease. 

The next morning Julie awoke earlier than usual, again feeling a
strong desire for a cigarette. Pam had just gotten up herself and
was having her first of the day as she made coffee and got
breakfast ready. While the coffee was brewing, Pam went to take a
shower and Julie took advantage of her departure to rapidly smoke
two of her mom's cigarettes one after the other. When Pam emerged
from the bathroom she thought she smelled smoke but dismissed it as
her own from earlier. Julie now felt fine and was able to avoid
thoughts of smoking until after lunch, but again they returned,
seemingly stronger than ever. When she got home she was miserable
and again searched without success for an open package. Even worse,
when Pam arrived home Julie could find no opportunity all evening
to sneak one away from her, and she went to bed feeling almost
obsessive about when she would next be able to smoke. She slept
fitfully, and awoke early the next morning and waited for Pam to
shower. Finally able to smoke after 24 hours without one, Julie
realized the attempt to give it up was probably futile. But she
toughed it out the rest of the day, waiting until the next morning
when she could have her next encounter with smoking. When she awoke
on Wednesday morning, her body was almost tingling with
anticipation of a badly-needed cigarette. Again waiting until Pam
entered the shower, Julie lit up as usual and felt her whole body
relax as she breathed the smoke in as deeply as she could and again
enjoyed the smoking experience totally. She had another, and made
up her mind while smoking it about what she would do when her
craving returned next. 

Pam returned home at her usual time in a remarkably good mood. The
union at work had finally won a pay equity lawsuit it brought
against her company long ago, and she was the beneficiary of a
raise of several thousand a year, she explained happily to Julie,
plus back pay. Money would be a little less of a problem for them
now. Pam was euphoric and Julie was happy too. Not only because of
the money, but to see her mom in a genuinely happy mood for the
first time in a long time. In a celebratory mood, Pam had brought
home dinner as a treat, and afterwards Julie figured this was the
best time to concede defeat.

She waited and watched, her own after-dinner craving almost
overwhelming now, made worse by her anticipation. Finally,  Pam
collapsed onto the sofa after dinner and Julie saw her mother pick
up the package of Slims and extract one. Before Pam could light up,
Julie cleared her throat and said, her heart pounding, "Ummm... er,
ah... Mom....",  and sat down next to Pam.

"Yes, hon?," answered Pam, waiting for Julie to actually say
something. 

"I... ah, well, I was wondering... uh, do you think I could...
could I have one of those?", she said finally, gesturing to the
pack in Pam's hand, her face red with embarassment and her heart
about to leap out of chest.

"A cigarette? Would you like to have one, love? Well... I suppose
so... here, go ahead," Pam said, offering the pack to Julie, not
really surprised. After all, she had been convinced earlier that
Julie was almost as hooked as she was, and this morning she knew
that the smoke she smelled upon emerging from the bathroom after
her shower hadn't been hers. But she couldn't resist asking, "But
I thought you said you didn't want to smoke any more?"

Julie reached towards the pack in Pam's hand and withdrew one of
the cigarettes. She noticed her hand was shaking slightly, the
effect made all the more noticeable by the length of the cigarette
she held in her fingers. "I thought so at first. I really did. But
I miss it. I realized the last day or so that I really liked it
when I was able to smoke. It's sort of neat. I think I might want
to have one now and then from here on," Julie said earnestly.

Pam listened to the girl declare her intentions and wanted to be
certain that Julie knew what it meant. "Honey, if you want to
smoke, that's fine with me. After all, I smoke, so I can't very
well tell you not to. But have you really thought about it? It's
really, really hard to give it up once you've smoked for a while,
("Tell me about it!", Julie thought to herself) and I know you know
that they're bad for you. I like smoking, and I'm a great one to
give you advice about it, but there are times when I wish I didn't
smoke but I just can't stop. Once you start, they take over and you
always have to smoke from then on. You get hooked, just like I am.
Are you absolutely sure that you want to start?", Pam asked her
daughter.

Julie thought about her mother's words. She knew the cigarettes
were bad for her -- in fact, during the weeks she had smoked she
noticed she coughed more often than before, and her breathing
wasn't what it had been -- but she was never an athlete and didn't
care to become one. She already knew, all too well, about the other
part of her mom's message, about how they take over. Maybe they
already had taken over Julie, or maybe she just wanted to be more
like her mom, but there was no hesitation in her answer. "I think
I'm sure, mom. I'd like to be able to smoke for a while, as long as
it's OK with you. I don't think I'll smoke at school or anything,
and I think I would only probably have a few each day here with
you. But I like them, and I'd like to be able to have one when I
want. So, yes, I'm absolutely sure... I want to start again," she
declared.

"Well, honey, I appreciate your honesty. You should be proud of
yourself. I know how hard that must have been for you to say. Here,
enjoy," Pam said to her daughter, offering her a light, then
lighting up herself.

Both women then enjoyed their after-dinner cigarettes, Julie
especially so. They now saw each other in a new light, Pam
accepting Julie as almost an equal, less of a child; she began to
think that what with Julie's new attitude towards her, and the
extra money she would now be earning, maybe their lives had turned
a corner and would start to become something closer to what she had
hoped for all along. For her part, Julie began accepting smoking as
part of her, not something she had to feel ashamed of doing, but
instead as something that placed her on an equal footing with her
mom, allowing her to build some self-esteem. By the time Julie had
finished her first "real" cigarette, her first of her new smoking
self, her craving had disappeared and she felt more relaxed than
she had in days. 

Later that night, Julie asked her mother for another cigarette.
"You don't have to ask, hon," Pam said, offering the pack to her
daughter. "Anytime you feel that you want one, just go ahead and
have one.". Julie felt even more grown-up than ever as she realized
the trust her mother was placing in her, and lit up the cigarette
with a new sense of satisfaction and contentment.

Not having to ask all the time quickly and predictably led Julie to
resume her former smoking pattern. At first Pam observed her
rapidly-emptying packages with alarm, thinking for a moment that
she herself was somehow the cause, but soon she realized that it
was Julie whose cigarette consumption had dramatically increased,
for it seemed to her that her daughter was smoking a cigarette
almost every time she looked at her. One day Pam had left behind a
package with about six cigarettes remaining in it when she left for
work in the morning, thinking that perhaps Julie might want one or
two between the time she got home and Pam's own return, and was
surprised to see that only two remained in the pack when she
arrived back. It soon became obvious to both of them that given her
new, increased level of smoking Julie needed to have her own
supply, so Pam gave her permission to take packs when she needed
them from the carton she kept in her bedroom. Within the week,
Julie was back up to her usual half-pack a day level on weekdays,
which she felt comfortable with. On weekends, however, Julie tended
to smoke much more heavily since there was no longer a period of
several hours where she had to attend school and could not smoke.
On these days it was not unusual for her to smoke 15 a day or more.
She told Pam that Mondays were hardest of all for her at school
since that was the day she missed smoking the most after her
weekend of freedom.

Finally the month of June arrived and with it the end of classes.
Julie of course passed everything with flying colors, and looked
forward to a summer of doing not much of anything except what she
wanted to do. Summer vacation for Julie this year, though, meant
that every day was a weekend day, and thus she was able to nurture
her ever-growing desire to smoke, without any restiction except for
the amount of nicotine her body could tolerate. Julie didn't even
realize it herself at first, but the number of cigarettes she
averaged each day slowly but inexorably began to climb. One evening
near the end of July, Julie noticed with some surprise that the
pack she had opened that morning was now almost empty, and this
soon became a not uncommon occurance. But Julie continued to gain
increasing pleasure from her smoking habit, which was becoming more
and more entrenched in her each day, and simply allowed her body to
find its own comfort zone. Pam observed this behavior in Julie and
recognized it as identical to her own so many years ago. She now
knew that her daughter, just like herself, had become hooked.

When the opportunity allowed, Julie and Pam would spend summer days
doing things together, be it shopping, going to the beach, drives
in the country (Pam had finally been able to get a good car) or
walks in the park, simply enjoying each other's company. When Julie
was with her mom she no longer felt any reticence about smoking in
public. Julie found she particularly loved going to the beach, for
there was something about the sun, the surf, the sand and the
smoking that was wickedly wonderful. She loved to lay on the beach
in a bikini, wearing shades to both protect her eyes and give her
some mystery, with the sun baking her body and the seabreeze
keeping it comfortable, attracting stares from both teenagers and
older men as she seductively smoked a series of her 120s. Once
during the summer when she and Pam were seated in a restaurant in
a shopping mall, two of Julie's acquaintances from school walked by
and waved. Julie waved back, intentionally using the hand holding
a newly-lit 120, and was pleased to see the surprised looks on the
girls' faces, made even more so when Julie took a long, theatrical
puff along with her mother.  By the end of August, Julie had
further graduated to a consistent pack a day level, and took
delight in showing off the fact that she smoked to all who saw her,
even to the point of going for walks in the shopping district for
the express purpose of putting her smoking on public display. She
loved getting stares of admiration from teenage boys, and took
great satisfaction from showing off by smoking brazenly in front of
people who obviously disapproved of her habit.

She enjoyed her cigarettes now more than ever. They had become a
part of her being, and were included in how she saw herself. The
old, bratty, smoker-hating Julie was dead, replaced with a more
mature, more adult, more attractive new Julie. She began to take
more pride in her own looks, which each day resembled more those of
her beautiful mother, and began to experience a coming of age.
Certainly her body needed its daily ration of nicotine, and Julie
understood better than ever her mother's warning about how smoking
would take her over. She accepted the fact now that it had. But she
didn't mind, because she truly enjoyed almost every one. She was
hooked, just like her mom, and knew it.

When it came time to return to school, both Pam and Julie agreed
that there was little sense in her not bringing her cigarettes with
her this time. She had several free periods each day during which
she could satisfy her need to smoke, and Pam had no wish to see her
daughter suffer. The first day back, at her first free period,
Julie left the school grounds for a nearby park where many of her
fellow student-smokers would go to satisfy their cigarette habits.
Several of the girls there, who knew the old Julie, were astounded
to see this new, sexy-looking Julie pull out one of her 120's,
light up, and smoke with obvious experience and great style. This
wasn't the Julie they knew (and had largely ignored) before, this
Julie was different, and not just because of the cigarette in her
hand. She was more confident, actually friendly and outgoing, and
willing to take part in the banter that went on between them. Soon
Julie and several of the girls she met in the park on breaks became
fast friends, and Julie's social life took off. Even more
significantly, the new Julie soon became the talk of the campus
among the boys who had previously ignored her, and she had more
than her share of boys to pick from, boys who appreciated the
beauty, confidence and downright sexiness -- thanks in part to the
Slims, she liked to think -- she now fairly radiated. 

It was to be the best year of her life. By the end of it, Julie
found she now had developed a habit that controlled her, just as
her mom had said, having achieved a daily smoking level almost
identical to that of her mom in fact, and knew that she now both
loved and needed to smoke more than ever. But for Julie, the
changes that smoking had helped her to achieve far outweighed the
negative consequences of the habit itself that occasionally entered
her thoughts, and to her this meant that it was a good deal. Pam
now knew to budget for two cartons of Slims when she went to the
market each week. She didn't mind the expense, since she could not
only see that Julie both enjoyed and needed her cigarettes as much
as she did, but that her daughter had also been transformed into
someone for whom life would soon take on a whole new meaning. She
was overjoyed with her "new" daughter. Anything she could do to
contribute to that was worth it, so she felt it was a good deal
too.

Such a deal!


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