Timeshare, Part 1

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 17 December 1996)

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Timeshare, Part 1
   "I still can't believe our parents are letting us do this," Sabrina said,
   Cellia looked at her friend quizzically. "Why-well I can see where you'd be
worried about your parents saying no. But it was a no brainer for Mom and
Dad. They arranged the time share back in February. What were they going to
do ? Pass up a week at a Sandals resort just to sit on the beach at the Cape
? I just can't believe that Ms. Dunham and her new husband could afford to
take twenty-five people there for a week. I'm sure it'll be some wedding-"
   "Your mom seemed awful nervous-"
   "It's an hundred thousand dollar wedding and she's the maid of honour.
That's quite a responsibility."
   Cellia pulled the RX-7 up to the stoplight. There was a long line of traffic
waiting just to get on I-95. Neither girl was looking forward to the long
drive, but for a week away from parents, summer jobs, and the rest, it would
be worth it. For the most part.
   She reached into her purse and pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights 100s.	
   "You're going to smoke in your mom's car ?" Sabrina asked, shocked.
   "Mom does. Look in the back seat."
   Sabrina saw an open carton of cigarettes.
   "Mom gave me those before she left for Jamaica."
   Cellia lit the cigarette with her lighter and Sabrina rolled her window
   "I have the air conditioning on," Cellia said.
   "So turn it off. Roll down your window and pop the moonroof. Please ?"
   "Sure." Cellia did as she was asked and exhaled a thick cloud of smoke which
drifted out the open window.
   "You finally told them, huh ?"
   Cellia inhaled again, patiently. It was a deep smoker's inhale, something
Sabrina had noticed Cellia did much more frequently lately. She should have
known that the Lambert's had finally given in to their daughter's smoking.
Not that Sabrina had expected anything different.
   "I promised myself I was going to tell them before they left. It had gotten
to the point where hiding it was just no fun anymore."
   "And your Mom responded by giving you a carton of cigarettes ?"
   The light turned green and they began the long slow crawl up the on-ramp.
   "She gave me two cartons, actually. She said she was shocked it took so long
for me to start. She started when she was 14 and Dad when he was 13. And here
I am, at sixteen, just starting."
   "You were fifteen when you started-" Sabrina reminded.
   "I didn't tell them I'd been smoking for three months."
   "Isn't that Ms. Hamilton in front of us ?"
   The two girls looked closely at the blonde woman in the Lexus in front of
them. Cellia waved hesitantly. The driver didn't notice, but the woman turned
around and sure enough, it was Ophelia Hamilton, ex-Oxford scholar and town's
recently hired librarian. She waved with an hand which was holding a long
white cigarette and smiled. Cellia waved back, showing off her Marlboro.
   Ophelia laughed, nudged her boyfriend- at least they thought it was her
boyfriend, and smiled again. The man, who had short, close cut brown hair and
a muscular neck, jerked away from the nudge and said something which, judging
by the woman's reaction, must have been pretty harsh. Her face dropped and
she turned around angrily.
   "What's that all about ?"
   Cellia laughed. "This fucking traffic would make anyone edgy, I suppose."
   "We can split the driving," Sabrina said cheerily.
   Cellia tapped ash out the open window and inhaled sharply on the cigarette.
Her nose exhale was quick and powerful and Sabrina found herself amased at
the progress Cellia had made as a smoker. She then batted at the smoke which
drifted in her direction.
   "Even in this traffic it's probably only a four hour drive. I'll be fine, if
my bladder holds up."
   Sabrina laughed. "I'm already regretting the 20 ounce diet Coke I had before
we left."
   They got on the highway and the traffic thinned out as soon as they passed
Bridgeport. Ms. Hamilton and the Lexus disappeared as soon as the road opened
up and the two girls quickly forgot about her.
   Just after they passed over the Q-Bridge, Cellia decided she needed another
cigarette, but the traffic was so stop and go that she couldn't free up both
hands to get one lit. With the radar detector adapter in the cigarette
lighter, she knew she'd have to use her lighter. With the windows open, that
wasn't an option, not one handed. There were times when driving a clutch
wasn't convenient. Mom could catch a light in a hurricane, but that was the
one skill Cellia was still trying to master.
   She thought about it for a moment and then decided that she would just have
to ask Sabrina for some help. In a way, it was the last thing she wanted to
do. She had the impression that Sabrina barely tolerated her smoking, and had
worried that it was going to be a long week. 
   It didn't make sense. Both of her parents smoked- they were actually really
cool about it, letting her smoke whenever she came over to their house.
Sabrina's younger sister Sarah, who'd just turned fifteen last week, had
started smoking with the enthusiastic approval of the rest of the family. But
Sabrina was on some sort of health kick the last few months. Vitamins,
low-fat food, the whole works. It was amasing she'd still drink diet soda.
More than once she'd made derogatory remarks about Cellia's smoking. In fact,
they'd had one argument last week which had almost scuttled the whole trip.
   Still, as Cellia shifted from third to second and back again, she realised
there was no way around it.
   "Can you light me a cigarette, Sabrina ?"
   "What ?"
   "I need both hands to drive."
   "Then how are you going to smoke the cigarette ?"
   Cellia glanced at her evilly. Now she was sure that she wanted her friend to
light her cigarette.
   Sabrina's return look was such a combination of distaste and frustration
that Cellia decided something on the spot.
   She was amased the idea hadn't occurred to her before, but she now saw it
   The two had been friends since pre-school, but they had begun to drift apart
noticeably over the last three months. The truth was that this trip was
Cellia's best hope that the distance between them would be closed again. Now
she saw clearly what the problem was. Sabrina had started avoiding her right
at the time that she'd started smoking. It hadn't been obvious at first, but
thinking back, her friend's earlier comment about being surprised their
parents had okayed the trip had been spoken with a little bit of
   Part of her had wanted them to say no.
   All because she smoked ?
   That was stupid. And Cellia understood that there was only one way to
rectify the situation- since she had no intention of quitting.
   She was going to have to get Sabrina to start smoking.
   Her friend picked up the pack and the lighter hesitantly, as though even
touching the rectangular box was distasteful.
   "I'm not asking you to smoke the damn thing !" Cellia said, letting anger
creep into her voice.
   To be perfectly honest, Sabrina wished she was asking her to smoke the
cigarette. At first, when Cellia had started smoking, Sabrina had convinced
herself that it was time to separate herself from her best friend of so many
years. She'd spent over a year fighting the urge to start smoking and things
had been going well- until Sarah had started smoking.
   Mom was actually proud of the little-
   More than once, Sarah had done exactly what Cellia was asking her to do now.
In fact, it was an unspoken fact that Sarah was privileged to the front seat
when the three of them went out because she would, if asked, light Mom's
cigarettes for her. 
   The next week was going to be the hardest on of her life. She fully expected
Cellia to try and get her to start smoking. And she knew it would work,
because behind all the- to pardon the pun, she thought- smoke and mirrors,
the health food and the talk, the thing she wanted to do the most in the
world was start smoking. Because she didn't want to lose Cellia as a friend-
among other reasons.
   Which was exactly why she knew she should avoid it.
   Rather than argue with her friend, however, she decided to do as she'd been
   She pulled the cigarette from the pack, secretly admiring the long straight
cylinder. It looked so clean and inviting. To Cellia, it was just one in an
endless series of cigarettes, but to Sabrina, it was special. This was her
first cigarette, even if that ownership was only by proxy.
   A part of her worried that once lit, she would be loathe to part with it.
   She put the cigarette in her mouth and held it between her teeth. As she did
this, Cellia somehow reached behind the seat, pulled out her digital camera,
and snapped of a quick shot just as Sabrina looked up. The car in front of
Cellia broke sharply and she dropped the camera in her lap as she avoided an
accident which might have ended the trip extremely prematurely. The traffic
started up again.
   Sabrina paused, the cigarette still held in her mouth, and slipped on her
dark sunglasses. She then turned to Cellia, who snapped off two more shots, a
smile on her face. Maybe this wasn't going to be so hard after all, Cellia
thought. Her friend looked really cool, her long red hair blowing in the wind,
 the cigarette held jauntily between her lips. Sarah would pay for a picture
like that of her older sister.
   Hunkering down out of the wind, Sabrina managed to light the cigarette. She
half-inhaled accidently and caught a mouthful of what she assumed would be
foul tasting smoke, but it was actual quite neutral, neither pleasant nor
   She immediately handed the cigarette to Cellia, who took it gladly in her
right hand. She transferred it to her mouth, clutched up, inhaled and blew
smoke from her nose. She then immediately pumped the cigarette again before
taking in her left hand. On an impulse, Sabrina picked the camera from
Cellia's lap and snapped two quick shots off, both catching a long, sensuous
mouth exhale which ended with a small, perfectly formed smoke ring.
   "My dad taught me that the other night."
   "It's kind of cool, I guess," Sabrina said, feigning indifference.  Watching
the way Cellia worked the cigarette she understood that even if she did start
smoking, it would take a long time to equal Cellia's talents- but her friend
had always been the quicker study, even if they were both at the top of their
   Just outside of Madison there was a rest area, and after debating briefly,
Sabrina asked Cellia to stop. Her bladder was at the bursting point and
everyone said it wasn't good to hold it in.
   Cellia didn't seem to mind. She pulled the car into the rest area slowly,
savouring the last of another cigarette Sabrina had lit for her. They rolled
up the windows and locked the car, discussed the virtues of grabbing
something to eat at McDonald's, and Cellia was surprised to find that Sabrina
thought it would be 'okay.' The other girl pulled her long wild hair into a
ponytail, then reached into her pocket for a band.
   "Shit, I left all my hair bands in my day bag."
   Cellia was wearing a scrunchy on her wrist. She took it off, smiling, and
handed it to Sabrina, who eyed it suspiciously.
   It was Marlboro scrunchy mom had gotten for a few hundred miles recently
which matched the pocket-t Cellia was wearing.
   After a brief hesitation, Sabrina took it and wound it around her hair. 
   "I'll make a smoker out of you yet," Cellia said, half-serious. There was no
way to know what her friend's reaction to this sort of joke was because of
the sunglasses, but there was no question the only thing she needed to make
her look cool was a long white cigarette between her fingers.
   The bathroom line was longer than either girl had hoped, but it went quickly
and soon the girls were sitting down to a quick lunch. Cellia dug into her
quarter-pounder with gusto while Sabrina picked at her fish sandwich. She let
half her fries on the try, but even that was an improvement, because she was
just about the only girl Cellia knew who could stand to gain a few pounds.
Not that smoking would help that.
   They grabbed their soda and were walking out of the food court when Sabrina
blundered into a woman looking the other direction. The soda cup bent and the
lid popped off, spraying diet coke all over her white t-shirt and jean shorts.

   "Why don't-" Sabrina started to say, but then she realised that the person
she'd blundered into was a red-eyed and distraught looking Ms. Hamilton.
She'd obviously been crying, and any anger Sabrina had been feeling drained
away instantly.
   Ms. Hamilton bent down to pick up a large piece of soft luggage sheepishly
and avoided looking at the girls as she apologised.
   "I'm so sorry, Sabrina."
   "What happened, Ms. Hamilton ?"
   "He dumped you here, didn't he ?" Cellia asked, concern in her voice.	
   "He who ?" the librarian said, meeting the girls' eyes for the first time.
   "Your boyfriend-" Sabrina finished. "He left you here-"
   Cellia noticed that Ms. Hamilton was wearing the same t-shirt as she was.
That was no surprise. Her mom had five or six of them. Along with mock
turtlenecks and jeans and even a leather jacket Cellia had been trying to
talk her out of all week. Mom had grudgingly relented to loaning it to her
for the week, but she also told her daughter she would have to smoke enough
cigarettes to get her own.
   "Yeah. Really, I'd rather not talk about it, if that's okay. Let me replace
that soda, Sabrina."
   "No. I was just about finished with it," she lied. "Besides, if I had drank
it, we'd have to stop again at the next rest area. It's better for everyone
that I'm wearing it."
   The three women laughed at the joke, but the situation grew awkward after
that, no one quite knowing what to say.
   "Where were you going ?" Cellia finally asked, pulling out a cigarette. Of
course, there was no smoking inside the rest area, supposedly, but Sabrina
had noticed that no longer always stopped her friend anymore.
   "The cape. Bryan's parents have a summer home-"
   "That's where we're going-" Sabrina said. She shared a look with Cellia, who
nodded as she lit the cigarette, and added "Want to come along ?"
   Ms. Hamilton shook her head. "I'm going to rent a car and drive back to
   "Are you old enough-," Cellia said.
   "How old do you think I am ?"
   "Twenty four," Sabrina said, "and you have to be twenty-five to rent a car."
   Ms. Hamilton smiled. "That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me in days.
But I'm twenty eight. I can rent a car. I even have a credit card," she added
with slight sarcasm.
   "Why don't you head out with us ?" Cellia asked.
   Ms. Hamilton paused to light a Marlboro Lights 100 of her own. "No. If I
went out there, I'd go find Bryan's house and burn it down-"
   "A better revenge would be to go and have a great time without him-" Sabrina
   "No offence, girls, but it might not look right."
   "Who's going to say anything ? If it will make you feel better we'll have
you split the gas and bridge tolls. Come on. There's like six bedrooms in my
parent's time share. It could be fun, even if we are just kids-"
   The librarian surprised both of them by agreeing.
   As they walked out to the car, Ms. Hamilton told them if they were going to
spend a week together, they would have to call her Ophelia.
   "I didn't know you smoked, Sabrina," she said, noticing the scrunchy.
   "Cellia let me borrow this. She's trying to turn me into a smoker."
   "For your sake," Ophelia said, exhaling a long stream of creamy smoke, "I
hope she succeeds. If you want help, Cellia, just let me know."
   As Cellia opened the trunk, Sabrina remembered her bags had been packed
first, and there was no way to get at them without unpacking the whole trunk.
   "Can I borrow a shirt and pants, Seal ?"
   The other girl smiled, knowing just what to give her friend. She pulled a
long-sleeve shirt and a pair of jeans from her bag, both Marlboro gear, and
handed them to her friend, who ran back inside to change.
   She came out a few minutes later, looking killer in the oversized shirt,
which didn't hide the fact that she was no longer wearing her c-cup and the
jeans, which were baggy but cool-looking around her slender waist.
   They piled in the car and started driving again.

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