Twist, Part 1

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 18 March 2001)


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Twist
Part 1 of 2
an4@anon.lelnet.com

Kim smiled at Ms. Orloff. 'I can't believe that I'm the only one who showed 
up for the study session.'
    'Well, it is optional, and to be honest, I think that everyone is going 
to do just fine on the AP test. Still, I would prefer that everyone took it 
seriously.'
    'Look, would you mind if we took a short break. Maybe ten minutes.'
    'I suppose that you're going to run outside and smoke a cigarette- or 
two.'
    'Ms. Orloff ! What makes you say that ?'
    'Well, I know what I'll do with that time, and I know you smoke. I've 
seen you outside between classes.'
    'Want to join me ?'
    Freya smiled. 'If you can think of somewhere we can go where no one will 
see us. I can't be seen encouraging underage smoking- these days that isn't 
very cool.'
    'Out behind the old south door. Nobody goes there after school.'
    'Then the old south door it is. Let me just grab my purse.'
    'I have to go by my locker.'
    Kim practically skipped out of the room. Freya watched her go, smiling. 
She remembered what it was like being a sixteen year old smoker. Sneaking 
around, smoking after school. Those were the good times. There was, that 
delicious moment when Mom gave in to her daughter's desire to smoke. It all 
seemed like a lot more than ten years ago- except watching Kim, it also 
seemed like yesterday.
    She walked out to the old south door. The school had been built around a 
disused church, making one of the oddest suburban schools Freya had ever 
seen. The door in question was a massive oak double door that had once been a 
back entrance to the church, swollen with age and set in granite blocks. The 
doors had no lock, just a sliding bar that was engaged at night by security.
    As she was digging her cigarettes from her purse, Kim joined her.
    She was a gorgeous girl. Long red hair, naturally full, pale milky skin 
and cobalt blue eyes set in a tight but pleasant face. Her breasts had come 
in- really in- a few months ago, just as school started. The truth was, she 
was strangely similar in appearance to Freya at the same age. They were both 
about five four- both had the same slim build, same hair, same cheek bones. A 
picture of her at Kim's age would be difficult to tell from the real article.
    The two lit up and Freya watched the pleasant enjoyment that Kim got from 
her smoking. Again, it was an eerie reminiscence.
    'Just tell me the only reason that you're here studying isn't because 
you were hoping for a smoke break.'
    Kim laughed. 'This is just your second year, so you wouldn't know this, 
but the only AP exam my sister Samantha didn't max out on was English. I'm 
determined to beat her on that.'
    Freya exhaled. 'A little sibling rivalry is good for the soul. So tell 
me, when did you start smoking ?'
    Kim trimmed. 'About two months ago. I decided that I wanted to try it. I 
can't say I had a good reason. That's the funny thing. I just woke up one 
day and decided that I wanted to give it a try.'
    Another parallel. Freya must have smiled before she drew on her 
cigarette, because Kim looked at her strangely.
    'What did that make you think of ?'
    'Why do you ask ?' 
    Before she answered, Kim pulled hard on the cigarette and exhaled.
    'You had the look on your face like you were remembering back to when you 
started.'
    Her teacher's nose exhale was practised perfection. 'I was sixteen at 
the time, your age. I came down one morning around six, after my shower. Mom 
and Dad are college professors- they were teaching at SUNY Albany at the 
time. Dad was away at some Chemistry conference presenting a paper. Mom was 
already up- she'd probably been up for at least an hour- and she had put 
aside the latest greatest book on theoretical math and was reading the NY 
Times. She must have just lit her cigarette, because she was holding the 
lighter in her other hand. She pulled the cigarette from her mouth and smiled 
and said 'How's my favourite daughter ?' Smoke came out of her mouth with 
each word and there was a little left, so she finished her exhale smiling. I 
watched her and just thought '˜I want to try that.''
    'You saw something ?' Kim trimmed, inhaled, held, tried the same nose 
exhale. 
    'It was the look in her eyes. My mother has these green eyes- they go 
with her red hair- just about your colour. There was just a look of 
contentment there. I knew what to do. There's a convenience store about half 
a mile from my house- on the way to school. I always walked to school and a 
lot of days I went early because the library opened at seven. I was a real 
bookworm.'
    Kim exhaled again, trimmed, disappointedly realised that her cigarette 
was nearly gone. But that wasn't what the look on her face was all about.
    'What ?' Freya asked.
    Looking at her strawberry blonde hair, beautiful even in a pony tail, her 
slate grey eyes, her fantastic breasts and the curves that couldn't be hidden 
by slightly baggy clothes, the idea that Freya had ever been a bookworm 
seemed downright silly, even absurd.
    'I was a bookworm. Trust me, but that's just a sidebar. By the way, I'm 
still a bookworm. Occupational hazard.'
    'I suppose.' Kim took one last pull on the cigarette, and disappointedly 
stubbed it out in the standing ashtray.
    'Go ahead and have another.' Freya stubbed out her own and quickly but 
smoothly lit up again. Kim did the same.
    'So, anyway, my mother thought nothing of me grabbing a piece of toast, a 
thermos of coffee, and leaving around six-thirty. But I wasn't going to the 
school, at least not right away. First, I was going to the store. I knew the 
only one that would be there was Christy- I knew her, but not well. I hate to 
say it, but Christy was not part of the group I hung out with- she was in 
most of my classes, but well, she was poor and-'
    Kim smiled, waved the hand holding the cigarette. 'I know what you mean. 
You know Kara Miller ?'
    'Well, she is in your class, so I think you know the answer to that 
question.'
    'Kara works at the Wal-Mart after school to make money for college. She 
must work like twenty hours a week, and of course that kind of cuts into the 
social time she has. I really like her, but a lot of times, she just can't do 
the things the rest of us do. It sucks for her and it sort of '"'
    'That was Christy. Four to eight am every morning, and at the time, I had 
no idea that she was such a cool person. At least I found out later. What I 
did know was that she was the only one working at the store that early- when 
I was feeling naughty-' Freya inhaled, exhaled, and laughed, 'when I was 
feeling naughty I would stop in and get myself a candy bar and a Coke. So I 
walked there, I went in, the place was empty the way I hoped, and I walked 
right up to the counter.'
    'You must have been so nervous. I remember what it was like when I bought 
my first pack.'
'All of what, two months ago ?' Freya needled.
    Kim drew on her cigarette, exhaled. 'I was so afraid I was going to get 
carded. You can mock, but it was very stressful.'
'Well, they weren't as strict back then and I knew Christy would help me 
out. Of course, she had an idea what I wanted. When you walk in and go right 
up to the counter-'
    'I'm surprised you didn't pad your purchase.'
    'If there had been anyone else in the store, I would have. But I was so 
relieved that the place was empty I was just hoping to get it over with.'
    'So she looked at me and she knew just what I wanted.'
    ''What brand ?' was all she said. I looked at her kind of funny and then 
just said Marlboro Lights 100s, because that was what Mom smoked. She smiled- 
'˜First pack, huh ?''
'Were you nervous or embarrassed ?' Kim asked.
    'I was kind of embarrassed.'
    'I almost passed out, I was so nervous. When the guy behind the counter 
actually put the cigarettes in my hand, I almost ran out of the store without 
paying,' Kim said.
    Tapping ash from her cigarette, Freya laughed. 'That would have been a 
dead giveaway, wouldn't it ? Anyway, I had a five in my hand- babysitting 
money. I tried to hand it to her but she passed me the cigarettes and said 
'˜First one on the house.' I thanked her and I wanted to say something else 
but I didn't even know what to say except '˜Thank you.' And then she laughed- 
'˜Do you want a lighter or matches ?' Of course, I hadn't thought of that. 
Her I was, captain of the debate team, and I couldn't think of a damn thing 
to say. I just kind of slack-jaw stared at her. '˜They don't light 
themselves,' she said, and handed me a lighter.'
    'This is really cool,' Kim said, speaking as she exhaled.
    'What ?'
    'Well, when I bought my first pack I hadn't thought any of it through. I 
was outside the store before I realised that the cigarettes wouldn't light by 
magic- but then I looked in my hand and the guy had given me a pack of 
matches with the store name on them. It took four matches to get one lit.' 
Kim put the cigarette in her mouth and inhaled from it as she dug in her own 
purse. She took out the matches. 'I bought a lighter that afternoon. I still 
keep these as a memento.'
    Phil's Gas '˜n Go, in yellow letters on a red background. Freya 
understood they were beautiful- no matter how ugly they were.
    'It's just cool to listen to someone else and they had the same 
experiences. I thought I was some kind of weirdo about the whole thing.'
    'We may be teachers,' Freya said through her exhale, 'but we are people.'
    'I didn't mean it that way,' Kim said, reddening. 'Well, you how it is, 
right  ?'
    'How what is ?' Freya asked, tossing her ponytail and drawing on her 
cigarette, enjoying both the conversation and the smoking.
    'Well, we divide the teachers into two groups. The younger teachers, 
well, we tend to think you guys are more like us. I mean, all the guys are so 
jonesing for you. You did know that, right ?'
    Now it was Freya's turn to redden.
    'And some of the girls, too,' Kim added, liking the way her teacher was 
nervous now.
    'And what about the older teachers ?'
    'Well, the younger teachers, the attractive ones, you guys don't need to 
fit in and you now how- it comes naturally. The older ones are always trying 
to stay current- the lingo, the music- and well, most of the kids think 
they're weird, or even perverted.'
    'That's pretty harsh. It's ageism, too.'
    Kim laughed, drew on her cigarette, thought about that. 'Oh, I know. 
You're totally right. Some of the younger teachers are real assholes, or they 
take advantage of the fact that- well, I can think of a few people-'
    'No names, please. But I know what you mean. Rumours get around.'
    'Exactly. That's on one end and on the other are people who are trying 
really hard to connect but everyone just thinks they are creepy or weird.'
    'Like Mr. Klinghoffer ?'
    'Yeah, exactly.'
    Freya had to laugh. She inhaled deeply, leaned close to Kim, turned her 
head slightly to exhale.
    'I'll tell you a secret. He kind of creeps us out, too. And I know I 
feel bad about it, because you'll never meet a guy who would be less likely 
to behave inappropriately. He really cares about his students, but he's 
trying so hard to fit in, it's like-'
    'Sad ?'
    'A little. I hope when I'm fifty I'm not like that. It's like he's 
never quite felt comfortable that people like him. And we're all in a 
position where we want to be liked, I guess.'
    'People like you-'
    Freya trimmed, drew, exhaled. 'The boys like me.'
    'Oh no, the girls like you too. Don't take this the wrong way, but 
you're not the only attractive young teacher in the school. What's important 
is that you're different. You treat all of us the same. You don't piss off 
the girls by flirting with their boyfriends and you don't- I hate to use this 
word, but- the guys don't think you're a cocktease.'
    'Well, that's a relief. But come on, no one is a cocktease.'
    Kim tilted her head back and exhaled a milky white cloud.
    'That's so not true. Ms. Johnson- all the guys think she is.'
    'Becky is really nice, and-'
    'And what-'
Freya caught herself on the edge of a major indiscretion. She was getting 
comfortable with Kim very quickly. Too quickly.
    'Nevermind.'
    'What, you don't think some of us know she's a lesbian ?'
    Scandalised, Freya stared gaping at Kim.
    'I didn't say that !'
    'Oh, she's very subtle about it. But it's like she plays off that. She 
really is a tease with the guys- I think she- it's like she has no fear about 
anyone saying anything because-'˜
    'She's very nice,' Freya defended.
    'Yeah, she is. She's one of the nicest people in the school and she 
really cares about her students. But she still likes to make the boys breathe 
hard. But why don't you tell me more about your early days as a smoker.'
    Freya and Kim's cigarettes were almost smoked.
    'We should get back inside.'
    'Come on, Ms. Orloff. We have another hour. One more cigarette, please ?'
    'Anything for a fellow smoker. Anyway. Christy. Later that day I had a 
free period- if you were in Honour Society you didn't have to report to study 
hall or lunch. The assumption was that you'd go to the library but there was 
a zero enforcement policy. I went to the door by the smoking area. Some of my 
friends were out there, but I was so nervous. I didn't want them thinking I 
was a poser or something, you know. Christy was off that period- we had 
pretty much the same schedule except that she came in late and took gym 
during lunch instead of first period. She never said a word. She just grabbed 
my hand, took me outside, and lit me up.'
    Finishing her cigarette, Freya lit another and Kim followed her.
    'We got to be good friends after that, and I started smoking more and 
more over time. I'd smoke every morning on the way to school, and the way 
home. When the manager came in at 6:30, he'd give Christy a fifteen minute 
smoke break, so a lot of mornings I'd stop by and we'd smoke three or four 
cigarettes and then we'd walk home together after school. Mom and Dad lived 
in their offices so I never worried about getting caught.'
    'But you did get caught, didn't you ?' Kim asked.
    'I think all teenagesmokers get caught eventually. You just get more and 
more confident. Every day you get away with it you get a little bolder. And 
you don't realise that if you're smoking four or five cigarettes and you 
wash up before your parents get home that's different than when you're 
smoking half a pack a day- and with my parents not getting home until eight 
at night and smoking all over the house- I started smoking in my room when I 
got home from school with the window open or smoking in the living room. 
Well, anyway, one day I was walking home with Christy, and were laughing and 
smoking and talking about boys- I had the biggest crush on Bobby Green.' 
Freya paused to smoke.
    It felt so natural- too natural. Standing here, talking with Kim, like 
some younger version of herself, sharing experiences. She knew she should be 
worried- but she wasn't. And that did worry her. Her instincts were better 
than this.
    'Anyway, Mom must have driven right by us and I never saw her. I got home 
and she was sitting on the couch, reading and smoking.'
    'Had you played it out in your mind ?'
    'Have you ? I mean, your parents don't know that you smoke, do they ?'
    'What makes you think that ?' Kim asked, a little defensive.
    'Well, you wouldn't have talked me into a third cigarette if you could 
smoke at home, right ?'
    'Busted,' Kim said. 'True enough. Yes. I mean, my parents smoke and they
know most of my friends smoke, too. I've smelled like smoke ever since I can
remember. I don't think they'd notice.'
    'That lie's not as easy to carry off as you think, but we can talk about
that later. Yes, I had played it out in my mind and I guess I figured I'd
deny it when the time came, but I couldn't have imagine that she'd actually
see me sucking on a cigarette, blowing smoke, enjoying it.'
   'You were really busted. What happened ?'


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