I hear the door behind me open. Sarah’s here. The house has been asleep for hours, recovering from all the action of the busy Thanksgiving Day. With the smell of home-cooked pie still lingering in the air, I rush to hug her. Through her puffy, brown jacket, I feel her collar bones sticking up from her skin, like the carcass of the turkey left on the dining room table. “God, I missed you Sar. I feel like we have so much to catch up on.” Sarah simply responds, “Lets go for a walk. I want a cigarette.”

I follow her out the door into the uninviting, cold night. We stop at the end of my driveway and huddle around her black Bic lighter. The flash of orange lights up Sarah’s face. Her focus is on the tip of the cigarette, as my focus is on her tired expression. It shows something only the flare of the lighter and her best friend can see. “Sar, what’s wrong? Are you OK?” Her eyes dart to the ground as we start walking down the street. I glance back to see my porch light fade in the distance. “I didn’t know you still smoke,” she says, avoiding my questions. As I exhale a puff of smoke that turns the air grey, I answer, “I don’t.” We both laugh as we turn down streets with no direction in mind, walking to the sound of our heavy boots against the dead cement.

“I can’t do it anymore, Margaret. School isn’t what I expected it to be. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Look at me! I don’t eat! I don’t sleep! I’m a wreck! All I want to do is be back home, be back here, how it used to be.” I take the final drag of my cigarette and flick it to the ground to free my hands to hug Sarah tight. “I know Sar, I know. We all want it the way it used to be. We all just want to be home.”

– Margaret Sava, “Smoke”

previous article     next article     table of contents