Milo’s First Cigarette

“Why do you think people desire such unimportant, useless shit?”

My name is Milo. I’m a twenty something, miserable, constantly exhausted, curmudgeon. If I didn’t look my age then I would probably be a seventy something war veteran with a leg missing along with a lack of willingness to ever come off as anything but. I am comparable to the incessant wind of autumn in Chicago. I am as unpleasant as the alcoholic burn of the morning that follows an evening, no, neh an entire day and evening of becoming heavily inebriated. Everything that leaves my mouth paints that exact picture.

“Mmm. What’s that?”

Her name is Ginoveve. Every bit of her perfect, slender, soft. Her hair hangs in her face at all times. It takes part in a brilliant juxtaposition with her naturally outgoing personality. If people are willing to move past the heavy veil of hair to find that there truly is no mystery then the surprise is pleasant and its worth the endearing dance of discovering who she really is. Once the hair no longer mentally exists a beautiful, loving, caring, flower presents itself, perhaps even exposes itself to be loved. To be cared for. And to reciprocate such actions. Ginoveve is forever a better person than I.

The room around us stinks like both fresh and stale cigarette smoke as well as some of those cheap, knock off, clean scented Yankee candles. The ones from Target. Fresh cotton. Clean linen. Cool breeze. Beach morning. Summer’s eve. All of these open and assaulting the air. The slightest bit of sunlight floods through each small, individual slat between the blinds hanging in front of the third floor, apartments bedroom window. In the light the smoke dances delicately.

“Why do you think people desire such useless crap like being accepted by a specific demographic? Or… Or, I don’t know- the easy ones. Why do they desire marriage, children, a nice car? Why do people want so much garbage that doesn’t change their end result?”

A pause. “We all die.”

The words fall out of her mouth so simply, so gently, that it doesn’t seem to quite cut the air the way it would have if I had been the one to speak the words. Or if absolutely anyone else had chosen to say it. This fact does not at all change the slightly uncomfortable silence that falls over us. Comparable to the kind of silence that comes with a snow fall far away from the city and just as overwhelming. Silent, overwhelming, reflection. We all die.

“I’m not sure. Why do people want in the first place? I think that’s the real question. Nothing really matters. When you think about it thoroughly and without outsider opinions, nothing does. Nothing is anything. It both is and isn’t. It exists and doesn’t exist. Everything is a concept or its not at all. It’s both everything and nothing all at once or never at all. An even better question, why do anything ever?”

Another puff of smoke dances past her pale, paper lips- cracked and sad from the resilient February air. Her placid blue eyes roll over to me with a seemingly dull, uninspired glance. This lasts a beat before the same thin lips pull smoothly into a lazy, tired smirk. Deep in my chest I feel a twinge of well. Something. Just another feeling I can’t put a name to.

“If we did nothing at all ever it would make life seem so much longer and that much more pointless.”
“Oh?”, she breaks her lingering gaze to eye her smoldering cigarette between middle and pointer finger. ” I suppose it’s all in how you choose to look at things.”

In a moment her smirk falls slowly from her face and I’m left baffled. I am the glass half empty. I am the fifty percent bullshit in this friendship. I’m the pessimist. I’m the dark storm cloud. I am Robert Smith, Morrissey, and Elliott Smith. I am- Oh. Right.

“Are you trying to make me learn right now?” Without meaning to my jaw tightens shut, my molars press down and grind together miserably. My exhaled breath comes out dramatically heavier than normal and I now sound like an agitated bull. Embarrassing. I close my eyes and try to focus on anything.

“Just proving a point,” her long piano key caressing fingers tap at the filter on her nicotine stick, dropping ashes off the burning end. “You get out of bed every morning to go to work, to pay for gasoline, to play dungeons and dragons with your friends four of the seven days out of every week- to what? Give your life purpose, hm?”

The tightly clenched muscle in my jaw relaxes. Unclenches. A sigh escapes without effort. A sure sign that anyone usually recognizes as defeat. I nod once, my head moving heavily up and then down.

“Well. Some people need to fuck like rabbits. They like spending their time pumping or getting pumped full of that white juice until the lady rabbit shits out a screaming, wailing, sobbing, leaking tiny version of her and her male rabbit counterpart. Some people like being the center of attention, the alluring pretty thing in the room. Look at me. They also enjoy pretending their relationship is somehow more important, more put together, more special than anyone else so they need to have a big party to say as much. They need everyone to look at them and only them.”

Exhale. Smoke. Dancing.

“Then there’s people that believe they are what they own. From their cars to their clothing, hair products to restaurants. It’s either a superiority thing or a substance thing. As in they believe they lack it so they fill that void with brand names. And others that want love so badly that they try painfully hard to be loved by people they assume would love them back because of something they share, something they have in common.”

Another sigh from me. Completely and utterly defeated. Shut down. She snuffs out her cigarette and lets pass one last milky release of a carbon dioxide infused nicotine cloud.

“These are all things that people other than yourself choose to do to give their otherwise meaningless lives meaning. These are the things they do in an attempt to just get by. If you’re not willing to grow old while sitting around stagnantly then how could you ever ask such a thing of someone else?”

My head moves up and then down once again, registering her words, taking in everything the best I can. Once my head has caught up to the conversation at hand, once my mind comprehends the idiocy I just spewed all over her, I reach for her cigarettes. Her eyes watch my fingers fumble pathetically, maneuvering my very own cigarette from its packaging. My first very own cigarette. It’s smooth and astonishingly white against my clammy, pallid skin.

Between my lips the filter is soft but not crushed in its current position. The tobacco smells warm and inviting. She offers her small book of matches but not without question. Of course there needs to be something there. Always inquisitive. Forever inquisitive. No surprise.

“What are you doing?”

Striking a match against its home, the reaction between the two is nearly instantaneous and I’m bringing it to the extra paper of a finely packed Marlboro red.

“I suppose I’m giving my life more meaning.”


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