Chain Smoker

****It’s been almost a year and she still thinks of him. She can smell his musk cologne, recall half of the dry humored jokes he made. She still makes an omelette like he taught her. And when the insomnia kicks in and she won’t sleep, she still sees a silhouette of him in the dark standing at the doorway naked, smiling at her. The memory of him is filled with a bitter sweet taste.

Now she smokes. A habit she has courted for the last seven months. It’s been eleven months since they broke up and he left his two packs of cigarettes in her bedroom. She threw away everything else that belonged to him, heck she even burnt some of his favourite stuff but for four months she kept the cigarettes. Until one night she flicked the lighter and inhaled the smoke.

The insomnia is back again. It’s past midnight and she sits in the living room almost naked, no bra just panties on. Next to her is a clear glass ash tray, her left hand occasionally finds it every few seconds to tap in the ash from the cig. Her eyes are fixed on the screen watching this song she has listened to a million times over, ‘Jealous by Labrinth.’

When he left, he took with him a piece of her. She constantly hopes that one day, he’ll come back. With each day that goes by, it’s increasingly becoming clear that the ship is long sailed. The saddest part is she can’t seem to move away from the shore. Her legs are grounded to the sand. Nights have turned into days, then months now almost a year and she still hopes he’ll come back.

The first rebound was good for the sex, nothing else. They couldn’t kick it together in a relationship, she found him too stupid for his age. The second rebound would have made a good husband only that the sex sucked. A deal breaker she couldn’t live with. Then there was Steve. He always seemed to understand her, her personality, her mood swings that came with sharp turns, her dreams and aspirations. He also seemed to understand that he would never compete with the one she truly loved. Steve respected that and it meant a lot. It’s been three months of dating Steve and she’s run out of gas already. He’s a good guy but she can’t deal anymore.

One of her girlfriends told her straight during their girls’ night, ‘Steve is a good guy. He loves you but you want bad. That bad motherfucker who left you! It’s time you get past him Boo. Just let it be. Love on Steve.’ It made a lot of sense, but her heart wants what it wants. And it wants him, the one who got away.

She remembers all the special days. His birthday, the first time they kissed – he was drunk, she was tipsy – the first trip together, the arguments that ended with making up, the cook outs, the tears and the joy, all of it. It’s etched in her mind and she can’t erase it no matter how much she tries to drain the thoughts away.

She gets up from the couch and heads to the kitchen to pour herself a drink. Another habit she’s taken a few notches higher, now bordering on the cliff of alcoholism. She draws the ice from the freezer and makes a Jack Daniels on the rocks. Then gets back to the couch and listens to the same song all over again.

What she never seems to understand is how one person can have such a hold on you. It’s like a constant cloud that follows you everywhere you go. Reminding you of the good times you both had. The moments of love, peace and stability, all that squashed away and the only thing left is pain, regret and bad memories laced with what ifs.

Countless times she has tried stalking him online; trying to see what kind of life he lives now. And you know how social media tells one side of the story. That story of happiness and contentment with another person that’s not her breaks her to pieces. That someone else has what belongs to her, his love.

‘Fuck love!’ She says.

Maybe one day she will get over him for good. Forget he even existed in her life. Forget they ever kissed; forget the beautiful moments they had. Maybe one day it will all happen but for now she lives in his shadow. In this dark place of trying to pick herself up after he left.

Just then she lights up another of the Embassy cigs and sticks it between her lips. She’ll stay up listening to random songs and wrestling with her thoughts until she’s exhausted. By then it’ll be dawn break. Steve will wake up and find her sleeping on the couch, the TV still on and her curled up on the couch smelling of booze and smoke.

Steve will lift her up and take her to the bedroom, cover her and head to the kitchen to make breakfast. He’ll wake her up with breakfast in bed and a smile that’s more beautiful than the sunrise. She’ll catch it between clouded eyes, rubbing them to see him clearly and grab the mug of coffee.

Steve will get ready for work in minutes, shower, dress up and plant kisses on her forehead before he checks out. She appreciates all that Steve does for her. God knows how much she wishes she could reciprocate the same type of love.

She knows that soon he’ll get tired of trying to save her because she doesn’t want to get saved. Soon he’ll raise a storm and stop being Mr. Nice Guy. Soon, he’ll look her in the eyes and tell her, ‘this isn’t working. I have to leave. Fix your shit!’

And if he sticks it out a bit longer and doesn’t bail out, Steve might as well help her to forget it all. Only time will tell.

***

Made my first cameo on a YouTube channel. Check it out – ‘What They Don’t Tell You About Relationships.’

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