12-28, 3:47 a.m.

We roamed the streets at night, beautiful and laughing.
We talked for hours. Cars slowed and honked, and we laughed.
The pocket of her shorts was home to the eternal pack of menthols,
the smoke forming the backdrop, accent, and punctuation to our words.
Car rides, with hot wind pushing and pulling our conversations to and fro.
The familiar fumes wound themselves around our heads and out the window.
Just the three of us... and we were happy. 
The covered porch was long, narrow, and cluttered.
Here we gathered to sit long stretches of time and enjoy one another.
Stories, jokes, and the history of my life all rose and fell with the rhythm 
of inhalation, exhalation, and ashtrays slowly filling.
I smoked secondhand and reveled in our happiness.
A new life, a new porch, and the familiar acrid smell of menthol lights.
She got another job, out all hours of the night and day.
My already bleeding heart emptied bit by bit as loneliness pulsed through my veins.
A dimly lit room, Lonestar playing softly, and minty-chocolate candles, deceptively soothing. 
Surely this will calm the restless longing within me.
My head spun and my stomach heaved as I took my first drag ever.
The pervasive smell enveloped me, and my heart quieted a bit.
Best friends, fun times, boyfriends... all attached to that same cloying scent.
Each passed, in its turn, and still I ached inside.
We sat and talked once more. IHOP at all hours of the night, and coffee to boot.
I need a smoke.
The truth comes out, almost accidentally, as we sit and savor our habit together.
A harmless weeknight transforms into a nightmarish milestone,
and I chain-smoke through the confession and the ordeal that follows.
New friends, bound by the vaporous chains of our common secret.
We sneak off campus, sneak back on, and find ourselves to be kindred spirits.
A new life, a new start... with a no smoking policy.
My solace becomes my shame, and I leave it behind.
Yet I can never admit that the smell of smoke ignites me with a secret thrill of comfort .
Time passes, and I flounder. I ache. I wither inside.
The thought of comfort becomes a near obsession, and damn the consequences.
I light up, drag in, and realize... this isn’t what I’m looking for.
My hopes crumble dully, grey and lifeless, into the ashtray.
The stench of my disappointment clings to me, as stubborn as the smell I thought would bring me solace.
I still hurt.

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