The cigarette dangled between her lips while contemplated. As the smoke from the cigarette hovered into the air like a cloud she pretended she was the star in her own movie; beautiful, dangerous and effortlessly cool. The kind of woman that men offered to light cigarettes for and then whisk them off to exotic vacations. They would never know her though-it was part of her mystique and why men wanted her in the first place. Once they got to know her intimately, after a while she’d be reduced to a desperate, lonely girl with a filthy habit.
Of course smoking under cover of night, waiting until everyone was asleep made her feel ashamed-and stupid. Smoking? She knew the dangers. Her father smoked and died of cancer. What really made her mad though, was that she had to hide it. She was a grown-ass woman, if she wanted a cigarette, why shouldn’t she have one!
Standing behind the shrub under the porch, hiding like a scared kitten, she remembered she was the same age as her father when he got sick. She wore his old adidas jacket while she smoked. She knew it was a filthy habit. She couldn’t stand the smell of cigarette smoke but she lit another one and continued to puff away in the pouring rain.
She knew with each inhale and exhale exactly what he must have been thinking about his life. Why he was so unhappy. She was thinking the same things too. At that moment, she understood why people took up smoking in the first place. Watching smoke escape into the air and the accompanying buzz was a sweet release. But of course, sure as shit, as fast as you inhaled, exhaled another mess of problems entered your mind and before you knew it, you’d smoked a whole pack of Marlboro’s.
She thanked God she hadn’t reached that point yet, but she was pretty damn close.
She wanted to leave and she didn’t want to leave. She was afraid. She was a creature of habit, living the same life for thirteen years-comfortable. It was no longer comfortable for any of them. Especially the kids. Their constant arguing was affecting the boys. Her youngest asked why they were married if they were so mean to each other. Good question. Thing is, as miserable as they were making one another, they were both creatures of habit and procrastinators. And they were dependent on each other.
She knew she had to be the one to make the move-and she was finally ready to go, but she was unemployed-no job, no income and yet another complication. Staying would be the death of her. She had taken up drinking to cope, now smoking? She shuddered to think what might be next…
After his cover of “Black Magic Woman,” was over, a Carlos Santana look-alike with dark, wild curls sat next to her at the bar and smiled sheepishly at her. ‘We would have beautiful children…’ Yes. The attention she received far outweighed the risk she had taken. She wanted to be seen.
At the end of the night, the locals drove her back to the hotel but of course it could have gone another, drastic route. She could have been kidnapped, sold sold into sex slavery-or worse. No one knew where she was!
By His mercy and grace she’d lived to fight another day. She knew that. Yet, it wasn’t enough. She was still out here swinging-not landing any punches. Struggling.
She wasn’t even living paycheck to paycheck. She prayed for at least that-it’d been well over a year and nothing. Since He had yet to reward her diligent faith, prayer and unconditional trust which He promised he would, she began to lose confidence putting her faith into those things which provided immediate, tangible satisfaction. She was losing the fight-wobbly on her feet, tired of fighting and waiting so she prepared for the inevitable TKO.
She’d been thinking of her father often. Especially after her grandma’s recent death. Both of their lives became significant to her after their deaths, which caused her to think of her own mortality. And time.
She wondered if she could carry the torch grandma had passed with confidence-fulfilling the legacy she achieved through diligence, blind faith and humility? Grandma knew nothing of pride. She just did what she had to do without thinking about it. She had so much. When Grandma was her age, she owned properties. She did it alone.
Or would she succumb to the fear of failure that prevented her father from stepping out on faith, to make changes or take chances that would have led to happiness rather than the stomach cancer which eventually killed him. She was killing herself softly and slowly but she couldn’t die knowing there was a story inside of her dying to come out.
She’s never been good at keeping promises or making resolutions. Not that she didn’t want to keep them-she just couldn’t. This year, however, she figured it might be a good idea to make some-especially since most of the decisions she’d made to this point deemed her an insane person. It was time to do the opposite of what she’d always done and expect a different result.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s New Year’s day 2020. A little after three am. She refuses to begin this new year (or end it ) defeated, the way she’s done for 18 years-the length of time she’s been living in New York City. For 18 years she’s been ‘writing.’
She’s afraid. Her mind is her greatest opponent-heavy weight champion 46 years in a row and counting.
Time’s running out. Money’s running out. Life’s running out…
I KNOW. I SAY IT EVERY YEAR …
Tomorrow isn’t promised. Of course her father’s untimely death taught her that. Yet, for years writing pads, tools, books and magazines find themselves stacked in one of three piles on her kitchen table. There’s the ‘I’ll start the post after one more episode of ‘insert current tv show binge; currently it’s Schitts Creek.. Then we have the I’ll definitely work on that chapter tomorrow pile, and finally the ‘who you kidding? You’ll never get through this shit’ pile. Of course, that pile is the biggest.
TOTALLY RANDOM LAST PARAGRAPH, THOUGH NOT REALLY THAT RANDOM
Lately, as a writer’s lift/ writing prompt I’ve embedded samples of the songs that behave as my muse (courtesy of Spotify). Today, the songs playing while I wrote, re-wrote and edited this post were serendipitous.
As far as resolutions go-while the fight is inevitable in this industry, I must remember who the enemy is. I will give myself credit for for the work I get done (like finishing this post!) rather than punishing myself for what I haven’t accomplished…yet.