Saturday, September 30, 2017

Summer Smoke

Busy with a comic convention this weekend, so here's a bit of flash fiction while I finish writing the next installment of Star Talker. I got a bit Hemingway with the style of this, but I hope you enjoy it.

I stared across the yard watching the wind stir up a flurry of packing peanuts strewn across the road, the remnants of some haphazard box that had flown from an unsuspecting truck bed. It was just after daybreak, but not quite sunrise. The sky was a dreary gray, spattered with darker clouds that might converge into rain later. It was still tolerable, the sticky heat of late summer still sleeping.

I leaned back on the rough wood steps of the porch and took a drag off my stolen cigarette. The smoke burned the back of my throat and I coughed a bit. I’d never smoked before, but I’d seen it enough in movies to give it a go. If this wasn’t an “I need a cigarette” moment, I couldn’t say what one actually was. I sighed, coughing again.

The screen door creaked as it swung open behind me. I glanced back to see Jack shuffle out the door, his pajama pants dragging the ground in his bare feet. He took a seat beside me, staring out at the whirling white bits of Styrofoam, not looking at me.

“You shouldn’t smoke,” he said, tapping a fresh pack of Marlboros into is palm and plucking out one for himself.

I silently held out the lighter, which he took wordlessly.

I took another drag and looked up at him sideways. He was annoyingly beautiful in all his gruffness. Lines of sun and age marked his skin, giving it character. His eyes, still small with sleep, all but glowed in the dim morning light, a lovely shade of gray that sent me into a veritable trance when I stared too long. He reached up and scratched his goatee, blowing a cloud of smoke into the air.

He finally shot me a sidelong squint as I coughed again. “You ever smoked before?”

“No,” I said, defiantly taking another puff.

He snorted, picking at some lint on his pants. “Why now then?”

I shrugged. “Well, I’m already on the road to self-destruction, might as well set the car on fire while I’m at it.”

He pursed his lips. “If we’re at that point, we might need something a bit stronger than nicotine and arsenic.”

I blew out a puff of smoke, failing miserably in an attempt at a smoke ring. “Save your good intentions for someone else’s road to hell, yeah?”

He leaned back, the wood creaking as he did so. I snuck a glance at his bare chest, admiring the dark hair there.

“I take it you regret last night?” he said.

I stared off into the trees, eyes unfocused. “I was talking to Sheila the other day.”


“She asked me how much I fucking hate myself.”

He was quiet for a moment. The crackle of burning tobacco was oddly loud in the silence of the muggy early morning. “Do you?”

I shrugged. “I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m pretty damn broken. I know that much.”

“How so?”

I looked at him, sucking in a deep breath, fighting off the urge to touch him. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

He furrowed his brow. “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that.”

Another puff. Another cough. “I’m not sure how I feel about anything anymore.”

He snatched the cigarette from my fingers and ground it out into the little ashtray that lived on the porch. “You’re done with that.”

I coughed again. “Let’s go inside. My ass is numb and I’m starting to sweat.”

He rose with a groan, bones cracking, and followed me through the door. Add a little gasoline and the explosion would be spectacular.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked


  1. Intriguing! There is so much more to this story, I'm sure. I am very curious to know more about the characters, more about her pain...

    Rebel xox

  2. Wow - I really like this. So much detail yet wanting more. Excellent

  3. intriguing write. I feel like we stepped in the middle of something huge and life changing. the mind whirls with possibilities. Brilliant and I hope to know the rest

  4. I like the style and the mood you set. I thought this line so clever, amongst so many, If this wasn’t an “I need a cigarette” moment, I couldn’t say what one actually was.