an unforgiving habit


Sometimes she just needs a smoke. You can smell it in her breath when she’s trying to describe her anxieties over her son who doesn’t apply himself in school. There it is on her clothes when she’s chatting about her baby girl who doesn’t know what sleep is. You can almost feel the effects of third-hand smoke and worry about her kids’ health.

She sits outside in the designated smoking area pondering about the time she lived near the highway as a little girl. No car exhaust pollutants are going to affect her now, not with her self-inflicted lung damage, an injury she can’t live without and can’t justify. It’s been five years since she’s been full-on, but sometimes she just needs a smoke. She can forget about the myriad of bills she needs to pay, the aftermath of splitting up with her deadbeat man. She can go back to the time when she was laughing, spilling over her drinks getting to know the hilarious man who would become the father of her children.

Here she is, trying to put away some of his old clothes, the ones he didn’t take with him. Old fabric is like old love notes—wrinkled, but hard to throw away. Here she is, trying to swim on top of everything, to save a plane that will never reach the tarmac on time. Here she is, and all she is asking for is a smoke sometime.

YuMin Ye

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