The Play of the Smoke and The Light

I had finally mustered the energy to crawl out from under the bed sheets. Groaning like a punctured beast with my hands stretched long across my face to soothe the plagued decay from last night. How long can I actually keep doing this, I thought to myself.

I remember them announcing all those years ago that these were the first days of the rest of our lives. Can’t really be certain by what they meant by that, but that’s the thing, ain’t it? I mean, what does that actually mean? Was it the fact that now, after five, long, monotonous years I can finally take a piss without raising my hand? It felt to me as though we were being released after rigorous experimentation. I was half expecting the head to stand there and pierce us with those messed up eyes until we could tell him the moral of the past five years. It is far too early for this rubbish.

Raising to my feet and compensating for the head rush that swirls deeply causing the room to blur slightly. Grabbing a shirt and a pair of cords that were discarded onto a pile some weeks before. The leaves have fallen and blackened as they curl around and interweave through the matted carpet. A I used my fingers as a comb, some grease clung to my fingernails which caused them to shine in the damp light. A faint reflection was seen on my palm so curiously I grabbed my glasses from the bedside table which was undoubtedly riddled with all sorts of things if the half eaten sandwich was anything to go by. As I looked at my palm with clearer eyes, I began to scrutinize the cracks that had forged the surface of my face. It wasn’t that long ago when they could hardly grip a glass of water but the deeper I peered into my hand I saw my pale eyes shine with a sickening yellow which caused me to vomit onto my feet.

Almost had it, I mean this it was the third time that week which I was aware of. Yesterday. Yesterday… Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away, but as it happened, so was the waste bin which I nearly had this time, but the odds, like the mound of crap that obscures it, were piled against me. Discarded letters stained with ash littered the floor alongside the wires which wrapped around the chair as though it were artificial ivy. The week prior it clutched at my ankles as I brushed past it on my way out like it was afraid to be left alone in here, or something. Can’t blame it really, would you?

Each step caused the grey to rattle in its case. When I finally made my way to the bottom of the stairs I paused before entering the living-room. What am I to find, I though, what if it isn’t even there? I crept into the room.

On the couch, taking drags from a cigarette with smoked that danced through the slit of morning light that shone from a crack in the curtains, was Jane. The smoke flowed from one end of the room to the other and ensnared the light in a delicate embrace. I can’t tell you how long I stood and watched those dances or why it caught my attention. Perhaps it was my head adjusting to the day or something, I don’t know. My eyes still contained remnants of the night before as I caught myself in the dank reflection of the television and turned away. It was enough with the palm. Jane took another drag and a flake of ash made its way to her knees before she blew it gently across the room to join the play of the smokey light.

Even after the night of hedonistic carelessness and the hour of the day, Jane looked content and at ease with everything. She always did, even though sometimes she probably wasn’t. I just wish that I knew when that was. Jane turned her head lightly towards me as a smile tiptoed its way across her pale face.

‘What time do you call this?’ She said as she began to sit up straight. ‘I’ve been up for over an hour.’

‘Yeah, I know.’ I replied. The gunk still clung to my eyelids. ‘Where is Andrew?’

‘He went to the shop a few minutes ago to grab some tobacco.’ Taking another drag.

I walked past her, avoiding the binge constructed obstacle that lay on the ground around us, and went into the kitchen to start boiling the water in the kettle. Try and muster up a brew of some kind.

‘Want one?’ I asked over the hum of the kettle. ‘Should do us some good.’

She turned and nodded.

‘Why do we even do this, Jane?’ I asked as I began to spoon sugar into one of the mugs. ‘I mean, what are we actually doing?’

Jane looked across at me with a confused gaze before she rose to her feet. Rubbing her head as she walked barefooted across the floor.

‘Who ever said that you had to?’

I stopped and stared for a moment and caught myself in the toaster. Less septic.

‘Nobody ever said that you had to do anything.’ She continued as she made her way towards me in the kitchen.

‘I know, but if I don’t the-‘

‘Then what?’ She interrupted. Jane didn’t seem angry with me at all. She just looked sad for a moment or so.

‘I don’t know.’

‘That’s your problem, Christopher.’

We sat in silence for a short while as I thought more about our exchange. Nobody told me I had to do this at all. Nobody. I never her told her anything either. I could never be certain as to how she would take it. Night after night I pleaded with my own mind and gained nothing back, I suppose I was afraid of knowing what would actually happened if she knew how I felt, and I was afraid that everything we have shared so far would crumble under the weight of our own awkwardness.

Jane grabbed another cigarette from her packet and handed me one also. As she lit hers, she asked me with a mouth filled with smoke, what I was mumbling on about in the kitchen.

‘It’s alright.’ She said reassuringly. ‘ What’s been bothering you?’

I thought again about my yellowed reflection, my matted carpet, my lack of self, and my failed attempts to improve my situation.

‘How long must I keep drowning before someone throws me a fucking rope?’

‘How long will it take before you finally learn to swim?’

‘What?’ I asked as the harsh smoke caught the back of my throat.

‘You’re rough today because, like us, you chose to get fucked. Its simple as that. Don’t dive in if you can’t swim. Nobody forced you to do it so you need to take that up with yourself. Just, take it easy, yeah?’

‘Yeah, I think I get you.’

I wasn’t even sure if that was true.

Shortly after I brought the cups back to the kitchen I sliced my foot and a torn empty which was used as a makeshift ashtray. I kicked it across the room and stubs flew out into a mist of ash that seemed to hang, restlessly in the air until it was disturbed by Jane running over. There she saw the gash that had formed on the ball of my foot. Without a moment’s hesitation, she began to wash away the blood. Laughing as she did it.

‘what’ve you like, at all?’ She shook her head in amusement.

‘Just thought I’d share a little of myself to the place, you know. Add some life to it.’

‘Yeah well, I think you’ve shared enough.’

She removed her scarf from around her neck and tied it tightly to my injured foot.

‘This is the first day of the rest of you life!’ I exclaimed to her and she gave me an amused glance.

‘What ever do you mean, Chris?’ She finished tying the silk bandage.

‘Wish I knew. Here, right, Jane there is something that I need to tell you. For a long time now I’ve be-‘

The door swung open with a violent swing that knocked a hanging picture into shards near the empties. Andrew emerged from his visit to the shop, with a fag hanging out of his mouth and a bag that rattled and clinked like a duty-free shopper. Jane swung her head round and her soft locks felt like a soft tickle on my nose.

‘Right.’ Said Andrew, panting somewhat. ‘Who’s ready to get back on it?’


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