Message modified by board administrator July 7, 2009, 4:29 am
"Anne's Choice 2" / Chapter 4
Taken aback, Martin began to shake his head, but then changed his mind and shrugged. “After all, one cigarette isn’t going to do me any harm, is it?”
Anne did not reply. She offered him a cigarette from her pack, lit it for him and then lit one for herself. Martin drew some smoke into his mouth and blew it back out again, observing that the taste of the smoke was not at all the same as its smell.
“Okay,” she said. “This time take a mouthful of smoke, open your mouth slightly and then breathe in.” Martin did as he was told and was relieved to discover that he did not cough. “Good,” said Anne, encouragingly. “Hold it in there for a few moments and then breathe out.” Again Martin obeyed and this time he noticed the hit as the nicotine entered his bloodstream. It was quite a pleasant sensation, he had to admit. He took several more similar drags to repeat the effect, before crushing the cigarette out in the ashtray.
“I’m not sure I like the taste much”, he reported. “I quite like the head rush sensation. But don’t you lose that when you smoke regularly?”
“Up to a point,” Anne admitted. “But there are other pleasures to take its place. There’s nothing quite like the first drag of a cigarette when you haven’t smoked for a while.”
“That doesn’t sound to me like smoking for enjoyment at all,” Martin objected. “That sounds like smoking to avoid having to face the consequences of not smoking. If you have to smoke to get rid of the symptoms of not smoking, don’t you think you’ve lost the ability to decide whether you really want to smoke at all?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Anne paused and her expression became serious, her playful mood temporarily subdued. “About a year after I got married I became pregnant. As soon as I discovered, I stopped smoking. It was very hard, as you can imagine, but I wanted to do it. For three months, I didn’t have a single cigarette. Paul, my ex-husband, quit at the same time to make it easier for me.” Her eyes were suddenly moist. She stubbed out her cigarette and immediately lit another, the last in the pack as it turned out, before continuing. “Unfortunately, I fell down some stairs one day and had a miscarriage. Afterwards, Paul stayed quit. I didn’t. In fact, I bought a pack on my way home from the hospital.” She sighed and wiped away a tear. “It was just one more thing we didn’t have in common towards the end. But the point is that for three months I wanted to not smoke more than I wanted to smoke, so I didn’t. That’s why I’m sure that if I really didn’t want to smoke now, I wouldn’t. The reality is that I enjoy feeding the addiction in spite of what it’s doing to me. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
She began to relax and smile again and stood up. “Enough of that. Let’s continue the conversation in the lounge where it’s more comfortable. Why don’t you open another bottle of wine while I go and find some cigarettes?”
Martin took his time selecting a bottle from Anne’s wine rack and uncorking it. By the time he entered the lounge, she had kicked off her shoes and was seated on the couch with her legs curled beneath her. She had lit another cigarette and the smoke drifted up from it in wispy question marks highlighted against her dress. Martin thought that he had never in his life seen a woman who looked so totally desirable. He put the bottle down on a table and walked slowly towards her, allowing her ample opportunity to discourage his approach. Instead, she took a drag from her cigarette, placed it in an ashtray and looked up at him expectantly. Without waiting for her to exhale, he leaned forward and began to kiss her. She responded by putting her arm round him and pulling him closer. He tasted the smoke in her mouth and could think of nothing except how much, more than anything else, he wanted her right now. As they continued to kiss, his hands moved down to his trousers to find hers already there. They undressed one another with more urgency than efficiency and, galvanised by sexual excitement, made love energetically on Anne’s fireside rug.
When she had recovered her breath a little, Anne sat up, wheezing and coughing from her exertions, and began to gather together items of clothing scattered across the floor. She reached for her cigarettes and lit up gratefully. “Want one?” she inquired.
Martin reflected that, in the roll-call of tonight’s misdemeanours, a second cigarette wouldn’t make much difference. “Sure,” he replied. “Why not?”
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