You've been smoking since you were 15 years old (if you can't do math that means you've been smoking for ten years). When you started, it made you feel edgy and cool. You like the way the smoke pooled in your mouth and how you were able to let a little bit out at a time and suck it back into your lungs through your nose. You thought you were cool.
But these days. You're having trouble walking long distances and, well, You've been coughing up things that you probably shouldn't be coughing up (see: blood) and your father just had to get part of his neck removed because he, like you, started smoking at a young age.
As you cough and spit into the sink, you think, maybe it's time to stop.
You walk out of the bathroom and grab a cigarette from the pack on your desk (you don't know what you're doing, it's a habit now) and put your headphones on. You play the one song that actually gets the way you're feeling. The opening lyrics resonate with you, they enter your ears and bounce off your blackened lungs:
"Stop trying to pretend that you are going to stop, you're either a smoker or you're not. You will keep on smoking for the rest of your life, and then you'll get cancer, and then you'll die."
You light up the Marlboro Red and feel the heat sink into your throat. You hold it in for as long as you can and release through your nose. The smell is comforting, the way your chest tenses up when there's smoke in your body feels natural, and everything feels like it's slowly getting put into focus.
You listen to the song and it starts bumming you out. About halfway through your smoke, you start getting that nauseous feeling. You feel like a cat ready to cough up a hairball. Don't worry, you don't. You just cough and hack and heave loud enough to wake the neighbors. They won't say anything, though. They smoke too. They're your smoking buddies.
Tears start forming in your eyes as you cough and your chest starts to burn. It feels like you've swallowed the cigarette. You quickly put it out and run into the bathroom. You lean over the toilet and release all the toxins you've put in your body for ten years. Your back creaks and aches. You turn on the faucet and start drinking the water.
You lay back down on the bathroom floor. Your heart is beating fast and you're trying to catch your breath (emphasis on trying because, well, you can't, you smoke a ton, this exact activity is hard for you).
You think of your dad and that stupid hat he wears. You think of the brand new scar he has running down the right side of his neck [You grab your own neck. You put your hand on your chest to feel your heartbeat]. You think of the sound of his voice, how he can't really sing the way he used to or talk the way he used to. You think of the smile he has on his face and the way he prays. You think and you think and you think [your heart is going way too fast, now, slow down] and you think and you think and then there's a knock on the door.
It's your dad. He asks if you're alright. You burp. He opens the door and sees you on the floor, covered in a cold sweat, and unable to speak. He puts an arm around you and picks you up. For a second, you rest in his arms the same way you did twenty years ago. Even though he only holds you for a couple seconds, it feels like a lifetime. You feel like a child again and it's comforting. You've spent so much time worrying about yourself so it feels good when there's someone there to pick up the pieces when you fall apart.
As you get back up, you stare at the scar on his neck. It looks like it's finally healing. He lifts you up and calls you a plethora of nicknames, "kiddo", "buddy", and "sport". You hold on to him for dear life, you feel like you're going to collapse and you don't want to forget what it's like to hug your dad with honesty, with a kind of truth you can't really experience once you reach your mid-twenties. You want to continue feeling like a five year old but you know you can't.
You look up at your dad as you let go of him. He asks you what's wrong. And you tell him you smoke too much. You tell him you're going to quit.
You hug him again but this time he shoves you away with a smile on his face.