Writing prompt: Lie
Dan was determined not to smoke any more.
His hand shook as he swapped his MRT card at the Orchard Road station. He walked on to the escalator in jerky, uneven steps that made a few people stare, even on a busy Singaporean metro in the evening rush hour.
Dan took himself to the last gate. It provided the best chances for a seat, and he needed a seat. He did not intend to leave the trains before midnight, when all trains stopped. A non-smoking zone with people clustered around him, that’s what he needed. But now that he was in the station, his shoulders creaked with the weight of the air above him, of the steel and concrete and ground that held up the roof, the pavement above the roof, the scores of people he imagined walking on the pavement.
He sunk to his haunches, wrung his hands, and looked around. Someone had sucked all the color from the station, the grey marble pavement, the narrow metal seats meant to support half a butt and no more, the white pillars. Only the people scurried about like the multi- colored moles in a labyrinth. Their faces lacked color though. Pale cheek, tired eyes, stale perfumes. The men smothered by cellphones. The women, with make-up. Their lips were black under the lipstick, he knew. Maybe they smoked, too.
A smoke. Anything for the merest puff. His lips parched for it. He could taste the last one. But he would make it the last one ever. He would never let his thoughts run ahead of his body, never raise his voice when he should have shut up, never again this buzzing, blundering chaos.
Never. Such a cheap word, spoken with such abandon in the last five years of his nineteen-year-old life. But nothing comes cheap, not even the knowing that life can be snuffed out in less than a moment. That his mother would never come back, that he would never be able to tell her he didn’t mean it when he said, “I’ll smoke bloody where and when I want –don’t want to stay in your fucking Singapore!”
The train came in a whoosh-jug-screech of doors opening, alighting people, and he was on his feet and inside. Next station: Newton, said the syrupy lady’s voice from nowhere and everywhere at once.
Dan stood leaning on the glass near the door. No point in thinking about the hours past midnight. His careful Chinese mother had always planned ahead, married a wealthy American, sent her son to the best schools, created old age savings, followed a strict health regimen. All she got in the end was a divorce, an argument with her son, and an aneurism. Tomorrow, she’ll have a funeral.
A life, a lie, a constant running from a certain end. A train journey on different trains in the same city, till midnight.
To Dan, it seemed a bet as safe as any other, till he saw the billboard, “Smoking can Kill You.”
Yeah, right. So can Not Smoking. Dan stepped out at Newton. He went in search of the nearest 7-Eleven, and cigarettes.
I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe), Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland , Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )