Writing prompt: Lie
Provided by: Naomi , fellow participant of the A to Z challenge.Visit her!
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 )
Thanks for the comments, folks. That is what keeps me going. I’m very touched by those of you who continue to make repeat visits. Thank you.
Great imagery, I really enjoyed this!
Great story, enjoyed it very much!
Indeed, the way I see things, life is not about smoking or not smoking, dieting or not dieting, exercising or not exercising. Life is about following my heart, feeling happy, looking for joy and doing what I love to do. Because when I feel joyful, I know exactly what to do and when I do it, I feel better yet… 🙂
Great piece, though I’m sorry to hear your MC lost his resolve to quit smoking :O)
I guess for some people the need to smoke is so strong that just not being able to have a cigarette sends them cold turkey.
In Florida when I left the office building there were always half a dozen people outside puffing away for all they were worth, just to get another fix of tobacco to help them through the day.
I breathed in deep, then held my breath as I walked through their cloud of fog, and then slowly breathed out again on the other side.
Interesting story. I like how you took the prompt and developed into something unexpected. Well done.
Wow, I also thought that was very powerful. Great job.
Now that sounds like some real desperation. Nicely done.
Tossing It Out
Ahh, I know the feeling. I could kill for a cigarette sometimes. Like today, for example. I’d love to have a cigarette after some of the stress I’ve had at work today, but, alas, my boyfriend’s forced me to quit. I’m only allowed a cigarette under the most dire circumstances.
My friend worked in Singapore most of last year and I know the road based on the maps I looked at when he had me help him figure out where the buses ran. In fact, he stayed on Wilkie Rd and worked at the Park Royal Plaza, so even though I wasn’t there, I could “see” the setting in your story. Very insightful. You can feel what he feels.
Very well done. As always.
Superb. Powerful. Well done.
Kudos, another great little story.
Wow! That was.. like a blackhole. It sucked me in. I didn’t want him to smoke, but I could feel how much he wanted to.. How much he needed to.
I don’t smoke, or drink, or anything, but I could still understand that pull just from the words you used.
It was very real, and very powerful.
Fanatastic! 🙂 🙂
And I meant to add — how about the irony of that brand name, Craven A ?
Nice one! Heads I might lose, tails I might lose. Most of my family have died of cancer. Smoking could well be associated with all their deaths. Amid all the graphic details which brought your story to life, I felt myself willing the young man to hold out. But is it reasonable to expect it of a person in the mire of grief? Witness the smoking taking place in quiet (or exposed) corners of graveyards and crem grounds. Relief from pain, physical or mental sometimes demands action NOW. Oh yes, that’s better, tension lessons — I’ll give up my addiction tomorrow.
(I once did volunteer work at a hospice. The day patients who were smokers still continued their habit in the hospice porch. Clearly it brought them some kind of relief. After all, too late for regrets. I have never smoked. The agony experienced by family and friends ensured I stayed a non-smoker. But drink too can be a killer, and other out-of-control habits.)
A beautifully woven story, so true to life. Incredibly real.
And yet he’s killing himself. Powerful piece.
Wow. Nice Job. I was right there with him, even though I have never smoked, I felt his need. And I liked the ending. It sounds like an ending I would have with myself when arguing about eating something I shouldn’t. Very human.