thank you for smokingPosted: April 29, 2011
An acoustic guitar rings quietly into the ether.
It is out of tune, a veteran of various hands and various songs, its wooden body chipped and lacking the sheen it had while rolling down a Chinese conveyer belt. A low voice hums, adding melody to the noise. It is Marshall’s; he sits merely five feet away from the two other figures basking in the singular light of a fluorescent bulb, basting in the hot summer night. The three are sitting on a familiar old porch, its creaky wood bearing the weight of a bench with floral print cushions, a few lawn chairs and a tiny fold-out table, enough to hold up a few empty bottles.
Marshall, the singular presence that he owns, sits alone and cross-legged on one of the old plastic lawn chairs, perpetually noodling away at the guitar, old chords he barely remembers how to play. The tunes that escape his throat are more guttural noises than melody. “I’ve just about kicked that self-depreciation habit of mine.” Simon mentions, half-lying, as he swallows a volume of lukewarm ale from a bottle he’d been holding for about fifteen minutes. He readjusts himself on the second lawn chair, watching a moth flutter towards the sterile light illuminating the scene.
“Really now?” A third, feminine voice, cuts through the heat. She is the figure lying on the bench, lengthwise so as to not allow for anyone else to intrude on her comfort, staring at the paint above her. “Last I checked on you, you were wallowing in the pits of your own inexplicable despair.” Marshall hits a dead note and grunts, half chuckling at what he just heard. “Last I checked…” she turns and faces the boys, resting her head on her hand, and her shoulder on the flowers, “Last I checked, you were crying on your bathroom floor.”
“Were you really?” Marshall scoffs, pausing again to reach underneath his chair for a beer of his own.
“I’d rather not talk about it, really.” Simon burps as softly as he can, hoping the others would ignore his slight bit of being improper. “Mia, I fucking told you that in confidence, anyway.” She shrugs and reaches towards the floor for a pack of cowboy killers, made heavier by a butane lighter. “Seriously?” Simon says to her, “I thought you quit.” After a pause, Mia shrugs again. She tosses them to Marshall, who immediately lights one up. “There’s something different about me now, I don’t really know what’s quite changed but I know it just might be for the better.”
Marshall savors his cigarette, the embers falling lightly between guitar strings. “Does that mean we’ve run out of things to talk about, now?” He places the lighter back into the pack and tosses the bundle back to Mia, who catches and opens it again. “Shit, if we’re not listening to you bitch about life then what’s the point of talking outside past midnight?” He grunts a laugh, “Guess this means we actually have to start enjoying each other’s company, now.”
Mia laughs alongside him while letting out a drag. “You know, Simon, something has changed in me too.” Simon, meanwhile, had been emptying his bottle at a greater pace. “Yeah?” He replies, half-wincing, awaiting the punchline. “And what exactly has changed?”
“I’ve taken up smoking again.”