Tuesday, August 26, 2008


     I want to put a cigarette out on your back.
     Okay. I continue to dig through my purse.
     Still not looking at him, I wait for the cigarette sting. In my low-cut dress my bent back is bare and naked, exposed to both the elements and the small circular nub of fire he holds between his smooth fingers. I wait, but the pain never comes.

     I turn to look up at him and arch an eyebrow. I thought you were going to put a cigarette out on my back.
     I’m afraid.
     You’re afraid? I’m the one who is going to be scarred.
     That’s why I’m afraid.

     I watch him finish off his cigarette. He flicks it haphazardly onto the ground, and I try not to be annoyed by his defacement of my apartment building.
     Now you’re done with your cigarette.
     I could light another one.
     I stand to walk back in to my apartment; a wave of vertigo passes through me. I would eat something but he likes me thin.

     Smoking gives you cancer, I offer as we sit in silence on the couch.
     Surprise surprise.
     I shrug. I’m disappointed he didn’t hurt me, and I’m worried about my disappointment. I thought I was just an emotional masochist.
     I want a cigarette.
     You don’t smoke.
     What, are you afraid I’ll put a cigarette out on you?
     I doubt I would feel it.
     I know you wouldn’t.

     We smoke in the courtyard in silence. I cough with my first drag and curse my lack of poise. My neighbors’ two kids play cards on their stoop. The older one wins a game and laughs in victory.
     I notice his cigarette is almost out.
     Okay, I say. I’m going to turn around and watch those kids. You put your cigarette out on my back, right under my left shoulder to the right of the mole.
     Are you sure?
     I turn away. I hear him take his last drag. I wait for the burn.

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