Friday, October 06, 2006

Baby steps

From Richard Powers, The Echo Maker (it is now more than a year since I smoked what I fully intend to be my last cigarette ever, or if "ever" sounds overly dramatic then at any rate for a very long time, I have no intention of relapsing & in fact am currently suffering from a wretched cold that would be far, far worse were I still a smoker so it is direct confirmation of the rightness of quitting, and yet this struck me as a wonderfully good description--the female protagonist's brother is in the hospital with serious head trauma following a car crash):

Coatless, she cut a surveyor's line to the Shell station she'd been daydreaming about for a week. She pasted a sum on the counter and asked for a pack of Marlboros. The cashier laughed at her: two dollars short. Six years since she'd thought of buying a cigarette, and the price had doubled while she was stupidly staying clean. She made up the difference and dragged the prize outside. She put one to her lips, already buzzing from the taste of the filter. With a shaking hand, she lit it and drew in. A cloud of indescribable relief expanded in her lungs and inked into her limbs. Eyes closed, she smoked half the cigarette, then carefully stubbed it out and slipped the unsmoked half back into the back. When she returned to the hospital, she sat on a cold bench in the horseshoe drive, just outside the sliding glass doors, and smoked the other half. She would brake her descent as much as possible, a long, slow ride back to exactly where she'd been before her six brutally won years. But she'd savor every baby step back down into enslavement.


  1. Grrr...I'm beginning to wonder whether you have a streak of sadism hiding under all the kindness. Torture, sheer torture!

  2. Congrats on having given up for a year. The hard part is over (the nicotine addiction); it's the social habits that you need to keep an eye on now - make sure that you have something else to do other than smoking, in those social situations where you used to smoke.


  3. Thanks for that. Thankfully, I've never found smoking addicting or quitting difficult, so maybe I'll go smoke a half of a cigarette.