He laughed at me. I was crouching down, lips pierced out in an O-shape, tip of tongue resting on the bottom lip as I coughed and... he laughed at me. I waited for the episode to stop before standing up straight again. His wavy dark hair appeared longer when dancing with the breeze and we stared at one another. His laughter slowly faded to an occasional chuckle as I let my throat heal enough to speak. Instead of words, my mouth opened and declared that he had every right to make fun of me. Without even knowing whether I chose or involuntarily chose this, I laughed at myself too and took another puff of my first cigarette. I felt like a rebel.
I was 14 and it was Bobby's 18th birthday. We celebrated what it truly meant to be 18 by buying cigarettes without having to use a fake ID. Windows rolled all the way down and driving to a gas station on the side of a dirt road that was too far and unrecognizable to be called Boston. I gave him a wallet. I've never been good at giving gifts but I remembered being 6 and looking at my father unfolding a portable pocket. It had money and cards and pictures of me and my sisters and little folded papers with secrets in them. I asked my daddy if I could have a wallet. My eyes flickering up into his, rosy pink lips spread out and parted into a smile, tiny hands with 4 dimples for knuckles and... he laughed at me. He said that wallets were for men and I gave 18 year old Bobby a wallet.
Taking the money out of his present, he payed for the cheapest pack of squares and a lighter tattooed with a race car. Driving with pure ecstasy, we hitched farther away from home and found the perfect spot for our eventful moment. A small beach made orange and yellow by sunset, invited us to romanticize on its only bench. I hugged my knees waiting for Bobby to give me my loosey. My lips making comfortable a brown filter that fed me a soar throat, dry mouth, and an unpleasant taste. I loved it. It took me 3 cigarettes, back-to-back, to get used to polluting my lungs and... we made a game of it. Abandoning the seat offered to us, we rested our backs to the sand and took turns blowing out our smoke. We called out images we pretended to see as the fog twisted and swerved till it disguised itself as invisible. It was inspiration. Future paintings, future poems, future doodles on the margins of my math class notebooks-- all inspired by the illusions of our clouds. That day... Bobby and I painted a mural in the air.