Smoking.

Smoking.

A Story by CharlieO
"

This is a short piece! Any criticism welcome.

"

 

He was sat smoking on the table outside. Oddly he had chosen to sit not with his back against the window, facing the traffic, but instead to sit facing the inside of the café. Particularly in had chosen to sit where he could stare directly at me, sat at the large centre table.
            Of course this sounds totally paranoid.         
            My attention turned to my lemon and ginger tea, dipping the bag up and down in the water with my stirrer, the yellow slowly seeping from the bag, from all those little brown and yellow grains. Like a smoke cloud it rises colouring all around it.
Still I am sure he is looking at me. As I flick through the magazine of ads for local days out and evening classes I let my eyes glance to my left, with the flick of my page. Sure enough he is looking at me. A sip of my tea, still a little too hot, and a casual glance to my right reveals that he is still looking. I glance down at the flowered titled top of the table and feel myself colour, hoping it is due to the hot tea rather than this man’s attention.
            I look around and attempt to see if there could be anyone else he is looking at. Glancing round I see the owner should behind me one arm full of books the other attempting to squeeze a black covered hardback into the already overly full shelves, to my left there is an old woman sat with a younger woman with a toddler on her lap, I guess they must be mother and daughter. Apart from these people the café is unnaturally empty, usually a hub of activity due to the large student community it feels eerie, almost, and most defiantly a little mundane without the hum of conversation and movement.
            None of the people inside would logically have attracted his attention and it was hard to image that the interior of the shop could hold his attention for so long. He was definitely looking at me, or he had been; now something else seemed to be attracting his attention. I thought it best not to stare for too long, otherwise he might notice me and I would catch his eye, which would be awkward. 
            Behind me the owner gives up on the puzzle of where to place his books having opted to stack them on top of a row of books, clearing his throat he moves back over, with a whistle, and begins to make himself a coffee. I drained the rest of my tea, the ginger hitting the back of my throat and the smell of the lemon making me feel almost cleansed, and followed by instinct that it would be best for me to leave.  
            Gathering up the magazine of local ads, my reports notebook, which contained my long to do list, which I knew you would not get completed today, most of the stuff on their probably wouldn’t get done at all. Still writing it done makes you feel that you are doing something. Having scooped the rest of my stuff into my satchel I slung on my brown leather bomber and with a wave headed to the door.
 
 
As I leave he offers me a cigarette soundlessly, just a hand gesture, a flick of his wrist, nonchalantly in my direction. Like he couldn’t give a crap if I sat down with him or not, but at the same time he made it obvious that I needed to sit down with him
‘I quit. Thanks.’
He paused before he replied. Two steps in fact.
‘So did I’
God.
Turning my head. ‘I guess I have more willpower than you.’
‘Let me try you’
            Odd choice of words. Trying to rouse my interest or rile me? As he said it he had a certain look in his eye, not a seedy look just confident. 
‘It’s a vile habit. You’re poisoning everyone else around you…’
Another flick of the wrist and a smile. ‘Sit down and tell me about it.’
Incredibly cheesy, but somehow I end up sitting with him. Irritatingly he has made me think about smoking again, so much so that I am looking over at the pack, with a hunger in my belly. His hand offering me one interrupts my eye line.
‘It will help get conversation flowing’
‘Really, I’m fine.’
‘Well I think I shall have one on your behalf then’
I found an award giggle escaping my mouth very much aware of the strangenessof the situation. Perhaps the giggle was for the absurdity of his expecting this situation to create a conversation.
The smell of his cigarette was seeping into my nose, down into my lungs; I could feel the cloud within, like a charmed snake. Actually, addiction has that mystical property; like someone is charming you to act in way you don’t want to.
‘Stop looking like you want one, I have to say its rather ruining this for me.’ He said as he stubbed out his cigarette, which made me realise how long I had been sat meditating. 
Unfortunately guys like him manage to capture my attention, cocksure and charming, I guess most women can’t help being attracted to such men. I decided to test the water a little, to see if he really wanted to talk or if this was some display to boast his, I presumed, already inflated ego.
‘Well I guess I should let you enjoy it in peace then’
A touch of his hand on my wrist.
‘No stay. I have to stay I found you most interesting to look at, I just wondered how it would be to talk to you…’
‘That is a little creepy, if you don’t mind me saying so’
‘Ha ha. No I guess I deserved it. Now to move from creepy to cliché, do you come here often?’
‘Yeah, it’s a half way house between my house and my campus’
‘English Literature?’
‘Yeah, that obvious? I do a little French and some film to’
‘Multi-talented huh?’
‘Something like that.’ Conversation really was flowing between us, despite that though the thought of a cigarette still occupied my mind, or was it a hunger for something else? There was a familiarity about him that I could not ignore.
‘Let me get you a coffee’ He smiled at me and I felt myself move both physically and emotional closer to him. Like the attraction was literally like the attraction of a magnet.   
           
             I wasn’t aware of the events that had passed between that coffee and his room. All I could smell what the scent of smoke on fingers, in my hair and on my clothes. Familiar.

© 2008 CharlieO


Author's Note

CharlieO
Please let me know what you think of this short story of sorts. I really wanted to capture a moment and a dialogue. Constructive criticism would be great.

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Featured Review

This is sort of a strange story to "review", or almost awkward for me to tell my thoughts in that I may very well be far off from what you had intended. But i'll try...

Emotionally, this story depressed the hell out of me, and not for the addiction. It was the attraction of your protagonist to the aphrodisiac male (In other words, scumbag). I know the psychology and what-not of why many women are attracted to this sort of being, and perhaps you also, but it still just rips at my small amount of morals still intact whenever I see or even read about it. I just think of how evanglicanism sprouted the concept of male dominance as a virtue which was fueled by nationalism in the later centuries. It's all just so fucked up...

But whatever!

The story itself was gripping in a very twisted degree, or at least for me. I agree with Brendaroni entirely on your descriptive process of "hunger", and I can entirely understand the longing for someone just for their ability to have what you cannot. While I was in a Crisis Center, I wasn't allowed to smoke because I was underage. I smoke probably around 70 cigarettes a day. I remember I could see from my window, when the older patients went outside, them smoking, and actually daydreaming my being as theirs. It was very strange, and I'm actually very amazed that somebody else understands this.

Probably the most depressing ending I have ever read, because, despite the bluntness of it, I could already picture a series of events following; Regret, depression, feeling useless, weak, returning to smoking. Absolutely devastating ending, and, I s'pose, great job... :/

Sincerely though, terrific job. Obviously everyone has explained the minor errors (But they don't really matter) and I really didn't see any literary flaws. So yeah, awesome!

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

[send message][befriend] Subscribe
BjH
" I wasn't aware of the events that had passed between that coffee and his room. All I could smell what the scent of smoke on fingers, in my hair and on my clothes. Familiar."

a perfect ending for a very good piece
smoking is such an interesting habit in the way it has so many social interactions and possible outcomes
i enjoyed this

benjamin john haigh

Posted 11 Years Ago


I loved this story, I myself am an addict so i can relate. But my favoritepart was how accessablethis man was. His confidence mixed with thesmell really draws a person in.Great job

Posted 11 Years Ago


This is sort of a strange story to "review", or almost awkward for me to tell my thoughts in that I may very well be far off from what you had intended. But i'll try...

Emotionally, this story depressed the hell out of me, and not for the addiction. It was the attraction of your protagonist to the aphrodisiac male (In other words, scumbag). I know the psychology and what-not of why many women are attracted to this sort of being, and perhaps you also, but it still just rips at my small amount of morals still intact whenever I see or even read about it. I just think of how evanglicanism sprouted the concept of male dominance as a virtue which was fueled by nationalism in the later centuries. It's all just so fucked up...

But whatever!

The story itself was gripping in a very twisted degree, or at least for me. I agree with Brendaroni entirely on your descriptive process of "hunger", and I can entirely understand the longing for someone just for their ability to have what you cannot. While I was in a Crisis Center, I wasn't allowed to smoke because I was underage. I smoke probably around 70 cigarettes a day. I remember I could see from my window, when the older patients went outside, them smoking, and actually daydreaming my being as theirs. It was very strange, and I'm actually very amazed that somebody else understands this.

Probably the most depressing ending I have ever read, because, despite the bluntness of it, I could already picture a series of events following; Regret, depression, feeling useless, weak, returning to smoking. Absolutely devastating ending, and, I s'pose, great job... :/

Sincerely though, terrific job. Obviously everyone has explained the minor errors (But they don't really matter) and I really didn't see any literary flaws. So yeah, awesome!

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Advertise Here
Want to advertise here? Get started for as little as $5
it's this kind of thing that really captures the essence of an addict being tempted. i like how you described your wanting a cigarette as a hunger rather than a temptation or a craving. i fell that the use of "hunger" helped to understand that it's something you need. a temptation can be avoided and a craving can fade away, but a hunger just gets worse unless you satisfy it. in the end it also captured that addict thing, where once satisfying the hunger felt like home, felt comfortable.
i don't know if your intention for the story was more about the cigarette rather than the relationship, i was obviously charmed and delighted by the second part of the story.
overall, i'm not very good at "constructive criticism" but i really liked this and i thought i'd better leave something that's so-so rather than nothing. :P

Posted 11 Years Ago


True, the story is very well put. There are the little errors around the place, but those tiny little devils don't mess with this story one bit.
Of course, I don't know how you would feel for a craving of a cigarette, but that isn't really the point one bit, now is it? Sure, not everyone knows that craving, but maybe people have cravings for other things, that are quite in the familiar to this?
I completely agree with Vlazuvius on what he said about this story having a seductive feel to it. Just simple little words catch my attention completely and draw me back just to read on into the story. It can even leave me without a feel for words, but of course this could be just my opinion.
All in all, however, this is an amazing short story that you have told here, and I can't wait to read more of your stories. They are great, and beautifully told!

Posted 11 Years Ago


i like stories like of every day happenings ,its sort of so real,i like telling about the real world around us ,bringing into the plan personalities showing how odd some could be and at what different strange turns they could take us,and how they could influence our life ,by such strange moves or words ,i wish you would have expanded on this man behaviour ,bring out the real strange things in his attitude,anyway dear these are just my humble suggestions ,you might have a different look into it ,its nice its so real ,very well planned and constructed,good work ,moayad

Posted 11 Years Ago


[send message][befriend] Subscribe
.
That was a fun little story. A lot of the little errors would be fixed with just another read through, so no need to go into that kind of stuff. I will say take your time with the story. There is a lot you can do here, and if you slow down a bit, you will develop more to make it an even more interesting story. I agree with Valzuvius. Take more time in developing the two character's connections. Let it happen as opposed to telling the reader it's happened. You could even take the whole idea of smoking and smoke and turn it more into a symbol for the story, something that ties all the plot together. I think you touch on it the way it is now, but you could go more in depth into it. That is, of course, if you wanted to. I hope what I said can help a little. It was a fun read and I'd love it if you went back to this piece and expanded it.

Posted 11 Years Ago


The story itself is fine, but there are places where a sentence makes no sense. Like the start of the second sentence.

"Particularly in had chosen to sit where he could stare directly at me, sat at the large centre table."

Or in reference to the narrator's to-do list, she says "which I knew you wouldn't get done today"...not "I", but "you".

But these are just little things that can be edited...other than that? There are some really good parts. I think anyone can empathize with what it's like to be stared at, and then try to furitively sneak a peak at the starer when something distracts them. Very true to life. And being an ex-smoker, I know that feeling that you describe perfectly, in fact I almost begrude you because even reading your story months after the fact does stir a little longing.

But speaking of longing, that's what I think needs the most work in your story. It's seductive, almost, the effort the stranger goes to just to convince her to sit down and talk to him. But then, even though you say "Conversation really was flowing between us", it isn't really, once she sits down with him. I know you weren't neccesarily going for erotica, no matter how light, but like I said it was seductive, maybe even hot, up until that point. And then, once you've got me as a reader completely hanging on each word everything rushes to the end.

I hope this comes out right...I have a hard time sometimes, with the constructive aspect of constructive criticism. But even though I am trying to point out what I see as flaws in the story, I only bother on commenting on things I think are good, even if they aren't perfect. I don't review the endless reams of "sexy vampire fiction" or other cliched junk. So I'm going to go read some more of your stuff and I hope to see a polished take on this, because it really does start quite well.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

808 Views
8 Reviews
Rating
Added on June 5, 2008
Last Updated on June 13, 2008

Author

CharlieO
CharlieO

Southampton, United Kingdom



About
Hello there, I'm have been on this site for a couple of months now.I have just started writing again having gotten bogged down in work for my university course (English Literature at Southampton Uni).. more..

Writing
Lossing You Lossing You

A Poem by CharlieO



Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..