Lady-Like

Picture reposted from ermiliablog.wordpress.com

Click the pic for the original challenge. Written for Ermilia’s Picture It & Write.

It was my fault I tried smoking. I know that. I made the decision.

Hiding in the bushes at the edge of the lake road a couple of miles from home… A pack of Marlboro reds Cheryl stole from the gas station…

Missy and Cheryl offered up their support of course. That’s what friends are for! Isn’t it?

That wasn’t really the why of it, though. The thing is, the decision was made long before Cheryl called me into their little hiding place.

Grandma Schilde smoked like a chimney. I was never around her that much, and she died when I was still pretty young. But I remembered since I was very little the tantalizing aroma of the first wisps of her freshly lit, non-filtered Camels. I loved that sweet smell, and so the day I saw Molly Prescott holding a cigarette, the decision was made.

Molly was almost two years older than me, but only a year ahead in school. She lived on a farm a little ways down the south highway with her brother Avery and a couple of ‘Spanic kids whose parents lived on their property. It was easy walking distance during summer when Ferris Creek was dry. Avery was the closest one to my age. He was even in my class at school. But he was a boy, and he was also fallen to the fancy he was going to be a star circus act someday, so it was Molly I played with.

I looked up to Molly. She was the prettiest girl in five miles any which way, and everyone loved her for it. All with her beautiful blonde hair and her natural pout… I was jealous. We were all jealous. There was something comforting, almost stimulating, about knowing when we were alone, she was just another kid.

Even now, when I picture her in my head, I see a little lady. It wasn’t that she was mature. You couldn’t tell her chest from Avery’s yet. She just looked mature, lady-like, and I wanted to be lady-like too. The day I saw her with a cigarette, being a lady suddenly seemed like it was within reach. It would really happen.

I wanted one too, a cigarette of my own. I stood staring at her, waiting for her to light it, waiting for that waft of wonderfully fragrant smoke, but she never did. She just kept holding it, posing with it. It felt like she was purposefully teasing me. I knew if I had my own, I would light it. I would smoke it. I would be even more mature and lady-like than Molly Prescott. The desire of it made my little heart race, and so my mind was set.

When I was home from college on my winter break, I ran into Molly, sitting alone at Starbucks. Our age difference had become meaningless, but somehow she was still every bit of the lady I wished I was. I stopped for a few minutes while I waited for my caramel macchiato, and we got to talking about old times. I returned to her table when my coffee was up, but she was getting up for a cigarette, so I followed her out.

Ever the delicate balance between fantasy and reality, my mind watched in fascination as the little girl from my childhood finally lit her cigarette. The delicious first draft finally tickled my nose, completing a moment that had started thirteen years before. She held out the pack to offer me one and I shook my head.

“No thanks, I don’t smoke.”

She squinted as she put the pack away. “The way you were staring, I figured you for a smoker,” she said.

“I smoked for a little while back in middle school,” I admitted, and then I laughed. “Actually, it was kind of your fault I started.”

“My fault? How was it my fault?”

“Remember the day Avery fell off his stilts and broke his arm?”

Molly nodded. “How could I forget?”

“You had a cigarette that day, and it made me want one so bad. You looked so lady-like. I always figured if I smoked too, you’d think I was… I don’t know… more mature or something.”

“You started smoking at seven?”

“No, heck no. It took a few years. I could never sneak anything like that past Daddy. I finally ran across a couple of girls I knew smoking one day in seventh grade… I remember thinking about seeing you with a cigarette and so that’s why I decided to try it. I really looked up to you back then.”

Molly stared at me dumfounded. The thought was obviously one that had never crossed her mind before. “So you started smoking cuz you saw me with a cigarette that day?” she asked.

I winced a little as I nodded. It felt suddenly awkward hearing her say it.

“Shit! Annie! Oh my God! That was just a candy cigarette!”

© 2013 Anne Schilde

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About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
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25 Responses to Lady-Like

  1. Ha! Great ending! I’ve only puffed on one or two cigarettes in my life. Coughed like hell the whole time and never understood the appeal.

  2. yerpirate says:

    Your writing, all the way down to names of the personages involved, is a continual delight. Will now read both again.

    • Anne Schilde says:

      They’re not entirely consistent with each other. I might decide to fix that. The older one was from Picture It & Write too, so I thought it would be fun to try to connect the two pictures.

  3. Diane Turner says:

    Wow! This is a terrific piece. As Yerpirate said, the names were perfect. The speech patterns were specific to a child and so well done. Excellent writing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. SAM says:

    I love the surprise twist at the end. This was a great story. Your characters work well together. I also liked the way you worked in the boy on the stilts.

  5. joetwo says:

    Gah! Trick ending! You got me again!

  6. kz says:

    it’s a great ending.. i liked how you included all 3 kids in the photo as main characters in the story 🙂

  7. Paul says:

    Beautifully told. So real. But not a trick or surprise ending at all. It seemed like the only true way to go. A candy cigarette. Perfect how the fantasy image stayed with Annie all those years. And how adults are so influenced by their childhood memories.

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Thanks, Paul. What a great comment. Those really were kind of my thoughts. I never actually saw candy cigarettes before, so I had to play around on Google to make sure, and once I saw how crazy realistic they look, the story was born.

  8. Your stories are so easy to read. I loved the ending to this one! After all this time I am still in awe.

  9. Anna says:

    Annie! I have missed you, I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and New Year. I’ve come back to WP feeling all sheepish and afraid for having been away for so long (… or a number of weeks anyway, I dramatise slightly) but your beautiful story has made me feel right at home again.

    The ending to this is so unexpected and wonderful, and the whole thing is just full of a lovely suspense. It’s nice to know some things, like your incredilble storytelling, will never change! 🙂

  10. deanabo says:

    You have a true talent. Another great post.

  11. Wow the ending caught me off guard. Very nice story 🙂

  12. Ermilia says:

    Oh I looove where you went with it. You also did a great job incorporating the other characters in the photo.

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