When I started smoking, I did so for permission. When you smoke, you are granted allowances that can come no other way.
When you realize that the woman you love has no love for you and all things in your heart are expelled by the obsession that stands between you and the woman that now defines you, it is still permissible, when all other contact is forbidden, to approach this woman and to ask for a cigarette, and to smoke together in silence, and from there to say something—never mind what—but something that reveals you in some unexpected way, that shows you to be a romantic soul, damaged, and dangerous—to yourself more than anyone else.
The cigarette is proof.
Therefore it is possible, and even plausible, that when both of you have finished, that you will close the distance, that you will hold eye contact, as close as one can before the center of the face slips comically into one’s blind spot, and it is conceivable from here that you may kiss her in the soft and subtle and slow manner that invites more drastic intercourse, in the way that the wet brutality of force, that old pedestrian dance, precludes.
She eases. Your hands are free to roam, to make mistakes, to learn where they belong, to excite.
And she takes you on the now familiar path to her bed.
You enter the bedroom. She wants to get high first, but you can’t wait, you can’t get enough of her taste. Her kiss is like the last sip of coffee, smoky, rich, subtly sweet, and oddly cold. Unexpected. Her body is like a hot glass. Her voice is low and smooth, but it breaks. You could leave. You could go now. You don’t have to be here.
You throw her onto the bed. You pull her clothes off. She’s slender like a razor.
You thrust into her—then she takes you in her mouth to keep you hard, then you thrust again. You lose interest in the effort, despite what seems like her enthusiasm or at least the lack of concern for her dignity, but then it is only you and her here. You hold her, pull her close. She says she does not expect you to stay the night, almost as a request, but you stroke her back, counting her vertebrae, and she falls asleep in your arms. You wake before her. You watch her. You lean over her to the window, is your car still there?
She wakes, shocked, saying oh my god! several times, leaping from the bed, backing away till she hits the wall. She takes a breath. She apologizes, she comes back to bed, but first she puts a shirt on—unbuttoned, and lights a cigarette. On the bed you lie naked, half reclined, she in her open shirt, legs crossed, smoke swirling around her. You lay together silently. You simultaneously agree that it is time for you to leave, but only she says it. As you go she walks you to the door and tells you she wants to see you again, but this is the last night you will spend together. In a month she will tell you that she doesn’t want to know you. And in a year you will exchange words for the first time.
You will ask yourself: What do you think of when you take your morning coffee and place your open palm against the side of the hot mug? Is it like her body? Your hand will not be grasping or holding, but sustaining a quivering caress. The meat of your palm retreating, advancing, burning, and balancing, almost hovering on the heat of the smooth surface, feeling almost electric, almost like the yielding satin of her skin.