In dedication to my fiancé, as well as my family and friends, who have all continuously inspired me to be creative and never give up on storytelling. I’m blessed enough to be surrounded by creative individuals.
Text Copyright © 2016 by Samantha Cook
Published by Aftermath Publishing
All rights reserved
Memories keep us going.
Some hold us down with their sadness and despair, while others propel us forward, fueling us with motivation and inspiration.
I remember being the child who never smoked cigarettes when my underage cousins would offer them to me. I also never smoked marijuana or indulged in alcohol. When I got a little older, I made some friends who all did the same things, and I still didn’t touch it. It’s strange, looking back on it and seeing someone alien to the person I meet in the mirror every day now.
That person was an innocent, frightened, and anxious child who never took even the smallest of risks.
Though when I remember the past, I see images that make me feel at home, remember places and scents that make me feel safe, put my mind at ease. We all have those memories, and when we see, hear, or smell something similar to one of our reminiscing triggers, we find ourselves thrown into a flashback without warning, don’t we?
There was a particular scent I remember as clear as day, and when I visit my family now, I smell it again. The smell of cigarettes, of nicotine and smoke in the furniture, on their clothes, and even on their skin. I remember recognizing it as the smell of grownups, the smell that all adults have that separates them from children like me.
It was a sort of off-limits thing, something mature, yet unhealthy, that only adults were allowed to do. Still, when my cousins snuck away and smoked cigarettes, it didn’t seem much different. They were older than me after all, and considerably less introverted. It made sense for them to smoke like the adults.
How stupid am I?
Did I really think I’d remain a child forever?
That I’d never be old enough to do those off-limit things?
That I’d never have to worry about paying bills or living on my own?
When did cigarettes and liquor become so familiar to me—not my family environment, but me, personally, individually?
In the old suburban, I’d sit in one of the back seats while my stepmother was driving, and I’d look around frantically for something to cover my nose with. I’d cover my face with an old jacket just so I didn’t have to smell that nasty, musky smoke. Cigarette smoke always gave me headaches. I never even considered smoking as a kid, not once, and I thought I never would. Why would I? It’s a filthy habit that causes people to develop cancer or lose their voice. Why would anyone in their right mind smoke?
And when did the smell become acceptable on me, on my clothes, on my skin?
When did my hands start to smell like grownup hands?
Such a dumb kid I was, always dreaming of the day I’d break away from my family and start anew, never to pick up those deadly habits, never to let anyone hurt or take advantage of me again.
Those cigarettes that I was so afraid of, those liquors that I never approved of—suddenly I find myself craving them, needing them, wanting them.
I never left my family. Not only that, but I’ve started talking like them, acting like them, and smoking like them.
I don’t care what I consume, or what I do, or where I go.
I wonder when I stopped caring.
Best to live it up in the moment while I can, right?