Smoking

I put the lighter to my final cigarette and inhale. What a childish habit.

My first drug was spinning until I was dizzy. The second was fire. Fire meant power. An entire element, gripped in a fist. Whenever I pressed the button, my heart jumped. Touch the flame against paper and it accelerated; adrenaline soared through my veins. Breath heavy, palms sticky, I would watch, wide-eyed, as the yellow ate the white.

Light a match, put it in a full box, and turn the box upside-down. The matchheads would glow white-hot, all the phosphorous igniting simultaneously; hisses and huge fireballs decimate the contents. The boxes were surprisingly flame resistant, perfect coffins for thousands of charred wooden bodies.

I was too sensible to be doing this, even at 14. I suppose that was half the joy, and always will be – allowing stupid urges to override your internal monologue. The lighters and matches were a nag, just as real as the urge to eat, shit, drink and fuck; my mind would flash to them when I was bored, and the resulting inferno would satiate the delicious pyromania. I loved controlling the uncontrollable. My behaviours and whereabouts for every moment were stipulated by my parents, but I could do all of this, and get away with it.

I wouldn’t regret it so much if I had taken my habits outside. Lighting paper in my bedroom was dumb. Losing control and burning the house down never crossed my mind; now I’m older, the potential for disaster is all I consider. Arson, the firemen would say, and I would say, no, it was me. I was playing with fire.

I stopped doing it at around the same time I started smoking cigarettes, a vice that stuck for years. I like to think that this was slightly less moronic. The fire was even more controlled now, a hot cherry advancing towards my face. The master’s scope had extended beyond mere flames, to wanton self-harm, choking down burning fumes and enjoying them. I took this into nature; go to the park, pull a Lambert and Butler to my mouth (the most advertised brand, replaced with roll-ups) and suck the smoke into my lungs. Countless times have my eyes focused on that glowing ember, the smoke trapped in a cigarette paper, funnelled into my mouth.

Individualism. When society hates cigarettes, it doubles their appeal.

It was only when the reality of being in control of my own life sank in that I decided I didn’t want to smoke. The fire of youthful rebellion flickers under the wind of imminent employment.

The first time, the nicotine racing through my blood, seeping into my brain, dizzying me, weakening my legs, and I’d lie back and sigh in a crazy haze. It was amazing how easy it was to get away with it. It’s different now. Enjoyment moved to satisfaction, and that moved to addiction, and now it’s disappointment. I’m done. Fire is the only ember left to be extinguished.