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Thursday, June 16, 2011

cigarettes: quitting

Heartbreak happens when possibilities don't exist any more, the thing that breaks hearts is the loss of hope. All humans are born broken, lost in a place they don't and can't ever understand, filled with thoughts, wishes, hopes and dreams of how things are supposed to be but berated with experience, experience that lets them know things will never be that way. Despite all this,so much sorrow and misery, us walking around with a hell inside of us, we still love and laugh. We still smile and play. We should all be broken, all our hearts should be shards of things, but they're not. This is because of hope, the glue that holds together pieces that are falling and failing and ailing, hope with its bare hands keeps us together too strong and too stubborn to let us go to the pieces we are.

When we lose hope we lose it all, pieces fly everywhere repulsed, finding in themselves too much contradiction to stay within feet of each other and then the heart is all over the place, a huge vacuum, an abyss filled with nothing, the kind into which hate can so easily seep, soaking all and everything, changing us, turning us, churning us. The loss of possibilities is the loss of everything because it is the loss of self.

These sad thoughts ran through his mind as he sat smoking on the ledge, using abstractions and philosophising to make sense of and to try and obscure the sad things he really felt or didn't want to. This was his favourite spot in the world and he though it was fitting that he should come here now. It was as high as he could go in this his city, his home. Well not his home really this was just a place and home is more than a place, it is an emotion, a comfort, a certainty of acceptance, a promise of love and warmth and those were distant memories. The city before him was beautiful he could see the jagged edges of the building reaching out to the heavens like a crocodile with a bad dental plan, the streets winded through these teeth like floss, going this way and that, stopping and starting and stopping again. It was a beautiful day by any standards. The sun had come up with the intention to impress, its rays reaching down to the earth shaping everything,giving it a glow of health from the lowliest of the shanties to the sky scraper that had millions of little windows each of them reflecting the sun in that way that blinded anyone who looked at them. And yet this too was oddly beautiful, a halo around the achievements of man making them gody and if not that at least angelic. Even the smoke rings he blew caught the sun's ray as it shined through them, piercing and passing through and in them like a quiver of arrows.

But he couldn't see it, he couldn't even feel the warmth of the rays. The sun stopped before it got to him, an invisible layer separated him from it and left him in a cold wasteland. Worse than a wasteland a cold pit. He was cold. And he felt it all over. There was not a trace of temperature anywhere in him if there were two suns it would make no difference to him not now, not when he felt like this. What is beauty without hope? An empty promise, a mocking taunt, forever out of reach like the sun is, a lesson he did not need wax wings to learn.

He wondered why he smoked so much, she had always said that it was an unconscious death wish, he was unable to resist the impulse to one-up her one more time but couldn't see how right it proved her when he thought rather smugly to himself “the death wish isn't unconscious any more.” he twirled the cigarette in his fingers a cheap party trick he had perfected with biros while he was still young, he liked that when he did this the mouth of the flame visited every one of his fingers in turn burning them just a little singeing his skin not too much, but enough to let him know there was still something there, he liked to know there was still something there something more than the sun that couldn't reach him.

He couldn't believe he had proposed here. It seemed so long ago, years and years of fears and fears. It wasn't just the time that made that place seem so inaccessible it was the difference in emotions between then and now. He had been so filled with hope and wonder back then, amazement at his good luck. It had been a cold bracing day and the first specks of a drizzle had been falling down the kind that are usually the coldest of all but he hadn't felt any of that as they kissed and time seemed to fold in on itself and stop and then become this period when tears stung his eyes without him even noticing, cutting a path down his cheeks leaving traces of salt and moisture on his face making it a caricature of what it used to be.

He knew he shouldn't have come here but like a celebrity to cocaine he couldn't help himself. Its strange that the happiest of memories can make us sadder than anything else, with the benefit of time to lend irony we can realise that the things that rack us with grief are the things that once gave tears of joy and if he had been asked right then he would have sworn it was raining. Except he had nothing to swear on, his life seemed empty in retrospect. A collection of cigarettes smoked turned to smoke and nothing else, sure he had left stubs everywhere but he couldn't see that through the haze. He could hardly see anything through the pain.

The sun had been covered by some clouds by now, they were the dark clouds that came out of nowhere and turned a day filled with sun rays to one of darkness and anger, a sense of foreboding, the kind of light that made the crocodile teeth building less like a renaissance painting and more like a real crocodile with its teeth ready to snap and bite off the life from anyone who was foolish enough to trust his fate to gravity.

Maybe it was time, he would fall right into the throat of the crocodile, he wouldn't be chewed by all those teeth, it would be like falling into a deep slumber and not waking up again. he had to wait though, his cigarette still wasn't done, his last tether on this life. But he took smaller and smaller puffs. Two lovers who knew they would never again speak talking over the phone for the last time and whispering goodbye in lower and lower tones as they prepared to never hear each other again, perhaps thinking that if their voices just faded into the nether that last decisive motion, hanging up the phone wouldn't be so bad, wouldn't be so hard.

He looked around at the place he would soon be leaving, he looked back at the life that had led him here,it was his fault a lot of the time, but he felt he hadn't being given his seventy time seven and he was sure now he wouldn't. Now he was just smoking the filter, his equivalent of clutching at straws. Just then a strange thought entered his mind, after all those earlier efforts he was finally smoking his last cigarette. Well she had always said this would kill him and he could one-up her one last time too. The filter was over and his fingers burned so he threw away what was left and took a deep breath.