no more cigarettes

I have stopped wondering if I could have done things different. I don't think I could. Maybe that's fatalistic of me to say. I don't know. I don't know anything anymore.

I know this: when you try to plan for the future, for a conversation, it doesn't work. It just doesn't pan out. It sounds scripted, forced. It sounds insincere. And you say the words--even the little ones you'd practised, like how you would say "hi there" instead of hello like you usually do, and you would smile, and it would be disarming. But it just comes out all weird, like the inflection's off or something. Little things.

I gave her my last cigarette. The worst part about it all is how calm she was. She just watched me and smoked, her expression blank. Or maybe it was even a little annoyed? I don't know. I just know that I had to throw the script out because it wasn't the right one. I still think it was scripted in a way, though. I don't think it could have panned out different. I think that the conversation we had was the only conversation it was possible for us to have.

People tell me that's fatalistic. Maybe it could have been different. Maybe even little things change it. Maybe I shouldn't have let her have that cigarette, which she just used to keep me so far away. I don't think I'll smoke again. I'm done with coffee, too. But I know it would never be different. The things that would change it could never change. I will always give her my last cigarette. I will always be a few minutes late.

And always, after I'm done talking, after I've given my desperate speech, the one that I know I'll regret even while I'm giving it and I do it anyway, all fragmented and pleading and demeaning, all crazed ultimatums and insane declarations, after all that, she'll pause just a little too long, and she'll put her cigarette down--it is hers now--and she'll take a sip from her coffee liqueur, and she'll set that down too, and she will look me in the eye. She'll say, "I'm not sure how you expect this to continue, Rob," in that icy tone.

And I will always say, "Please?" as if the word would change something, or for that matter, as if wanting something so desperately that all you can say is "please" would change something--to which she will always reply, "There's really nothing more I have to say to you."

And she's right. That's where it always ends. There are no farewells. She packs up her things and leaves, her drink unfinished, her cigarette still smouldering in the ashtray.

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