Title: Memories and Cigar Smoke
Genre: Short Story
Disclaimers: As I stated, it is a publish work, but it is mine! you can check it (oct. 2003 issue) and other good teen writing at: teenink [dot] com
Warnings/Rating: G/PG fairly mild. little sappy, maybe sad?
Memories and Cigar Smoke
She leaned back in her patio chair, her eyes shut in bliss. Her head tilted back as she inhaled deeply, capturing the sharp and tangy scent wafting through the air. Cigar smoke. A memory long buried in her mind reemerged as she breathed in the smell like it was oxygen fueling her life force. Images from her past played over her closed eyelids as they fluttered slightly; brief glimpses into happier times with her father. She’d only know him until she was four and he was in his mid-thirties. A wistful smile spread over her full lips and she sighed reminiscing about story time and swing set adventures.
Rising suddenly from her relaxed pose, she set her sketchpad down on the glass toped table. The top page displayed that she had been intently recreating the hustle and bustle of the crowd passing before her apartment complex. Chunks of color blended to create the blurry image of passing cars and people walking quickly, people with places to go. Her piece a statement of how fast paced the world had become. Everything was a blur now.
Following the cigar’s distinct tang on the light evening breeze, she found herself walking along the street, past shops and cafés. People cast curious glances at her unusual attire. Her dark jeans were splattered with paint from various art projects and room repaintings. Her long black hair was pulled back in a ponytail that looped through the back of her baseball cap swishing back and forth like a tail behind her as she strode past the inquiring bystanders. Her huge bleach spotted tee shirt slipped off one freckled shoulder revealing a satiny red bra strap. She was determined to find the person smoking the cigar, even if she hadn’t figured out yet what she was going to do when she found him or her.
Rounding a corner she spied a young man leaning back in a cheap wooden chair at the Corner Café. Twined between the fingers of his right hand was a cigar. His head was arched back as he exhaled the smoke slowly into the air. Smoke rings danced in the gentle wind, twirling and swirling till they dissipated in the heavy city air. The glowing embers of his cigar burned like a lighthouse, guiding her to him. Looking both ways before crossing the street, she paused as a couple on a motorcycle sped past. She cautiously crossed the street and sat with him, leaning back and closing her eyes as a delighted and peaceful smile curled her lips.
Sitting forward her chin cradled in the palm of her right hand, she sighed as she watched the young man puff his cigar. He was probably in his early twenties right around her age, with a medium build accented by his finely tailored suit. He was obviously well off. His dark brown hair was neatly combed back, every strand in its proper place. She watched him a few more minutes before getting up and turning to leave, content simply with the brief flash of memories he helped induce. She turned back in surprise as she felt a hand on her arm. The man held her left wrist in a loose grasp as he quietly urged her to retake her seat. Nodding to him and sitting once again, she leaned back and replayed the good times with her father that she had so loved. Years and years had passed since she had sat with him as he smoked a cigar in the evening to unwind. Very few people enjoyed the rich scent of a good quality cigar these days and she was loath to leave her memories of her happier childhood.
Her dream world shattered back to reality at the sound of a smooth deep alto voice, “What are you seeing?”
She regarded the man for a moment before answering, her voice thick with unshed tears, “My father smoked cigars when he was alive and I was remembering him.”
The man seemed to contemplate that as he rolled the cigar between his thumb, fore and middle fingers. “Scent is one of the strongest memory triggers we have.” He paused sucking in a deep drag on the small stump. Exhaling the smoke he continued, “Memories are the only connections we have to the past…you should never forget your past.” Quieter he added, “It helps to remember where you came from to truly enjoy life.”
She nodded at that logic, “Thank you for allowing me to sit with you…it has helped me to remember my father. He was my hero.” She stood giving him a bright and grateful smile.
The man inclined his head returning her smile with a satisfied one of his own. Turning she ambled back to her home and her life; she didn’t look back over her shoulder to the corner café and its patrons. The man watched her and taking another pull on his cigar whispered, “I’m proud on you, honey.” A car drove past the café and as it moved beyond the table with the man, he vanished. The only object that remained from the encounter was his hot cigar stump smoldering in the ashtray. The embers burning and forcing smoke to curl upward to the heavens.
As she arrived at her apartment complex she picked up her sketchbook and went inside. She gave a teary smile to her neighbor as she passed. The elderly woman smiled in sympathy, “it’ll be alright dear.” Nodding in response, she chewed her lip as she bounded up the stairs. She keyed her way into her apartment and tossed her sketchbook and key onto the side table before her large papasan chair.
The sudden and strong urge to read enveloped her so she rummaged through her father’s rather large collection of books. As she pulled one from the shelf a slip of paper drifted to the plush carpet. Frowning she bent to pick it up and regarded it and blinked in shock. I revealed a picture of the man she had just spoken to. He was dressed in his finely tailored suit and lounged in a chair with a cigar twined in his hand. Flipping the picture over she squinted to make out the faded loopy scrawl across the back. It read: Bryan Larson 1984. Under that inscription it continued: Memories are the only connection we have to the past…always remember where you came from. Gazing at the bookcase before her dark brown eyes wide in shock and mouth gaping, she whispered, “Dad?” Feeling a warm presence engulf her with rich cigar smoke tickling her nose, she smiled, whispering to the empty apartment, “I’ll always remember…I’ll always remember.”