The Writer: Chapter 12

You know I’m going to read you one of my stories. Maybe you’re going to like this one. It’s… a bit, well, you’ll see.

 

One

 

I am an avid smoker. When I wake up in the morning, I feel this inexplicable urge to smoke a cigarette. I have to do it. After a good meal, I light myself a cigarette. I can’t drink coffee without two or three cigarettes – as a side dish, I suppose.

So one day I made myself a promise. For every cigarette I smoke I have to write one page of literature. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. I have to write one page, five hundred or so words, just so I can puff away some nicotine.

At first it was easy. I found enough inspiration to write thirty pages in a matter of days. It wasn’t so bad. After that, I wrote a twelve page short story in a day or so. Again, it was not the usual amount of nicotine I had been used to, but it had to make do.

To be honest, I was asking for it. For a writer’s block, for a terrible void inside my head. For a burning headache that would keep me away from writing. I didn’t want to break my vow. It was a foolish thing to do.

The more time passed without me smoking, the less I could concentrate. I started to cough, my hands began to shake, and I could no longer control my thoughts. All I could see was a cigarette burning, burning, burning; a thin cloud of smoke slowly rising, rising, rising toward the ceiling.

I have this great collection of lighters. Some expensive, some cheap, some have sentimental value. And I kept staring at them, playing with them, weighing them in my hand. I had a pack of cigarettes on the desk, and all I had to do was stretch my arm and take one out and light it. And after that, write a damn page or maybe even two, so I could redeem my soul.

A week passed without me touching a cigarette, and I still couldn’t write a thing. I thought that I couldn’t write without my lungs being filled up with smoke. Symbiosis one might call it. A perfect balance between two entities in order to create a better, more adapted individual. So I smoked one cigarette. Just one. And I wrote five pages, hoping to kill off the guilt I was feeling.

That night I couldn’t sleep. All I could think of was the pack of cigarettes on my desk. Cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarettes, all lined up like on an assembly line, all lined up like sheep, waiting to be devoured.

But I didn’t want to break my vow.

I just had to write something down. One page, just one. Good or bad, it had no importance. I had to clear my head, to get rid of what I desired so much, and focus. Concentrate; try to find words among so much smoke.

Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts, these words are when we need them the most. I wasn’t feeling well. I could feel the nicotine leaving my body, leaving me empty.

I was slowly transforming.

Without a cigarette, I was half the man I used to be. Without a cigarette, I couldn’t write a damn thing. But I had to do it. I had chosen that vicious circle, I had embraced that stupid connection between one page, just one page of words, and the right to smoke one cigarette, just one, but oh, how much I needed it.

How much I need it. Just one cigarette, not more, just a few puff, puff, puffs and the cigarette will be gone. But I will be a better man. I will be the man I am used to being. One cigarette, so I can write more, so I can write better. I am only writing this page so I can smoke one cigarette, just one, but oh, how much I need it.

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