| The frigid air had cleared my hearing. I slowly marched through the crisp, frozen snow. Each step echoed through the leafless grey trunks. Their northwest side had a crust of snow, and the trees had no tops. When I looked up, all I could see were fat lazy snowflakes taking their time getting to their graves. Each flake was hemmed in pure darkness. I could hear rabbits dashing through the bare bushes snapping small twigs in their haste. A small smile came to my frozen face when I reached my destination.
I was a thirteen-year-old boy on a mission. My whole day was planned and revolved around this one moment. I had my father drive my snow shovel and me into town. I jumped out of his rusted pick-up at 9:00 a.m... I shoveled snow for the elderly at slave wages all day long. The druggist had not even thought twice about me when I came in for hot chocolate and a Snickers. After all, his son and I were Boy Scouts together, I had slept over at his house, and he wished his son were more like me. When he turned to make the hot chocolate, I leisurely put a pack of cigarettes in my pocket. When he turned back, he was none the wiser. There were no cameras, and he would never notice. I had developed a small route of stores to “purchase” my smokes. I did not steal because I had no money. I stole because my secret had to be guarded.
My father picked me up at dinnertime, and we went back to the farm. We ate dinner as a family, the same as every other night, and then I did my chores that had been neglected. I lay exhausted in my single bed, waiting to hear the chainsaw that was my father’s snoring. My muscles ached as I fought sleep. Pavlov’s bell was long in coming that night. Just as I thought he would never drift off, he started his engine. He began quietly, and then gradually grew louder, until he opened the choke completely. If Mom were awake she would nudge him, and the process would start over. Thankfully, there was no delay in game. I eased out of bed, and walked through the pitch-black house by memory.
Once outside, I sprinted across the two acres of open yard until I reached the tree line.My sanctuary was an old pine grove in the middle of my Dad’s property. The massive branches intertwined with each other creating a year round ceiling of green pine needles. There was barely any snow on the ground there, just a thick brown layer of dead needles. The air smelled like my mom had scrubbed the kitchen with pine-sol. I brushed a dusting of snow off my favorite rock, and sat down. I pulled the bright red package from my pocket, and tapped the box against the heel of my hand. I unwrapped the pack, and flipped open the lid. I have always loved the smell of a fresh pack. When I lit a smoke I let the first puff escape, then I would take the next drag in deep. This was my time.
This was my little secret routine that was only between my dear friend tobacco, and me.Then, as now, he was my best friend. He is always consistent. He has never lied to me. From the first moment, I knew he was bad news. As with all of my relationships, the harder the world tries to rip us apart, the tighter I bond. Every relationship runs its cycle regardless of what the world thinks of it. This one is no exception. One way or another, my smokes and I will eventually part. However, until then let me enjoy my cigarette.