alone i am always smoking by Clare Schneider

alone i am always smoking by Clare Schneider

Tobacco companies support nicotine patches because, studies have shown, that without counseling, nicotine replacement therapy hardly ever works. Tobacco companies view all “nicotine products as a way to support smoking”

i quit smoking for you and then you left me. this seems unfair.

Girls who start smoking before age 15 are nearly 50 percent more likely to get breast cancer

a woman watches me intently as i smoke outside a restaurant

a man walks past me while i’m on the phone smoking

someone sees me smoking in my car and rolls up their window

my drunk uncle rubs my shoulder after i go outside to smoke

“you’ll lose that pretty complexion of yours if you keep doing that”

i am wearing a see-through shirt. A mother walks by me with her child, they are holding hands.

She yanks him close to her, like i might try and take him away. i remember i am smoking. i put my jacket on.

Secondhand smoke was first determined to be causally associated with lung cancer in 1986

Will fake coughs when we walk by a middle-aged man smoking by the post-office.

“Smokers are bad”

“well, they’re not bad, smoking is bad.”

“no, it’s bad.”

he can’t hold complex, apposing ideas because he is 7.

Ryan called me a horn-god. i mean, dog. And then left me. he left me!

and now i wear these stupid patches all over my back.

the patches big tobacco wants me to wear.

a man at the bar notices the patch peeking out from my shirt.

“what’s that” he says pushing it like a butt. i mean a button.

i have compiled a list:

20 percent more smokers quit after a $1 price increase

The more smoking kids see on screen, the more likely they are to smoke

Girls who started smoking before age 15 are nearly 50 percent more likely to get breast cancer

Studies have shown i quit smoking for you and then you left me

when i was 18 i got “you are a child of the universe” tattooed on me.

“who is you?” you ask facetiously.

i roll a cigarette. i smoke it out your window.

Last week on acid i threw my cigarettes out your window.

“i’m going to quit.”

The next morning i went and got my cigarettes from where they’d landed in the driveway.

my loves, i’m sorry, i will never leave you.

“drugs do wired things” i say gravely over coffee. “i mean weird.”

you cried and told me you were so glad i quit. you cried!

i think you cried because your dad died.

so glad, you wept.

but then you left me. so i’m not sure why you’re glad.

once when i was drunk and in Fiji i asked a man for a lighter but he said he didn’t have one. But he sat down next to me anyways. and he bought me a drink. and he agreed to go swimming in the ocean with me even though it was night time and he was cold. and he saw me in my underwear. and when he swam close to me i swam away. and he said hey wait. and i laughed. and when we got out of the water and i started to roll a cigarette he said: don’t roll another one, you just smoked one and i laughed but then he got upset: smoking isn’t attractive. and i laughed. But then he got upset: you know its unhealthy, right and i already swam for you and you’ve smoked so much already tonight. and i laughed. but he got upset: it’s me or the cigarette. and i laughed but he was serious. he was so serious he screamed it at me: it’s me or the cigarette.

and i smoked the cigarette and it was so good.

Big tobacco, I will never leave you.

Clare Schneider graduated from Mills College In Oakland, California in May 2018. She majored in English Literature and minored in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Washington D.C. where she is a communications intern for NPR.

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