Jack kept the cigarettes he stole from his dad at the bottom of his vinyl school bag underneath virgin textbooks and teenage boy detritus. We smoked them in the paddock that marked the halfway point between our houses. In an untamed hedge and using grass clippings from the paddock’s slashing we made that autumn’s cubby house where we perfected smoke rings and discussed girls. After he finished his cigarette, one name always made Jack unknowingly tie the fresh green stalk of a weed’s regrowth into a knot after making a big heart-shaped loop. I never told him that I noticed.
by G.J. Williams
As for the smoking crater at the centre of your being, it’s lost among foreign wars, localised tumours; divorces, evictions. That it still smoulders is testament enough; whatever was there must have taken some destroying. But we know, don’t we? We know what was there and how much it took to destroy it. So very little it ought to be sad. But it’s not sad, is it? Too few losses for it to be deemed sad. The cigarettes in your coat pocket were soaked, and there’s no accounting for your neighbour’s taste in music, loud and piercing as it is.
by Adam Conner
“Look,” she tells me, sitting here in a cafe we’d never been to before, in clothes that she no doubt wore the night before, thumbing her purse strap she’d yet to take off, circling the straw in her water (the only thing she ordered), checking her phone as if she received a message she’d been waiting for this entire time, still wearing her sunglasses as if she didn’t want to see me, she tells me, “We need to talk,” but we already have.