Monday, 23 October 2017 16:51

Linger

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Her stomach sank to the floor. Immediately she was taken back to every single Saturday afternoon in the back seat of her parent’s white Ford Cortina, being ferried around shopping centres to help with the weeks groceries. Her sister, two years her senior, would be jumping around the back seat on the right, behind their Dad, the family’s designated driver. She always chose to sit on the left hand side behind their Mum in the passenger seat, who would have a smoke in the car en route, while both girls choked in the back. The minute she heard the click of the lighter and the mashed up sound of gas and burning paper, she would immediately wind the window down, even before her Mum had taken her first full  drag. She hoped the smoke would spare her, but the unsolicited swirl of nicotine-laced vapour would dance its way around the interior, hugging everything; upholstery, mats, clothing and hair. Nothing was safe from this unwelcome passenger. Eventually it would weave its way up her nose, creating an intolerable throbbing at the front of her head and a deep nausea at the base of her stomach. Any ventilation was pointless, especially in summertime, as the nausea just seemed to intensify with the heat, so she’d bury her nose in the nook of her elbow to stop any more smoke penetrating her nostrils, lifting her head up intermittently in the direction of the window to take a breath. With each one, she felt like her small, undeveloped body was inflating with toxic air and she wondered if the sharp, stitch-like pain underneath her ribs was what lung cancer felt like. After the shops they’d often visit great aunts who would also join in the chain. She could at least play outside and breathe in the fresh air and feel clean again, but in the car, although they were moving, there was no escape from the musty odour of nicotine smoke, old and new, that made her feel dirty. Yes, this was the Saturday afternoon smell of her young childhood years, and there was no choice in the matter. Now here she was, almost 35 years on, back living with her parents, both of whom had seen the light long ago and given up the dreaded weed. She’d been offered a two-bedroom house, an opportunity to create an independent life for herself. A place of her own at last she thought. She’d spent hours on Pinterest and Freecycle looking at ideas to do the place up and furnish it at the least cost possible. She’d keep it minimal, tidy and smoke-free, she thought. Returning with her best friend for a second viewing, she could sense that something wasn’t quite right. The vertical blinds she could tolerate for the time being. No, there was something that was getting up her nose. She  showed her friend around. The cigarette papers that were stuck to the artificial turf in the yard raised the alarm, and back in the living room, there it was; the stench of stale, aged, cigarette smoke, clinging to the carpets, walls and blinds of her potentially cosy home. ‘There is a bit of a smell,’ said her friend.

Read 177 times Last modified on Monday, 23 October 2017 16:54