She hated the smell of cigarettes. There was no bright memory, no reclusive, subtle silver lining to be salvaged from the smell of cigarettes. Cigarettes were what her boyfriend always smelled like. Always does smell like. He started smoking a lot of weed and then stopped caring about school or anything really and then his parents divorced and he started smoking cigarettes and now he always smells like cigarettes. 

Her dad smokes cigarettes too, Lloyd. Lloyd was a good person and she loved him more than anyone else in her life. He was one of those few human beings on this earth that managed to make it to what we call middle-age without having lost that little bit of goodness in his smile that reassures those that love him that he loves them more. Only he and her mom decided a while ago that they hated each other’s guts, then they separated, and now Lloyd smokes cigarettes, and he smells like cigarettes. 

She used to like to play Dance Dance Revolution in her cozy upstairs game room with friends and sometimes Trey would hang out with them too. Her friends used to think it was obnoxious how couple-y they were, always cuddling under a blanket and speaking to each other in that obnoxious goddamn couple-y talk. Before that, back before god-knows-how-long-it’s-been-now, her friends were excited that the two of them were together. Now they had broken up and gotten back together so many times, shared so many exclusive experiences, retreated so far into their own little world, it didn’t seem like her friends cared either way. And why should they? They all have their own lives now. Everyone is working or in college doing shit getting laid or doing homework or whatever, binge drinking and taking pictures of themselves at parties and smoking and thinking about careers. Everyone has moved on from that stale old life of game rooms and boyfriends. It didn’t seem like they cared about what was going on with her anymore. She wasn’t sure she cared either. 

Trey was dragging her down. He was addicted to marijuana and he had no emotional stability and he smelled like cigarettes. She sometimes wished she could go back to when she was still in middle school and Trey was fine and everyone was fine and she had to get permission to have sleepovers and the only thing stopping her from eating unlimited carbs was her mom. But she knew that even if she could go back, she wouldn’t be able to enjoy it anyway. She knew too much now. It was all just optimistic naivety and there’s no place for that in the grown-up world. Thinking that maybe it would be better if she just didn’t think about it anymore, she fished a lighter out of her purse and lit up the American Spirit she had been caressing for what had felt like a lifetime now.