Cheap Cigarettes

“Umm…” I gasped, taken by his question. “I…you just…you just have to breathe.” I had to squint my eyes, they were overcome by the brightness of the gray sky & the cold air. They were watering fiercely.
“It’s like…in a room full of shit, you have to breathe. Like if you were trapped there, you have to breathe anyway. I don’t know.”
“What if you can’t take the smell?” he sniggered with an awkward edge, “like, what if you throw up then?”
Jesus. My eyes really stung. “I mean…you throw up & you keep breathing, I guess.”
From my peripherals I spotted a stone bench next to the sidewalk. Mindlessly I slid onto it from above. I was stung by his question. My lungs needed a break. This god damn campus…
“What?” he started, eyeing me, uncomfortable with the break of pace.
“Look man…” I rubbed my eyes quickly. “It’s not a new idea. You just freaking breathe, ok?”
I felt my words scrape him & his mind, like a piece of chalk as it squeaks in use.
“Uh, sorry man, I’ll shut up.” Another chuckle from him. “I’m an asshole.”

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