31 October 2012
Posted in Articles
Kayla's Lungs, Part 5
SMOKE SIGNALS MAGAZINE - November - December 2012
January 8, early afternoon (cont.)
I was waaay too buzzed on wine and nicotine and carbon monoxide and emotion to even think about driving, so I left my car where I'd parked it on the street near Kayla's apartment and walked home.
I was every bit as freaked out as I was the night before following the incident in Kayla's car, but as I walked the same cold streets with Kayla's gift bag dangling from my tightly clenched gloved fingers, I felt decidedly different. I walked with more purpose, craving the moment that I could get home, lock the door, and set the bag comfortably down. I was strongly motivated by the fear that I might run into someone I know, and get asked about what was in the bag, but I also couldn't wait to have a moment alone to try to process everything that'd just happened, so I walked quickly.
And once again, I found myself mesmerized by the sight of my hot moist breath streaming from my lips and nose and freezing in cold dry air, followed by the sensation of that cold dry air rushing deep into my chest. As I walked, I could feel the bronchospasm in my lungs subside the more I diluted the residual Virginia Slims smoke lingering inside of me, but the cold dry air also had the effect of putting a sharp note on the taste and aroma of the Virginia Slims tar in my nasal cavity, sinuses, oral cavity, and oropharynx. I reeked of carcinogens, and my mouth tasted as toxic as I smelled. And then I became really scared that I might run into someone I knew who would smell me, so I quickened my pace and managed to make it home without running into anyone.
I was breathing hard as I turned on the lights and clicked the dead bolt behind me, and I slumped down on the floor with my back to the door, setting down and finally letting go of Kayla's gift bag. Her Estée Lauder perfume wafted up at me from the tissue paper lining the bag as it warmed up inside my apartment, and it mixed with the smell of her Virginia Slims tar all over everything. As I studied the bag covered with pink and black polka dots, stuffed with alternating layers of pink and black tissue paper popping up out of the top, I got this incredible rush, like I'd just gotten away with the crime of the century or something.
Once my breathing had settled down to normal, I got up, picked up the festive package of Taboo, and set it down on top of a collection of respiratory histology micrographs on my coffee table. The cover featured a cross-section of a human alveolar bundle, which closely echoed the pattern on Kayla's gift bag. Non-smokers have pink alveoli. Cigarette smokers give themselves black alveoli. Non-smokers have pink lung tissue. Cigarette smokers give themselves black lung tissue. I laughed at the thought, and suddenly had the urge to take off my clothes and look at myself in the mirror.
I obviously know what I look like, but I'd never really given it a lot of thought. I've never been a slob, but I've never really been into makeup and dresses, and I've never really been what you'd call "boy crazy," so I became kind of a Tomboy. In my low maintenance pixie cut and no make up, I kind of look like a skinny boy with modest breasts and delicate features.
As I stood there, I wondered about how I would look if I grew out my hair, got my ears pierced, wore makeup, or wore something frilly or sexy, and my nipples starting getting really hard as I thought about Kayla and her transformation from National Honor Society geek to Victoria's Secret model with filthy brown lungs. I closed my eyes and pictured Kayla's painted lips just inches from mine, pushing an intense cloud of Virginia Slims toxins from deep down in her filthy corrupted lungs into my face, into my mouth, and into my lungs. I began touching myself and picturing it again, and again, and again. And as I smelled my filthy panting breath resulting from that moment, I collapsed on my bathroom floor and had one of the most intense orgasms of my life.
When I came back down to a semi-normal state of consciousness, I started laughing hysterically. Suddenly, everything made sense. Everything "clicked."
I am a lesbian.
I've been burying myself in my studies as a diversion from dealing with it. And Dirty college Kayla with her tarty wardrobe and glamour-length cancer sticks and paralyzed cilia and bursting alveoli is what it took for me to finally wake up.
I am a lesbian.
A lesbian with a pack of Kayla's glamour-length girly cancer sticks in the next room.
I sighed, felt probably the deepest contentment of my life, smiled, and thought to myself "O.K. What now...?"
Giddy, I decided to take a long soothing hot shower. Since it's winter, and I'm the only one who ever sees them at this time of year, I hadn't shaved my pits or legs for a couple of weeks, but I decided that I wanted to, and did. And after I toweled off, I also decided to rub a little baby oil on my arms and legs for a change.
Feeling clean, smooth, and very relaxed, I slipped into my plain white terry cloth robe and decided that it was time to open "Pandora's Bag." I loved that Kayla took the time to spritz her perfume all over everything, and I carefully set each item out on the coffee table next to the bag, saving her pack of Virginia Slims 120s for last. As I took it out of the bag, I sat down on the couch and held it in my hands and just appreciated all of the appealing little design details in the packaging. So appealing!
And the documentation! "20 CLASS A CIGARETTES." "UNDERAGE SALE PROHIBITED." "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy."
And there it is.
The warning that we've all had drilled into us over and over and over again, here in the very last place that it can possibly do any good at all. In the hope that somehow, somewhere, someone will pick up her first pack of cigarettes, read the warning on the side of the pack, and then reconsider her desire to unwrap it, flip it open, extract the foil, withdraw a cigarette, stick it between her lips, light it up, and repeatedly burn it down to deposit gooey carcinogenic sludge throughout her lungs. She knows what she wants, or she wouldn't have purchased the pack of cigarettes in the first place.
Real danger is exciting. Cigarette smoking is real danger. Cigarette smoking is exciting.
I set the unopened pack, lighter, and ashtray on top of the alveolar bundle micrograph so that I could see the Surgeon General's Warning, and moved Kayla's pink and black bag just behind them. The arrangement seemed to make a little impromptu anti-smoking display, and I started getting wet again.
I settled back on the couch, replaying the scenes from Kayla's apartment earlier in the evening over and over in my mind, and I kept coming back to the image of her dark pink painted lips – smiling, laughing, kissing long hungry drags from her cigarette...staining the filter with her lipstick...then parting and snap inhaling another load of tar deep into her chest...again and again and again. And I kept picturing the long white fuming poison gas cylinder held up between her long slim fingers, and the way that the toxic smoke flowed densely from the tip of the filter just beyond Kayla's lipstick stain after every drag she took. I had this strange thought that her cigarette was almost like an abstract miniature reflection of Kayla's respiratory tract. Like her cigarette was a Dark Lover penetrating and filling her body through it's own little lipstick stained "mouth" as she repeatedly brought it to hers. The thought of this made me breathe in sharply, and made my nipples very hard.
And it also made me realize that I didn't have any lipstick in my apartment. Shit. I'd left what little makeup I did have at my parent's house, and didn't think much about it at the time, since about the only time I did feel like I should wear some was when I was visiting my family. But I instantly wished that I had a tube, because the thought of putting on a nice thick creamy coating of unnatural color on my lips seemed like the perfect preparation for putting a nice thick creamy coating of unnatural Virginia Slims tar on my airways.
Just then, my phone chirped a new text, from Kayla: "Have FUN! P.S.: Did you look UNDER the tissue paper? ;) xo – K"
I set the phone down and immediately plucked the perfumed pink and black tissue paper from the bag, revealing a small, flat, black box across the bottom. Inside, beneath a little folded note from Kayla, and wrapped in another little piece of pink tissue paper was a black tube of fancy MAC glossy dark red lipstick. I'm sure that the color description – "Good to be Bad" – caught Kayla's eye, and it made me laugh. The note read: "Since you're feeling adventurous... I saw this color and thought of you. xo – Kayla"
I couldn't believe it. Was this girl some sort of a mind-reading supernatural Enchantress?! I would have never in a million years chosen such a shocking shade of lipstick for myself, but I couldn't wait to try it on!
I went into the bathroom, got the hand mirror I keep in the vanity cabinet, and sat down on the toilet to steady myself, since I was starting to shake a little with excitement. I unwrapped the tube, brought the mirror close to my face so that I was able to just focus on my mouth, and carefully applied a dramatic smear of glossy dark red pigment to my upper and lower lips. I instinctively pressed my lips together and rubbed the creamy waxy coating to distribute it evenly, and put the mirror down. I took a deep breath, and got up to look at myself in the mirror.
When I felt that it was expected that I wear makeup before, I'd always chosen a lipstick that was as close to my own natural lip color as possible, and then slap on a tiny little bit of eyeliner and be done with it. Enough to be noticeably different, but just enough.
But this was completely different. With only the addition of a little bold lipstick, I was shocked at what I saw when I saw myself standing there. It was like I was suddenly somebody completely different who happens to resemble me.
I know enough about animal behavior to know that the underlying reason for the attractiveness of lipstick is because it mimics the flushing and intensification of color found in aroused female genitalia, which signals receptiveness for sex. Lipstick turns your mouth into suggestive genital labia, and there I was with a symbolic big red hungry crotch blossom on my face. I stood wide-eyed and open-mouthed taking the impression in, and my white, non-smoker's teeth flashed brightly next to the dark red lipstick as I stared in disbelief at how completely different I looked. Everything about me looked suddenly more feminine and appealing, although I also felt like this freaky dorky clown at the same time. I began to get more and more used to seeing myself in this way as I turned back and forth and considered how I looked from different angles.
And as I did, I imagined what my teeth would look like coated with Virginia Slims tar, and how the dark red lipstick would really make the toxic yellow stains pop visually, and I began to drip down my thighs.
I became light headed and realized that I really needed to eat something. I shook off the spell of unapologetic narcissism, cleaned myself up, made my way to the kitchen, and foraged a slice of cold pizza from the refrigerator. I toyed with the notion of pouring myself a glass of wine, but decided to pour a glass of Diet Coke instead, and wait until I got something solid in my stomach before I even considered reintroducing alcohol into my system. I settled back down on the couch with my first meal of the day, opened up my laptop, did a YouTube search for "cigarette smoking lung damage," and quickly found my way to this Anti-Smoking Public Service Announcement: NYC Department of Health / Reverse the Damage - Lung Cancer 30 sec.
I carefully nibbled my slice of cold pizza with my nasty painted lips spread wide to keep from smearing them and clicked "play." I was greeted with a montage of text messages and lung cancer x-rays and surgical scenes, combined with spooky medical audio effects and a very dire sounding male voiceover: "Eight hours after you quit smoking, your blood oxygen level returns to normal. In three months, your lung function improves up to 30%. And ten years after you quit, your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker. But right now...you're one cigarette closer to cancer. Every cigarette makes you sick. Quit smoking today. For help, call..."
I immediately opened the "Activity" window in Safari, found the file in the page list, and downloaded it to my hard drive so that I could watch it again looped. OMG! Every word of it was true, I was sure, but...the stunningly heavy-handed and completely over the top way that the message was delivered only inspired me with a reckless sense of jaded excitement that was getting me really hot.
I was able to quickly devour the slice of pizza as the file downloaded, and seeing lipstick on my glass made me smile.
I sat back, and enjoyed the relaxing, warming sensation of my blood sugar rising. I closed my eyes and just listened to the sound of my slow steady breathing. And then I pictured my lungs, still clean and pink and healthy beneath my perky little breasts, despite their recent repeated exposure to concentrated doses of Kayla's second-hand smoke. After a couple of minutes of listening carefully to the air rush in and out of my lungs, and picturing my entire respiratory tract expand and contract in it's dance of life, I opened my eyes, which immediately fixated on the unopened pack of Virginia Slims 120s that Kayla gave me.
I was looking at my first pack of cigarettes, to do with whatever I wanted.
I could have destroyed them and thrown them out right then and there and abandoned this whole mad adventure that I was on.
Or I could open them and choose to let them destroy me.
I got up, walked to the kitchen, put my glass and plate in the sink, grabbed one of the small preserves jars that I use as a juice glass, as well as the few votive candles that I keep in a drawer for special occasions, and brought them back to the coffee table. It was time to pour some wine and bring the lights down.
And of course...to make a choice.
After a couple of healthy sips of wine, my buzz from earlier was returning, but without anxiety fighting it. I retrieved my hand mirror from the bathroom and tube of "Good to be Bad," and touched up my lipstick to full-on shiny trollop mode. When I was done, and my mouth was creamy with it's arousal mask, I set the hand mirror on the cushion at the opposite end of the couch so that i could see myself from the waist up. I gathered up and moved the ashtray, black Bic lighter, and pack of Virginia Slims to the cushion between me and the mirror. I watched my reflection as I let my robe fall open, exposing my breasts as they moved out and up and in and down with my breathing, and I looked down and saw myself picking up and holding the pack of Virginia Slims 120s in my hands. Just the way Kayla picks up and holds her packs and packs and packs of Virginia Slims 120s that she loads up her lungs with day in and day out.
The sensation of free-fall came rushing back to me, and I watched myself in the mirror as if I was watching another woman across the room. I looked down at my first pack of cigarettes, once again read The Surgeon General's Warning – aloud, to myself – and then turned back to the mirror where I watched the woman with the obscenely red lips across the room peel the cellophane cap off the top of the pack, flip open the lid, pluck the foil cap, and extract an obscenely long cancer stick. I watched her put down the pack and raise the long slim all white carcinogen delivery system to her tarty painted lips.
And the moment that I felt It slightly spreading my lips open, I could feel the last of my fear slipping away. And in it's place...lust. The lust to comprehend the Pleasures of this Deadly Forbidden Thing. I'd just stuck the tip of my first Demon Lover into my body, and I needed to understand penetration.
I sat there staring in exhilaration at the sight of myself with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth for the first time in my life. But not just any cigarette – oh no – a special glamour-length cigarette designed to specifically destroy women's lungs. I took it gently from my lips and held it up between my index and middle finger near my face as I'd watched Kayla do, and instantly grinned when I saw the dark red lipstick stain on the tip of the filter. I looked down at the impossibly long lady killer between my slim fingers, and imagined the white filter growing yellower and yellower inside it's virulent little lipstick stained "mouth."
Kind of like what was going to happen to me when I lit it up.
I opened the Lung Cancer PSA that I'd just downloaded on my laptop, and set the playback to "loop." As I watched and listened to it, I practiced taking drags of varying lengths on my unlit cigarette, and quickly got the hang of parting my lips and inhaling the air that I'd just drawn through the Virginia Slims 120. I could even taste some of the chemicals that are volatile at room temperature in the cigarette as I inhaled and exhaled. I turned and looked at myself in the mirror as the laptop screen strobed the PSA on me, and I watched with delight as I closely replicated the overall flow of what Kayla looked like when she was smoking. I could easily imagine rancid deadly white smoke billowing over and flowing through my ridiculously shiny dark red lips on it's way to and from slowly killing me from the inside out.
I set my lipstick stained unlit first cigarette down in the ashtray and finished off my first jar of Pinot Grigio, and quickly poured myself another. I turned back to the Lung Cancer PSA as I took another long sip of wine, relishing the warm buzz and suppression of my inhibitions, and thought about what the messages meant to someone like me who was contemplating flicking her Bic and lighting up for the first time. "Inhaling cigarette smoke decreases my blood oxygen level. Inhaling cigarette smoke decreases my lung function. And every time I inhale cigarette smoke, I increase my chances of dying from lung cancer. I absolutely should not start smoking!"
I exploded in goosebumps as the fingers of my right hand slid into the warm puddle between my thighs, and the fingers of my left hand caressed my breasts. After pinching both of my nipples several times, I left them tingling and bare as I reached down for my first cigarette, and placed it gently between my lips. I watched myself in profile in the mirror, hand planted firmly in my crotch writhing back and forth like a crazed nympho with an impossibly long coffin nail bouncing up and down in my pouting tarty painted lips.
When I was on the verge of orgasm again, I snatched my hand from between my thighs, reached down for my lighter with the other, and watched myself spark it to life in the mirror. "Wait to inhale" I thought to myself, and I lifted the flame to the tip, seemingly so far away from me, yet soon to be intimately connected to places deep inside me. I began to suck, and felt the heat of the flame enter the Virginia Slims 120 and bring it to "life."
I immediately noticed that, once ignited, it became slightly more difficult to draw smoke from the cigarette than it was to draw air. But the toxic vapor quickly began to pour into my virgin mouth, hot and dry and nasty, and I deliberately closed my throat and held my breath so that I wouldn't accidentally inhale. I removed the smoldering cancer stick from my mouth and sealed my lips and let the poison linger on my oral mucosa, stinging it with countless tiny little droplets of sticky carcinogenic tar – the first moment of submission in my new smoker's journey. I gently parted my unnatural lips and exhaled my unnatural mouthful of cancer gas, which turned out to be a lot more that I thought I'd dragged into my mouth.
I repeated taking drags without inhaling five more times, alternating between looking down at my first cigarette and the smoke that it was spewing, and watching myself suck on it in the mirror.
The taste accumulating on my tongue could best be simply described as "Dirty." Kayla said that it was an acquired taste. You have to want to learn how to enjoy tasting Dirty. Smelling Dirty. Feeling Dirty.
The Lung Cancer PSA continued to loop as I studied the smoke oozing tar stain on the filter of my first cigarette.
"Inhaling cigarette smoke decreases my blood oxygen level. Inhaling cigarette smoke decreases my lung function. And every time I inhale cigarette smoke, I increase my chances of dying from lung cancer. I absolutely should not start smoking!"
I tapped the ash off my cigarette for the first time. I made the ashtray Dirty. I made my mouth Dirty. I made my air Dirty. I made my environment Dirty. I made my hair and clothes Dirty. I made my body Dirty.
I thought of Dream Kayla from the night we were reunited. "Do it Baby...go on, KIll yourself..."
I took another soothing long sip of wine, set down the glass, and brought my filthy Demon Lover to my newly toxic lips for the seventh time.
I turned towards the mirror, and watched myself take the first drag that I would ever deliberately try to inhale. "Not too much..." I thought as I plucked the girly lipstick stained coffin nail from my very pre-meditated and willing kiss, and again let the poison linger in and corrupt my mouth. I exhaled the air in my still pink and vibrant lungs through my nose as I'd seen Kayla do with her decaying lungs, and then snapped my lips open, thrust my diaphragm down, threw my shoulders back, and inhaled as quickly and as deeply as I could.
The seventh drag of my first cigarette rushed down through my virgin oropharynx, over my virgin vocal cords, down my virgin trachea, down into each and every branch of my virgin bronchial tree, and all the way to the outermost reaches of the virgin alveolar bundles in each of the five lobes of my virgin lungs.
I watched myself in the mirror go wide-eyed at the hot smothering sensation of Death filling my chest.
The Lung Cancer PSA continued to strobe on my expanded ribcage and exposed breasts and I started to exhale slowly. At first, nothing came out, but as the narrator of the PSA admonished sternly "You're one cigarette closer to cancer..." a very visible and significant plume of Virginia Slims smoke flowed out through my Dirty dark red glossy lips.
And I didn't cough...at least not right away.
There was this dull ache inside me that began to spread outwards from deep in my chest, and I spent a few moments concentrating on not coughing and breathing as normally as I could for someone who's lungs were on fire and rapidly descending into acute bronchospasm. And the full reality of what I'd just done hit me as my poor virgin respiratory tract sent the signal to my diaphragm and intercostal muscles to convulse to try to force out all of the carcinogenic sticky filth I'd just deliberately put into it.
Hacking, wheezing, and racked with pain that got worse the more I coughed, I was suddenly also hit with a wave of nausea that sent me running for the toilet. I dropped the lipstick-stained butt into the bowl where it made a sharp "pop" as it hit the water and went out, after which I promptly puked.
When I'd regained my composure and flushed, I heard the audio from the Lung Cancer PSA still playing in the living room: "Every cigarette makes you sick..." I started to laugh and stood up to look at myself in the bathroom mirror. My skin was as white as my robe, and my lipstick was smudged on my cheek where I'd drug my hand across my my mouth after throwing up.
I thought about the dull ache inside my chest as I gently washed my hands and face, brushed my teeth, and gargled.
I'd made my choice.
Vesperae's discussion and DS multimedia forum:
The Sublime Desire of Cigarette Smoking
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