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A Cigarette Story

by JosephBarry 

Posted: 06 July 2003
Word Count: 395
Summary: Thank you for viewing my story. This is my first real attempt at any serious writing and I would appreciate any comments anyone has. I'm tyring to write about my experinces as well as what I see around me, (allthough I was not smoking at such an early age). Thanks, JB

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

He opened the back door taking great care to make the minimum amount of noise; he didn’t want to wake his parents. The key scraped against the lock punctuating the silence but after a twist the door swung open into the black of the night. He crept out searching for the slightest hint of a sound from the house. Satisfied that no one had heard his exit he sat down on the garden chair and lit a cigarette. As he took his first toke he relaxed and sighed as the smoke hit his lungs and the nicotine began to sweep through his body, giving him the relief he’d been craving for hours.

Tonight had been a bad one. His father had stayed up to watch the football meaning that tonight’s venture had to be delayed. He found it pathetic being dependent on tobacco and he had told himself from an early age that he would never smoke. Yet, here he was, having to creep out of his bed in the middle of the night, otherwise unable to sleep. It was okay at school, he could sneak out a lunch and break, and there was always the journey to and from school with the other smokers.

“I’m lucky,” the boy thought to himself. “I’m not like those other kids my age, dependent on weed, having to have a J before they are able to sleep. Nah, I’m no stoner.”
“Jeez and some of these kids are delving into harder stuff. Only last week,” he contemplated, “Ben got some speed off his brother. That’s fucking dangerous that shit.”

“Then there’s the pissheads, those crazy kids from the estate who get wasted every night on the £6 bottles of vodka or the cheap cider. At least cigarettes don’t get you off your face,” he thought.

“Yeah I’m not doing too badly for someone my age. I don’t take drugs except for the occasional joint. But that’s only when it’s about, I’d never buy any.”

“I only drink when I can get away with it. Bloody Dad doesn’t really approve of it. Yeah I’m all right , eight fags a day is all right, nothing serious. Okay for an 11 year old.”

He smiled to himself as he took his last pull, stubbed out the cigarette, threw the but into next doors house and went back inside, feeling tired.

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 07:33 on 07 July 2003  Report this post
Hi Joseph,

A short piece, but some interesting ideas here.

I think you should say even less in some places - assume the reader can draw their own conclusions from the images you've given them, for example:

'He opened the back door taking great care to make the minimum amount of noise; he didn’t want to wake his parents.'

You could dispense with the words in italics - let the reader find out for themselves how old/young he is later.

'...the black of the night.' seemed to jump out a bit - I'm sure you could say this in a slightly more original way.

Look very carefully at the 'voice' of your narrator. It's almost just right but there are one or two things that would make it flow more smoothly - very small things, but...

eg. "Then there’s the pissheads, those crazy kids from the estate who get wasted every night on the £6 bottles of vodka or the cheap cider."

I think your character would think in the more abbreviated way below.

"And the pissheads - crazy kids form the estate - wasted every every night on cheap vodka and cider."

These are small details I know, but will tighten the piece and make it immediate - give it the impact it deserves.

The idea is a good one, and with a little careful editing will convey the sort of self-delusional hopelessness of the boy even more

Hope this helps, best, Nell.

JosephBarry at 11:46 on 07 July 2003  Report this post
Thanks very much Nell for your comments. I've taken them on board.


stephanieE at 13:10 on 07 July 2003  Report this post
JB - welcome to Write Words - and well done for having the bottle to share your writing with us.

I would echo Nell's comments - there's a voice here that seems really genuine, but it needs to be consistent and really allow the reader to get into the head of this eleven-year-old terror.

And a couple of minor typos:
"he could sneak out a (at) lunch and break"
"threw the but (butt) into next doors house" (and, er... do you mean house, or do you mean garden?)

Keep up the good work!

roger at 10:34 on 17 August 2003  Report this post
Hi JB,

I agree with Nell and Steph; there is some tidying to do here, but that's a fairly minor thing and I think your piece carries a very strong and important message. There are 11 year-olds who smoke a relatively few number of cigarettes and kid themselves, therefore, that it's not a problem. But of course it is, and your reference to 'stronger stuff' brings that home. Overall, I think you got the message over really well and that the 'bit of tidying' will be well worth doing.

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