Smoke

What I remember most vividly about our friendship is the smell of smoke.

The way it lingered on my clothes after spending the day at your house.

The way it filled my lungs as your dad drove us to the mall.

The way it stung my nostrils as we laid curled into each other on your twin sized bed.

The threat of second hand smoke paled in comparison to the promise being your friend held.

They say that smells are processed through the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain.

And that the olfactory bulb has a direct connection to the parts of the brain that stimulate memory and emotion.

All I know is 7 years after our friendship ended in hospital visits and the feel of sticky restaurant tabletops, I was working at Starbucks when the small of espresso grounds reminded me of secrets and hope and your dad smoking in his office and love.

The heartache I thought I had packed in boxes along with clothes that no longer fit me and old stuffed animals resurrected itself in my chest.

Although I was now 21, the smell of espresso grounds reminded me of what it felt like to be 13.

To make promises you swear you would keep.

To not realize that some promises you cannot keep.

Although I am about to graduate college, the smell of espresso grounds reminds me of what it felt like to be entering the 9th grade.

Of the terror and excitement and dreams of a grandiose future filled with friendships that last like high school sweethearts.

Like after school confessions of love and forever.

But like most high school sweethearts we reached a point where we questioned if we had ever really loved each other at all or if this was just all we’d ever known.

If maybe there was a better love out there and we were simply settling for the first thing that came our way.

In 9th grade I imagined a bright future for myself and I carved a space for you in it.

But you clumsily drew my outline in chalk that the teacher erased at the end of the day.

And now there is an empty space in my future that I don’t know how to fill because I carved it with your shape in mind.

No one else has your sharp hipbones and twig shaped limbs.

No one else listened to my middle school fears under the shadow of night and lime green comforters.

Although pictures and journals remind me of the feel of summer sweat and cool water from slip n’ slides.

Of sharpie stained hands and endless letters I wrote to you.

All I can remember about our friendship is how you burnt it to the ground.

How you mindlessly stood next to everything we’d build and dropped a lit cigarette on my gasoline heart.

All I can remember about our friendship is the smell of smoke.

 “Big Mama: I’m sorry, Tod. Honey, Cooper’s gonna come back a trained hunting dog. A real killer.

Tod: Oh, no. Not my friend Cooper. He won’t every change.

Big Mama: I hope you’re right, Tod.

Tod: And we’ll keep on being friends forever. Uh, won’t we, Big Mama?

Big Mama: Darlin’, forever is a long, long time. And time has a way of changin’ things.”

The Fox and the Hound

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