He never thought he was addicted to smoking. He’d told himself at first he only smoked with friends but he remembered the first time he bought a pack and smoked them alone. He remembered furiously burning through a packet of reds after a gut-wrenching breakup years ago, reveling in living away from home and walking his flat with a fag clinging to his lip.

He is letting the smoke swirl in him, cleansing himself one last time. He thinks quitting is a good idea. He tells himself it will be easy but he doubts it. The real problem is he never feels like he ‘needs’ a smoke, more and more he just enjoys it. Those rare alley puffs had become 20 a day and suddenly he had smoked for a decade. He lets it burn to the end and scrape his fingers with heat. He throws the butt to the floor and stamps it out gently. Goodbye, smokes. He starts an app on his phone to tell him the money he is saving and the minutes he is earning back.

He figures he should go for a walk since it’s Easter Friday and he doesn’t have to work – he isn’t religious but is happy for the holiday. He heads to his room and throws on a too-tight shirt and some new jeans, and decides to leave his hoodie since it is getting warmer. He instinctively grabs a lighter from his bedside table and puts it in his back pocket before he realises.


He is walking and taking in the surprising light. He passes strangers and glimpses them in the eye, finds no angry stares. He sees the corner shop and thinks should he? No. He will not buy any smokes. Later he will go for a run and hope it helps. He has been trying to eat better, trying to run and thinking of joining a gym. He looks in the mirror and remembers how thin he had been – the weight had snuck up on him as well. He always felt uncomfortable unless he was asleep. Trying to hold in his gut, making sure his jeans were pulled high and his arse crack wasn’t showing. He tried to wear loose clothes but never wore things he cared about anymore. He supposed losing her and living alone had given him an excuse to take life far too casually. Maybe a dash of vanity was good, every once in awhile. He’d ordered some shirts that were too small in hopes he’d lose to fit into them.

A boy is walking across the street, his eyes buried in his phone. He looks towards him and sees – wait, no? – a bus is coming. The driver looks to be telling someone off, not looking where he’s going. Neither bus or boy knows they’re about to collide. He thinks he used to be a good person and maybe he still is he just forgot amid the drugs. He starts to run, heels aching from their new hobby but he moves faster than a month ago.

He pushes the boy, whose head smacks the pavement, phone flying from him, but he is clear none the less. He turns his head in time to look the driver in the eyes, know he is as sorry and scared about this as he could be. He doesn’t fall, at once is on the ground, thinks he can hear but not sure, sees a dash of red pass him, one leg spins and he hears a violent snap. He hears tires screeching to a stop and looks around him. The bus stops shy of the back wheel running across him, he sighs. One leg is facing the wrong direction but he can’t feel it. He can’t feel much. The boy runs to him.

“Holy fucking shit, holy fuck” the boy says. He looks at him. The boy is 13, maybe 14, and it shocks him to hear someone so young speak like this. He thinks maybe he is older than he thought. The boy takes a picture of him, seemingly by instinct. He says “that driver is a fucking idiot, don’t worry mate I’ll call the police” and as quickly has the phone to his ear. Now he can feel his leg, he thinks. Only the good one. He kicks it and stretches, marvels at the aching heel.

He looks at the sky and the light and feels spits of water coming down. Other cars have stopped to look at the man under the train with a broken leg who is smiling. The bus driver is to him, he has tried to calm the passengers but he sees them all, noses pressed against the glass, staring down. He feels like a patient on a table, double deckers onlooking. The driver wants to talk to him but throws up instead. He looks and nods, no worries.

Something is digging into the small of his back – he reaches and pulls from his back pocket. A lighter! He smiles almost. It is cracked, lighter fluid leaking onto his lap, staining him. Fuck you smoking, he thinks, and he throws the lighter under the bus.

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