We're sitting here on the concrete floor, our backs propped against the wall. It's daylight outside but dark in the bathroom. The single bulb overhead receives little electricity—the wiring in here is older than my parents—and barely produces enough light to see the tiny spider crawling along the wall next to the mirror or the dust and paint chips collected in the cobwebs. Under this light, the rust beneath the faucet looks deep brown like a scarlet-ebony.
I notice you fidget beside me to get comfortable against the brick wall. You put your hand upon the cement ground between us and jerk it back.
You show me the wound as I stare at the fragment of glass stabbed into the underside of your knuckles. You pull it out, and I watch you lift your hand to your mouth. You suck on the small gash and replace the blood you've just swallowed with the germs in your mouth.
You reach around and begin to dig through your bag. You've grabbed a small green-and-white box. You turn it upside-down and beat the top of it against your palm. You open it and pull out a slender piece of tobacco wrapped in paper.
Cigarettes. Portable cancer. Legal for some; illegal for you and me.
After more digging, your hand re-emerges with a lighter. As soon as the tobacco begins to burn, I can smell the thousands of chemicals drip from the tip of the cigarette. They fall heavily around us and pool in our lungs and throat as we breathe in the smoke.
I watch you inhale the nicotine that you so crave and can only imagine how your lungs must look filling up with tar. Not only are you taking in 43 different carcinogens and the muck they pave roads with, but the smoke that you exhale so nonchalantly forces you and me to breathe in the same things that people use to remove nail polish with.
We sit in the leaking, broken, and forgotten bathroom and fill our lungs with toilet bowl cleaner, rat poison, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide. We sit in this damned bathroom and slouch against the molded wall as we erode our lungs slowly. The same breath we take to keep our hearts pumping, our blood circulating, our brains functioning is the same breath that will eventually kill us.
We sit in silence and breathe in your smoke. We sit in silence as the toxins course through our systems. We sit in silence and die slowly.
You move around some more and I look down as an unlit cigarette comes to rest in my line of vision.
I take it and reach for your lighter. We sit in silence as I inhale and relish in the feel of the cancer flowing into my lungs.
I'm about to take another hit off of it when I pause.
I imagine tar being poured down my throat and into my lungs. I imagine my brain shriveling from the ammonia. I imagine my blood becoming thick and stuck and weighted with nicotine.
I bring the cigarette to my mouth again. I pause. Again.
Finally I inhale deeply from the filter of the cigarette and shrug my shoulders.
"I'm fucking great."