As I looked at her sitting there in the white wicker chair, I was reminded, I think, a little of my aunt. Or was it my friend’s niece? Oh, who cares, it’s not terribly important. What was important was, she was the one who knew where it was. The thing that I lost. She was silent for a long time.
“Where is it?” I asked again.
“You are not listening. I won’t say another word until you listen.” she said. She leaned back, and took a single cigarette out of her shirt pocket. I was confused. I heard what she said. She just said I was not listening. Knowing that she said I was not listening meant that I was, in fact, listening. Or did she mean I had not heard her, and she already told me where it was? I wasn’t sure, so I decided to wait a moment, ask again, and hope that I looked more like I was actually listening. When you are intentionally waiting, you notice things. Things that you did not before. Especially when you are around someone else who is forcing themselves to wait without necessity as well. I watched her bring the cigarette to her lips. She then brought a lighter from her coat pocket. It was white, just like her coat was. It took a while for her to get the thing to work. Perhaps it was out of fuel. Or maybe it was a safety lighter. Or maybe she felt it was fun to make the sparks come out, but no fire. Finally, it lit, and she hastily drew in a breath through the cigarette, lighting it.
It burned down slowly for a bit with a crimson point, flickering with life, and she put the lighter away. I looked at her pocket for a little bit, just feeling a little out of place and bored, really. I looked back up into her hazel eyes, as she shook her long, well kept mane of auburn hair. I placed my hands over my lap, and watched her silently, as she seemed to completely ignore my presence, and go into the universe of just enjoying her smoke without me. I watched, nearly entranced, at the ropey spindle of smoke, which rose from the tip of the cigarette. Lucy. That was her name. She told me that, at least. When she came in. They told me she could find it. She knew where it was. When would she tell me? I watched as she pulled the smoky stick from her lips, and exhaled. She had held that smoke in there for some time. I wasn’t a smoker. I found myself wondering what the attraction was.
Did it feel good when you held in the smoke for a little while? It seemed very relaxing. Perhaps, I thought, I should pick up the habit. After all, Lucy seemed pretty comfortable and happy with it. She smiled at me in silence, seeming to notice me again for the first time, as she pursed her lips around the butt of the cigarette, and crossed her legs, kicking a foot a bit, the edges of her mouth, those supple, soft-looking lips curling upwards in a wry smile as she watched me. I smiled back at her, even though I knew it was a smug smile. She knew where it was, and she wasn’t telling me. She was making me wait. Why did she have to make me wait? She flicked off the ashes, right onto the stone floor. I looked at them. They fell in a strike pattern that reminded me of a comet. But they stopped glowing.
I looked up again, as Lucy sighed softly, and took her lighter back out. She had knocked the fire right off of it. Served her right, I thought, for teasing me so. She carefully lit the cigarette, getting fire her first try from the lighter, before putting it back, and taking a long, very satisfied looking drag from the cigarette, pulling that rather tame-looking fire almost down to her fingers, which were just ahead of the butt. I gritted my teeth, part of me hoping she would forget, and just burn those long, elegant fingers, for being such a tease, but the other part of me was just relaxed by watching this display of complete mindless waiting. I crossed my hands over my knees, crossing my legs as well. Lucy looked up at me, and smiled again, her lovely, youthful face peering at me intently from behind the smoke.
“Well?” I asked, finally breaking the silence, as her cigarette was almost gone.
“Well?” she repeated back to me, that warm, kind, but knowing smile still resting upon her pouting lips. It was as if there was information she wanted from me! I shook my head.
“Where is it?” I asked rather sternly.
“I already told you,” she said, rather insistently.
“Then tell me again. You were right, I was not listening. I am listening now.” I said. “Now where is it?” I repeated more sternly. I was being reasonable. I wasn’t being crazy or obsessive, I felt. Why was she stalling so much?
“Very well.” she said, putting her cigarette out at last, on the arm of the wicker chair, leaving a dark spot from the ashes, though I don’t feel it actually burned.
“Good.” I said, smiling, as I leaned back in my chair a bit.
“I can’t help you find what you lost.” she said with a sigh, releasing the little bit of sweet white smoke she still had in her lungs.
“What?” I fairly cried out, “Why not?”
“Because what you have lost, Mr. Reynolds is not a physical item. It’s not something I can just hand back to you. I will see you tomorrow,” she said, standing up. “This is the end of your session today.” Then, she got up, and walked out. Out of the room. The room that I stayed in. With the cushy walls. And the one door with no windows. And I sat there, alone. All alone. But the smoke: it was still there. I did not know if the smoke smelled like Lucy.. Or Lucy smelled like the smoke. It was hard to tell. I would find it, though. I lost it, they say. So if you can lose something, does it not stand to reason… That someone else can find it? They said Lucy could help me find it. When they brought me to this room, they said she was the best at finding it. What if she did find it? What if she had it now, and just didn’t want to give it back? So I sit here, and I think about smoking. Because it looked relaxing. I needed to relax. That’s all I needed.