I looked down the side of the dam. The flood gates were closed today. It had not rained in some time. I leaned over the rail, waiting for my contact. The breeze drove dryly from the south as I watched the occasional cloud wander by in the deep mango-colored sunset. The sun itself had slipped behind the western hills of the valley this dam was nestled between. I was told to meet him here at sunset. Was he late, or was I early. Was sunset when there was no light left to him? I took out a sleek metal case, and pushed a little latch on it, which made it pop open with an almost inaudible click. I rather thoughtlessly reached into it and selected one of the cigarettes contained inside, and rolled it between my fingers absentmindedly for a while, looking at the water far below. I looked at the silver metal case again. I could see my reflection in it. My short blonde hair cut to my neck, and my green eyes almost piercing in this light. I smiled, confident in my appearance for this type of meeting, and I put the case away. I brought out my lighter. One of those metal butane lighters with the copper bead in the mouth of it, which makes the flame turn green. I lit the wind-proof flame and watched it shift color, and lit my cigarette with it.
I leaned against the railing, looking down again, as I took the first draw off my cigarette. The warm, powerful flavor of that white smoke slipped over my tongue, like the embrace of a long absent lover, as I closed my eyes and enjoyed for a moment. Sometimes, to relax, there is nothing at all that beats this. I inhaled deeply, drawing the smoke, lovingly chambered behind my lips, into my lungs, and then released it in a slow, meaningful breath, opening my eyes again as the air in front of me softened in the haze of cigarette smoke. I smiled and looked down the dam again. The nicotine was definitely making me feel a little more relaxed. I was nervous of course. Who wouldn’t be?
I pulled the cigarette to my lips again, and nursed a very deep and uniform dose of that alluring smoke, filling my lungs again, and holding it in, as I looked around, finding myself still alone. I watched the colors of the sunset start to fade, and the lights of the dam along the top where I was standing came on, bright white, lighting the area more than the sunset was a moment ago, and making the sky seem darker. I released the smoke upward, clouding the bright light, a rather futile gesture, of course, but I enjoyed, for some reason, the effect of incandescent light through the billowing of smoke. I flicked ashes over the edge of the dam, and watched with interest as the air fed to the fire of the ash while falling made it glow brightly for a brief moment. It didn’t fall long before darkness consumed it, but still, it is odd sometimes, what you take the time to notice when you have nothing to do and can just dedicate a moment or two to just observe the world around you. I tightened my lips on the slender, half consumed cigarette, and the red spark of life drew toward me as I pulled in the smoke, holding it, and treasuring it.
I felt light, confident, and comfortable now. I traced my lips with the tip of my tongue, moistening them, tasting the mix of tobacco and vanilla lip balm on them. I looked at the forests, becoming black and dark along the valleys. I drew another slow ‘drink’ of that pure and coveted smoke, and watched, just at the edge of my vision, the glow from the ember at the end of my cigarette. It put me in mind, at first, of perhaps seeing a campfire on those hills, and I could have believed that, if it did not move with my head as I turned it. The light of the sun faded from the clouds as I closed my eyes again, feeling the breeze, cooling now, no longer warmed by the light of the sun, wafting over me, drawing out those long spindles of smoke like silk, unwinding it slowly, dissipating it into the night time air. There was still a slight violet tinge to the western skies, but any other evidence that other light existed but that of the dam, the stars, and my cigarette, was slowly been eaten away by time, as it had every day for millennia, pausing not for a single person, no mater what they desired out of the sunset.
The sun had vanished, and the one I was waiting for was not yet at my side. I did not feel I had been misinformed. I decided it was more likely that directions had been misunderstood, and I would just have to wait a little bit longer. I heard footsteps to the left, and saw a guy in a denim jacket, walking toward me. I flicked the cigarette, only about a quarter left, and it spun and danced all the way down to the water, striking the side of the dam a few times, and releasing a shower of sparks. It’s life cut short, for something I had been waiting for. I released the smoke, through my pursed lips, as carefully and alluringly as I could.
“Hey. Are you John?” I asked curiously, seeing his dark, strong features, as he stood before me, his hands in his pockets. My dear friend who I had met online perhaps a year ago, and all this time, I had no idea he was so handsome. “Have you come to sweep me off my feet?” He smiled brightly at me.
“No, actually, I am a conservation administrator for the dam and the state park around it, and I am here to give you a ticket for the cigarette you just pitched over the dam.” he said, in a very serious tone. My heart caught in my throat. He took out what looked like a ticket book.
“I: I didn’t mean to.. Umm: Umm…” I stammered softly. He began to laugh.
“Silly, yes, of course it’s me,” he opened the ticket book, which turned out to be a weekly planner concealing two tickets to River dance. I brightened up, my fear passing as I slapped him on the shoulder. “Come on. Let’s go.” he said, as he put an arm over my shoulders, and led me from the dam.