301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


Do You Have a Lighter?

2nd Prize Winner of the 10th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.


93do-you-have-a-lighterMy doctor told me that when we are grieving, our lungs are the first thing to notice. He told me this with a stethoscope to my heart and a hand under my left breast. He asked me again if I was positive I didn’t smoke.

Just pot, I replied, mostly sure that this was true.

My doctor told me that I had the lungs of a sick person.

I said, Maybe just a sad one.

He grimaced, and moved the instrument across my shirt. He paused, then continued, Are you sad?

I said, Of course, who isn’t?

He suggested I exercise more.

I told him I didn’t want to appease the masses and get any skinnier because then men have won.

He asked me if I thought I was depressed. I said I wouldn’t know how to tell, and he spluttered, Well, do you like yourself?

I said, Like myself, no of course not, who likes themself?

He said, I like myself.

I said, Well, you shouldn’t.

He said, Well, I think we’re about done here today. You come back if anything starts bothering you.

I assured him I’d let him know if anything stopped bothering me.

He shook his head. I put on my coat. It was easy to do up, because there were only two buttons left on it.

When I got home I sat at the kitchen table with my bong. I broke a hard lump of nug into a dusting of tiny leaves. I stuffed the glass bowl full, pushed the green down tight.

My roommate crossed from his room to the bathroom in only a towel. He spotted me on the way. He said, Hey. How was your appointment?

I said, Do you have a lighter?

He said, I have one of yours, actually. He retrieved it from his room and handed it to me. I cracked the window and lit up. The afternoon cool rushed in; the glass chamber filled with medicine. I extracted the bill piece and sucked back the smoke.

How was your appointment, he asked again.

I have the lungs of a sick person, I said, exhaling a heavy grey cloud into our kitchen.

Oh. He said.

I didn’t say anything.

I’m going to have a shower, do you need to use the bathroom?

I idly flicked the lighter.

No. Remember to hang the bath mat up when you’re done, I said.

He hesitated, then flat-footed it to the bathroom. I noticed his overpronation as he walked. I emptied whatever was left in the bowl, but it was mostly ash.

Then I went into my room and got undressed. The main light didn’t work, so I turned on the lamp, got into bed and pretended to read.

I don’t know who I was trying to fool. I was the only person in the room.

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