lucky strike

The gas station has become a favorite place of mine. Warm when it’s cold outside, I buy a pack of cigarettes that I don’t need. I have three half-full packs sitting on my windowsill at home, but sometimes I get a new one just to feel a little special. I’ll never try that gas station coffee, no matter how desperate I get. I said the same thing about cigarettes.

I like seeing the prices they list on the windows for Marlboro Reds, even though I smoke Luckies or Newports. I got a pack of those cowboy cigarettes once but they didn’t taste good. “These are the kind that don’t kill you,” someone once told me about Marlboros, jokingly.

Everything kills you. I like the way the gas station is anonymous; it’s like a small-scale airport. Like a transitional world that you go in and out of, never staying long. You fill up on whatever it is you need, then head out to the next leg of your journey. I start to recognize the gas station attendants and at the same time start to recognize I’m developing a problem.

It’s not as poetic as you think; I start to feel less like indie-girl Liddy from that TV Girl song and more like the old folks outside of a home dying to get their last drag. It’s a fix nowadays.

Still, when I inhale that rough smoke and wait 10 seconds for the nicotine to maximize in my bloodstream, I love the way it makes me feel. Or I used to. Now it gets distracting, and doesn’t last half as long as it used to. I used to hate the way it made me smell; now I can’t even smell it. My mom tells me I smell like smoke.

“Those will kill you,” she says. I’m surprised that when she found the cigarettes in my backpack she didn’t throw them out. I think she knows how badly I need them. I wonder if she judged me for getting the cheap shit. Lucky Strikes hurt but I might as well get the cheap shit if it’s going to be a long-term habit.

I don’t know what’s to come but at least I have a little hope. Doc Martens, Lucky Reds, iced coffee, menthol nic salts; it’s all for fun. I hope I make it to April. I think I will.



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Isabella (she/her) writes literary nonfiction and creative memoir. She is currently an undergraduate English & Creative Writing student in Raleigh, NC.