The Same Cigarettes

An old man sits on a bench,

still smoking the same cigarettes as always

The doctors told him he’d die

If he didn’t stop

Well

That was 20 years ago

And yet

He’s still here

Sitting on the same bench

Smoking the same brand

He has a mustache

And a funny hat

He takes a big puff from his poison

And slowly lets out the smoke

He looks peaceful

The leaves fall down from the trees

Gently floating to earth

The smoke goes up

And slowly fades away

He tried to stop once

It lasted for four days

Then

He got some bad news

His dog Waddles was dying

He said, ‘Fuck it’

And bought a pack

He smoked it all

With his dog laying besides him

In one day

Cigarette after cigarette

Then he walked to the store

And bought some more

His health did not seem important

Without Waddles

What seemed important

Was his bench

And his cigarettes

His wife had passed 10 years ago

And now he was alone

No family that cared to talk to him

No friends

No job

He liked reading the paper

But even that

Was starting to lose its luster

Everything had become too political

And nothing ever changed

Not the world

Not him

Not his bench

Not his brand of cigarettes

People and events took place

But they faded away

And the world remained

He remained

When he was young

He had dreams of changing the world

And he tried for a while

But the world wore him out

And he gave up on it

He noticed the same pattern happening in all of his friends

They all started off wanting to change everything

But once they had their families

Or experienced a tragedy

They gave up

‘Hey Mr. what’re you doing?’

The old man looked down

And there was a young boy

With big eyes

And a baseball cap

Standing right in front of him.

He blinked at him

And asked again

‘What’re you doing Mr.?’

The old man put out his cigarette on the bench

And said, ‘I’m just sitting here.’

‘Want to play catch?’

‘I haven’t thrown a ball in fifty years, kid.’

‘Fifty years?? Sounds like you need practice!

Here, I have an extra mitt.'

He gave the old man a mitt

And ran to grab his other one.

‘Where are your parents, kid?

Can’t they play with you?’

‘Oh my mom’s on her phone

And she doesn’t like to play catch.’

‘Well shit,

Don’t you have friends?’

‘Not any that are here right now…

Here!’

He threw the ball at the old man

It landed a few feet away and rolled right up to his feet.

The old man picked it up and threw it back.

They played catch for fifteen minutes before his mom noticed

‘I’ve got to go Mr, but let's play again another time!’

‘Sure kid.’

The kid ran up to the man and hugged the old man's leg.

He looked up with his big eyes and said,

‘Thank you Mr.’

He ran after his mom

And the old man sat back down and smiled to himself.

Two days later

And the kid was back.

‘Hey Mr!’

He smiled and waved, as he ran up to him.

They played catch again.

And this repeated every couple days for a few months.

The kids name was Connor

And he was in the 2nd grade.

‘I like seeing you here, Mr.

I’m glad you sit on that bench every day.’

‘I won’t always be here kid.’

‘What do you mean?’

The old man wasn’t sure what to say,

‘Er… never mind.’

This time

When the kid left

The old man

Sat back down

Looked up to the sky

Took a deep breath

And let out a big sigh

He grabbed his cigarettes

And stared at them for a long time

Then he got up

Walked to a garbage can

And crushed up his cigarettes

And threw them away.


-C.H.

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