Friday Fictioneers: No Smoking…


Note:  When I started this story this morning, the smell of cigarette smoke kept bothering me. I am not a smoker, nor is anyone around me. I imagined it might be the prompt, unduly impacting me.  The minute I saw this photo, the story was clear– inspired by a strong female narrator in my head.  The story took shape instantly, of a woman dying, but hearing the voices in the room around her.  An hour after I posted it,  a friend who does body work and is very intuitive, greeted me with a hug and asked me why I smelled so strongly of cigarettes; no one else has smelled it on me today.

An hour after I wrote and posted this story, I got word that someone I have not known long, but care about had died.  She was surrounded by loved ones, at the very time the story came to me, and died ten minutes before my friend smelled cigarette smoke on my freshly laundered clothes. This story is dedicated with affection to J., a long-time smoker. I was honored to spend time with her, and I’m glad she is no longer suffering. May she rest in peace, and be free from all struggles.

Each week I look forward to the prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Writers from all over the world write a 100-word story: flash fiction with a beginning, middle and end, based on the same photo prompt. Check out the details and read other stories, at Rochelle’s blog, Addicted To Purple.

claire-fuller-2(100 words, exactly)

Lost in the haze. I linger here, trying to discern real from memory. Neither is clear.

The wide, expansive windows I always appreciated– for the view to the woods and pasture beyond, only remind me of exploding shards of pain.

Voices whisper as I lie still– trying to focus, over the constant beep… beep… beep. “How could he?” “It’s posted everywhere.” “All those fumes… nothing left.” Beep… beep… beep.

Lungs seared, skin melted, I long to take my mother’s hand.  Gone ten years now, she beckons from her spot by the door. Real or memory, it’s all a haze now.

**Readers, I always appreciate constructive or positive feedback; please leave a comment.  I am participating in a weekly writing competition, posted on Saturdays. The editors of the site have encouraged writers to “bring it:”  Get their readers to vote for them. If you have time on Saturday, I’d love to have you visit my blog, read my story, and IF you like it, vote for it. This is a time for self-promotion, so I’ll bring it.

Subscribe, if you want to get more of this good stuff.  Also, please take a moment to check out my TFTM Facebook page and hit Like; my goal is 400 this year. There are times when I’m very clever on Twitter, but you get what you pay for. It’s free.

© 2014  Please note, that content and some images on this page are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland. If you care to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

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About talesfromthemotherland

Straight up, with a twist... my twisted view of things. Join me for the ride. Zipping through a mid-life glitch (not quite a crisis... yet) I live in one of the most beautiful places anywhere. I'm the mother of 3 intelligent, attractive and challenging kids and the wife of a talented, attractive, challenging man. That leaves me challenged, to make my own mark. I love to travel; and have done a lot of it. Despite all the interesting destinations, India is my spiritual, second home. I love hiking and being in the wilderness, but I also NEED to be near the ocean, or a large body of salt water, to survive. That makes where I live, pretty damned perfect. That and all the incredibly cool and dynamic people who live here with me. I think I have something to say about lots of things; hope you agree. Thanks for sharing the journey!
Aside | This entry was posted in Honest observations on many things. Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to Friday Fictioneers: No Smoking…

  1. zeudytigre says:

    This is so good – well done :)

  2. It would seem if something is posted to NOT do, it’s exactly the thing is violated. The “skin melted” is pretty horrific. Nice one, Dawn!

  3. helenmidgley says:

    Great piece of writing :)

  4. jgroeber says:

    Who can pack such a wallop in so few words?! Well done!

  5. I like the way you contrasted the good (views) with the bad. A very subtly done story.

    janet

  6. A bit dark and a bit sad a whole story well written.

  7. It was rather hard to read if you’re ever experiences pain, but it was very detailed and realistic.

    • Thanks. I have in fact been in an ICU room for many weeks… listening to the beeps and the voices. This story, I believe came from somewhere special. Go back and read the new intro, to see why. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  8. Sorry about the typos in my last comment. I should only write when I’m not this tired. I usually check for typos.

  9. kz says:

    wonderful piece, dawn. it’s really sad that there are people who’d put their lives and other lives at risk. and the consequences of such carelessness are horrifying!

    • Absolutely! And it happens all the time. Thanks for your feedback, KZ. Go check out the new intro; I think the events around this story are right up your alley KZ!

      • kz says:

        i’m truly sorry for your loss.
        the smell of cigarettes, such a chilling coincidence!
        sometimes though, i believe in those signs.

        • Thank you, I believe in signs too. This is not someone who was a close friend, but someone I thought was special and very kind. I believe that many interesting things occurred all on one day. Thanks a lot for taking the time to read and comment; much appreciated.

          Sent from Dawn’s iPhone

  10. Lovely Dawn, an excellent story which gripped me, well done.

  11. rgayer55 says:

    Your intro really touched my heart. I believe strongly in those types of connection. Real or memory? I suspect we’ll all slip off into that haze at some point. Very strong writing. Well done.

    • Thanks so much Russell. I can not tell you how powerful this experience was! I believe in things like this too, and couldn’t provide all the details. But when I went to See J’s body today, and pay my respects, her family was amazed too. I really do believe that J was with me when I got up to write the story today. Thanks for your kind thoughts; always appreciated!

  12. Adam Ickes says:

    Great story. Kind of creepy/weird when you factor in the intro, but I like creepy/weird.

  13. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Olfactory is the most primitive, powerful and intuitive sense organ. It feels to me as if this story, the photo and your connection to J. were aligned for the honoring of their passing, Dawn. And you definitely “brought it!” I feel this so strongly.

    I, too, do not smoke and so do not “get” the habit. Being a health-care worker and also the daughter of a chain-smoker, I have a strong dislike for smoking. Yet, I somehow feel a compassion for those who do, as the chemicals released in cigarettes are so addictive. I feel, these days, a more compassionate and less judgmental relationship with those who smoke. May they make choices that support their health and well being in the future. Great story, Dawn.

    • Thanks so much Cathy. I spent about a year lecturing children, in public schools about the addictive properties of nicotine. Like you, I grew up with a chain smoker, who wanted her cigarettes until the very last minute. The woman, J, who I refer to here, had quit 4 years ago. We joked about how she might always miss it though.We were reading Marley and Me together, and spent time talking about the pain of dying young… missing so many things with her family and those she loved. I planned to visit her again today, and I really do believe that she visited me, on her way out. The timing of things was truly chilling.

      I’m glad that the story resonated and held together as well… it was written in ten minutes. Truly one of those pieces that is there, waiting for me to type it. Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Cathy. xo

  14. Perry Block says:

    So sad and surprising it’s the mom. Very touching and effective. (And any time is a good time for self-promotion! It hasn’t worked for me, but go for it all the same.)

  15. Michele vaughan says:

    You have always been more connected to “the other side” than most of us. I remember from our time together 20 years ago

    • Hey Michele! Welcome to TFTM. :-D Good to “see” you here… Yes, I don’t talk about it much, but I am connected. Maybe that’s why my experiences at Hospice have been so “unusual” and special, as one worker said. The patients often ask for me… it’s such a special, and meaningful place to me. J was a particularly special lady, and I will be holding her in my heart for a while. Thanks so much for dropping in; I love knowing you’re out there! ;-) xo

  16. Sandra says:

    I enjoyed the story and your interesting intro. Nicely done – both of them. I believe that “I lay still” should be “I lie still” (‘lay’ being the past tense of ‘to lie’). There’s a lot of stuff on the difference between lay and lie if you google it. Good luck on Saturday.

  17. Mike Lince says:

    You brought a lot of power to the page today. Your introduction helped prepare me for your unique perspective on the subject of smoking. I was struck with how your intro quickly took me from your intellectual state of mind to the ethereal world of a barely conscious haze.

    You evoked the ‘searing pain’ of suffering before dying. That is what I wish I could impart to the young people I see who smoke, to urge them to stop while they are young. There are SO MANY smokers in Europe, particularly in the less-industrialized countries. They don’t know how addictive cigarettes can be, or they don’t care because they are young. And what is worse, in places like Croatia and Bosnia, cigarettes cost less than half than in the U.S. Thank you for another brief journey through your intriguing imagination. – Mike

  18. Pingback: Friday Fictioneers: No Smoking… | ugiridharaprasad

  19. claireful says:

    Your intro gave me goosebumps. It’s funny how things connect. And I’m glad that my picture inspired you to write this lovely piece.

    • Claire, your photo was like one the first “sign” in what would be a very goose bumpy day!! I actually smelled smoke, before opening Rochelle’s email. That was the first ooooh moment. From then on, it got stranger and stranger! Your photo is really fascinating; where was it taken?

      It’s such an incredible thing when you wake up to see your photo featured, and then get to read all the interesting takes on that photo! I had a long day yesterday and I’m traveling today… hope to catch up on the stories while I do. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration this week! :-)

  20. The backstory made it even more enchanting to read. The mother calling her is a very strong realization

  21. Life is…. very strange, darling, I’ll give you that. I think the reason I’m not writing this week is because writing about smoking is a serious trigger — I’ve not quite a month of not smoking under my belt, and I just finished writing a story with smoking in it, and every time I mentioned it, it was all I could do to not go out for a smoke!
    I am sorry for your loss — what a day you’ve had.
    I’m not writing this week, but I’d love it if you’d drop by my blog for a second anyway, I posted a big announcement today

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Helena. The person who died was someone I work with. We were not close friends, but she was a very special lady and she and I had become fairly close at the end of her life. I work at Hospice. Currently, I’m traveling, will check it out when I arrive. Take care and good luck with the non-smoking. I truly wish you well with that.

      Sent from Dawn’s iPhone

  22. JackieP says:

    That was a great story Dawn. The intro was eerie but I believe in those kind of things. :-)

  23. Linda Vernon says:

    That is uncanny the way we tend to be more connected in the cloud of telepathy the more we write. Or so I have found. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Your story is tragically beautiful. I would long to take my mother’s hand too.

    • Thanks Linda! I think this is something that’s always been true for me… Before I was writing or doing anything else. I do believe, however, life is mystery. Thanks so much for reading and commenting; much appreciated. Sent from Dawn’s iPhone

  24. hugmamma says:

    Very compelling stories…both. So sorry for your loss. Hopefully, good memories will carry you through. Hugs….

  25. I played Magic the Gathering for many years and have thousands of cards – I love the one on the right of your page!
    The story was done very well. I, especially, enjoyed the mother at the door image.
    Scott

    • Thanks Scott. I have never played Magic the Gathering, but the blogger Rara, made that for several of us who responded to a particular post, around New Years. I love that she created one for each of us!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post… welcome to Tales From the Motherland! I hope you’ll read more and share your thoughts. Your time and energy are much appreciated.

  26. Dear Dawn,

    First, I’m sorry for your loss.

    This story is chilling to me on more than one level.

    My mother was a smoker. Specifically she smoked Raleigh’s. Remember those? They came with a coupon on the pack. Like S&H green stamps, you could save those and redeem them for something out of their catalog. We used to joke that she could buy an iron lung. Somehow that joke lost its humor when lung cancer took her life. To say that I hate smoking and the smell of it is a gross understatement.

    Beautifully and sensitively written.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • Rochelle,

      I do remember Raleigh, and the coupons! My grandmother smoked them for several years, until she became a Marlboro woman. She and my mother smoked all of their lives. I grew up surrounded by smokers, and like you, hate doesn’t begin to describe my feelings for the habit.

      Thanks for your kind comment, and I’m sorry for your loss. J was not someone I knew well, but someone I came to care about. Her death was sad, as she was much younger than need be.

      Shabbat shalom, Dawn

  27. atrm61 says:

    So sorry to read about your loss Dawn but what an experience you have had-to be connected that way-it gives me the chills!Loved your story too-it is powerfully evocative:-)

  28. Dawn,
    I read the story first and then went up and read your introduction. The story fits so much better in that context. It seems to me a tribute to the victims of others’ choices to smoke, the innocent bystanders who get taken down by the habit, in this case, very quickly and brutally. Very well done.
    -David

    • Thanks David. I think the story had a lot of levels for me this week. When I wrote the story, I had not heard about about the lady I cared for, who died that day. The smell of smoke, and the sense that the story *must* be written from the viewpoint of someone trapped in their body, dying, which came to me at the very time this person was dying… combined with the other details of the day, was nothing short of surreal, or supernatural… depending on what you believe. I incorporated all it, and expanded the idea/story for my piece of fiction in the weekly Tipsy Lit writing competition this week. Winner gets their story published with TL. Hope I can earn your vote, for my story: The Lesson. If you have a chance, voting is all day Saturday. http://tipsylit.com/2014/02/01/polling-prompted-crossing-over/

  29. Such a sad tale! And much too common still. Your flow and words are well chosen to give the final line a powerful closing.

    • Thanks so much! I ended up taking this story further (1,500) and creating a new one, for Tipsy Lit’s competition this week. The photo was very inspiring this week. ;-) Thanks so much for your feedback; much appreciated!

  30. etomczyk says:

    Dawn, this was well done. I read the story first and then retraced my steps to study the picture and then your “smokey” experience. Very intriguing–very engaging.

  31. Eena says:

    What a beautiful take on the prompt! I had initially thought I’d also write about the haze, a blurring of lines, the space between things, and a haunting lack of clarity. Yours was just perfect, personal though very sad.
    I’m curious about how your third eye is developing! Yoga is doing strange things to my senses, perhaps it’s opening a sixth sense in us :)

    • Eena, after 18 years of yoga, I’ve been sitting it out for nearly a year now… knee injury that required surgery and now a bilateral achilles issue from medical emergency and reaction to antibiotics this past December. I miss it, and I don’t. As for the 3rd eye, many who have known me for a long time, know that it’s been open for a long time… my 6th sense is sharp, but I don’t always recognize the meanings, until after things happen. ;-) Thanks for reading!

  32. Your intro was a chilling story that could stand alone, but then you topped it off with a wonderfully sad story, like a special bonus. I’m so sorry for the loss of a friend who clearly touched your life in the short time you knew her. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lisa, the original story did not include an intro… but as that day wore on, it was so full of amazing instances, I had to add it. Yes, it really is a 2nd story altogether! Thanks for your lovely feedback; it’s much appreciated!

  33. I love stories that paint a picture so clearly I can work out what’s happening without being told directly. Clever writing, Dawn.

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