Fiction | Short Story

looking for a light

on a dissatisfied girl thinking about times past

Chuck’s frigid hands fumbled through her purse for fire. Marlboro gold already between her chapped lips, she grunted with frustration.

    “Got a light?” she huffed sharply at a passing youth. Dejectedly, he shook his head no and trudged on through the cold.

    Nobody smokes anymore, Chuck thought. Not cigs anyway. It was an outdated institution. She was only 32 years old, but like a now wizened Southern belle longing for the antebellum days, Chuck was consumed with a nostalgia for a time far before her own.

    A forty something in Honda Accord slowed down and honked at her. She turned her head away. What happened to the days when a good fur meant high society, not hooker? When Coca-Cola still had cocaine, China was called the Orient, and a woman smoking a cigarette meant- power?

    Chuck stood out of the line of sight of the restaurant where her beau and her brunch awaited her. All she wanted was that familiar taste of home and comfort, not the foreign taste of that foreign boy, that boy who vaped and played shuffleboard on weekends, who said the words “venture capitalism” more times in the past 40 minutes than Chuck would have wanted to hear in her whole lifetime.

    Chuck gazed across the water at the city skyline. How did she end up in New Jersey? She was so close to the music, the life, the rhythms that her body ached for. New York City sang a song of herself that she could hardly hear at such a distance. The Chrysler Building was her favorite of all of them; as she stared at it, she wondered if she could be reincarnated into the past.

The jingling of the cafe door’s bell snapped her out of her reverie. She spit out her unlit cigarette into the murky wetness where the asphalt met the curb. What a waste- the paper unrolled and the tobacco spread like ashes. Sighing, Chuck resigned, to her life, to her time, to her date, and slipped back into the cafe unnoticed.