The envelope – Short Story #1
He was sitting on the sofa, his elbows resting on his knees, nervously trifling with a package of cigarettes. His eyes were fixed on that little cardboard box as if his whole life was depending on it. Suddenly He opened the package as though he was executing an order and pulled out a cigarette. He took a match and lighted it. As soon as he inhaled the first lungful, the Smoke burst out from the Cigarette.
<< Oh, good afternoon! >> The Cigarette greeted her old dear friend, the Smoke, who was slowly spreading in the sitting room.
The Smoke answered while rising in little spirals << Good afternoon. We haven’t met in these quarters for a long time >>.
<< Yep >> said the Cigarette << So… what’s up? What’s going on? >>
The Smoke answered carelessly << Nothing new… I spread around, I stagnate. Everything as usual >>. Then he went on, changing subject << But tell me, didn’t our friend here stop smoking? >>
The Cigarette, squeezed between the man’s lips, confirmed << Yes, he decided to stop a few months ago >>.
The Smoke sadly thickened in a puff. << I can’t remember. Why did he decide to stop? It was such a disappointment, I was sure he would have always been a loyal fellow to our set. I spent so much time clinging to his curtains, when he was at University >>.
<< I know, it’s always sad when things like this happen. We think we know our friends, but then… It’s always the same old story. You know, his wife…>>
<< Yes? >>
<< Well, she got pregnant and… >>
<< And? >>
<< And so he betrayed us! >>
The Cigarette was clearly filled with indignation, while the man was shaking the ashes from her top. << I say! I don’t see why he shouldn’t keep smoking, obviously proceeding with caution! I don’t know, this flat has plenty of balconies! >>
The Smoke bristled up with sudden awareness << Let me guess! She doesn’t smoke! >>.
<< That’s it! She is a Non-Smoker! Non-Smokers can’t understand, they didn’t even try to understand. >>
<< Now I don’t understand. Why did he start again? And look at his face! Such a distress…>>
<< …and such bags under his eyes. I wonder what the matter could be >> the Cigarette said.
At that moment He raised from the sofa, walked around the coffee table and made for the window. << Damned! >> whispered the Smoke. The man opened the window and whirled his arms about to air the room. However the Smoke had a long-standing experience and knew all the tricks very well: he sneaked between the folds of the curtains, he stuck to the wallpaper and clung strongly to the sofa cover. The Cigarette, burning mischievously, suggested << Something tells me that She is coming >>
After a few moments, the silence was broken by the sound of a key turning in the lock. A click, another click and She was in the room. Standing on the doorstep, She smelt the air.
<< You smoked! >>
The comment was uttered all of a sudden, without even saying hallo. He didn’t answer, let the Cigarette half smoked on the ashtray and stood in front of her.
<< What did you have to tell me? >> said He without hesitation.
<< It’s hard to breath here, eh? >> remarked the Cigarette, while she was wearing out on the ashtray. The Smoke tried to justify himself << I know, I’m sorry. But I can’t stand menthol >>.
<< I didn’t mean you, I meant that couple! If I remember correctly they were as thick as thieves. I can’t understand this mood swing. >>
At that moment She spoke again << It’s about the baby >>.
<< What’s the matter? Are there any problems? Is something wrong? Are you ill? >> He moved her way fast and wild. He sounded terrified but She shook her head. << No, nothing of the sort. It’s just… >>
The Cigarette was itching to know because she was rapidly wearing out. << She is hesitating! Why is she hesitating? >>
She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, then She glanced at him and said in a low whisper << I’m not sure that you are the father >>.
<< Oh, damn! That is a bad stroke! >> exclaimed the Smoke, while the Cigarette cried << I can’t believe it! >>.
She breathed again and went on, heedless to the man astonished silence << I made the paternity test. I had the results today, but I don’t have the nerve to open the envelope. Do you want to open it with me? >>
He nodded once, his eyes wide, his mouth shut. She pulled a big yellow envelope out of her handbag and looked at him, but she couldn’t catch his eye so She glanced at the envelope and started opening it. Slowly, very slowly, she pulled the sheets out.
At that moment the Cigarette extinguished, cursing herself for not being able to last a little longer, and a sudden stream of air swept away the last traces of Smoke.