It had been seven days and six hours since Ryland had smoked his last cigarette. He had already started withdrawls. It’s been a long time coming and even now, he knows it’s going to be almost impossible.
Almost every morning at four a.m., like clockwork, he wakes up from shakiness and an awful headache. He gets anxiety attacks, afraid that he’s going to give in and have ‘just one’ more. He’d past the first three days, and even though they were the hardest, they weren’t long lasting. Everyday, the withdrawals would tear him down just a little bit more.
It was taking it’s toll on his family and friends too, Ryland was constantly in an irritable mood. His friends distanced themselves from him, which quite honestly made them terrible friends. Ryland was living alone in his one-room apartment, his cat dying from the second-hand smoke that used to haunt the small home.
Tonight, though, was the worst. Ryland woke up at four, like always with the usual problems. He couldn’t think straight and was shaking uncontrollably. But something was different. His throat was dry, so he stumbled out of bed, down the small hall, and into the kitchen. He shakily pulled himself together and grabbed a water bottle from the fridge, gulping large amounts at once.
He set the water down on the counter and took a deep breath. Somehow, the water didn’t help Ryland’s dry throat. He felt the craving deep inside him. He couldn’t give in. Ryland opened up a drawer and sifted around until he found a pack of his Nicorette gum. He popped a piece into his mouth and chewed quickly, but he didn’t feel any ease. He spit it into the garbage full of remorse for what he’d got himself in.
Without thinking, he slipped on some shoes and left his apartment. He dizzily walked down two doors and knocked roughly. Almost a minute later, an older man with a messy beard and a potbelly opened the door. He rubbed his eyes and scanned over Ryland’s face, registering who was at his door this early in the morning.
Ryland looked at the man pitifully, his eyes conveying why he was there. The man simply nodded and disappeared back into his own apartment. He came back with a small, white, cardboard box in his hands. The burly man gently set it in Ryland’s hands then closed the door.
Ryland stuffed the box in his pocket and rushed back to his apartment. He tore up the kitchen in search of his lighter, finally finding it in a small drawer in the corner. The boy lit up the lighter and just stared at the fire for a while. Then he snapped out of his daze.
He let the lighter go out and shoved it back in his drawer. Ryland took the box of cigarettes out of his pocket and examined them quickly before throwing them in the garbage. He quietly walked to his room and picked up his phone, dialing a number he knew so well.
“Hey, Mom. I know it’s early, but I just want to tell you….I’m done. For good.”