I remember watching her closely. Inhaling, exhaling. The cylindrical roll of wicked weed was enveloped innocently in a plain, white wrapper. Its mate, a speck of dirty, dingy sulfur, struck its ugly head, then flash, ignition. I watched as it glowed ominously. Still, she continued inhaling, inhaling, exhaling. My nose and eyes burned as billowing white clouds performed a menacing dance to a playful tune, tempting all to join in the masquerade. One day I asked her "Why?" She said it was an addiction that started in her teens, a habit she couldn't stop. She warned "Don't start!" For her, though, the evil dance endured for years. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Then suddenly, but inevitably, the music stopped. Good health was replaced by malignant, inoperable tumor. A bright future was dulled by radiation and chemotherapy. Human dignity was challenged by burned skin, hair and weight loss, eventually dementia. And for everyone who loves her the most profound, indescribable pain. We watch helplessly as she dies a little more each day. Cigarettes kill. Don't smoke, please.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.