'Smoke-sized' rather than 'bite-sized' chapters (5 minute reads – equivalent to lighting, smoking and stubbing out one cigarette = 1,000 words)
Disclaimer: I don't own Keffy any more than I owned Naomily.
I hear the crinkle of the plastic seal tearing before the crisp air hits my face. She taps me out impatiently onto her palm and picks me up between two slender fingers. The girl is pretty. Really fucking tragically beautiful. There is a tragic quality about her look actually. Like her striking blue eyes have seen 50 years of life drag by from within what's no more than a child's face.
The wrapper falls to the ground and rolls into the stone gutter. The stormy look on her face tells me this is not a moment for responsible thoughts like not littering. This is a moment for shouting.
"The fuck Freddie!" she spits out at him.
I'm spun around in her hand and she places the tip of the filter against her bottom lip. That's the first time I see the boy. He's as tall as a man but he hasn't seen 50 years like she has. He isn't half a century weary.
His frame is wiry. Anyone who took a cursory look at these two would think they were the perfect match. Two handsome kids; dark and messy hair, neat rows of perfect white teeth but grime under their fingernails, long and elegant limbs in ill-fitting clothes. The epitome of effortlessly cool.
But that superficial glance would be traitorously wrong. An ocean of difference swims in their respective eyes and a whole world separates them even as they stand barely two meters apart. She is a free spirit; more than that even, I'm finding her intangible, difficult to pin down or define. He is just a boy. Nothing more, nothing less.
He reaches across and lights me, looking almost apologetic for the helpful gesture. No sooner has the flame taken that he steps back hastily. He's afraid of intruding on her personal space. It's clear: these two are done being intimate. Done being comfortable. Done being complacent.
She takes a long first drag and her breathing slows a little. His soon falls into sync when he's satisfied she's not going to yell at him. She doesn't look like much of a screamer to me. She strikes me as more of a silent type. He should know that. The first puff of smoke she blows around me tells me all I need to know. It's a give and take.
Her eyes speak for her. They'll watch you intently and pull you apart painlessly, work you out and then tell you in no uncertain terms exactly what she thinks. That's when it hurts. It's rarely what you want to hear but it's usually exactly what you need and it's always right. She's not judging, just solving another puzzle, exploring another landscape or interpreting another canvas of life experience.
Right now her eyes are not cold, they're already resigned and sympathetic. But she's not one for pity either, I learn from her second exhale. It's too late for him. It was already too late last month. It was too late before they started. She was always too old for him. And in the end, it doesn't matter what the catalyst was just now.
She hands me to him as a peace offering, something of a commiseration prize. He pulls me up to his mouth between thumb and forefinger, like I'm a goddamn vulgar spliff. Typical!
As he blows out his first drag, I can tell that he knows too. He's smart enough to have figured out that I'm the last fag they'll share as a couple. Insightful enough to read her at least a little, he knows what comes next.
"Look…" she pauses as he gives me back and ponders her words a bit more than usual to spare him the pain he doesn't deserve. "Basically we're fucked; I mean us, together… this" she gestures between them, waving me about in mid air "is fucked, right?"
"I think 'fucked' is a bit harsh babes." He interjects.
I feel the term of endearment grate on her because she bites down unnecessarily hard on me without realising.
"Freds, we're fucked. Let's be honest with ourselves and admit I'm not doing you any favours by sticking around either. It's better for us both to… well, you know, all that usual stupid bullshit people say."
I feel the air stir as he gasps then draws in a further breath to fire back.
"Now come on Eff! You may be mysterious and all that crap but you're no stranger to me. And you're not really all-knowing… You don't know everything. You don't know what's best for me. I mean, you don't even know what's good for yourself sometimes. You need me to…" but already the fight is out of him. He deflates and it's almost physical. He doesn't want her to stay if he has to argue and plead his case to convince her. He's worth more than that too.
"Forget it. Sod it you're right," he mumbles "as usual" he adds under his breath.
I hear that last part for her while she drags long and deep several times until I'm scarcely more than a filter. Her mind is elsewhere again, analysing this scenario, playing it over and over again, unravelling the mess that they've gotten themselves into and putting the pieces back neatly where they belong in her head. Yes. There's no other feasible outcome. This is how this was supposed to play out.
"I'm rubbish at this." She breathes out, almost to herself. And once more she's right: if there's one thing she's shit at, it's this talking nonsense. But she knows she owes him at least that so she's prepared to try, for a minute or two. For his sake.
But already I'm dying and I'll be lucky to see them get closure. Neither of them cries. They've gotten to the end.
She flicks me away with a final sigh. I bounce off the nearest dirty wall and land by the tossed wrapper in the gulley where I burn out my last lick of oxygen in peace.
And here is where I ask you for feedback because Keffy is less familiar territory for me.
Comments are welcome; questions are encouraged.
I hope you all enjoyed the first instalment and come back for some more.