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It is getting dark. S stands on the porch of the tea-stall where he is idly swirling the last dregs of his cup. His cigarette smokes away by itself in his other hand. He flicks it away. The lit tobacco detaches from the filter and falls to the ground still smoking. Idly he observes that the butt looks oddly headless. The ash is still smoking. Like the last breaths of a dying man. A headless man. Shaking his head he walks away.

The road is bleak and has little sign of life. It is a chilly winter evening. The dogs are shivering, even curled up in their cozy nooks. His breath steams out in front of him. He remembers blowing it out like a cigarette as a child. To feel like he was smoking. It was a short term pleasure. Oddly like smoking. Every child does that. He blows out to see a stream of his breath fogging over. It gives him some satisfaction. He lights another cigarette. Why substitute when one can have the original, he wonders, his thoughts wandering.

Smoking is oddly cathartic. One blows out a stream of smoke and for a moment, is lost in the swirly patterns that form before the eye. Maybe this is why they all smoke he thinks to himself. Maybe they need to see their exhalation. Feel a process of purification perhaps. To see the smoke blowing away. Taking with it all ones worries. All responsibilities. Maybe. Or maybe its just the mundane chemical desire. The dopamine hit that the brain requires when habituated. Or maybe it's both. What if the psychological need was overcome? What then? Will people quit? Is the desire merely a substitution for a mental catharsis? What is the need for catharsis anyway? What is catharsis? What if one...


His phone rings. It's time to leave. He throws his half smoked cigarette away. The burning embers detach from the filter. The butt lies there looking oddly like a headless man. The ash is still smoking. Like the last breaths of a dying man. A headless man. This time he doesn't look. 


  1. Beautiful.
    I might just make all my regular-smoker friends read this.Just exactly what they say: they exhale their troubles away and actually see them come out in the smoke.

    Wish everyone could look at the headless man and never look back.


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