Context – making dinner
Amanda walks down the street with one hand in the pocket of her jean jacket, the other hand cautiously holding a cigarette. It wasn’t the last cigarette, but the habit was becoming to feel stale. She waited outside the diner for her friends to finish paying for the privilege to flirt with the waiter, Jackson.
Little did they know Amanda had a whole book of his poems under her pillow. She couldn’t bring herself to read it, but she did like to keep it safe. It was given to her for her birthday and as far as she was concerned it was the most precious thing she would ever own.
Nights after you watch your friends perform their carefully arranged acoustic covers of Cranberries jams were the best nights–nights when blankets were worn as capes and we would hide behind the security of a secret identity. Amanda never thought to ask and Jackson never thought to either. They both just liked feeling strong.
Maybe that’s why after he paid for her IHOP when they both had chocolate chip pancakes because “who were they kidding?” she looked bashfully at him and he looked at her shoes and noticed one was untied. Jackson bent over to tie the shoe as Amanda brought her knee up to tie it herself, his nose crashing on her shin. She was more worried about her jeans knowing that he could take a punch.
She brought him into the family bathroom to patch him up, trying her hardest to make a game of it. Despite her best efforts when they kissed it still tasted like blood (but in a romantic kind of way) and he told her that he had waited his whole life for this moment.
But after nights turn into weeks turn into months and he won’t introduce Amanda to his friends and is sneaking around his mother for reasons that don’t make sense to her. It’s not like she doesn’t have her own secrets, like how much she pays for the cigarettes she can only find in the city, where cigarettes are more expensive anyway. That’s just for her, and every compliment she got on her choice of smoke only further justified her decision to make the extra effort. Life’s short and more money is printed every day, so spend it while you got it.
Amanda spent hers on a record featuring a woman with a shaved head–which seemed peculiar at the time–and a new summer dress with red flowers printed on a blue fabric that she didn’t recognize but had pockets. She showed these tiny pleasures to Jackson the next day but after smelling the liquor on his breath she knew the afternoon was going to be about him. Ever since that became standard practice for the two Amanda just kind of went her own way; Jackson only notices when the batteries die in his remote or when she comes into his diner with her friends.
He thumbs his nose at her, she bites her thumb at him. They both blush but only enough for each other to notice. That’s all it takes for her to need one more cigarette.