How the smoke never washed out of his shirts or his hair, how it fuzzed into the cotton fibers of his pillow. A dark sour smell, like motel ashtrays from the 1970s. Waiting on the sidewalk outside the 5th Street United Methodist Church, cigarette butts leaving black birdfoot trails on the chipped cement. All of them trading one addiction for another. Hunching over for a light, leaning against the wall, hoping the bricks held a memory of midday sun. He was always cold in those days. Legs jittering. Eyelid twitching. Rubbing the yellowed calluses on his fingers against his pick-flattened thumb, listening to the 6:30 choir practice sing about having once been lost, voices sweet and sure, like they had no doubt any lost thing could be found again.
Kathryn Kulpa has words in Cease, Cows, New World Writing, Atticus Review, and SmokeLong Quarterly. She is a flash fiction editor at Cleaver Magazine.
Really liked that, especially ‘pick-flattened thumb’, so evocative. Thank you
A little pleasure engulfed in a small cloud of smoke ,…, and a big cloud of guilt.
Thankfully, there are sometimes sunny days only, no clouds of any kind at all.
Life does not have to be bad.