Smoke Rings

He leaned back against the sleek door of his grandpa’s Cadillac and reached into his pocket for a lighter. The first bite of fall chill hung in the air but it was nothing his worn leather jacket couldn’t handle. He brought his cigarette to his lips like he’d done so many times before. The flame cut the darkness as he lit his smoke and then abruptly left him back, alone in the moonlight. He looked up at the sky, tilting his head and resting it on the frame. He found the little dipper and blew the smoke into a ring, encircling the stars, billions of miles away. He had always liked the way he could contain them; for a moment he could pretend they were his alone. The smoke faded away along with the pretense of control. Other moments floated to his consciousness, circling his throat, tightening like a ring. He took another drag and that ring dissipated too. He willed the memories away; of him, the blood, another ring, barking. The endless barking. He pulled a long drag and let the smoke encircle the stars again, giving them a chance to break free again. The sirens in the distance alerted him to the fact that another moment had slipped from his control. He sighed, but he got what he came for. He took one final drag, crushed the cigarette in the dirt, and hopped in the driver’s seat, leaving the smoke, the rings, and the stars behind.

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