Marlboro Reds by Katherine DuVal

I had just filled my head
with cement, grey and cracked already
under the pressure of, “Please,
please, my parents are asleep—
Don’t make any noise.”

I shut my lips and followed him
outside. “This way,” he said.
“Follow me, this way.” My legs
were wobbling but I stuck the course
to his front porch—“Good girl,”

He said to his ugly poodle, did not
beg her to be quiet when she barked.
We were stale in the five am quiet—
the liquor I spilled earlier
made my shirt stick to my chest.

“I’ll wait for my ride,” because
I knew the answer to the question, because
I never wanted to sleep
in his Star Trek sheets, anyway.
“No rush,” because he already knew, too.

He put a cigarette to his mouth,
held out his hand and offered me one.
“Thanks,” for the night, it was a lot of fun.
I lit the cig and felt the first tendrils of smoke
suction cup my insides, baby squids.

We stood with smoke all around,
stagnant in the cold. The embers bit
down our fingertips. “Good night,”
then back into his house. I held my breath,
exhaled silent vapor, pale and tired.

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