And as she saw the smoke float away from her own body, it was as if a little bit of her own worries were leaving her. A puff, a second or two, was all it took to release her mind from everything she had been told over the past few weeks.
People were hungry for listeners. They wanted their stories to be heard, they didn’t seem to mind having to repeat all the little details to all kinds of different people. As she saw her space and time being countlessly invaded by others, she was scared she might have to do the same at some point and she didn’t want that. Silence was not an issue. She was somehow used to being silent, not that she chose to be.
Maybe it was her upbringing, her parents were somewhat old-fashioned when it came to talking too much, especially in front of older people. Maybe it was that she felt she did not have that charisma some people have when it comes to talking. She felt more than once that her voice, no matter how strong or loud it was, naturally turned into a background noise people suddenly lost interest in. So she decided she was not a very interesting person and chose to listen to the more interesting ones.
She looked around, shivering as a fresh gush of wind wrapped her thin jacket. She expertly avoided the smoke coming from her own lips and as she looked around to check that no one was around to witness her ‘peche-mignon’ (well, not so ‘mignon’ after all), she made sure to inhale her next sip. How ironic it was that this cloud of the most nefarious components could procure her such relief. Quite illogical in fact that people gulped the smoke just to have it come out a second later as a mirroring trail of their own sin. As she looked at the flickering red tickle of fire between her fingers, she could not help but smile apologetically, for she could see a pattern. She would semi-voluntarily take in all of it, knowing she would stress about it, muttering to herself she did not need this, she did not have time for this, yet she would sit there, smiling, nodding. Only to desperately looking for a way out just a moment later, remembering each face and each word with disgust. Disgust at having to assume that role day after day, but also disgust at her own dishonesty with herself and the others who seemed to have found a listener and a friend in her. As the nicotine clouded her head, it was not just the world that was spinning around, it was the perception of her own self of which she suddenly felt she had lost grasp.
She shivered once more, thinking with regret it had gotten suddenly way too cold for this red jacket and she decided to disregard this thought once again, just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow probably. Surely, she was thinking too much of herself. She wasn’t the only one with the angelic heart and temperament to go through this situation. It was very selfish of her to think she was the only one the world was turning to for a sympathetic ear. Just like this fading ash, it was another of her ‘peche-mignon’. Deep inside, she probably enjoyed this characteristic, this idea she was having of herself. Wouldn’t she be more miserable if she had no one to talk to and worse, no one to listen to? Everyone has a role in life, in society. There are leaders and there are followers. Maybe her role was to listen.