Working on writing exercises today & came across one that said to tell a story in 250 words. Here’s what I came up with:
I started smoking while I was a patient in Snowden. The habit was a social function among the patients in the substance abuse program. You couldn’t do your drug of choice but at least the counselors allowed you to smoke to take the edge off of withdrawal.
We congregated in one of the courtyards during 10 minute breaks from group session. We laughed, comforted one another, lit each others’ cigarettes and made sure a person didn’t turn the cherry on themselves. There was Melanie, who knew her triggers were going on a dry drunk and a hard case of the fuck-its. There was Kevin, who liked cocaine and lived on Route 17 near some of my family. (He seized on this fact in conversation in a way that spooked me.)
One conversation I overheard during smoke break I’ve saved, maybe as an example of the jokes men tell, maybe because it puzzles me still. Stacey, who was jaundiced from hepatitis, was talking to Harold, our most troubled Vietnam vet in group. Harold had spoken earlier about his combat memories, describing some of the worst ones that still haunted his sleep. Stacey was relating his own experiences from Basic, when a drill sergeant had scared him shitless firing over their heads during exercises.
“But that was nowhere near what you experienced,” Stacey said, “I bet out there your asshole was puckered so tight not even the tiniest bit of jelly could get it loose.”
They both laughed themselves out of breath.