It’s cool outside now, but still shining brightly. The weather almost seems to be on the fence about raining or heating up to 80 degrees. Blue pines surround my home on all angles, creating a gradient wall. The windows begin to sweat.
I’m sitting on my couch and skimming through a Chef magazine. Soon enough, my eyes trail to the side window.
On days like today I sit and stare at people. I usually stare at people outside my window. Specifically the two young men who laugh, pantomime, shift, and flick at their cigarette butts not even 3 feet from me, besides the glass barrier between us.
I turn back to my magazine despite my curiosity of these two. They stood outside my window every morning- but only the mornings I didn’t work, which intrigued me. Did we have the same schedule? Had I met them before but just didn’t recognize them?
They catch my attention again. The blond one drops his cigarette and makes a frustrated motion. They laugh and his friend lights him up another one. He takes a drag and flicks.
Almost for a quarter of a second I catch a shape, no, a figure full of light twirl until it disappears. I lean closer. He flicks again, and again. Several tiny dancers prance across the smoke resting amongst them. Then the smoke begins to fade away in the cooling air and so do the dancers.
His friend flicks his cigarette several times and then takes a drag. This time the small figures dance with each other, leading and following in a waltz up toward trees. I seem to recognize their dance, in some sort of odd way.
I jump up and walk to the window. They notice but choose to ignore me. Even though I feel shy, I muster the courage to stand outside and stand with them, maybe only several inches away, pretending to be associated with something only I knew of.
I study the sticks in their mouths. The men continue speaking to each other and their cigarettes bounce with each word.
The one with blond hair takes a long drag and, while peering deeply, I spot several fiery pixies drawing back inside the cigarette, cowering in fear and shivering. Their crackling hair pulls backward dramatically.
One of them offers me his used cigarette saying, “You seem to really want it.” and laughs. I chuckle shyly but decline it.
I only accept one when the two men decide to go back inside. I peer inside and see crammed pixies, crying, and reaching to escape. Their mouths open wide as if wailing (though I don’t know what they’re saying) and they frantically jump up and down.
I decide to flick the cigarette. Tft
Two fiery pixies jump out and dance away. “Oh,” I say, “I understand now.” I flick three more times and a group of more than 15 leap in unison down toward the pavement.
I’m not a smoker and am not willing to start now, so there’s nothing left to lift them towards the skies.
After flicking a few more times, I realize that although the strong gusts inside their prison were fearful, it nonetheless kept them alive. Some of the pixies began to whimper and cool from a much lesser brilliant red to black. Some desperately leapt out of their cage to dance their last when I released them. Others waited to cool.
An hour passes and the cigarette is almost empty and the tobacco is roughly lining the paper. The last of the pixies dance, twirling away into their next lives. I watch in awe. They dance beautifully, not even thinking of what may await them after this last dance.
It may have only been for a moment, but it was a brilliant lifetime.