Incandescence by Joe Bradbury (357 words)

A cigarette burns quietly whilst slotted precariously into the groove of an ashtray. The room is dark, there is nothing visible to the naked eye but for its dulcet amber glows. Saying nothing of it's owners whereabouts for now, the cigarette remains silent and waits in quivering anticipation for their next return. It embers impatiently until it's moment to shine and declare. Once touched by fingers it can no longer hold it in and folds under the pressure. So once picked up and placed between two unknown lips it's to be expected that the cigarette panics and indicates the owner's position exactly. It subtly glows as it is inhaled, just enough to reveal the owners identity before once again returning to its original position on the desk in a glass ashtray where the remainder of its life will be short lived; soon extinguished and forgotten. Over.

The smoke however has only just begun its journey. It dances gracefully and with benevolent conviction across the tongue, over the pallet and down the oesophagus where it worms deep into the body and slithers sinisterly within the lungs, where it lies dormant and discreetly damages. The satisfaction from this sensation is bittersweet, an almost Machiavellian approach to seek enjoyment. A momentary action that takes but a few seconds will affect you now for years to come. The smoke can't help but smile snidely. It likes the power it has over you. Ominous and barely noticed. A protégé to the cigarette, carrying out its dirty work internally, long after the demise of its origin. Sneaky.

The body accommodates the smoke. It knows the extent of the smokes capability and yet it still welcomes it in with open arms for a tour around the veins. It relishes in the smokes presence and eagerly awaits a revisit, shivering with excitement and dancing as it waits. In no other context does a victim entwine with such intricate synergy with its captor as that of the illicit love affair between a human being and the cascading smoke from the tip of a lit cigarette. There are infinite examples of love. This is but one. Tragic.

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