My alarm clock goes off, I habitually punch snooze. Repeat three times. Time to get up and go to work. Got dressed, grabbed my bag and headed out the door. It's a forty minute drive from home to the office. Precious time to wake up, reflect. I'm twenty minutes out; NPR on and world news filling my ears. Twenty minutes out, twenty minutes left to smoke before parking.
With one hand on the wheel and eyes forward, my hand plunges into the abyss I call my purse. Two minutes of rummaging goes by before I feel the edges of the Camel Crush box; eighteen minutes left. One step accomplished, one to go. My hand goes back in for the final plunge. One minute passed, no luck. Dammit. The unlit cigarette begins to roll between my lips. Two minutes passed, almost to the highway.
My heart rate jumps, fingers become urgent in their search. I begin to empty the bag; a wallet hitting the seat, a water bottle and random makeup bags and receipts scattering the floorboards. Three more minutes have gone by. Panic sets in with only twelve minutes left. Twelve counting minutes for a ten minute reprieve. I could wait till lunch, but the paper has already graced my lips. Need has trumped want.
Pupils are dilated, goose-bumps have erupted; the filter is beginning to soften and separate. Only ten minutes left now for a ten minute smoke. I dump the bag. Dilated eyes darting from the road to the seat, desperate to find the gold. I'm about to pull over, this shit is getting ridiculous. A bright yellow catches my eye during one of the glances. A small cold lighter is finally found.
I let out a breath I unknowingly held, so I can suck in that first Xanax-filled drag. Exhale again. A buzzing warmth creeping through, slowing my rate and calming my need. A brief, much needed high. The goose-bumps are gone and order is restored. I tell myself I'll keep a lighter in the console from now on to avoid repeating this gut wrenching endeavor. Does it happen? Fuck no.