Smoke And Pantyhose 1.4

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Smokers smoke in their lifetime about 3 times their weight in tobacco. Given the same daily dose of smoke to majority of birds, they will die in weeks. Horses will not make it for an year. Dogs and cats don't survive over a few years... but humans seem to live with it for their entire life. It is like the Creator knew humans will smoke and built them stronger lungs.

A scientist, around 2004

Two weeks have passed since an outsider has come to our mountains, at the end of the world. He sleeps here in my home, in the kitchen, going every day to work. When he has a free day, I send him to buy what we need in the house. We are best friends, but not lovers. Everything has got exactly where I wanted it to go, but except for one thing: I didn't manage to make him smoke. I tried to tease him, to talk to him, but how long will it take? A different strategy must be token.

He accepted to transform into whatever his heart wants. I am just helping. No need to hide his addiction for pantyhose. In house, he can wear them without problems, even with a skirt, be as feminine as he wants to. I told him about the hair on the feet and accepted to take it down. To epilate. I don't shave my feet, like other women, just epilate. It is painful and I do this when I am angry. Anger can overcome any pain. But for him, the first time was a nightmare. I even tried to epilate his beard and mustache, but it was too painful. Maybe later or maybe one square cm at a time.

And there is another thing that has to come yet. As I long abandoned my real name and became Ana or Nicotiana, he must one day find a new name. But that day hasn't come. So, I don't talk with him using a name. I know he has a real name and a nickname along his coworkers, but he needs a new one. He will know when time will come.

After 4 days of work, he has one day free. this is the policy at the mine. For me, at the railway, I offer service 24/7. I work non-stop, with other words. If I want to leave, I need to call someone else. Usually my sisters would do it, even if they are not qualified for this job... but anyway I am the only one qualified on this railway. Well, just don't care.

Today, he must arrive earlier. He is free and I sent him downstream, to Jupiter, the largest town (and the only one) in this area. He went shopping. Usually a woman should do this, but I wanted himself. Why? To make him buy woman items. I wait in the station and the train appears soon. I wait for the train to stop, signal nearby stations by radio and then give a 'go' signal to the train. All is ok. So, we cross the river and enter the kitchen.

"What do you have?" I ask.

He opens the bags. Wow! I asked him to buy only a few things, but he got so many. Most of sure from his money. He is very careful to see what I like and what not. He knows that I like green more then anything. Well, he bought me a green dress, a green winter coat and even... green pantyhose. So sweet! I wrote on the list a few female items for himself, but without pointing out that. He sure realized this: some platform sandals, pantyhose and shorts. Also, in the bags are a few other things needed for daily life.

The second bag contains something else. I wrote on the list some cigarette brands. Usually I smoke handmade cigarettes, since I grow my own tobacco, but sometimes I buy some. Will he understand why I both all this? Majority are slims: Parliament Slims, Glamour, Vogue, Virginia, but also some Kent and Pall Mall. Usual brands. Does he know that they are for him? My patience has gone to the limit. It will be now or never. Smoke or die. I just hope I won't pass that point where anger gets over the limits and I erupt like a volcano... when I am no longer a woman, but a man or even an animal... when from an angel I become a demon with two swords.

He enters the kitchen, to change the outfit, then I do the same. We then enter both and sort the things that he both. We eat, then I go out, because the evening train comes from the mine. Then, I return to the kitchen. This time, I feel it. It's now or never. I won't care that he is a sfenist and he is completely alone. So, I take a deep breath and enter.

I wear the new green dress, with the green winter coat. I made a trick and over the green pantyhose I added fishnets. This gives a completely different look to my feet, even if rubbing them together does not give the same soft sensation. And cheap open-toe plastic slippers. He has a dark grey sweater and a white shirt beneath, a knee-length brown skirt and half-opaque tights, also with some kind of grey, but with some flowers designed on. He wears the open-toe platform sandals. The upper half of his body looks like that of a man. But his feet look like of a woman. Hardly visible from his pantyhose are his toenails, which I painted a few days ago into a shiny pink, unlike mine which are always green.

"Thank you for buying me all these green clothes" I say.

"For all you've done to me, this is nothing".

"Come on, stop saying that. You know well that I don't like it. I help you when I can and with what I can and you help me when you can and with what you can".

"It was my pleasure to get you green clothes" he says. "I know you love this color more then anything, Nicotiana".

"Speaking of Nicotiana", I say, "shouldn't be nice to light a cigarette? We have a lot of brands now".

"Yes, I think there are 16 or so packs. But they all look counterfeited".

"Does it matter? There is not much difference anyway. Just give me one pack of the slims".

He gives me one and I take two cigarettes. They are so slim. Will I get any nicotine from them? I start playing with the pack on my knees, while he keeps on looking.

"You see what is written here? 'Smoking might kill!' What do you say about that?" I ask him.

"Just what I told you many times, that smoking might get you killed. You smoke like a thermal plant. One day you will regret it".

"I would put the words in another way. You see, just inverse it. 'Smoking might kill' backwards. It becomes 'the killer might smoke'. Better?"

He laughs, while I only smile a bit.

"Yes, the killer might smoke. And if he has nothing to smoke, he will kill you to get your cigarettes or at least money to buy some".

Again, he laughs, but I only smile. He doesn't know what will happen.

"There is one more thing that I want to do this evening: to paint my hair. A mild red-brown color should fit me, even if I would like green. What do you say?"

"It is all in your heart. If you like green, it should be better, but I didn't see green paint anywhere".

So, I start to prepare the paint. Then, I ask him:

"Do you want to paint your hair too?"

"What will people at the mine say about this? I don't think it is a good idea".

"Well, it seems you want, but your job forces you. But there is something we could do" I say, further with my plan in mind.

He listens to me, watching as I prepare the paint in a bowl placed on my knees.

"A similar color to my hair?" he asks curious.

"Some sort of dark brown, that would be feminine but suitable for a man".

"People at the mine will look very curious about this. But for you, I will do it. Only it must not be too colored".

I keep on preparing the paint for me and thinking in silence. Then, I start putting the paint on my hair. And then, I mix the ingredients for his hair. A dark brown, with a glimpse of red. Feminine but suitable for a man. I let him mix the paint in the same bowl, placed on his knees, just as I did before. But, I help him apply the paint. There is no way for him to know.

"My coworkers will look at me like a duck at a railway barrier" he says while I apply the paint.

"Just tell them that 'Ana did it to me' and they will understand. Maybe I made you some sorcery. For sure this is what they will say. Only that I do all things with a reason".

"No", he replies. "They say that you will kill me".

"It might be true one day", I answer. "It all depends on you. And that day might be closer then you think".

Hearing this, he opens such large eyes, like I've never seen. I shouldn't have tell him this already... but maybe it's better. Just keep him with some frustration and be one step ahead. Just like in a chess game, be with one move ahead. Be ready to give him a check when he doesn't move as you expect, but let him play, thinking he will win. No. I am in charge here.

we say nothing, until I finish making his hair. We now have to wait a while, for the paint to get in. Time to light a cigarette. Oh, my body needs that nicotine!

"I have a little question", I say. "What do you think if you compare the feet of a woman with pantyhose and one without pantyhose".

"Obviously, I prefer the one with pantyhose. The other pair of feet have nothing to show".

"Tell me more".

"Here is a comparison for this. Feet covered with pantyhose are like a planet covered by an atmosphere. They are like Earth, like Venus or Mars, like Titan. Each brand has its own thickness and its own color, its own softness, just like the atmosphere covering a planet. Each is different and completely changes the foot into something new. Feet without pantyhose are like a planet without atmosphere. Like the Moon, like Mercury. They are nude, dead, expressionless, just a desert without anything. You see the desolated surface instead of the softness of an atmosphere".

So interesting words! And there is some truth in this.

We keep on speaking about space exploration for a while, waiting for our hair to be ready. Then, I heat some water to wash our hair in a trough. He adapted well to the conditions here. No bath, no flowing water, no washing machine, none of the luxuries of civilization. The result is gorgeous. I got the hair a bit lighter then intended, but a pleasant color. He looks more feminine, but still is a man. Good! Now time to move forward. I put my feet in the bed and he does the same, watching me playing with the pantyhose on my toes.

Then, I light another cigarette and throw him the packet of Parliament Slims.

"Pantyhose only cover the surface, like an atmosphere", I say, carefully watching his feet. "There is something else. A planet needs an active core. When the core is dead, you have no volcanism, no plate tectonics, no life. A planet without an active core is like dead. Covering a dead planet with an atmosphere will only create an illusion of life, but will not bring the planet to life".

"What do you mean?" he asks surprised.

"What I want to say is that pantyhose only covers the surface, while there must be something inside. Smoking does this. Just watch" as I take a deep inhale. "This smoke enters my lungs. From there, it gets into my blood, then to the heart. Not only nicotine, there are many substances in smoke. And all of them are in my body now. Smoke keeps on moving through my arteries and my veins, until it exits the blood into the liquid between cells. And from there, it reach every cellular membrane and enters every cell of my body. While pantyhose only covers my feet from the outside, nicotine reaches my feet from the inside. Only that you cannot see it, but I can feel it".

I take another drag. "And when I blow the smoke out, it goes out with a part of me. This smoke has been inside me and has token a bit of myself and now it is in this room" I speak while smoke gets slowly out from my mouth, together with the words. "And then, it gets out from this room, in the atmosphere. It can enter your lungs and so you get a bit of me".

He looks amazed at this.

"Just like the volcanic moons Io and Enceladus" I say, while smoking again. "You know that Enceladus feeds one of the rings around Saturn and plumes from the volcanoes of Io create a radiation belt around Jupiter and in the end lands on the planet".

"Wow! I never thought about this", he says with such amazed eyes.

"Look at my feet now. You can see pantyhose and fishnets, just like an atmosphere and a stratosphere. But if you look beneath, you see a living, active world".

While I say this, I take his hand and make him touch my feet, from toes to heel. Then, I take his hand and make him feel his own feet, from knee down towards the toes.

"And now look at your planet" I say. "It has a thick atmosphere, maybe suitable for life, but it is dead. Only very small seismic atmosphere from ejected plumes by planet Ana and a 2/5 nicotine orbital resonance with myself. Nothing else. You are dead, unnamed planet, even if you look alive".

He looks at me, as I take the pack of Parliament Slims from his lap and put it in his hand.

"All these cigarettes are yours now".

He looks scared now. He tries to speak, but finds no words.

"I strongly appreciate this, Nicotiana, but..." he grumbles. "But... but I am not a smoker and I will not smoke".

"Well, remember what I told you a week ago about the car?" I say.

"Yes. That you are the driver and I am the car and you will pull the wheel if needed, to keep me on track".

"Well, now, I will have to. And here is the way. I painted your hair for a reason. Everything I do is for a reason".

"Oh my..." he whispers scared, like realizing what will happen.

"This is a message", I continue, with much authority in voice. "Not for you, it is for the people in the mine. I painted your hair so all of them will know".

"Will know what?"

"That you smoke. From now on and for the rest of your life. You can quit only two years after you die!"

"I won't smoke" he hesitates me.

I take a final drag and throw the filter in the bowl where we prepared the paint.

"Stand up! Now!" I shout. "There, near the floor! Do it, right now!"

He moves automatically, listening to my orders. I take the longest knife I have in the kitchen and put it near my neck, as he looks so scared, sweating and whispering he knows what.

"Long time ago, an infidel raped me and all time placed a knife right here. So, I know well how it feels. And I understand that you also know".

"Have you ever killed someone?" he says, almost crying.

"Maybe yes, maybe now, it's not your problem. The thing is as follows, infidel. There are only two ways to get out of this building. One is as a smoker, the other is inside a coffin. What should it be? I will only ask you twice. The third time, I will kill you. Do you understand?"

He stays immobile and not answering anything.

"Do you understand?" I shout as loud as I can.

He moves his head affirmative.

"So", I continue. "What should it be? Smoke or die?"

He hesitates a while, then says:

"I will not smoke".

"First answer. You have a second chance".

"You realize that I will say 'yes' and tomorrow I will run away" he says.

"Where?" I answer. "I know these mountains better then you. Christians, Muslims, Idolaters, extremists, smugglers, drug traffickers, illegal forest cuttings and a lot of savages much more dangerous then me. Just take someone's hat off his head and he will instantly try to kill you. Don't say you will take the train, there is no way to pass me. And don't say you will live at the mine, cause I can sneak in, as I did many times. The only way out is the railway. There are no roads... and you cannot get in a train past me. You cannot run as fast as I do. And all this, if you manage to escape this room".

He doesn't say anything now, just looks at me.

"There is another thing, I continue, speaking loud and rare. "You know I can see in your eyes the truth. You cannot lie to me. If you don't say the truth, I will know. So, I let you wait just the time I will smoke a cigarette. Then, it is time for an answer".

I light the cigarette, keeping the knife at his neck. Oh mine, what I've become. Am I really going to kill him? How could he resist so long? Actually I never killed anyone. Well, what should be better to do, to encourage him to take the right choice? I don't want to kill him, I've never done this before, but now I've gone too far. Really too far.

"Think smart, infidel!" I say to him.

I see the sweat on his face, the terror inside his brain, all veins are visible and he looks at my knife. He is shaking.

"Time is ticking..." I say, showing the cigarette half burned.

Why does he not smoke? Where does this one have so much strength? Nobody resisted me that long. And I never had to go this far.

"Hey! You are not the first infidel I've killed. There are other... seven".

Hope this will scare him. I look at the cigarette. Two more smokes and it's gone. Let's make them longer then ever. I take one and keep it for long in my chest. Then I wait, as he is hyperventilating. He almost cannot control his breath. I hear some groans, with a half-opened mouth.

"Just look at you! What a shame! " I say with a smile and satisfaction. "You will lie to me. You will say yes and tomorrow will try the best to run from the mine. There is no way to escape from me, you know that. But why bothering me to search for you, when I'd better kill you right now, without giving you the chance. Why not to kill you right now?"

I take the last drag. Almost no tobacco left, only the filter. No visible smoke gets out of my mouth. I throw the filter on the floor.

"Time's up! Well, I am like to keep my word and I will ask you a second time. But since your eyes tell me you will lie, I'd better kill you now and ask you later. You will answer me then!" I say, laughing. "What a freak!"

Now or never, Ana!

I grab his neck with one hand and squeeze so hard, that he certainly cannot breath. He tries to take my hands away, but the second hand, with the knife, gets closer and touches his face. My knife is making a wound below his right eye. He tries to take my hand out, but with no results. I know what I am doing. Pushing hard with my fingers on the carotid artery and jugular vein, his brain will not have oxygen. But wait! He seems to lose power. Did I kill him? I take my hands off.

He falls down. No, he is not dead, still breathing, but almost a zombie. I sit down on the ground, looking straight in his eyes, with the knife pointing to his left eye.

"Now, I ask you one last time, infidel. What should it be? Smoke or die?"

He grumbles something unintelligible, but moves his head like an 'yes'.

There is a strange smell. When I look, he pissed on himself. I give him some water and wash his face, covered with sweat. I let him one minute, then open one pack of slims and give him a cigarette. He takes it. I give him my lighter and he does what must do. First drag ends with a cough. The second one, the same. I give him water to drink.

"What was so hard?" I ask.

"Were you really going to kill me?" he asks.

"Yes", I answer sharp.

"Your eyes looked like not willing to".

"You don't know how to read my eyes yet".

I help him stand up and let him to wash and change cloths. Then, I look him sharp into his eyes.

"Say after me the next thing!"

He moves his head as affirmative.

"I swear..."

"I swear..."

"On the holly names of all gods..."

"On the holly names of all gods..."

"On all angels and all saints..."

"On all angels and all saints..."

"And all spirits and ghosts..."

"And all spirits and ghosts..."

"That I will smoke..."

"That I will smoke..."

"Until the last moment of my life..."

"Until the last moment of my life..."

"If I will fail..."

"If I will fail..."

"I accept to die..."

"I accept to die..."

"In the worse possible way..."

"In the worse possible way..."

"And suffer the worse in the afterlife."

"And suffer the worse in the afterlife."

I give him another slim cigarette which he lights-up immediately, then I invite him for the first time inside the house.

"From now on, we will sleep in the same room".

We throw ourselves in bed, overwhelmed by this day. I never imagined it will be so hard. Almost have killed him. Usually, outsiders have much weaker characters, but this guy sure is different. Such a strength! I just cannot sleep. I light another cigarette and immediately he does the same. All, until I hear the radio beeps. The 3 AM train will come. Need to go and check the line.

The morning comes. I think none of us had a night sleep. We eat together, then smoke together. Well, he coughs more then smokes. Then, we head for the station. The workers' train will come soon. But I know how to make sure he will smoke at the mine. Not only that I give him a pack of slims in face of all people waiting the train, but I say to people on the station:

"If he doesn't smoke, I'll kill him. Watch him and tell me!"

*****

At the mine, Atan arrives very tired and with his new hair color. His coworkers look at this thing. They've never seen a man with colored hair.

"What happened to you, buddy?"

"Oh man! It looks like you've been pushing wagons upstream all the way to here!" says another worker.

"Nicotiana painted my hair".

"I told you she is insane. She might kill you one day".

"She almost did it last night" says Atan, showing the wound near his eye.

"You should have stayed here with us, man!"

"No. I will return to her. We are family now!"

"You mean you did something with her? Last night?"

"Yeah. I did" says Atan, looking up at the mountains.

All workers shout and beat their hands.

"Atan, you've done what nobody in these mountains have ever done. You slept with Ana and survived!"

The guys think Atan did something else with Nicotiana, but the truth is different. It doesn't matter, may they think whatever they want.

"But why did she paint your hair?"

"For a reason".

"May that reason be?"

"That I will smoke. From now on until two years after my death" he answers, lighting up a cigarette in front of them.

*****

For me, this was the hardest day in years. Almost killed a man. Will he return? Will he flee, looking for a passage over the mountains? If he does that, he is dead anyway. I stay in the railway station, cleaning the platforms with a broom. It is so hard to wait. My shadow keeps on accusing me that I've gone too far. And I did. How could I? Am I really Ana? Or is Ana a ghost, or maybe a demon that possesses me? How could I do the things that I just did last night?

I just hope that I will never do things like these again. Ever.

I almost killed a man.

After endless waiting, the evening train returns from the mines. The engine carries its usual 3 rusted wagons, 3 times older then me. The train stops and I watch as he exits the second wagon, with his new hair and lights a cigarette. I immediately run and hug him.

"Welcome back!" I whisper, with tears in my eyes.

"Nicotiana, I will never leave you", he also whispers.

I hold him in my arms for maybe half of a minute, until the train engineer shouts: "Ana, we are in a hurry! These people are hungry and want to get home!"

Oh mine! I have to notice nearby stations through radio and signal the train to depart! And everyone is looking at us. The whole train!

People start making sounds like at a cinema, watching a good movie.

"First man who sleeps with Ana and doesn't get killed!" says someone.

"Not yet!" says someone else.

"Princess Nicotine made a new victim!" screamed a woman. "He's smoking, isn't he?"

I run and signal nearby stations that the train departs. Then, I signal the train to move away. People are waving their hands. We hug each other as the train vanishes behind the trees and we remain alone. I hear his heart beating in his chest... of the man that I was just about to kill.

For the first time in my life, I am not alone.



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