The Last Cigarette
Our clothes were soaked, but we didn’t care.
With our hands clasped together, we just laughed at the people who gave us weird looks as we made our way back inside. Not everyone was giving us weird looks though, some people cheered and whistled at us too. Principal Finn had a concerned look on his face, and Judah just flashed him a wink.
We were making a dash out of the ballroom, followed by claps and cheers. I wished we could stay for one more dance, but Judah had given me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
As we made our way out to the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of Hallee’s red dress stuck amongst a row of bushes. I couldn’t help laugh a little, wondering about that girl and her bushes fetish.
“After you, my lady,” Judah had his hand out to me as we reached his motorcycle.
“Why, I thought you said chivalry’s dead?” I said as I took his hand, and he led me gently up the bike.
“Not tonight,” and that smirk came out again.
It was, hands down, the most amazing view I had ever got to witness.
We were back at the cliff, at the old abandoned house. The sky had this pinkish hue as the sun was rising up. A soft yellow light stroke the side Judah’s face, and his eyes shone brighter and more beautiful than ever before.
“The sun’s coming up,” I said when he noticed that I had been gawking at him.
“I’d definitely miss this view,” he smiled, leaning down only to plant a sweet little kiss on my forehead.
I was wrapped snugly around his arms. We were cuddling as we watched the stars all night, and we talked until we fell asleep. Falling asleep with Judah next to me had become one of life’s greatest pleasures for me. Our bodies were molded perfectly around each other. Nothing could beat the warm feeling that I got from being intertwined with him, not even the air dared separating us.
The definition of a perfect night was exactly that.
“You’re sure about selling this place?” I asked him.
He let out a soft sigh as he started drawing circles around the side of my face.
“Yeah, it’s about time I let go of the past. Start a new chapter. Hopefully make it better this time around,”
“You know, Gabe’s parents are in real estate. They’re amazing. And a place like this, they’ll find you the right buyer in no time,”
I propped my head up slightly to get a better look at him. He had his face towards the sky, his eyes wandering out into the open air.
How was it possible that from any given angle, he’d still look like freaking Greek-god?
“So many memories here, can’t help but feel a little sentimental about it all,” he said after a while of silence.
“Yeah,” I muttered.
I was replaying all those memories in my head. The first time was when we skipped school together and he took me here. We talked about life and everything in between, and that was probably the first time I realized I was feeling things for him. I kissed him for real, for the first time.
Then I remembered when we came here after the fight at Castro’s. He told me that he loves me and I… took a leap of faith that day. Against all my better judgments, I took a chance on him. Fully knowing that if he’d break my heart again like the first time, it would have been the end of me.
“Luckily, we got a chance to make even more memories, out there in the world,” he said again, pulling me out of my train of thought.
He was smiling from ear to ear, shaking his head a little as he let out a laugh.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he replied.
“What? I know that look. That’s not nothing. Tell me,” I pressed on.
“It’s just… I used to think that I had the worst fate in the world. Coming from the family I came from… having to go through what I’ve gone through. But now, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Because somewhere down the road, it led me to you,”
I couldn’t hide the smile on my face, it was too much, so I flushed my face against his chest instead. He let out a soft chuckle as he held my back and pulled me even closer.
“So since you and your dad had a pretty good talk… are you gonna see him again?” I said with my eyes facing his neck, and my fingers running gently across his chest.
“No,” he said coldly, and my eyes shot up to look at him.
“Because he told me not to look for him again. Ever. That was part of the deal. Which was why he gave me this place as some sort of a payout,”
He had a stern face on as he talked, looking as if he didn’t care. But I knew he did. I pulled myself up and I held his face with my hands.
“Judah, I’m sorry. But it’s his loss. He missed out, big time,”
He cracked a smile, but it was a sad smile. He was trying really hard not to let it show, but his eyes became glassy, and his breathing got harder.
“Why won’t he want me, Blondie?” he said finally, his voice cracking a little.
“I could have been a great kid too. Played football or went fishing or…” he paused for a second to think, and then he said, “Nah, I wouldn’t have played football,”
“Judah…” I bit back my smile. This was breaking my heart like nothing ever could.
I was raking my brain, thinking of something to say that would make things better. But there was nothing I could say to make this better. So I just pulled him tight into my chest, hoping that this small action could speak louder than words.
He was holding onto me like he was holding on for dear life. I could hear the soft, small sobs coming from him, with his face was flushed against my skin. I ran my hand on his back and the back of his head, letting him know that I was there for him and that things would be okay.
We sat like that for a while. I was hugging him tightly against my chest, and he had his arms around my waist. After some time, his breathing finally slowed down and he peeled away from me slightly.
“Hey Blondie…” he croaked.
“You’re not blonde anymore, so does that mean I should start calling you ‘Brownie’?"
I thought he was gonna say something profound or whatever. But that was Judah for you.
“You can call me whatever you want,” I said with a dramatic eye roll.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“By the way, I’m just curious. Why’d you change your name to ‘Judah Hudson’?” I said to him as he propped himself back, leaning on his elbows.
“My grandma used to tell me stories. There was one about a lion of Judah. That name just stuck with me ever since. And of course I wasn’t gonna keep the Harrison name. Didn’t feel right. So I used my mom’s last name instead,”
Smiling, I took his hand in mine and said, “Hey, what’s in a name, right? That which we call a rose…”
“By any other word would smell as sweet,” he smiled as he finished my sentence.
It was a quote from Romeo & Juliet. Something we both learned from being in Hallee’s play.
“Exactly,” I smiled back.
For a second there, we just smiled and stared at each other. He had a glint in his eyes, a playful one. And suddenly, he pulled himself up.
“Hey, come on, there’s something I wanna do,” he said, giving his hand out to me.
I took his hand as he pulled me up. Then he went to his jacket pocket and started raiding it for something. Finally, he took out his lighter and the pack of cigarettes.
“What are you doing?” I narrowed my eyes at him.
“I’m commemorating something,” he said as he stuck one cigarette on his mouth.
“It’s my last one, ever,” he said as he lit the lighter on it, “I’m giving it up,”
“Whoa,” I gaped.
He sucked in a deep breath, and a cloud of white smoke was released through his mouth.
“I’m glad, but why… now?” I asked cautiously.
“I used to think that I wanna die before I’m old,” he said as his eyes darted to the pack of cigarette on his hand, “But since I met you, I changed my mind,”
I watched him intently as he finished his last cigarette, ever. Once he was done, he turned to face the cliff, and in one swift move, the pack of cigarette and lighter went flying in the air.
“Wow, that feels great,” he beamed as he turned to face me.
I walked over to him and he pulled me into his arms as soon as I was near him.
“How’d you do it?” he asked me.
“We started out with just eating cake. And somehow, you tore me down, piece by piece, with every kiss. You turned me into this… fool,” he laughed at his own choice of words, “How’d you do it?”
“You’re no fool,” I smacked his arm playfully. “You’re smart. And funny. And kind. You’re amazing,”
“Yeah, but I’m no prince in a shining armor either,” he scoffed. “In the past 48 hours, I had blackmailed my father into paying for my college tuition,”
“Good,” I smiled, pausing for a beat before saying, “That’s alright ’cause I’m not a princess either,”
He looked at me in bewilderment as I pulled the small crown from over my hair. I went to the spot he once stood and I threw that little plastic thing high up in the air, and I watched as it slung down to the oceans below.
“For the longest time, I’ve always been careful. Not to step on anybody’s toes. Not to make a mess of things. I never thought I could be more than average,” I said as I turned to face him, and he still had a puzzled look on his face.
I took a step closer to him, my hands linked over his neck as I said, “But you… you pulled out the magic in me,”
“Yes. Since I met you, I became bolder, and I took chances. I’m not afraid of anything anymore, because I know you’d never let me fall,”
Despite everything that we had gone through, all the lies, secrets, and heartbreaks—I was always certain of that.
“Thank you for letting me know that I don’t have to always be so careful,”
“Anytime,” he smiled as his hands rested on the small of my back.
“And if you ever fall… I’m always only a window away,” he joked.
We were both smiling and laughing. The sun above us shone bright and warm. The breeze around us felt light and soft, and I felt like my body was floating above ground. I had never felt the air being like this before. It was almost transcendent.
“Is this even real? This feels like a dream,” he said as he leaned his forehead against mine.
“I know, right?”
“I’m not just imagining this, aren’t I? You feel this too, right?”
“Yes. And it feels so real,”
“So, so real,”
“And so right,”
“And it all started with one meaningless kiss,”
He licked his lips and cocked his head to the side. At this point, my insides had been turned into liquid. I melted into him as his lips found mine. It crashed into me softly, as it was locking me tight.
It was too right to be wrong.
And too real to ever be fake.
Pretense was reality all along.
To be continued.