[Flash Fiction] Cigarette Break

Content warning for suicidal ideation/thoughts, depiction of depression


For the third time in a week and a half I consider jumping.

To everyone I work with, it’s just a cigarette break.

I look busy but uninterested in my own mortality while the smoke keeps everyone that’d consider questioning me staying too far away to get involved.

I don’t even like smoking. Not really. At this point, I do it because it creates distance and that’s the one thing I need when I want to stand on the roof and stare at the city out in front of me and the ground that’s so far away.After one last drag, I smash my cigarette underneath the toe of my dark blue pumps. A thin curl of ash spirals up from the embers of the smudged remains of my cigarette and I hesitate, looking back at the smoggy, gray city stretching out in front of me.

It would be so easy.

I could slip out of my high heels, swing one leg over the waist-high planter bracketing the balcony, and just –

“Hey, d’you have another cigarette?”

Jolted out of my thoughts by a voice so near to me that I almost feel it against my skin, I flinch. Taking a step back, I nearly crash into one of my coworkers. Only his quick thinking and quicker reflexes keep us both relatively steady on the rain-slick concrete.

“I’m sorry and um –Thanks.” I don’t look at him as I mutter. I shove one hand into the deep pocket of my dress, fingers curling around the pack of cigarettes that I’d been drawing out for the better part of a month. “I only have one left, but you can have it if you smoke menthols.”

When I offer him the almost empty pack, I’m pleased to notice that my fingers don’t shake.

My coworker pauses with his hand outstretched.

At first, I don’t think he’s going to take them.

“I don’t usually smoke menthols,” he says. “But eh, beggars can’t be choosers.” With that, he takes the pack from my fingers, flicking the last cigarette out and sticking it between his lips before he crushes the cardboard pack underfoot.

Politely, I don’t point out that there’s a garbage can less than three feet away from us. I turn on my heel instead and bite my tongue. There’s no point. There’ll be other rainy days and other chances to stand and think about how easy it would be to end it all right there.

My coworker clears his throat.

“Thanks for the cigarette,” he says with a faint smile on his lips that curves around the cigarette still in his mouth. “I’ll return the favor tomorrow, I promise.”

I shake my head and start walking back towards the warmth of the office. The thud of my heels echoes louder than the pounding of my heart in my head.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” I say over my shoulder, smiling to myself. “Those things’ll kill you if you’re not careful.” I shake my head. “Besides, I like to buy my own. You know?”


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