When she went to tap her last butt out of the pack that morning, what came out was not a cigarette but an avalanche of green M&Ms. They spilled onto her comforter and tumbled down into the folds of her sheets; one rolled down the gentle slope of the mattress and slipped between her legs, which was what caused her finally to leap to her feet and screech out his name, to curse him and his trick.
For two weeks, she’d been telling him that this was the last pack, the last drag. At the breakfast table, over English muffins and the extra-chocolatey milk he made for the two of them each day, she swore up and down that she was almost done.
“I’m down to two packs a week,” she’d say, and he’d nod and smile, as if he knew something she didn’t. Always the tone of superiority on his face, in his nonverbal grunts and sighs.
“Don’t you think you could just make an exception?” she’d say. “I’m almost there.”
“No nookie,” he’d say, “until you’re off of the cookies.”
She hated that joke. But this joke, with the M&Ms, was worse.
Into the kitchen she went, her stomach grumbling. She opened the fridge and squinted at the brightness. Only then did she look at the sliding glass door. Only then did she see how dark it still was outside. She looked to the clock on the stove, but it blinked only an unhelpful 12:00.
The fridge, it turned out, was empty; the last of the muffins were gone and the milk, too. So, she went to the cupboard.
All that was left on the otherwise barren shelves was an unlabeled can of soup, the paper peeled from the aluminum except for the pieces that clung to a single strip of glue that ran from top to bottom.
To be continued…