The last cigarette

Fifteen years ago, my husband and I always took a week’s vacation in August. For five years, three days seem to be enough.
This year it will be… one night.
I’m okay with it. He leaves to me the choice of the place, so I choose Girona. I like to pronounce Girona, it sounds sweeter in Catalan. And it’s not very far from Palavas-les-Flots where we live; no need to leave forever for just one night at the hotel …
I found a room with twin beds in a small two-star hotel, I have enough of these rooms with impersonal standing of the big hotel brands where he usually takes me: beige colors, from the bed to the curtains, for not to please or displease anyone; ordinary luxury appeals to everyone since it is invisible. People only get the benefit of the minibar, 24-hour service, etc. And above all the luxury of being able to afford the luxury.

Me, I like the casual rooms, I would say, rather than typical, a term a little too overused. This one, according to the photos, is small but quite charming. It is nevertheless air-conditioned and equipped with a flat-screen TV, a wi-fi connection for the gentleman, and above all, a terrace with “garden view”, a garden where you can take in the shade of palm trees our “breakfast included”.
I will photograph the small houses as drawn in pastel along the Onyar and whose facades decline their palette of ocher caressed by the sun, the Palanques Vermelles bridge, called the “Eiffel bridge”, which spans the river like a net of red wool stitches. I’m also going to do some shopping, including buying a few cartons of cigarettes on the Rambla de La Libertad.
François, him, will undoubtedly remain to zap in front of the TV or to tap and click on his laptop, in the freshness of our room. He knows like nobody how clicks or zaps when it suits him …
He quit smoking five years ago; I never succeeded, even for one day. Since then, he has only allowed himself two cigarettes, that of the evening aperitif and the second and last, that of after love. That to say that for a year, he has not smoked much …

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

After hardly more than two hours of driving, we finally arrive, and I rush on the terrace to smoke a cigarette — François can’t bear it when I smoke in the car -, while he reads his messages then plugs his Laptop, reads his emails. François is a great reader.
He especially likes concise sentences, onomatopoeias: “Too much work”, “Tired”, “I see “,” Mmmm “,” What is it? “,” Lol “, etc. Besides, he has been using and abusing it with me for some time. It annoys me, so I answer him on purpose with very long sentences.
A low wall, barely a meter tall, separates the terraces, so it’s impossible to rest with just my panties: my husband, who doesn’t care about my panties, which I persist in choosing in lace, risks making me a scene: “The neighbor! Inside! Quicky !” Basically, that means that the neighbor risks seeing me in this indecent outfit, that I don’t have to show my ass to everyone, that I only have to come home, it’s cool, it has air conditioning.
I feverishly light a second cigarette, while looking at the bottom of the small courtyard transformed into a garden full of green plants and flowers, elephant-footed yuccas and dwarf palm trees, offering a haven of freshness all around the small wrought iron tables for breakfasts. It will be good to have our coffee there tomorrow.

It is almost 1 pm, we are eating on the terrace of a restaurant of “creative tapas” — to make him happy… I would have preferred a good homemade paella — with improbable but rather good tastes and forms, apart from the macaroons, “Violeta-queso”, really disgusting, all accompanied by a glass of cava and a few glasses of white wine. My eyes are screwed on my glass, him on his iPhone.
We still strolled for a while in the streets of the old town, he took my hand … let me shop without complaining. He just sighed when I got into a tobacco shop and came out with my cartons of cigarettes. He rolled his eyes, presumably to tell me it was burnt money.
He is right, but I prefer to smoke rather than stupid myself at Xanax like my neighbor who lives alone with her hysterical dog who barks constantly. I live alone with a quiet husband. Who is the most to complain about?
A young Spaniard meets me and smiles at me; I’m forty-five, but apparently still attractive. Only my husband does not seem to notice.
François is what we call “a handsome man”: he is forty-eight years old, and his graying temples, his blue eyes, and his smirk make him look like Richard Gere. I liked him fifteen years ago, I still like him, I love him, but I don’t really know why. No doubt out of habit.

In the evening, we finally had dinner with a paella but unfortunately with a “tourist” taste, just as much as its price. I still had a few glasses of Vino Blanco; François stayed in the water, just like our conversation, by the way.
Tired by the heat, we went to bed early.
“I’m choking!” He declared by throwing his jacket on the bedspread and by depositing the zapper there to mark his territory. I tried a sensual and discreet approach, but he preferred to zap… So I went to smoke a last cigarette on the terrace, with one hand chasing away the mosquitoes, the smoke and, as it were, my frustrations.
After taking a look at sports channels, including tennis and golf, his favorite hobbies, he fell asleep very quickly in his single bed near the window.
I stayed for a few moments smelling the night air, then I emptied the ashtray that overflowed into the tiny plastic trash can in the bathroom. I returned to my bed, the one stuck to the wall.

What time can it be? Bedrock squeaks woke me up.
I must have drunk too much wine, my head is heavy, and I am so stunned that I cannot open my eyes. I try to locate the noises, they seem to come from the next room.
But I stay with my eyes closed to better feel in my flesh this back and forth which gradually spreads my legs and contracts my belly. I dare not turn to the side of François’ bed to find out if he is awake, if he is listening too. Anyway, I don’t want to share this excitement that wins me over listening to this amorous body-to-body: it is for me, for me alone! The sound of the bed, the silence of the lovers, set my imagination on fire. I am waiting for the first groans from the woman which are slow to come. I would like to blow them, offer them to him, because I have already started to moan … in silence.
Finally, my lips part away, they arrive, they arrive! I breathe them in, breathe them out, my own breath follows their rhythm and accelerates. The groans mingle with the squeaks of the bed and the beating of my heart.
the slayer comes and goes between my … damn, it lasts long, long ! How can this guy hold back from coming so much time? I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to scream!
Then suddenly, the woman’s screams finally deliver me.
They go up in the treble, vibrate in the air like a frantic flutter of wings then fall breathless down on the slayer’s shoulder. I also scream … in a long silence of pleasure, my thighs open and bruised from the weight of the invisible body.
My kidneys arch, my fingers still closed around the bars of the head of the bed, I wait, begs the pleasure of the man who, again, comes and goes stronger and stronger. The bodies sink in rhythm on the slats of the box spring like on the keys of a piano until the end, where the groan of the man finally plays the last chords, powerful, brutal, so grave and as muffled, that I imagine her cries gagged by the woman’s hair.
I have made their enjoyment mine, and here I am flooded, satisfied, panting. Exhausted, I fall asleep slowly, my thighs closed in on stolen pleasure.

Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

When I wake up, François is already out for breakfast. I spin in the shower, my body smells of sweat and sex.
When I join him, he’s already toying with his iPhone and strumming like looking for a strongbox. Suddenly he smiled, he must have found …
When he finally sees me a meter away from him, he has the forced smile of people who make you responsible for having to force herself to do what they don’t want to do.
But I don’t care, I only have eyes for the morning customers who are still sleepy in front of their cafe. My eyes are playing tennis for a while and then freeze on my butter croissant. I remain motionless in front of the crispy pastries that I dare not bring to my mouth, so much do I have the impression that it would be an obscene gesture to bite into the little golden tip.
My thoughts are twirling, stumbling, burning coffee to the bald head of one, the white mop of the other, to the dripping malar pockets, wrinkles, fine lines, furrows creasing skin like origami a hundred times folded and unfolded, hands and arms spotted with lentigo, time leprosy.
Around me: old people!
A dozen little old people greedily swallowing their breakfast!
But where are they, my night lovers?
They cannot be among these old people, charming, certainly, but nevertheless too old for …
The owner of the hotel, believing me hesitant, comes to reassure me:
- Go serve yourself, my young lady, everything is fresh and at will!
Then with a malicious little smile:
- All our rooms have been taken over by these ladies and gentlemen … A retirement home on the prowl! You had the last one! I hope it satisfies you?
I nod my head without looking at him.
As I stare at the one who seems to me to be the youngest of them, perhaps not quite seventy years old, I receive his cheeky wink in the face and instantly blush. I head straight down to serve myself a black coffee.
The fact that older people make love rather moves me, but from there to imagine such sexual performances … I can still hear the panicked screeches of the box spring under the onslaught of never-ending assaults! And then the moans had a rather young tone, it seems to me …
No, no, the lover so fiery that I had heard could not be one of those little old people, however green they may be. Even with a good dose of Viagra… No, IM-POS-SIBLE!
It was then that I saw a young girl, about twenty-five years old, arrive, all dressed up in her little floral dress. She turns out to be their host — she has a badge with her first name, “Nina”, stapled above the right breast. Her breasts are perched high, swollen with youth, and their nipples victoriously stretch the flowery fabric.
For a few years, mines have no longer looked at the sky, tired, ashamed, they lower their eyes to the ground…
A vile thought crosses me. What if this girl had “played” with a little old man during the night?
A man who must have been a handsome kid in his youth and with a snow-white ponytail squeezes her shoulder when she leans over to grab a croissant, another calls her “my pretty one”.
Can a man this age still? …
No, definitely no, it’s impossible. And why lend to this young woman, who is a little too pretty, such grotesque intentions?… It seems, however, that gerontophilia has its followers. Still, if their antics had lasted only a few minutes, it would have been possible, but almost an hour! Finally, it seems to me …
François doesn’t seem to notice my disturbance. It must be said that he unfolded between us El Diari de Girona and his mutism of the day.

When we return to our room to pack our bags, I go out on the terrace, thoughtful.
And that’s where I see her, all crumpled up, stunted, sprawled in her bed of cold ashes, emptied of her substance, but yet triumphant: THE cigarette.
Crushed in the ashtray, the ashtray I had emptied the day before.
So, I understand …
A hysterical laugh crosses me to tears.
I stare at her, the deceitful, the treacherous: the last cigarette …

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

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