Chapter 8: Romance & Cigarettes


Cody II

October 6th, 2012

I wake up from a text from Emily asking if we’re going to homecoming. I ignore it. Instead, I reply to Chris who I’m spending my day with today. At first, I thought I was ignoring Emily because I felt guilty about Elizabeth. Now I don’t even know. She hasn’t told me that she kissed Andrew and I had to find out through Chris. She isn’t being honest with me, but then again, neither am I.

I’m not even sure how to feel.

I get a third text, this one from Grace. I wonder how she got this number.

“Hey,” she says.

It’s ignored like everything else.

My mom sits me down again and this time she yells at me for failing every class I’m in. She’s stressed and I can see gray hairs coming in. It’s no wonder, she finally got a date when Dad is coming home. It’s been two years since we last saw him. Mom makes it a point that I need to graduate by the time he comes home. She doesn’t want him to miss another graduation like my brother’s.

By the end of it, I promised her I’ll pass all of my classes by the end of the Semester. I guess it’s time to. I’ve been avoiding everything for too long and I don’t think I can get away with it any longer. I can’t let Emily fall in the hands of Andrew, he’s too dangerous.


That’s what I decide to do as I walk into the Issaquah skatepark with Chris. Andrew’s here today selling to the drug addicts around. It’s a nice park during the day but after a certain amount of time, the junkies come out. It’s usually around 5 pm. I used to come here every weekend a few years back. It was enough to get to know the regulars here. They like me here.

“My boy!” Andrew greets me in excitement like he always does. Except instead of Boy he uses the derogatory word African Americans use to greet each other. He loves the word.

“What up man?” I greet him back with a short handshake we came up with.

“The usual. Glad you guys came. The kids here love ya Code. They have been asking me all to get you down here so they can hear your freestyle. Shit’s annoying.”

I fake a burst of convincing laughter. “Oh yeah? Maybe later,” I say without knowing how to tell him to lay off Emily. I didn’t think things through. Maybe finding out more information will help. “Anything interesting happen?”

“Nah,” Andrew leads us into the center of the skate park where some of the kids I know are practicing their tricks. “I’m just waiting for some dudes to show up so I can leave this shit place.” Chris sits down on a bench and stares at the sky. Andrew looks at me and then back at me and smirks. “Not like you to be part of my deal, Code, what's up?”

“I’m tired of mundane ass Darkwood. At least you do something interesting. Besides, Ems is trying to trap me hanging out with her.”

“Why don’t you?”

I shrug, “What do you think?”

“I think you’re an idiot,” Andrew laughs. “You going to Megan’s party next Thursday?”

“Are we invited? Besides, is it a good idea to throw a rager the day before homecoming?”

“Who the fuck needs that bitch’s permission to crash a party? You going or Nah?”

I scoff, “Nah.”


Chris looks down and shakes his head.

A group of middle schoolers comes up to us to greet us. They’re some of the kids that I grew to know. “Yo Cody, spit us some rhymes man.”

I chuckle, “Fucking kids, man,” I say under my breath. “I’m not that impressive.”

“Come on man, we’ll put you on youtube and you’ll go viral,” the kid with his phone out to record says.

Andrew slaps my chest to encourage me. I shrug and sigh. “Give me two topics.”

“A penny and classes,” The kid with the camera suggests.

“Alright,” I pause to come up with something. I look over to the camera, it’s not something I want but whatever. Andrew smirks and Chris is still staring at the sky. “Alright, see-

-I can make you cry, make you wonder why. It’s all the same to me, painting with hate so blatantly. As far as I can tell, you’re a penny wishing for a well to get well. Piece yourself together before the bell. When the children get let out and left to their own devices, I’ll be in the back of the class masking my crisis. Beautiful this life is, can’t stop to enjoy it. I’ll probably love it to death and then destroy it. Break what you can and take it with you when you die which is everything in front of me, it’s no surprise. Tampering with the thread-

-that ho-”

“Hey!” I’m interrupted by a skinny homeless man walking up to us. The camera turns to the guy and as he walks closer I recognize who he is. “Where’s my sister?!”

It’s Elizabeth’s drug addict of a brother, Matt. He’s the piece of shit that gave her the meth. He’s been out of her life for years until she ran into him here over the summer. They reconnected and for whatever reason, Elizabeth thought she could bring him back with her. Matt is part of the reason she’s dead.

“What the fuck do you want?” Andrew squares up.

“I haven’t seen Ellie in a while, where is she?!”

“Boy, she’s dead. Put a bullet through her brain, went blaht!” Andrew imitates a gun with his hand and shoots himself with it.

The memory of seeing her faint shadow fall after the half-second flash of light comes back to me. The saliva in my mouth gets heavier. Emily sent me a long text last week admitting that it was our fault she died. It’s been eating her up and can’t stop thinking about it. The second Ellie died, I couldn’t stop thinking about it either. I was the one who allowed her to approach me. I’m only human, but she was better.

I watch as Matt’s scab ridden face turns from denial to horror. “Lyle wasn’t lying,” He says to himself. “What did you do?!”

“I didn’t do shit except fuck her in her tight little pussy,” Andrew laughs. Fuck I hate him. He doesn’t have any regard for anyone else but himself.

“You don’t speak to her like that!” Ellie’s brother shouts.

“Fuck you, what the fuck are you gonna do about it!” Andrew shouts back, almost laughing. “She killed herself and if anything it was your fucking fault!”

“Andrew!” I shout as I notice Matt reaching into jeans and pulling out a pistol. Everyone gasps when they see it. Andrew doesn’t budge. “Andrew!” I shout again.

“Do it you fuckin’ pussy!” Andrew shouts even louder.

Everyone bolts away but those who are far away are sticking around to see what’s going to happen. It’s just us four now. Chris doesn’t even pay attention and is still looking at the sky. I look back at Matt and notice part of me wants to run away. I’m so tense. Is this how it feels?

“Fuck you! I didn’t kill my sister!” Matthew cries with a few tears.

“You’re the one that hooked her on Meth, you cocksucker. It was you and Lyle. All you had to do was not give her the meth.”

“You’re lying!”

“Andrew, stop!”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Andrew yells at me and then turns his head to Matthew, “DO IT YOU FUCKIN’ PUSSY!”

All I hear is silence, and then I hear a shout of desperation.

And then nothing.


I think about Emily. I think about Elizabeth. I want to know why I’m pushing Emily away. I think about what my mother told me this morning. She said that I should follow in my brother’s footsteps and go to college on the opposite side of the country. I think that I’m afraid if I ever get close to Emily like that, it wouldn’t work like my mom and dad.

Emily has been there all the times I’ve lost control. I try to always stay calm whenever I get angry. Finding out Elizabeth was doing meth just wasn’t something I could stay still about. What’s more, is that she was hanging around with Lyle back then It all boiled up and I exploded. I emotionally hurt her and she couldn’t recover. Elizabeth became afraid of me. I lost control. It’s my fault, my sin.

And it’s always around Emily too. It’s as she’s the trigger. It’s hard to move on when there’s nothing to move. Elizabeth is dead now. I reject Emily because I’m scared to lose her too, the irony. Her weak body wouldn’t be able to handle me if I ever did that to her. There’s no winning in my shoes. It’s funny that way.

There will be a day where I’ll lose everything regardless if I want it to or not.


Andrew picks up the gun and kicks Matt in the stomach who’s already laying on the ground? “Anyone calls the cops?!” He asks around. Everyone shakes their heads. “Fuck it, let's go, Code, Chris.”

“Yeah,” Chris says finally getting up from his seat.

I don’t remember what happened. Did I blank out? Andrew switches the safety on the handgun and puts it in his waistband. He follows us to my car where he rides shotgun and we speed out of Seattle.

“Fuck man, that shit was intense,” Andrew’s laughing his ass off. Of course, he’s getting a thrill from this.

“You’re crazy,” I tell him.

“Shit man, we’re alive,” Andrew sighs. “Just think of the pussy this shit will get me.”


Andrew continues to laugh. He’s actually crazy, insane. He wants my Emily. Emily wants him. I can’t let this happen.


I look up unto the treehouse Emily and I built with my father when we were eight. It’s small but it can fit four people. We used to spend every waking moment we could here. Emily still has all the polaroid pictures she took to hang up on the walls. She doesn’t come here very often anymore, but neither do I.

Everything is spiraling out of control. Everything is my fault, my sin.

I text Emily for the first time in months. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. My heart is still pounding after everything today, yet I still got out of it alive. I’m still here which means things are not over. It’s never too late.


Emily stands, a beauty in front of me. It’s clear she dressed up for me and isn’t wearing a sweatshirt like she regularly does. She’s insecure about her near anorexic body and rarely ever shows it, except towards me. We’ve been working on it together but we stopped when I decided to distance myself from her.

“What’s the occasion?” She asks with her soft voice.

“Andrew is out of control, we can’t be friends with him anymore,” I walk up to her while she takes a seat on a nearby tree stump we made over a decade ago.

“We? You sure make it seem like we aren’t friends anymore,” Emily chuckles and almost snorts. “You can’t tell me who I can’t be friends with.”

Shit. I had this whole speech in my head but now that she’s here I don’t know what to say. “He’s crazy, he got a gun pulled on us today.”

Emily giggles, “Yeah, he told me already. Glad you’re okay.”

Emily doesn’t care. I’m alive so that is all that matters to her. She’s infatuated with him so she doesn’t care. “What?”

“What?” She shrugs.

I scoff. “Emily, I could have died.”

“You’re too cool to die, remember?” she’s using something I said to her a few years ago against me now, huh? “Cody, it’s fine.”

“Is that why you kissed him?”

Emily goes silent for a second, maybe two. She stands, “You know about that? I thought we could kiss and be anyone we want. I thought that was the whole point of our pact. Why do you care now? You don’t even want me in your life anymore.”

“I know, I know,” I look away. I’m not comfortable here. I hate my insecurities exposed. “I was scared okay? I didn’t know what to think. Elizabeth died because of me. Because of all of us and what do I do? I push you away because I’m too much of a pussy to admit that I can hurt you the same way.”

“You already did. You left me! I don’t want to be alone, and you left me!”

“I know. I’m shit, but you can’t be with Andrew, he’s insane!”

“But at least he cares. He likes me and I do too. We promised each other we wouldn’t get in each other's way. Cody, if this is you wanting to be with me, then just stop. We have a promise and it’s not smart to break it.”

Fuck the pact. Fuck this promise we made when we were kids. Who the fuck promises to marry each other when they turn 21 when they’re 10? Who thought it was a good idea to be able to date other people until then? I did. I’m an idiot. Not getting in each other's way? What a joke. Elizabeth was insanely jealous of Emily. Ems’ existence by itself got in the way. Elizabeth didn’t die for one reason. It was multiple things piled on top of each other and this was just one of them.

“Cody, don’t try to control me,” Emily sighs. “You stand by me as my friend again. I miss you.”

“Okay,” is all I can manage to say.

“I have to meet Grace in an hour. I’m gonna show her the camping site in the forest. Want to come?”

I pause for a moment. I pissed off but I gotta stay close to Emily. “Yeah. Let’s go.” This is the only way I can win her back.

A note from PublicApology

Romance & Cigarettes by The Toxic Avenger


I'm trying really hard not to reuse artists just so I can show off my musical diversity. 

About the author


  • Free Bobby M. Shmurda

Bio: I'm surrounded by weebs. Including you.

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