“Nominated for the Tangled Field Poetry Award in 1952.” A newspaper cutting lay on the bed between the poet and her visitor. “You see, I was known, I was read, I was writing, I simply was...well, more than this.” Edie shook her turbaned head and took a drag on a long pearl holder burning a small cigarette. She exhaled, tonguing the smoke as it curled out her nostrils. Edith laughed at the memory, triggering a phlegmy cough and self-consciously waving away the offer of tissue from her visitor.
“This is... this is my addiction.” Edie grimaces a small smile. “Always Mother chided me. Smoking will kill you Edith, she said that every time I had a cigarette. Smoking will kill you. Well, what won’t kill you! We all will get killed eventually, some of us are lucky enough to die naturally, at the whim of our own organs...they simply shut down, can’t do their job anymore, so it’s finito! The unlucky ones are the ones who are killed by other people's organs. Imagine having a brain that tells you to kill someone, how hideous that must be... or driving a car as your own brain is seized by a stroke -- a brain desperately trying to shut you down -- and in your disruption you drive into Mrs. Spencer, your neighbor, and squash her flat. Mrs. Spencer’s organs must have risen in bloody revolt at that interference with their genetic plans.” Edie closes her eyes for a brief time, her cigarette burning a blue tail twisting to the ceiling. “We are all programmed for death, and but for our interfering neighbors, we could easily fulfill our own destiny. I used to tell Mother, my organs better kill me before they kill someone else!”
Edie took another drag and let the smoke slowly curl up out of her mouth as she simultaneously inhaled through her nose, her breath spinning like a sensuous blue Ferris wheel. “I just told Mother... Mother, you must understand, I am simply bad. I have smoked since I was in diapers, I have done everything wrong but the Lord just doesn’t want me up there yet.”
Edie crushed the cigarette out in the palm of a carved wooden hand she used for an ashtray. “Mother was killed by our neighbor, Mrs. Spencer, who had a stroke driving home from the doctor.” Edie reaches up and twists her turban tighter around her head, self-consciously tucking in non-existent hair and for a moment, watches the drip of the IV into her arm.