As I stepped onto the porch key in hand. As I unlocked the front door, the number continued to swirl around in my head.
After upping my game at the gym to first the Stairmaster, then the treadmill, I had steadily increased the duration of the torture. Today, I had finally topped out at 13 minutes/ 1.3 miles after the lifting and I felt fantastic. Only one small (and by small I mean gigantic) problem remained.
I opened the door to find Her squatting behind a large black cauldron bubbling over with putrid, thick green liquid. Devil’s stew.
“Eeee hee hee hee hee!” She cackled as She stirred the pot first clockwise, then reverse with a large, ragged wooden spoon.
I stood in the doorway for a moment with my gym bag still slung over my shoulder. I looked into Her sunken eyes at the dull yellow light emanating from them. A charcoal black hat, tall at its peak and extending all around her crown all but covered Her face. I could really only see Her smiling lips half-covering her dark brown teeth.
“And who are you?”
“I’m Nicotine my pretty, my sweet,” She said before letting out a dry, rough hack that culminated in a thick, black phlegmy sludge that she spat into the cauldron.
I looked Her up and down again. “It figures.”
“What figures my rotten little apple core?”
“That you’d be a woman,” I said. I walked to my room, slung my gym bag on my bed and went into the kitchen to make coffee. When I turned the corner, She was there again, this time stroking a sickly black kitten with the same yellow eyes. The kitty hissed her long throaty disapproval.
“And why is that?” She asked.
“Well, a day doesn’t pass that I don’t crave your sweet smell, smile and touch. Having you around makes it all the more difficult to work out to my potential and in the end, you’ll probably kill me.”
She giggled maniacally.
“Well, not you specifically,” I said and walked back to my room. Sitting on my bed, I took off my gym shoes and socks and threw them in my closet with the rest of my gym gear. Down to just my gym shorts, I walked back in the kitchen and got out the skillet. She remained in the corner. Instead of a kitty in Her lap this time, she stroked the mane of a big orange tiger.
“You will always have the cravings my dear,” She said and stroked the tigers ears, The tiger glanced over at me, licked its chops a couple times, then dipped her head back under Her hand.
“Actually, that’s not true,” I said. “I will always have the desire to smoke. But that’s just you talking. You’re a powerful old shrew, my dear, and when I started courting you, you were so enticing. We have danced your waltz for many years. But now the shriveled up old hag you are shows forth like the woman in the bathtub in The Shining. I have every reason to quit and have for quite some time. But now, I have one more. I’m never going to be able to run a 5K or a half-marathon until I break your evil spell. And you know what? I’m even ready to Tango with a fair maiden or two. Can’t do that with Black Lung.”
She slunk up to me like a snake. Slowly sliding up the side of my body, She whispered in my ear.
“You can try the gum or vaping or cutting down,” She said and flicked Her forked tongue in my ear. “But you will never, ever be rid of me.”
“Oh yeah? Tell that to Him,” I said and motioned to the porch outside where He lay on his side, battered and bruised with a bottle of wine upturned to next Him. She gasped and ran to His side, cradling His head in Her lap.
“You two make a cute couple. And you really deserve each other. Now if you’ll excuse me …” I said before I slammed the door and sat down with my breakfast.