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Better than nicotine

by kostia

Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

Autumn had arrived again, quicker than a finger clap like a whole year ceased in a single motion. It was like the leaves hadn't been green for ages, like it hadn't stopped raining for quite a while, like the smell of the rain never gave its place to warm sunlight rays or blooming flower perfumes.

It was a long and demanding year, but to Conolyn it felt like yesterday that she was standing in the same porch in the rain. She was very fond of the rain since she was a child. That was not a common affinity for people like her, that had grown in warm climate. Most of the Greeks hated rain. They attributed that aversion to the fact that rain brought melancholy to them. But that was exactly what Conolyn enjoyed about it. The rainy days and the winter approaching made her feel somber and gloomy but at the same time closer to herself and her thoughts and therefore stronger than any other season would allow her to feel.

She was lost in that perplexing mood for more than a month now.Her thoughts were blurry and her plans uncertain. Not a long time ago she was calm and knew exactly what she wanted from the future and her plans were decisive, strict and clear. Even though the ones she managed to materialise went exceptionally well she couldn't feel glad or relieved.

As the days became colder, the idea to leave all her goals behind was getting warmer inside her. Lately she felt like that, too often. She felt the need to abandon everything she had ever toiled for, not out of exhaustion or relinquishment but simply a pure feeling of dullness.

In a way she hated it when everything was going pointlessly well,or even when she was happy for no higher purpose. She hated shallowness and consistency of habits,basically any form of routine. She was raised to believe that nothing deep and meaningful can ever be joyful.That's how everyone in her generation learned to believe if they wanted to ever feel a spark of satisfaction in their lives. People like her just hadn't been used to feeling happy and peaceful.

All she wanted today was to run away from the finest things that ever happened to her, as fast as she could without looking back.There was no logic behind this terrible ich inside her, no way to explain it ,(or if there was it surely wasn't a simple one.) All she knew for sure was that a year passed since she last saw him. A good one too. A whole year in her life that everything went smoothly and no negative thoughts or feelings manifested. She had barely thought of him during this time. 

She only reminisced him in drunken moments where she wanted to forget all that was real, both good and bad. Besides everyone needs to escape their reality now and then.So she continued fancying him just because of that. He was the only thing in her life that wasn't painfully real. The only accessible person in her life that could momentarily erase everything that was real and replace it with a good bedtime story.

They never really talked much. Most of the time it wasn't needed. It was as if they both wanted the same meaningless things from each other. Some affection, some mystery and some distance from reality. For Connolyn he was the most successful acquaintance she ever had. That was what made him so attractive to her. He was nothing but a stranger. There was nothing Conolyn believed in more than a deep connection between strangers.

Suddenly she felt like she wanted to hide from everyone that ever got to know her, everyone that aided her, everyone that ever loved her. She wanted to get disappointed and surprised by new people,by new strangers who didn't know or love her. Strangers that she would leave too soon and never think of again.

More than anything she wanted him. She wanted that particular person to be her stranger for now. She wanted him and his wicked eyes, his crooked smile and genuine laughter.

“How the hell is it possible to miss someone you barely know so unbearably much ?” she said to herself. “What the hell is wrong with you Conolyn it's been more than a year.How come all of a sudden the only thing you can think about is him?”she mutered to herself, took the last few puffs of her cigarette angrily and then tossed it in the rain.

It all started a few days ago.She had went to town to run some erans and she ran into him. She saw him outside a coffee shop having a smoke with a friend. There was only a brief time before she turned her look elsewhere but for Conolyn that was more than enough.. She immediately understood that it was his place of work from the rushed movements he made, his clothes and the annoyed glare of the waitress who was apparently covering for him.Other than that he looked good. Better than he would ever be around her or the Wicked. She didn't talk to him and kept walking. She could feel his look on the back of her neck like a chill. She could feel him looking at her shamelessly and insistently as he always did. Still, she wasn't sure he recognised her. 

She couldn't ignore her curiosity so she paused her step and turned on his direction one more time. He instantly stopped talking and paused his conversation abruptly. Then looking her straight in the eye,he smiled in his own, not so familiar sarcastic manner. He made no attempt to approach her . He simply sat there in amusement, smoking. When she turned away and left, he was calm. It was like he was sure that she would reach out for him now that she located his whereabouts.He didn't really care much for the outcome but was more than pleased with this coincidental turn of events.

The days that followed she caught herself thinking how different he was a year ago, towards her. He was often jealous and assertive and was looking for poor excuses to run into her and touch her and kiss her in front of a crowd just to prove he had some hold on her.

The last time she saw him it was really dark and crowded,, the music was very loud and they were both incredibly drunk. He stopped kissing her for a second and asked her why she had all these men around her all the time. She smiled and simply told him that her men love her and that she is good friends with each and every one of them. He seemed disturbed by that and asked her if those people meant a lot to her because she certainly meant a lot to him. Conolyn didn't quite understand what he was saying since they were both too drunk to make a conclusive conversation in such a loud setting. Without waiting for a reply he looked at her and told her “I am the one who loves you” and then left. She hadn't seen him since. “This guy told me he loved me and then just disappeared from the face of the earth for a year” she laughed out loud with this thought “God, he is a keeper” And she literary meant that. She loved this blizzard back story. She absolutely loved that drunken “I love you” that meant nothing to either of them. She loved the way he wasn't captivated by stereotypes of behaviour. She loved it because it was simple with no happy endings or big declarations. It was surreal and purposely dishonest and she loved that.

This boy drove her crazy. He was just like her. It was like she was looking her reflection in a dusty mirror. She and him were so much alike in all the small details that it sometimes felt like they were made of the same material. It was inexplicable. The way she felt so close to him. All she wanted from the moment she saw him smoking outside the shop was to talk to him and touch him and aid him, and many other things she couldn't name. Suddenly she wanted to give everything she had, carelessly, in this stranger, for no reason at all.

A week passed before she could pack her courage and go for a visit. It was the first time in years that Conolyn's body was shaking from wonder, her heart pounding as if it was to collapse under her chest.Her lips and palms were numb, colored by the redness of excitement. Her eyes were blurry and her throat felt narrow and thin, like she had never talked or swallowed before. Every step she took towards this little unimportant shop was trembling, almost unsteady. She felt like they were the most important steps she had taken in years. The excitement and freedom she felt couldn't compare with any teachings she had learned, any battle she had won, any war she had witnessed, any rights she had bravely defended.

Those small, hesitant steps she made towards this stranger, that day, felt better than every kiss she had given, every music she had heard, every cup of coffee, every drink, every cigarette she ever smoked, every nap,every laughter, better than nicotine and drugs,and happiness, better than the birth of a child and the death of an enemy, better than money, better than adrenaline rushes and running in an empty street,better than horse riding in the rain.

When she finally walked in she let her look wander around in the small wooden space. It was warm and pretty in there. I had been a while since the last time she was somewhere even near that. At the moment she walked in he was behind the wooden bar getting an order, trying to reach something from the high shelf. So Conolyn stood there waiting, for a brief moment that felt tormentingly long to her. For this moment she almost believed that she had fooled herself. That this boy behind the bar wasn't him. That she had never seen him there and that it was all a product of her sick imagination rooted in her recent obsession to see him again. And as she was feeling like she was losing her voice of reason, he turned to her. He looked surprised and he hesitantly smiled at first like he wasn't sure of what exactly he was looking at and then swiftly started laughing joyfully.

“No way!”he said in irony and pretended confusion with every positive intention he had in him. 

Then he stepped out of the bar, put his arms around her and kissed her on the cheek like old friends do. “I can't believe it's really you” he said.

At that very moment Conolyn remembered that this weak figured boy in front of her was special. She had always known that but it was like she had forgotten it for a year. Now she realised why those steps were better than most of life's delights,better than nicotine. It was because of who he was. He was better than every sweet deception, every kind lie she had ever heard or told,every noble ending and reality. It was because this boy, was better than life itself.

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395 Reviews

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Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:48 pm
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EditorAndPerks wrote a review...

For this review, I'm going to be using the General Prose Review Template, as given by the Better Review Bureau found here.


Hello there kostia! This has been in the Green Room for a long time, so I wanted to boot it out with a useful review.


So, the main thing I see with this story is that a few commas and periods are missing from the lines of dialogue. One example is to take

told her “I am the one who loves you”

For a quick fix, add a comma after "her" and maybe rearrange that direct quote to the end of the sentence. It's a little thrown in there, as a remark that he told the main character. It might fit better as something like "he told her he loved her and then left." That way that quote doesn't seem like it's put randomly in there.


Here, there were really only two characters but the main character is really the only view we see, and the only person we really get to know. Conolyn is an interesting character, but I don't know, her thoughts seem a little conflicting to each other in some parts. She basically believes she can never be happy, since getting joy from simple things is bad but also getting happiness from something profound is bad too?

I wish we could have learned more about this stranger of hers as she could be counted as an unreliable narrator which makes this story a little more interesting than before. I wonder what he really is like from his own view, rather this apparently infatuated girl with a person she hasn't spoken with much? I'm a little perplexed by this whole scenario.


Okay, so here goes my thoughts. I don't really understand how Conolyn claims she hadn't thought of this stranger for a whole year - yet then she says that she can't stop thinking about him? I'm also a little thrown off by when all of these scenes are happening - as when she transitions from thinking "it all started a few days ago" I'm struggling to determine whether that was when she first saw the stranger, as there is no mention of her somehow coming to the same place she had seen him a year previously?


I think the pacing here is a little too distorted for me to really follow along in the story. The later time skips make more sense at least in happening after one other, but I am confused by the point that she comes across the stranger from before at the end (I'm guessing?). I think what throws me off is I find it hard to believe that she doesn't even know the name of this person and I don't know if she introduced herself either, but they've fallen in love?


I guess the atmosphere is alright, as we're transported into this unique, slightly contradictory character's head, in saying that she knew that the stranger was just like her (even though he was a stranger.) I'd like to think of this as Conolyn being an unreliable narrator, which then fits the tone a lot more.


I think that you've definitely put some time into making Conolyn which shows definitely - she's an interesting character. However, I do wish we could have seen some of this from the stranger as I think that would add a nice blend to this story. A couple questions I have are how old are these characters? Did they travel to different places then make their way back to this place?

That's all for now.

kostia says...

Hello there and thank you so much for the review! You really made some very helpful comments. To answer your questions since I understand this can be confusing. The story is a part of a book so I am pretty sure everything would make more sense for someone who has read the whole thing. The characters are in their 20s and the setting is in a middle of a war that really represents the existing crisis(Financial). They know each other's names and they had a romantic relationship a year ago, during which they were usually drunk and concentrated on the physical aspects of the relationship rather than conversing or getting to know each other. Both of them just wanted a fun time to take their minds off everyday problems and well the "war". They were usually meeting at a bar they both went to a lot while Conolyn also kind of worked there. However they lost touch after that night and never made any attempt to meet again. I hope that will cover it. If there is anything else you d like to know please don't hesitate to ask. Again thanks a lot for this lovely review I really appreciate it!

That makes a lot more sense! Thanks for letting me know. I'm glad this helped!

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Points: 259
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Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:14 am
xcookiesx wrote a review...

Instead of "Autumn had arrived again, quicker than a finger clap like a whole year ceased in a single motion" try "Autumn had arrived again, quicker than a snap, like a whole year ceased in a single moment"

It's a very good story, however there are places where there should be spaces but there isn't any. Also reread and check to make sure everything is spelled correctly and that your grammatically correct. Except the minor hiccups, it's a very interesting story.

"Death is cheap, and so is life, but a reputation is not easily recovered."
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