Smoking Kills. Bold black typeface on the beautiful new gold coloured packet. My mother opens it in seconds and scrunches the cellophane in her hand. Opening cigarette packets is a skill she has perfected over fifty years of smoking at this old farmyard kitchen table. It’s a different brand these days though.
The work is finished. The haybarn is empty now. There are no sheep any more. No crops to be harvested, no cows to be milked, no chickens to feed. There is plenty of time for smoking.
There was little time for relaxing in the old days when my father and uncle and grandmother worked the farm with her. The crops needed tending; the sheep needed shearing; there was hay in the fields to be taken to the barn for winter. There was no time for sitting about in those days.
Except when they all smoked just after midday.
They rose early. They worked. Grandmother cooked. The men were in the fields. My mother did endless chores.
They prayed briefly at middday and then they ate.
The kitchen would be warm, the fire high in the stove and the doors closed on the cold winds of winter. The smells were cooked bacon and potatoes and onions and farmyard manure on their boots. When the food was gone, the used dinner plates lay on the table with small traces of onion or cabbage while one of them took a packet of Sweet Aftons from the drawer and passed the packet around. A match flared. A hand was cupped around it and the tip of the first Afton glowed red.
We children remained in that circle around the table as the adults left their labours briefly aside and inhaled deeply. We eagerly followed the spirals drifting towards a ceiling that had once been white. Shafts of sunlight lit up the floating wisps of blue that we greedily savoured. I loved nothing more than the smell of Sweet Afton smoke floating around that table. All was well. Worries about crops and cattle and weather were left aside. Time stood still while the Sweet Aftons lasted.
And then it was suddenly over. My grandmother always stubbed her cigarette out first.
‘This won’t do!’, she declared every day ‘There’s work to be done!’
And she stood up and picked up the dinner plates to put an end to the sin of idleness.
I would have liked to have lingered there with them a while longer.
Daily Prompt: Linger