I still remember sometimes my friends smoking menthol cigarettes when we were 14 or 15 or so. I don’t know exactly, but round about then. Walking through fields in the dark, sitting on the sea wall, or the swings in the park, the only light the fading glow of the town behind us and the flicker of cigarettes in their mouths, occasional match bursts of flame between cupped palms. Practised movements copied from older brothers, older sisters, older kids, parents, films.

“They make your lungs bleed, you know?”

That’s what I remember. Not who said it, not any discussion of the point, no disputes to its veracity. Just the claim that menthol cigarettes make your lungs bleed.

Not even the smell of the cigarettes remains now, the taste of the menthol, how it affected the smoke. My memories are visual, verbal. Non linear. Patchwork. Collage. Who knows how much of this is true, how many memories its stitched together from, how many lies I’ve told here that I no longer remember are lies.

“They make your lungs bleed, you know?”

Across the river, the nuclear power plant hums in the dark. Sound of boats in the distance, ropes slapping against metal masts in the winds and on the tides.

Sometimes I wonder if they still make menthol cigarettes. Think about buying some in the newsagents to see what the medical warnings might say.



1. Written on the 15th July, 2022


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