Everything was smoke. From the ash collecting on the end of his cigarette to the clouds in the sky. Grey air and a chill drizzle fell around him as he walked; buildings, both old and new, drew his gaze as he slowly wandered up the street. Avoiding the puddles filling in the gaps between the cracked slabs of concrete, he squinted as the fire in front of him flaired while he inhaled.
The shiver that went through his body, unrelated to the wet weather, was soon followed by the light-headed rush of nicotine. Uncaring of the world around him for a moment, he sighed and smiled. It had been a long time since he had last done this, and an even longer time since he had felt that he needed it.
As he drew another minty breath, his eyes roved the surroundings. Each splash of color from a plant daring to reach out from the concrete shell held his attention briefly. The hissing of passing cars mixing with the white noise and pittering of rain against the asphalt perked up his ears. And Yellowed haze blurred the white picket fence as his breath escaped in front of him and lingered underneath his unbrella, its odor reminding him that it was wise that he not indulge too often.
Walking down the street, he passed a hunched-over woman taking shelter in a brick archway. Her dirt lined hands fidgeted in her woolen coat's pockets and her eyes darted between the small cardboard box she fingered and the man's cigarette. He walked closer, taking a drag and smiling at his elder.
"D'ya 'ave a book o' matc'es?"
Her accent was so thick that if he hadn't already known what she likely wanted he would have had to ask to repeat herself. Withdrawing his lighter, he held it out to her as she thumbed at the lid of her own pack of cigarettes. The slender white tube she withdrew appeared too long for her fingers, despite their swollen look, the filter's orange head poked between the bony knuckles nearly two-thirds of the way. After a moment more of fumbling and cursing against the wind, the stick was lit and she handed the teal tube back to the man.
They parted ways then, and his mind wandered further than what his eyes could see. Drifting along the clouds of his own making, he felt lighter than he had in weeks. Contemplative and curious, he thought of the problems he was dealing with. Little things, big things, he didn't dwell on it as he normally did. Treating each issue as a stone or puddle to be jumped over, he made his way up the street and continued sorting his thoughts out.