The Cigarette Trick by Laura Scalzo

Mim asked me if I knew the cigarette trick and I said yes. I didn’t but figured it could only be one of a few things. Smoking it backwards, flipping it lit from your hand to your mouth with out burning yourself, something like that, or maybe something dirtier.

“So that’s what happened to my dad,” she said.

Now I had questions but it was too late, I’d already said I knew.

We were walking home from the Tastee Freez. Her t-shirt had two footprints on it and the word SLAVE. Mine had a big yellow smiley face.

“Uh oh,” she said and threw her chocolate vanilla twist cone into the gutter.

“Why’d you do that?” I was shocked, neither of us had that kind of money to throw around.

“Here come’s Todd Schick,” she said.


“I don’t ever let boys see me eat.”

It wasn’t until the next year that I came to value boys over ice cream, and many years later that I realized they were both delicious and not mutually exclusive.

Somewhere along the way, I learned that the cigarette trick is when you say you’re going out for a pack of cigarettes but you don’t come home.

I’d meant to ask my mom that night when she came into my room to tell me she loved me and to put my book away and turn out the light but I forgot. I forgot to ask about it.


Laura Scalzo is a graduate of Syracuse University. Her flash fiction has appeared online at Hobart Lit Mag, Reflex Fiction and Ellipsis Zine. Her work recently appeared in the anthology, Grace in Darkness, Grace & Gravity Series Vol. VIII (American University/Politics & Prose) and is forthcoming in the 18th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection.

Image: Lucas Clarysse