After the forbidden cigarette (the guilty pleasure of fire in my hand), I cannot help but smell my hands obsessively.

Between the index and middle finger is best, strongest, holding by far the most memories. I run my nose over the length of these fingers and feel quiet inside. In a good way. I remember the nights, all the fiery nights behind me that spin and spin and circle around my head like laundry. Dirty but getting cleaner.

This smell is yellow, and deep brown, and comfortable in a warm sweater kind of way. It is wrapped around my body and I tug at the long sleeves where I know the fabric has been stretched already. Softened by touch but strengthened by fire.

This smell is parts of myself. The parts I miss too often because they are full of guilt and wonderful badness and shining glimmers in my eye that will never quite go away. It is not a crime to miss this part, not at all. Only a crime to deny it.

I will come back to this smell when I am old and wrinkled and living for no one but myself, and wonder why it made things better.

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