two steady charges of smoke jet stream from his nostrils, outlining his lips, i can almost see his words take form in midair before swept away into the atmosphere. i can just about feel the pull of the cigarette on my heart. it buoys there waiting for him to exhale and release both nicotine and me from his grasp. i am aware, live and humming inside my body. catching secondhand feelings. a defiant toe on the stub punctuates our conversation. he flicks the lighter in his free hand, tosses it back and forth. almost daring, roulette, what's it going to be; earth wind or fire? the scratch of flame announces the results in a different language that we do not try to translate. answers turning in the light to unasked questions, an outpouring of information stuffed into my pockets to be dissected later, privately. drenched in his identity there is a swell of shared experiences, quick conclusions swapped like kisses or did we kiss? i feel a lip print starting to form right under my temple.