She reached into her purse and opened the pack, keeping one hand on the wheel. Anne pulled out a cigarette and held it to her nose. It smelled like her youth. She had visions of leather jackets and pants held together with safety pins. Anne remembered fucking the drummer from Blood Splatter in the bathroom at a disastrous little club. She remembered throwing her panties away because they landed in something on the floor. The drummer picked them up and put them in the front pocket of his leather jacket as a trophy. “You can keep them,” she said. “God only knows what they’ve fallen into.” The drummer grinned and slapped her ass.
Anne pulled into a 7-11 and bought a lighter and smoked the cigarette in front of the convenience store so the smoke would not linger in the car. She did not want Ben to start asking questions. He asked too many questions lately.
When she finished smoking, Anne took the rest of the pack and left them on top of the garbage can outside the store and headed for work. Her head felt dizzy. Anne felt no shame over the act, just a small thrill at doing something out of the ordinary.
Fifteen minutes later she sat at her cubicle, staring at the stack of paperwork on her desk. There were files to be put away, other files to update, and a stack of papers to be organized. Anne sipped her chai tea and gazed at the photo of her and Ben from Halloween. They had dressed up as devils and another pair of friends dressed as angels. The photo made her smile. It was one of the many things she loved about Ben. He put up with her silliness and her sense of play. He was good to her when she wanted to play make-believe.
Anne felt buzzed from the cigarette. Her thoughts returned to a black and white photo of herself that someone took a long time ago. She held a cigarette and looked off in the distance, not even knowing she was being photographed at the time. Anne loved that image. She was regal and elegant.
She wanted to send Joseph a copy of the photo with a note that said, “This is the real me.” She looked back at the Halloween picture. I’m tired of playing make-believe, she thought. The picture had a different meaning for her now. All this time, she thought, I’ve been a good girl who pretends to be a devil. But really I’ve been the devil all along. This life I’ve been living is the real make-believe. I’m closer to that woman who fucked a drummer in the bathroom than I am to this office worker who pretends to give a shit about status reports.
Anne picked up her phone. She wanted to tell Joseph how much she wanted him to fuck her. Fuck her the way she had not been fucked in years. She wanted it rough and fast and reckless. I would give up all of this, she thought. Just to be me again.
She looked up her contacts and found Joseph’s number. She then deleted it from her phone. That solves that, she thought. Goodbye, Devil.