They sit together barely communicating with one another but restless thumbs scroll on screens. I suppose being familiar can be the quietest of contempt. She, fat and forty, exhales a thick cigarette fog over her companions who seem immune or perhaps resigned. She stubs out one and moves to light another. A barely discernible nod from her right indicates this vice is shared with him, a decade older but equally overfed.
How many evenings have they silently coexisted. Three plump islands in life’s slipstream, tightly knit and yet removed from one another by the sound of silence. Two smokers and the third, passively sitting in the smoky, silent spaces left by her elders.
It’s her I feel for. This odd third wheel who, unspeaking and unspoken to, lives on mute. She is not yet ten. Her smoky childhood, a paradise lost, has been sacrificed for forbidden fruit.
This is no modern tragedy. This is just a familiar, familial scene updated for the electronic age.