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It fogged up again, my spotless exit

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“Those’ll kill you, you know.”

Effy briefly considers blowing smoke at the matronly woman, but that would be far too cliche. She settles for a quiet “So I’m told” and rolling her eyes as the woman walks past her, apparently unconcerned with the effect of her unsolicited advice.

Effy finishes her cigarette in relative peace, leaning against the brick facing of her therapist’s office.  She’s had enough advice for one day, and at a premium. She hadn’t wanted to go to the trouble of finding a new therapist when she moved to London, but Tony had insisted, gotten her a reference, and here she is. The same as every Tuesday for the last four years. Marianne is only competent (has too much fondness for platitudes like “the only thing certain is change”) but she does well enough at keeping Effy focused on the day to day when the world seems vast and grey, frayed and meaningless.  

There hadn’t been much to talk about this week. Work was going well. She had gone on a date with a man from the law firm across the hall from her advertising agency. He was dull but the restaurant he chose was good. Tonight is pub quiz with some mates from work, and it’s usually amusing to see them get progressively more excited and cutthroat as they soak themselves in cheap lager. Then work again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after…

Perhaps the problem is that she had spent too much of her youth running wild to form a plan for settling down into a life that was fulfilling, maybe even happy, as the years stretched on and on. Instead she had crashed, graceless, into a miserable slog of existence. It’s fine, everything’s fine, but what is the point? There isn’t an answer that Marianne can just hand her on a cheerful placard that makes everything better and puts her out of a job.  

She’s always saying Effy needs to set goals, but what’s realistic? Continue working until she can retire. Maybe find someone to sleep in her bed on a long-term basis. See at least one good film a month and hopefully it makes her feel something.

Her phone buzzes in her pocket, and she pulls it out to find a text. It’s a picture of a fat sleeping bulldog. Another buzz and text appears below it

     -Your still coming by this wknd right? He needs 2be dragged the long way  thru the park

     -and i’m guessing u haven’t been outside longer than a smoke break in weeks either

Katie is right, of course. She doesn’t get much fresh air, or visit Bristol as often as she says she will. (Katie always makes her go with her and that slobbering mutt on a long walk. As a good Fitch, she obviously insists that exercise and fresh veg is a better treatment for depression than an hour of talking.)

     -yeah course

She responds and shoves her phone back into her jacket. She passes a bin on the way to the train station and, on impulse, crumples the pack with her last three cigarettes and tosses it away. (It’s stupid, she’ll just bum them from her friends at the pub, and then probably break down and buy more later. Still, everything changes.)