The Last Time I Smoked an Export A Was In Astoria, Queens

By Katherine Gleason

The apartment echoes, all the books packed up, the furniture gone. Is there anything I can do? Tim shakes his head. Have a seat, he says and laughs. I sink to the floor, sit crossed legged in a spot of lemon-scented sun. He slips into the kitchen, returns with a tall glass, an open bottle of beer. He pours for me, golden liquid bubbles, then gets his own and hovers by the window. I raise my glass—a toast—but say nothing. Any minute Dan will arrive with the car and they will be gone. Tim produces a pack of Export As and lights up, a blue-grey veil. I love those, I say. He tosses me the box, lights me a match. I draw in. The first sulfurous breath catches in my throat. I stifle a cough, take another drag. The smoke chokes me; I sputter, eyes welling.

Katherine Gleason’s stories have appeared in Cheap Pop, The Drabble, Derelict Lit, Every Day Fiction, Hobart, Juked, Jellyfish Review, and Menacing Hedge. She won first prize in the River Styx/Schlafly Beer Micro-Fiction Contest, garnered an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and has been nominated for a Best of the Net award. Her play “The Toe Incident” won the Christopher Hewitt Award for Drama in 2020.