Cigarettes, Diamonds, and Melancholia by Ren Martinez

It’s just one of those nights tonight. When the room is too quiet and my feet are too cold and my phone is seemingly empty of all human contact. Loneliness has snuck in through the cracks, sweet and sinister like the smoke curling from cloves. It burns the back of my throat; my eyes begin to sting.

Instead of banishing it, stubbing out the end of that cigarette into the surface of my coffee table, I do something else. I breathe it in. I let that sugar-drenched scent pour into my body and soak up through my pores and stick to my tongue. I blow smoke rings of sadness back into the air, watch it dissipate into nothing.

It’s a beautiful thing, being lonely.

So often, we are told to hoard emotions like happiness, love, excitement – these are the glittering jewels that we wear on our fingers and hold in the hollows of our throat. They are cherished; they are beloved. Yet, not all that glitters is gold. Pain, fear, and sorrow shine just as brightly. But, rather than wear them like diamonds, we do our best to blot them out, erase their existence into the blackness from whence they came. On nights such as this, I’m expected to wear a false smile of cubic zirconia as if everything is fine.

But, there is something beautiful in all the things we hide. There is poetry in tears, how they cling to lashes with a lover’s desperation. There are songs sung in your bones even as they break in envy. Paint swirls beneath skin in angry, crimson strokes. And loneliness burns as cloves, deadly sweet smoke filling your mouth.

It’s nearly one in the morning and I’m still alone. In the darkness, I can see the embers of a half-lit cigarette glittering like a jewel.

I breathe in.


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