( The original version posted acts backward in Relapse Traps and I wanted to make it easier on the reader.)
QUITTER - You, a person of any age, your quit brain, your positive questioning mindset
NICODEMON - Himself, the smoking brain, the addict’s brain, your negative fearful mindset
QUITTER: I should quit
NICODEMON: You can’t. You don’t really want to. You won’t be able to.
QUITTER: It’s hurting my health
NICODEMON: Oh not that much. So you have a little cough, no big deal. So you get out of breath once in a while, lots of people do who don’t even smoke.
QUITTER: But I have friends who have emphysema. And just look at all the people in the stores carrying around oxygen.
NICODEMON: Yeah but that’s THEM. They just had bad luck or bad genes. They probably smoked more than you anyway. And never took vitamins. And never exercised. Exercise makes everything ok. Besides I know people who have lung cancer and never smoked a day in their life.
QUITTER: Yeah, but I want to try to quit
NICODEMON (laughs) Go ahead...try. You’ll never make it. You’re not that strong.
QUITTER: Maybe I’ll learn I’m stronger than I think
NICODEMON: Yeah, right. You’re already scared just THINKING about quitting. Imagine how awful that first day is gonna be. You’ll never make it past a couple of days, or a couple of weeks at the most. I mean, come on... you’ve tried before, right? And never gotten anywhere.
QUITTER: Yeah, you’re right. I did try before. But not very hard. And I AM scared thinking about it. But I know it’s the right thing to do. I know I need to quit. And I think I can do it. I really DO. I’ve read too much about the ill affects of smoking to just ignore it.
NICODEMON: Ok. Have fun. But actually it won’t be any fun at all. It’ll be just AWFUL. You’ll be pining away for a cigarette ALL THE TIME. But (sweetly) - go right ahead.
QUITTER: OK. I “get” that it might not be a whole lot of ‘fun.’ But I also GET that smoking is gonna kill me one day or another. And the sooner I stop, the better.
NICODEMON: (having heard it all before..) Yada yada yada.....
QUITTER makes a lackluster attempt to quit AGAIN and fails.
Act I - Several Years Later
QUITTER has been thinking about quitting since his last failed attempt.
QUITTER: I’m actually gonna do it this time.
NICODEMON: Do it? Do what? Quit? (Laughs derisively). Yeah, right.....
QUITTER: No, really. I’ve joined this quit site called BecomeAnEx and have been doing a lot of reading. There are LOTS of people who have quit there.
NICODEMON: Uh huh. Statistics show, what, around 6%? That’s LOTS?
QUITTER: I don’t care about statistics. Beside I can be one of those 6 percenters.
NICODEMON: No you can’t.
QUITTER: (emphatically) YES I CAN.
NICODEMON: Well, you’ve never managed it before. What’s different now? Hmmmm?
QUITTER: I’ve been reading. I’ve learned about brain receptors and how they’re activated by smoking. And dopamine and...
NICODEMON: Uh huh.
QUITTER: And I’ve learned that nicotine leaves your body after 3 days. And that cravings only last a few minutes. And I’ve learned tips and tricks for getting over them.
NICODEMON: Like what?
QUITTER: Well, like, drinking water, and uh, taking deep breaths, and exercise and brushing my teeth, sucking on a lemon, snapping a rubber band on my wrist ...
NICODEMON: THAT sounds like fun.
QUITTER: Nobody said it would be FUN! Besides there are NRT’s that can help.
NICODEMON: And do you brush BEFORE the lemon, or after? (Chortling heartily)
QUITTER: Both at once if necessary! You do everything necessary to get through a craving.
NICODEMON: (sighs) Oh, give it up. You’re just gonna turn into a really obnoxious person and drive everybody around you crazy when you ATTEMPT it. You know that.
QUITTER: (Hesitantly) ...Yeah, I do know that....
NICODEMON: So why go there?
QUITTER: Because I need to quit. I can’t ignore it any more. I’ve read too much about the effects. I’ve SEEN the effects of smoking. My mother died of emphysema. My aunt died of lung cancer. My brother has COPD. My best friend had a lung transplant. My father smoked himself into his grave. My sister is on oxygen 24/7. And the people who love me - that are left - MY CHILDREN FOR EXAMPLE! want me to quit. They’ve been trying to get me to quit for years. And I’M TIRED OF BEING AN OUTCAST. I’m TIRED OF BEING A SLAVE! And I’m ready for a challenge. I’m ready to change. I’m ready to be the best I can be. I’M READY TO QUIT!
NICODEMON: (a little worried now, but with a sneer nonetheless) Well, gooooood luck.
QUITTER: (somewhat confidently) It’s not about luck. It’s about commitment.
(QUITTER takes a magic marker and writes YES YOU CAN! on a piece of paper and tapes it to his computer. He then smokes his last cigarette - not really enjoying it all that much. He takes the rest of the pack and puts it under the kitchen tap. He looks through every pocket of his clothing then checks his car. Ah - there’s one under the seat. He looks at it longingly but then puts it under the tap too. He empties all the ash trays and hides them in drawers. Just before bed he writes a goodbye letter to his “old friend’. NICODEMON watches amusedly over his shoulder. QUITTER goes on EX, reads a few blogs then posts one about the goodbye he wrote. Everyone is encouraging. He goes to bed with hope in his heart, prepared though fearful of what the ‘morrow will bring)
Act II Scene I
Quit Day - morning
QUITTER: (excited and pumped up) OK, here we go! DAY ONE! Oh boy! I’m ready for this. I’ve done my homework. I’ve worked the EX plan. I know my triggers. I know what to do! I’ve got my quit kit handy. Got my bottle of water and distractions and I’ve read the Allen Carr book and I - am - gung ho! (Excitedly puts up quit counter and writes a blog on EX to tell of his first quit day! Many encouraging responses come in. He checks in several times during the day. Has a couple of rough moments but manages to distract himself and get through. Deep breathing helps. It’s not as hard as he thought it would be.)
NICODEMON: (smiles bemusedly. He knows when to speak, and when not to.)
(Later that evening)
QUITTER: (blogs again to the community) Thank you all for your support! It means a whole lot. And I’m feeling great! Day One almost done oh boy! (then adds) My jaw is sore from eating so many hard candies! Lol
NICODEMON: (watches mutely)
QUITTER: (thinking to himself as he gets ready for bed, tired but happy) Wow! I made it. I actually made it. I am a NON SMOKER! Good night everybody.
NICODEMON: (a knowing silence)
Act II sc 2
Next morning - Quit Day #2
QUITTER: (upon wakening) OK! Day 2 here we come. Wow. I made it through a whole day yesterday.
NICODEMON: (whispering) Ummm hmmm. And now you’ve got another whole one to go through....
QUITTER: (ignoring him) I’m ready for this! Yes indeedy! I know it’s gonna be a little rough, but I can handle it! I made it through yesterday, after all.
NICODEMON: (whispering) Uh huh. That was yesterday. First days are exciting because you’re all charged up. Day two is the letdown.
QUITTER: Oh STOP IT! I can do another day. I got through yesterday - I can get through today.
NICODEMON: (non committal) Whatever....
QUITTER (gets up, has hot chocolate instead of his normal coffee, goes to the computer - sees the sign he wrote the night before he quit taped to the side of it: “YES YOU CAN”. It makes him smile and gives him strength. He logs onto the EX site and reads blogs. Sees someone else on their 'day two' which makes him feel not alone. Offers them encouragement. Then posts the following blog:) “Hi Exer Buddies! I made it through Day One yesterday. Whooo Hooo! Onto DAY TWO. So far so good. I’ll check back in later. Hang in my friends!’
NICODEMON: ( silence)
At noon Quitter heads out for lunch and has to run the gauntlet of desperate smokers lighting up outside the office building. Normally he would be one of them. He practically GALLOPS to his favorite eatery so as to avoid them. By this time he usually would have managed to get in two quick cigarettes. Lunch tasted a little better today, he noticed, now that his taste buds are reviving. A text comes in from his EX app which encourages him.)
Returning to work he see’s his co-workers taking their last longing puffs as they filter back into the building. He tries not to think about it. But he does. This makes NICODEMON happy.
QUITTER: (later in the evening reads and then blogs on EX) I’m still here. Still quit. I had a couple of rough spots during the day. Almost went and bought some cigs after work because of my STUPID BOSS. But I hung in and as a distraction I watched the minutes tick by on my quit counter, got through the cravings one by one and didn’t give in. Can’t wait to get into bed and shut off my brain! Is flatulence normal at this stage?
(QUITTER Gets a lot of support and reassurance from the community and goes to bed another day smoke free. He feels very grateful that he has gotten this far.)
Act II, sc 3
Morning of quit day 3
QUITTER: (very tired, feeling somewhat beaten down, hasn’t slept well) Finally. This is it. This is the day, if I can get through it, then the nicotine will be out of my body. And...and.. That’s good. I guess. Something good is supposed to happen when the nicotine leaves my body. Right? (loudly) I’LL STOP CRAVING!... (Softly, pitifully) ...so much. Right?
NICODEMON: (softly) Oh...yeah...so “they” say.
QUITTER: Oh just GO AWAY!
NICODEMON: Uh... no... sorry...but... haven’t you figured it out yet? You’re gonna crave forever. I mean, you know that... right?
QUITTER (fearfully, tearfully) No, please, no. Don’t tell me that. That’s a lie, right? Don’t tell me that.
NICODEMON: Just saying...
(QUITTER cries copious tears, puts up sad whiney blog on EX - get’s encouragement and some tough love. Reads about someone who didn'’t even make it through day one. This makes him realize how much he has achieved in comparison. It spurs his determination to continue. Very irritable at work. Eating everything in sight. Nothing helps. Feels vulnerable, shaky, unsure. Yells at his dog when he comes home. Apologizes. Sits in front of the tv eating cookies. He’ll eat better snacks tomorrow. He sees someone smoking in a movie and the cravings intensify. NICODEMON sits in the corner watching, smiling. QUITTER goes to computer and looks at the responses from his earlier blog. There are a few new ones that came in. They buoy him up somewhat.)
NICODEMON: Having fun?
QUITTER: Shut up. Would you please just shut up!
NICODEMON: I told you. Give it up. Just give it up. The store’s open all night. You’ll feel so much better.
QUITTER: (looks wildly around the room for his car keys. Finds them, picks them up, gets to the door and .... stops. There’s a note he put there yesterday in big black letters “DON’T BE STUPID!” He leans his back against the door and sobs. He remembers something he read about replaying a relapse. He does so - in his mind. It helps. NICODEMON is a little surprised that his suggestion to go buy a pack didn’t work. QUITTER wipes his tears and gets into bed. He is not particularly thrilled he’s made this decision to quit. NICODEMON reinforces that by giving him a doozie of a nightmare.)
ACT III, sc 1
Quit Day Four
QUITTER: I MADE IT! I’m onto day four. And the nicotine is out of my body. YES!!!! I’m free. I feel fantastic! I GOT THIS!
NICODEMON: (bored) Uh huh.
QUITTER: No, really, I’ve gotten lots of support from people who have gone through this themselves. They’ve given me great advice and spurred me on. I keep reading and learning more and I’ve made a commitment here. This isn’t like the other times. This is different. I’m COMMITTED TO THIS. And even after three days I can feel the difference. I’m beginning to smell things I never smelled before. And taste things anew. I breathe better. And I just...feel...different. And it feels GOOD.
NICODEMON: (hardly paying any attention as he's busy whispering his lies in another quitter's ears) Uh huh.
QUITTER: And you know what? You are becoming - well I’m learning to shut you out.
NICODEMON: (snorts, amused no end) SHUT ME OUT??? Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. Shut ME out? (Laughs uproariously!) Oh, puhleeze. You can’t shut me out. Ever. (Gasping and choking with laughter.) You are so...desperately naive in your positivity! Don’t you get it? I’m here for your duration, sweet meat. I’ll niggle your brain like a constant current. I’ll sit on the back of your mind forever. (lovingly mean) That - “Oh, if only I could have a cigarette...” thought will be with you to the end of time.
QUITTER: (doesn’t know what to say. Feels lonely. Wants to go out to that party his friend is giving but decides it’ll be too risky with all those smokers that will be there, and knows that if he has a couple of drinks his defenses will be down and he’ll be more vulnerable to NICODEMON’S whispering lies. “There will be other parties” he tells himself. He blogs on EX and gets through that evening but is not happy and is having far too many smoking thoughts. Not unusual at this stage of the journey. But he perseveres because he’s been told countless times by his fellow quitters who have ‘been there’ that if you hang in long enough it gets better and easier. He strives for that. He believes it will be true. He’s willing to put up with this rite of passage. It’s a journey and that journey to freedom takes time. He accepts it. And he grows stronger.)
ACT III, Scene 2
Quit Day 7
QUITTER (awakens full of energy. He’s been looking forward to this milestone. Dashes to the computer and blogs) END OF HELL WEEK WHOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!! I can’t believe I actually made it. This is the longest I’ve gone in YEARS! I pass those guys huddled in the rain smoking outside my office and you know what? It STINKS now. I can’t believe I actually smelled like that???!!! I’m taking my life back and it feels GOOD. Some of my co-workers are beginning to look at me a little enviously. One came up just today and asked how I was able to do it. I told them about EX and all the wonderful people here. You guys ROCK. Newbies all I can say is HANG IN. Just keep hanging it. It gets better and better! I’m thinking of taking out stock in Krispy Kremes. Well - they taste better when you don’t smoke! I weigh 3 pounds more than I did a week ago... but- oh well.... I can always tackle that one later. SMOKE FREE’s THE WAY TO BE!!!
NICODEMON hums softly to himself in his rocking chair while he reads the latest e-cig journal. Business is up. This is good. It’s getting easier and easier to hook these kids. They’ve put out a new bubble-gum flavored cartridge. Excellent! He looks over at QUITTER who seems so happy and hasn’t a clue as to what he’s in for. NICO’S strength lies in No Mans Land Days 30 to 130 (approximate) which is coming up for the QUITTER. He has all sorts of tricks up his black memory-laden sleeve of addiction. He’s not worried. He’s seen it all so many times. They don’t call him a 94 percenter for nothing, after all. Checks his cell phone - ah another quitter on ‘Day One.’ Quickly heads over there to whisper his sweet nothings in their ear as yet another quitter gives up.
Act III, Scene 3
In the thick of No Man’s Land Several months later.
QUITTER: (struggling greatly) I don’t understand. WHY am I still craving??? I’ve been quit for several months now and this past week I’ve felt like I did at the beginning of my quit. WHEN WILL THIS END???
NICODEMON: (smiles knowingly)
QUITTER: What are you smiling at???!!!
NICODEMON: (sweetly) Nothing.
QUITTER: I hate you.
NICODEMON: Tsk tsk tsk, poor baby.
This response ticks QUITTER off. He pledges in the Take the Daily Pledge and writes a Blog on EX. Members explain No Mans Land Days 30 to 130 (approximate) and send jokes. QUITTER carries on with renewed grim perseverance. He goes back to using those tactics he did at the beginning of his quit to fend off the DEMON. Re-reads some of his earlier blogs. They help. He eats another Krispy Kreme.
NICODEMON celebrates his 100,000th quitter who relapsed. His fellow DEMONS send him black-wrapped packages of emphysema and COPD to replenish his arsenal. He’s pleased to read 15 more people have died of lung cancer. Another 13 year old lights up. A 54 year old who has been smoking for 40 years discovers EX.
Act IV Scene 1
100 Days Since QUITTER smoked his last cigarette
QUITTER: (After putting up a blog to share his happiness and success) I made a 100 days today! It wasn’t easy, but I got here. And I got here because I made a commitment. I did my homework and stayed close to this site, and I continued to read and learn. I got here because I had support, because others paved the way for me and I paid attention to their journeys and advice. And I offered support to others which helped me too because it helped to reinforce those positives in my own brain. Newbies - it’s worth it. YOU TOO can get here. I was just like you 100 days ago. And no, it’s not easy. But if you just hang in - just... hang in! - you WILL make it. There WILL come an end to cravings. FREEDOM IS FABULOUS! (adds slightly chagrined) I’ve gained 10 pounds. Any suggestions?
QUITTER gets lots of kudos on his Triple Digit milestone and advice on weight gain. A new member reads his blog, is encouraged and sets her quit day.
NICODEMON: (Every so slightly worried This quitter’s doing better than expected.) Think you’re pretty hot stuff, don’t you?
QUITTER: Yeah, I do!
NICODEMON: Celebrating big time. Be kinda nice to have a cigarette, wouldn’t it? You know - to celebrate better...
QUITTER: (pushing the thought away) .... yeah, right, celebrate my hundredth day of not smoking by smoking. What am I, an idiot???
(QUITTER ignores him. Decides to go for a walk. Puts on a jacket he hasn’t worn in several months. NICODEMON smiles, waiting. QUITTER discovers an old cigarette in a pocket. It jolts him. He studies it. There’s a slight ache in his gut.)
QUITTER: You had to do that, didn’t you. You just had to do that.
NICODEMON: Do what? I didn’t do anything. YOU’RE the one that left the cigarette there. YOU’RE the one who didn’t check all your pockets thoroughly. YOU’RE the one who-
QUITTER: Oh just shut up. (He takes the cigarette and throws it in the trash. NICODEMON giggles. QUITTER walks out the door and heads around the block. He can’t get his mind off that cigarette. He was feeling so good just minutes earlier and now everything has changed. “Why?” he wonders.)
NICODEMON: (whispers) It’s still there waiting for you.
QUITTER: (tries to ignore him) La la la ,la la, la la...
NICODEMON: Don’t worry about it - you probably wouldn’t even enjoy the taste any more. (Pause. Lets that sink in.) What do you think? I’ll bet after all this time it would have a negative impact, if anything. You’d probably find you’d actually DISLIKE the taste. Wouldn’t THAT be great! I mean then you’d really be free.
QUITTER: (contemplates what NICO has said. It WOULD be interesting to see what one tasted like after all this time.)
NICODEMON: You’re past the point of no return anyway. This will simply be an experiment.
QUITTER: (Is nearing his old cigarette store. That ache in his gut starts up again. He gets closer and sees his brand through the glass door behind the counter. Someone just bought a pack and comes out unwrapping it. Turns out to be a friend of his from work.)
FRIEND: Hey buddy, how ya doin’? How’s that quit of yours goin’? (He lights the cigarette.)
QUITTER (the newly lit cigarette smells SOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD he can hardly stand it) Uh, it’s going fine. Just...fine.
FRIEND: Glad to hear it. Wish I could quit. (Gives a slight shrug.) Gotta run, I’m late to my kid’s birthday party. See ya... (He dashes off.)
NICODEMON: (subtly putting in the knife) Sure smelled good, didn’t it? (It’s not really a question.)
QUITTER is breathing hard, fighting the urge.
NICODEMON: (Using reverse psychology) You don’t really want to buy a pack.
QUITTER: Yeah, I do.
NICODEMON: Well... it’s all right...you know, you could buy a pack and only smoke ONE. Or buy a different brand. Then you’d be sure not to like it. But you’d find out what it was like after all this time. And then you could toss them or give them to somebody. It’d only be one cigarette, after all. OR (getting excited now) you could buy a e-cig starter kit! That way it wouldn’t really be ‘smoking.’ Ya know?!!!
QUITTER (walking into the store) True.
The e-cig starter kits are not that cheap, he notices. The sales guy whips around with a pack of his usual and slaps them on the counter.
SALES GUY (with thick Indian accent): Hey! Haven’t see you around in a while. Thought you’d died or something. (Laughs)
QUITTER: (doesn’t laugh. Stares at the cigarette pack) Yeah. Uh, no. (his mind is racing horribly) NICODEMON (is whispering incessantly) DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!:
QUITTER (thinks ‘I want this, I don’t want to do this, I want - I don’t. I... can’t...’ Out loud he mumbles. ) I can’t. (Breath) I can’t. (Breath) DO. THIS. (He’s dizzy from breathing so fast. His heart is racing. NICODEMON is on the edge of his seat. Time seems to compress. QUITTER blinks, once, twice. He hears the jingle of the bells on the glass door as a patron enters. The ever so brief thought of his friends on EX flits across his mind. He turns and....RUNS out the door. He starts crying, then laughing, then crying. His gasps are ragged.)
NICODEMON (is shocked, crushed. But revives enough to start whispering again ever so slightly desperate) There’s that one you left in the trash. You could still smoke it. Then you wouldn’t have bought any. You could say you didn’t BUY a pack, you happened to find this one and....it’s not like you’re relapsing or anything, it’d just be a little tiny slip.... You’d start right back up tomorrow morning being smoke free....
QUITTER thinks about that cigarette all the way home. He immediately goes to the trash can and takes it out. He walks into the house and goes to his computer to check his email. His sister sent him a congratulation message on reaching 100 days smoke free. “I’m real proud of you. And love you.” QUITTER weeps. He looks at the cigarette then walks to the sink and puts it under the tap. NICODEMON curses and fades.
QUITTER finally feels relief. He stayed free. The temptation is gone. This gives him much comfort. He sleeps very well this night and has a dream about being able to breathe under water, emerging and lifting off into the air, soaring higher and higher. NICODEMON stays awake all night plotting his next move.
ACT IV Scene 2
It’s been over 8 months since QUITTER put down that last cigarette.
(QUITTER is going through an extremely stressful time. He doesn’t know where to turn. Hasn’t thought about smoking in quite a while. Nicodemon, of course, arrives on the scene.)
NICODEMON: (whispering) Smoooooke. Go get a smoke...just go...
QUITTER: (Quitter is utterly distraught and fighting desperately not to listen. Crying.) No.
NICODEMON: (yelling) YES!
QUITTER: (yelling back) NO!
NICODEMON: (changing tactics - soothingly) Come on. (sweetly, caringly, gently) You know you want one. Go ahead. You NEED to smoke right now. Your life is falling apart and it will give you the comfort you need. It’ll help you feel better. I mean - really. You know that. Right? You’ve been really strong all this time and it’s okay under this amount of stress, under THESE circumstances, to just have that one. Bum one from your friend. You’re not gonna buy a pack, of course not. But it’s gonna make...you...feel...better. (smiles inwardly, playing the ‘best friend’ role) You’ll be back to your old self. Calm and relaxed. And able to DEAL with everything. I mean - that’s how you dealt with everything before? Right? And it worked beautifully. Right? So... Besides, you’ve gained 15 pounds...
QUITTER: Stop it.
NICODEMON: I beg your pardon?
QUITTER: (angry) STOP! IT!
NICODEMON: (surprised and a little defensive) Uh... uh.. hey - ummm, no need to get -
QUITTER: (Cutting him off) - You know what? I’m TIRED of you. I’m tired of your lies and I’m tired of your niggling.
NICODEMON: (a bit at a loss) .. come on now..uh, whadda ya mean, tired of my niggling, (whining slightly) I’m not niggling, I’m...I’m...uh... just suggesting you have a smoke. It’s..it’s...it’s what you’ve always done. It’s WHAT YOU NEED!
QUITTER: I don’t think so. It’s NOT what I need. It’s NOT gonna solve my problems. It’s not gonna take away this pain. Nothing is going to change if I smoke, except I’ll become a smoker all over again. I’ll lose my quit and have to start ALL OVER at Day One. And who knows how many years I’ll smoke after that? Like I have before. Who knows if I’ll ever be able to quit again?! All that work I’ve put into this. All the money I’ve saved. The pride, the respect I’ve earned... NOPE - not one puff ever! It’s ingrained in my brain. No excuses allowed. Pity party’s over!
NICODEMON: (aghast - can’t think of anything to say)
QUITTER: (goes to computer and puts up a Blog sharing their stress and strength.)
NICODEMON: (mouth ajar, eyes wide with fear)
QUITTER. A member sends him a particularly heartfelt PM. It makes him cry. Others add their support and encouragement on his blog. He doesn’t smoke.) I got through that craving. I’m STRONG! I’m stronger than I thought I was. How ‘bout that?! I’m a CHAMPION. I don’t need a cigarette to survive. I’m FREE!!!! Not One Puff Ever! (Eats another cookie, but one less than the day before.)
EPILOGUE - Many Years later
QUITTER has long been a member of that 6% Elder's List club.
(A particular moment in a particular day for no reason whatsoever - a trigger out of the blue, some long ago sense memory kicks in.)
QUITTER: (strongly craving a cigarette) Wow, what’s this sudden urge? Ooooh baby but I’d like a cigarette. Aaaaagh I really want a cigarette. Geez. I can’t believe after all this time I’m having a craving.
NICODEMON: (grinning and dancing with delight) Told ya. I said I’d always be there, that I’d “sit on the back of your mind forever.” So? You ready now? You finally ready to give in? Give up? Say that I’m the winner? I mean, come on... Really. You want this. Right? You always wanted to go back to your smoking self. Because it.... felt so right, tasted so good, gave you what you needed that you’re not getting now by the sacrifices you’ve made, (gently) even after all the benefits you’ve acquired by quitting. The... (can’t think of any benefits, naturally) Oh well, you know what they are.... Right? Right? Come on. One won’t hurt you. It’ll just relieve this moment of - angst. This moment of distress. You don’t need to buy a pack - just bum one... and inhale that lovely remembrance of all those good things, those good moments, those relaxing times, the reward for a job well done, that break time, that (practically purrs) smooth soothingness of smoking, the enhancement of a meal, or that - that smoke with that drink!!! Remember?!!! How great that was?! (jovially, like old times) And you’ve never really felt that good since you quit, right? I mean, being out on the back deck smoking with your friends, with your spouse?? At the casino! Come on. Get that back. It was so nice. You’re just not YOU without your smoke. Face it. (Laughing shrug)
QUITTER: (briefly being pulled, wanting, but resisting and then remembering, with all his many years of quit experience, the tricks of his old nemisis. He breathes deeply, calming to the acceptance of knowing this Nicodemon character oh so well.) No. You lie. The only thing you relieve is a craving. You cause the craving, then relieve it, only to cause it again. You’re clever, I’ll give you that. You hooked us into believing you were the answer to everything in our lives - all our woes, all our frustrations, the enhancement of all our fun. The be all and end all. We awakened with you and went to bed with you. We grieved with you and laughed with you. We made love and you were there right after to steal our sweet breaths and turn them sour. You made us believe that we could not be whole without you. Could not live without you, in fact. (With a slight smile) It’s amazing how many people who never smoked in their lives manage to survive, isn’t it?!
I DO feel just as good as when I smoked. Better, actually. I have more energy and stamina. I used to barely be able to walk into a store, now I can walk a mile (recalling that old Camel ad)...but not for YOU anymore. My cough is gone and my sense of taste and smell has returned. I’m no longer a rain huddler, no need to hide my smokes. I don’t have to miss out on moments of my life because I’m attending to you. And best of all, every waking moment of my life is not centered around you. Because I’m free. I’m no longer your slave. You may always be in the very back of my mind, tickling now and again. But, you see, you’ve lost your power. Because I recognize you for what you are. A liar and a thief. A master deceiver. And I practice mindfulness and quit maintenance. I stay connected to those who are not only going through their first whispering conjurings from you, but to those who, years later, have succumbed to those same whisperings. And I learn from their failures and your winnings. And I learn from our winnings and your failures. I’m stronger than you. For now. And for now is all I’ve got. And so I pay attention. Oh yes, I’ll grant you, attention must be paid to you. Or rather I pay attention to your absence. I will never take my quit for granted.
NICODEMON: (not quite understanding) Ah. Uh huh. (Very quietly) Still - I’ll be waiting for you...
QUITTER: (smiling calmly at this old ‘friend’) I know. (With a grin) And that’s fine. I accept that. But you won’t best me. Because, I know what you are. You’re part of the “old me.” You are the last remaining nicotine receptor left in my brain. You little bugger! (Laughing) And once in a very brief while you manage to fire yourself up. (with almost fond humor) But, my dear, you have lost your potency. You ain’t what you used to be. You’re a firecracker that got wet. (not unkindly as he turns his focus away) See ya.....
NICODEMON: (can’t think of anything to say. Crawls meekly into the distance, diminished - but doesn’t die.)
End of Play? Who knows. The rest is yet to be writ......by someone else on their beautiful smoke-free journey. Is that you?