Every time I stop smoking, the "real deal" zooms into crisp, sharp focus.
I come face to face with the Ignored, Denied, Postponed, Feared, Disguised, and Compromised; and heart to heart with My True Love.
The smoke clears, the latch lifts and all the quiet dirty secrets that usually sleep in the basement, drag themselves upstairs and stand stoop-shouldered around the kitchen. They stare at me and at each other with desperate, innocent eyes.
There's no violence. No screaming or pleading.
Just everybody standing around looking at each other in the light.
"Now what?" hangs in the air around us.
In the past, I'd launch into action: retrieving extra chairs from the other room and taking drink orders. Doing my best to make everybody comfortable in advance of the long night and hard conversations ahead.
This time is different.
This time, for the first time, I realize that this isn't even my house. I don't live here.