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When My Trust Went Up in Smoke MAG
I hear a pattern of clicking rhythms and exhaling behind the hollow wooden guest room door. I wrap my fingers around the doorknob and twist my wrist, but it does not budge. I knock on the door and Gigi says she is coming. I hear a drawer closing. The lock clicks open and I see my cousin with a wide smile on her face. “Why was the door locked?” I ask with a ruched frown.
“Oh sorry, it’s just a habit! Do you want to go to Shake Shack for lunch?” She places her hand on my shoulder and slowly pushes me out of the narrow doorway.
Later, putting pressure on my finger, I squeeze my paper cut closed as I walk over to the guest suite. I open the bottom drawer of the nightstand and lined up neatly side by side are several plastic boxes of the same size. I begin to open them in search of a Band-Aid when I come across three small black and green plastic squares tucked underneath the smallest box. Gigi comes into the room and frantically slams the drawer shut. “What are you looking for?” she asks with a tight smile. Her hand still on the drawer, she tilts her head right, waiting for my answer. “Never mind,” I mumble under my breath. I run to my room and my eyes sting a bit as I fling my laptop open. My fingers tremble ever so slightly as I type the word “Juul pods” into Google as quickly as possible. I click on images, and there are the black and green squares, identical to the ones I had seen in the drawer. My head pounds frantically in confusion. I read the articles filled with terrorizing statistics about the new epidemic: vaping. I rub away my tears and walk back over to Gigi’s room. “What are the plastic squares you’re hiding in the drawer?!” I shout at her.
“I have no clue what you are talking about!” she responds with her eyebrows perked up.
“They are Juul pods, aren’t they? Why do you have them?”
Gigi continues her act of innocence: “Stop accusing me of something I didn’t do! You know I don’t Juul!” I start to stomp out of the room when Gigi grabs me by the arm and adds, “Don’t tell lies about me to your parents.” I feel her clammy fingers wrapped around my arm. She gives me a tight squeeze.
The long table in our kitchen, whose job is to hold unfinished homework, half-opened mail, or simmering dishes, is surrounded by various faces. My mother and father wear oblivious smiles as they enjoy their meal. I hold a tight grin, barely opening my mouth except to clench my teeth around the shining silver fork piled with tasteless food. Gigi’s long brown hair is pulled back in a tight ponytail. Her eyes glance up every so often and pierce mine with confidence and power.
As saintly as she appears, Gigi helps my mother finish washing the dishes after dinner. “May I be excused for a moment?” she asks as Mom heads to the media room.
“Of course,” my mother replies, kindly.
A few seconds later, my chair scrapes against the scratched marble floor tiles as I stretch my forearms away from the glass table. “Be right back.” I slip away and tiptoe toward the guest room where Gigi’s been staying. The tips of my fingers lock in place as I press my ear to the door. Again, the clicking rhythm fills the silence; my heart begins to pound at the same rapid beat.
The door creaks open and I pop my head into the doorway. The room is pitch black except for a small shining light. Once more I hear the pattern of clicking and exhaling then see a cloud of white smoke coming out of Gigi’s lips. There it is. The sight that I never expected to see, and one that I had dreaded my whole life; a family member whom I loved and trusted had succumbed to the epidemic.