Coffee and cigarettes: A captured moment

A kiss, but not a kiss

A moment of connection, and also contempt. Those eyes, dark and foreboding, laughing with, or at, me. The casual and forceful exhalation of cigarette smoke in my direction … towards the lens, towards my eyes, one of them closed but stung nevertheless. The ultimate act of dismissal. Or seduction. No, definitely dismissal.

A kiss, but not a kiss.

Those lips, pursed, not to receive but to give. And not touch, but a message. Danger. Trespassers will be prosecuted. Yield.

That hand, wielding the cigarette like a master. A Jedi master, sweeping across the frame in a single movement, then held, poised, just so, like a Parisian model, or, better still, a Parisian woman. Wanton disregard for whatever and whoever and whenever lies beyond the boundaries of this moment.

“I am me,” it says. “This is how I do this.”

A kiss, but not a kiss.

The smoke, the trail of her exhalation, visible like warm breath on a frosty late morning, swirling between us like a shared oxygen mask, mutually sustaining lives. Except not sustaining life. Taking life. The nicotine, drawn deep into her lungs, like an artisan smoker, the toxins already in her blood, where they meet other toxins, extracted from weed or snow or God knows what else — this body, this person, ravaged by poisons too exotic to contemplate, from jungles I will never see but which she calls home. And yet not at all poisoned, but, rather, animated, liberated, wild, and uncontained. Free to taste and to touch, whatever, whoever, whenever.

A kiss, but not a kiss.

That hair. Unwashed. Uncombed. Tied back for convenience and to mask, in hope, her disregard for beauty, or what is understood as such.

For she is beautiful. There’s no doubt. Those dark eyes, the poise of the hand, the cigarette between the fingers.

And that kiss, which is not a kiss.

“Come come, Mr Bond,” she says. “You derive just as much pleasure from killing as I do.”

And there it is. The key. We are villains, of a kind, connected by a desire to consume life, her by means foul and me by means fair, but to consume nevertheless.

Except we are not the same. For she is a more villain-esque villain than me. An arch villain. A maniacal villain. A Bond villain. This moment confirms it for all time.

The unwashed hair. Those dark eyes. The poise of the hand and the cigarette, the smoke blown towards my face, which hides behind the lens, outside the frame. Immaterial. Redundant. Absent.

And yet that kiss. Which is not a kiss.

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