Catherine Chang


I’ve got my hands on the wheel, he said. They were driving down a winding asphalt road, the air smelling like burnt plastic. She stretched her hand out the open car window.

I know, she said.

Hand me a cigarette.

I thought you said you were quitting smoking, she said. She opened the glove compartment and pulled out a glossy pack of cigarettes. She opened the pack and held it up to him.

Hand me one, goddamn, he said. My hands are on the wheel.

I’ve got it, sorry, she said. She pulled out a sleek cylinder with her thumb and index finger. The cigarette was light, white, with two silver rings etched under the word Marlboro. Here, she said. She handed it to him, and he put it in his mouth.

Light me, he said, pulling out a small, brass gas lighter with one hand. She took the lighter from him as he stared down the road. The dark gray asphalt went on, and the mid-day sun shone high in the sky, casting hard shadows and vacating clouds.

I hate it when you smoke, she said. She reached over, turned the knob of the lighter, and lit the tip of the cigarette.

The flame slowly crawled from the cigarette’s tip to his mouth. He kept his hands on the wheel. He didn’t look up, just continued to look ahead. The road continued on. The car filled with smoke, the smell of burning paper, nicotine, and lungs breathing exhaust. The smell spread out the car window, trailing behind the car like a smoke signal. I’ve got my hands on the wheel, he said.

I know, she said. I know.

Catherine Chang is a creative writing student at the City College of San Francisco and has been published in the Cal Literature and Arts Magazine and Forum Magazine.