The Only Hope
For the past twenty years, Bill’s lungs have been weakening. It started out with a minor cough that seemed to never relent, and it culminated in difficulty breathing and a shortened lifespan. He was used to being scolded and lectured at every doctor’s visit. They always said that he needed to lay off on the smoking, or he would be faced with dire consequences. He was used to a feeling of utter hopelessness resounding deep within him.
In spite of the forlorn effects, there was something about tobacco that was addicting in the worst possible sense. It permeated Bill’s days and nights and frequent cigarette breaks were commonplace for him. His wife of 10 years had a very, very low view on his smoking and seemed to resent him the more he tried to fail and quit. He woefully recalled many whispered fights when his wife caught him smoking in the backyard at odd hours of the night.
Bill was watching himself fall apart from the inside and the out, and he could do nothing about it. His brain was locked in a perpetual, terrifying case of Stockholm syndrome; he longed desperately to be with the thing that had enslaved him. He sometimes caught himself eagerly staring through the windows at the local gas stations; eyeing the varieties of the brands and the cheap prices.
Through all of his suffering, he knew that he had to find a way to quit. He had to find a way to stop the destruction from within himself. Through the past ten years, he tried everything that he could possibly think of. Patches, and gum, and counseling. In one particularly weak moment, Bill even restored to hypnosis. Nothing was working.
After another failed round of cold turkey, Bill felt pathetic and as though he was an utter failure. He saw an advertisement for an electronic cigarette and after another heated fight with his wife over his addiction, he decided to order one.
Upon hearing about his recent order, his wife told him to stop trying. She said it with such a large amount of vitriol and frustration in her voice that it subconsciously motivated Bill to break the addiction. She thought that his smoking was pathetic, and even more pathetic were his ever failing attempts to kick the habit. The situation seemed utterly hopeless.
Upon receiving his electronic cigarette, he put it between his lips and remarked how it had the feeling of an actual cigarette. Both physically and psychologically, it felt the same. Even so, he still craved for the sweet release of tobacco and nicotine between his lips. However, every time he felt the cravings, he simply used his electronic cigarette instead. Shockingly, he had gotten through his first 48 hours without smoking the real thing.
“It always ends in failure, and I don’t want you to give me false hope anymore”, Bill’s wife had said, and she was right. It nearly always ended in failure, so when he optimistically told her that a brand new method of quitting was working, she reacted with cynicism. Her eyebrows rose with ferocity and she gave a very sour face.
“Are you lying to me?” she asked carefully, already believing that he was.
After he adamantly swore that he was being truthful, she still didn’t buy it. In a fit of frustration and anger, she took his electronic cigarette from off the counter and threw it in the garbage can. She told him that it was utterly useless, and that he was only going to break down and go back to his addiction again and again.
As the tension in the air rose, Bill’s cravings did also. His wife was accustomed to seeing him succumb to his addiction after a particularly nasty shouting match or aggressive comments made to each other. This time, she did not expect Bill to dig his electronic cigarette out of the trashcan and use it instead. She also did not expect Bill to throw away the entirety of his remaining cigarette packs. Furthermore, she did not expect him to look totally unremorseful while doing so. However, he did all of these things, and she was shocked.
This was the beginning of a mutual understanding between the couple. After so many years of trying and failing, there was something different about Bill’s new method of quitting. It was changing his addiction and saving him from the brink of a physical collapse. The road is long and difficult, but Bill knew that he had finally been given the strength to quit his habit.
A tiny, metallic electronic cigarette had saved his life.