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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette Smoke.

I reclined in my "bivvy," and with a sigh of contented anticipation, lita cigarette. My back was propped up by a kit bag, my feet, with the aid of a petrol tin, gracefully imitated Mahomet's coffin, and my general demeanour was one of case, even if the elements of elegance were lacking. Round me my comrades slept—the inelegant form of Darcy stretched out in the far corner, Smith gently snoring at my elbow, whilst Muller and Farnsworth each occupied six feet of His Majesty's newly acquired earth on the other side. I drew my first mouthful of smoke, and gently puffed it out, the while I began to ruminate.

Ease and a cigarette combined inevitably lead to the land of Reverie, and my thoughts immediately began to drift. At the second puff I was on my way home, and plans for my "civvy" future were dimly shaping themselves in my head. Half-a-dozen magic mouthfuls, and I was home discharged, and enjoyng the height of the soldier's ambition—a suit of civilian clothes. Friends were welcoming me open-armed, I had a good position, and was doing well. The sun of prosperity was high in my destiny's heaven, and all was bright and shining from its rays. An unusually deep inhalation from my enchanted weed, and a beautiful home appeared in the smoke. A piano stood in the spacious and well furnished drawing room, little children played around the floor, and I—the Lord of the house —sat before a roaring fire, slippered, dressing gowned, and comfortably ensconced in a big arm chair.

Another puff, and a divine female form appeared in the doorway, with the announcement that dinner was ready. Now, who was this figure? Her face seemed uncertain, and I tried my utmost to make it out. Was it Elsie—dear old Elsie, of the winsome smile; could it be Maud, whose letters I used to enjoy so much; or perhaps Clara—you know Clara, whose photo. I used to look at every night in the desert. Another look—surely it was Phyllis, who sent me that bully parcel last Christmas; no, now it looked like Muriel, for whom I've had a sneaking regard ever since that night she........but there's no need to go into that now. The suspense was maddening, but my chance of definitely identifying my good spouse was finally ruined by that unspeakable ass, Darcy, who turned in his sleep and murmured, "D—n Billy Hughes."

That finished it. Fiercely I put the cigarette to my lips again, but alas! it had burned out. The smoke lifted—my baby grand piano melted into space and left me staring at Darcy's kerosene case wardrobe; the soft purring of the cat, which I had imagined before, gave place to Smith's discordant snores; the roaring fire resolved itself into Muller's red head, and Farnsworth's two legs dangling over the edge of his pack were all that was left of my two little children. I got up disgruntled, woke the bewildered Darcy and told him what I thought of him and Billy Hughes, vengefully poked a shaving brush into Smith's mouth, and distributed a series of savage kicks to Farnsworth and Muller as I left. Now I always blame Darcy for spoiling a prophetic vision, and still wonder what I'm going to do when I get home.