He draws out a long pull of smoke from the paper wrapper placed between his lips. Holds it for a moment, and releases the cloud from his lungs. In the cool country air, it is hard to tell whether the result is visible ash or frozen steam. It matters little to him. As his cloud expands to fill the void of the atmosphere, his mind walks inward on the similarities of this puff of steam or smoke to himself. Attempting to fill the void, the cloud dissipates into nothing.

“So, is that it?” He asks the world around him. “I'm doomed to destroy myself trying?”

He pulls in another lungfull waiting for an answer. As if God would somehow decide to speak here and now. A few attempts at rings occupies his attention while waiting for the response he knows won't come.

With a deep sigh, he carefully taps the hanging ash from the spent tip into a small glass jar. Even though there is no one in sight, he still would rather not take the risk of getting caught littering a possible fire. Not that the damp, freshly cultivated soil of the soy bean field he stopped by would start up in flames. But the fines were enough for the extra caution.

Besides, the collection of ash in the used olive jar had become something of a trophy. A simple metric, showing how much he had. It was less than half a quarter full. Filling it was a daunting task, for these excursions were far and few between. And ash packs well. Nonetheless, the simple pointless goal was some kind of real direction in his life. Something he had decided, on his own, for his own. Something for him, and that gave it a great deal of value.

A spat of laughter while inhaling drives him to a fit of giggling coughs. An image of him fighting to the death for someone trying to steal the jar of ash. For sure this had some meaning to him, but not that much. All in all, it was just a jar of ash. And yet he couldn't deny that it did in fact have value.

With a few more moments, the wrapped release of tension is close enough to threaten to burn his lips. Carefully he drops it into the jar. With a gentle breath, he keeps the rest burning so there is only ash in the jar again. Looking to both the sky and his watch, deciding if there is time for another. And while the watch is in agreement, the clouds of the sky do not seem so.

With a short sigh, he packs his things and self back into the car. Knowing that there will be rain on the windshield before he makes it back home, he hopes that it won't be too heavy. Thinking that a light rain might actually extend his state of calmness, his starts his four hour drive home. Four hours out, four hours back. Smoke breaks had gotten to be quite a bitch once entire cities went smoke free. But then, he had to admit, he would have probably never seen the countryside otherwise.