top of page

Surgeon General on Love

Sophia Ramirez

CAS for Database

Wilton, Connecticut, USA

Wilton High School


WARNING: Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.

            That red dress you love on me? I wore it on our second date, the one where you twisted my napkin into a rose. Well, I had to take it to Mulberrys twice to get it dry cleaned so it wouldn’t smell like nicotine. It still smells just a little too stale.

WARNING: Brushing your teeth won’t get rid of smoker’s breath. You should still brush your teeth.

            I’m getting better at our secondhand kisses. God, who knows, maybe I can learn to associate the bitterness with something else. With fingered velvet, red lipstick, faded typewriter letters. Great sex. Playing next to the railroad tracks. Something rich and strange.

WARNING: You are not Clint Eastwood. Stop posing with your cigarette.

            I hate when you do that. Half the time, it's not even in your mouth at first—you look up and spot the camera and so you cock it between your lips.

            You keep me awake at night, you know, breathing your fumes in and out. I imagine pushing the window up, letting out the smoke. Letting in the air. Letting all the moths rest on your face.

WARNING: Chain smoking is worse than the band.

            Sometimes, when my dad smoked out on the deck, I would watch from the window as the cigarette died in the ashtray, and I’d pretend that he was dying with it. I’d force tears in my eyes as I tried to remember every feature, his yellowed fingers, the black veins on his left cheek.

            I loved my dad through the haze, though. No, really. I kept this perfume in my book bag to use before class so I wouldn’t smell like his car, but that didn’t mean anything else, I really did love him. Maybe I’m just attracted to smokers now. Some Oedipus complex shit.

            I smell his exhales in your own. In everywhere. As if they didn’t bury him deep enough.

            By the way, I’ve opened all the windows in our apartment. If I see that you’ve closed one later, I will open it again.

And, who knows, maybe he’s still alive. Don’t ever let them see me dead, baby, he said, clinging onto my arm with his thin, desiccated hands. I cried my goodbye to a closed casket, so I guess if you told me he’s still alive, massaging the rigor mortis from his shoulders, asking the maggots for a lighter, I couldn’t eliminate it as a possibility. Sure, I’d say, sounds like him.

WARNING: Lying on the couch all day and blaming your laziness on withdrawal doesn’t work if I can still see the smoke plumes rising from the ashtray.

            I coughed just now: it was wet. It crackled.

            I like to think you’re killing me. I like to think about it and hate you for it. For stealing the gold from my hair and years from my life and unlocking my lungs only to fill them with smoke and lock them up again. Screw you.

            At least you’ve stopped closing the windows, and have instead resorted to wearing your orange Reese’s sweatshirt at all times. It’s so bright, like a high visibility vest, a warning. Hey, maybe I should try that.

            Maybe I will, because you still act like breath mints are a gift for me. Spending cash on gestures. Like they’re more than enough.

            Maybe if I trace my name into your ashes, if I scream.



A work of magic with roots in reality, “Surgeon General on Love” is a narrative of duality. It will bring you on an enchanting but poignant journey, percolating into the body and mind of an adolescent girl who is searching for lost truths and intimate connections.

Sophia Ramirez is a senior at Wilton High School whose writing has also been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is scared of spiders and for humanity.


bottom of page