I love when the sky is gray. when the dawn paints the roofs of the buildings and the sun is still hiding. The city is ours then. Right before everyone takes over, right when everyone is still sleeping. It’s hard to notice that it’s so cold when it’s this pretty.

It’s like today. I made Jef come out here with me. Sure, he complained. He didn’t want to wake up, but I can always get him to come along. Please! Please! that’s all I have to say. He likes me. sees me as his little sister or something. I don’t mind. It’s nice actually.

He’s kind of grumpy today, though. He doesn’t see things like I do. didn’t sleep well last night. He’s kind of pissed I woke him up but if I keep smiling at him and at the sky, the trees, the pigeons, then eventually he’ll come around.

Chan, why do you always drag me here? I hate fucking Tompkins Square!

My name’s really Gretchen, but they all started calling me Chan. At least Jef did and everyone else seemed to adopt it, like a pet name. I like that. Chan. It means “little girl” in Japan.

He’s rubbing his hands together. His fingernails are dirty. so is his hair. But his eyes are clean. his voice is clean. Dirty on the outside. that’s alright. It’s only if you let it sink in. He sips the coffee we stole from the deli. sips it twice before he looks over at me again.

Because. It’s beautiful here! I tell him. Then I smile again and finally, FINALLY, he smiles back.

Beautiful, huh? I guess if you think garbage and dog shit’s beautiful. I punch him in the arm for making fun of me. I know he’s only kidding. Still, he’s sort of a jerk. I’m glad when he spills his coffee a little.

Jef tries to warm up to me. Says he’s sorry and all that. Making puppy faces and everything. But I don’t care.

I’m mad. I don’t care that the sky is gray. It was so pretty and he ruined it. He shouldn’t kid about things. About the morning sky when you’re seeing the trees in the park. the birds. and all the pain goes away and the traffic is dead on the streets. It’s the only time I really feel that I know who I am.

We sit there awhile. Quiet. I’m not speaking to him. I’m sad now. sad for no reason and that makes me angry. I’m angry and that makes me sadder and I blame Jef for everything. I know he thinks I’m being childish, and that makes me angrier. Why did he have to ruin the whole day?

C’mon, let’s get something to eat. C’mon, I’m sorry, okay? See? I’m looking up at the sky. You’re right. It is pretty. Can we go get something to eat now?

Yeah we can. Asshole! because it isn’t pretty anymore. It’s crowded. The people have all woken up. have come out with their clean clothes and their new day smells. It’s only happy when it’s loney. And you’re paying

Jef’s way ahead, walking really fast. I keep back a little bit. Keep it slow. walking with my head down to let him know I haven’t forgiven him. not 100% anyway. to let him know I’m not going to be running around all day just because he’s all racy and everything. Not my problem.