Taking another draw on her smoke, she flicks it into the mist. Gobbled up the second it leaves her fingers, pigeons coo about her feet looking for food but she’s got nothing to give them. Apologising most sincerely, she squints at the row of stores on either side of her that trail into the distance. While a dim, gentle light radiates from most, some offer only vague memories of a time when they teemed with life. They were once relevant, but now they are not. Tilting her head to one side, Gretchen tries to understand what this means, but the cooing pigeons won’t let her concentrate the way she wants. Gently nudging them out of the way, she walks along with her hands in her pockets, knowing that within minutes, she’ll be inside the art studios, ready to paint to her heart’s content long into the night, and yet still those vacant stores whisper to her. Eyeing them the same way she would an attractive stranger, she thinks about how sad it is that these remnants of the past remind her of the inevitable decay that awaits, and how we can’t all become glorious relics; cherished and adored by the many. No, a long, sad decay is what all but the few will ever know. Wincing, she nimbly moves between a group of shadowy drunks who cease their blabber as she passes. She tries not to listen, but the words they drawl from the corners of their leering mouths reduce her to the bare essentials. Tits, pussy, and ass. It doesn’t much bother her, but she knows that one day such comments will cease, because like those empty stores—or a sad Welsh chapel abandoned for centuries—she will be years beyond her glory days. Not that these days are glorious by any means, but there will come a time when she will move through life unseen, and even though she claims to be indifferent to the realm of love and lust, the thought of not stirring something within others panics her into quickening her pace until she almost trips over her feet.