5 a.m.

October 22, 2017
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The curtains rustle thinly against the glass pane. Groggy, I rub my eyes and roll over, taking in the dim morning light that’s cloaking my flat in dusty shadow. The window is open and the breeze combing through my tangled curls brings with it the sounds of the city that drift up from three stories below. I smile to hear the slippery spit of the cars and the slap of rushed feet against pavement – the only alarm clock I’ll ever need.
I pull the warm bed covers off and throw on my go-to turtleneck and “mom jeans,” glancing in the mirror on the way to the kitchen. A rosy, freckled-face girl with a mop of unruly brown hair blinks back at me. I casually throw my wild mane up in a bun and, satisfying myself that it’s good enough, I tiptoe to the next room. There’s no real reason for me to tiptoe - I live alone - but still, I don’t want to disturb the world outside.
The rising sun is peeping through the open kitchen window, highlighting the baby blue of the countertops and the fresh scent of new rain. I immediately put on the coffee pot. I pile my probably-too-large spiral notebook and my coffee in one arm, and with my keys in the other, I head out the door into the chilly air.
Something about these early morning walks entrances me. I love the feeling of waking up with the sun, of watching the city yawn and stretch and open its sleepy eyes. Maybe it’s knowing that soon the streets will be cramped and these puddles will be tramped through heedlessly and the beautiful pink sky will go un-admired and drift into blue – maybe it’s just that I want to save it somehow, but can’t. Maybe that’s what makes me get up every morning before light and put on the coffee pot and face a still-dark world alone. I’m alone, but not lonely - never lonely. It’s just that this sunrise deserves an audience.
I stroll in silence, occasionally nodding a smile to other early-risers braving the streets along with me. I turn corner after corner – left, left, right, left again – treading the familiar path I know so well. Pretty soon I spot the faded red sign of the diner that beckons passersby inside with the promise of good food and the “Best Coffee in Town.” I tread on through the fog until I reach the door and read the “We’re Open” sign, peering inside. The diner is the same as it is every morning, but I guess that’s sort of the magic in it.  It’s easy to slip inside unnoticed, and I slump onto a stool at the empty counter before the clang of the doorbell draws the owner out from the storeroom.
“Ey, Kiddo!” His smile beams against his tan skin, and he ties his slightly grubby apron over a protruding belly. I return his greeting with a teasing grin.
“Maybe I am to an old pile o’ bones like yourself, Duffy, but I got a stack of bills back home that would beg to differ -” I eye the pastries displayed behind the counter – “’Kiddo,’ pff, tell that to my landlord, why don’t you! Maybe he’d take pity and lighten up the rent a bit.”
“Anythin’ for you, honey.” Duffy musses my hair affectionately while I snort down a muffin through my laughter; a typical morning at the diner.
Duffy was my first friend after moving out here with ten bucks in my pocket and no plan to think of. He got me through those first months, encouraging me to “Keep at it, Bea – good things come to those who work their ass off and were blessed with a lil’ bit o’ God-given grit.” He’s right, too. The guy’s got enough grit to share, that’s for sure. Truth is, Duff’s the closest thing I got to family out here in the big city. Him and my spirals, that is – they’re all I need. I just wish the publishers saw the beauty in my scribbles like Duffy does. I don’t need much, but a few more dollars in my wallet wouldn’t hurt. 
Moving to New York a year ago, I quickly discovered how insignificant a 19-something gal from a small town south of Philly becomes. Sure, back home my words may have meant a little something, but up here, these strangers are chasing their own dreams. No one has time for anyone else. Still, here I am, plugging away. I’ll get there.
I take out my pen and write as the morning steadies start trickling in, one by one. They take no notice of the quiet girl at the counter, but as always, I notice them. 
“Keep at it, Bea,” I whisper to myself. “You’re gonna get there.”






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