The grid of streets was laid out like a vast net that trapped the city between shades of watery gray; the ever-raining sky, cement and pavement. Pinned all it touched to the ground, cutting deep into the undulations of hills, severing everything in its path. Chopping all the wilderness into tidy squares and rectangles to be covered with more gray 'til it disappeared into the gray above.
Sometimes the sun would shine, cast shadows that seemed to have a life of their own as they marked time. Moving, ever moving as the sun traced a golden arc across a jewel-toned sky, and on those days the earth showed off her emeralds. Children played chase with those shadows. But those days were few and far between.
Mostly, it was a heavy, oppressive gray that weighed on the shoulders of those who ventured out. Sluggish feet and stilled thoughts. When he looked out his windows, walked along that grid, it was all he saw. Laden minds, shoulders slumped to the weather, rivers rushing down streets, washing away all the colors of the place.
But he never went beyond. Beyond the restrictive net of the city, beyond the crown of hills where the colors hid themselves under layers of legends and lore. Deep into the hollows, where water spent centuries carving its way to the sea, beginning with the glaciers, and continuing through the footprints of man. The valleys filled with ghosts and goblins that captured the imagination, played with the heart and touched the soul. It wasn't his fault that he didn't know this place like she did.
She wished he had. She wished he had run away with her into those secret places with her, laughing in sunlight, filling lungs with the sweetness of spring. Watching a sun set over the crest of an autumn-smeared horizon from atop one of her hills. Refilling his palette with a whole new spectrum of what that place could be. The hollows where creativity lived. Thrived. She'd have taken his hand, soft in hers, and led him through the whispers of leaves, and secrets that the rocks kept; the kinds of secrets the soul longs to hear. She'd have stood forehead to forehead, eyes closed to teach him how to listen. How to see with his ears. To reach out while his hands remained still. To let it all in and to learn how to feel with his soul.
Instead, she sat quietly on her hill, watched the sun set, and whispered her secrets to the wind, and let him go. Because he had to. Because she had to. Because a closed fist holds no sunlight.