Sisi came to the town very young. She didn't remember much from her Other home, her Other family. Snippets mostly-a blue sky, a green fernplant, a pink smile uncurling slowly. Either way, now, she was in this town.
The town itself sat squat beneath a grey sky, grey roads spreading like veins. The houses were neat and orderly, and grey. The people too were an odd shade of pale grey, grey clothes, grey dust. They were an unassuming people, set in their ways. The ploddingly industrious children grew to be ploddingly industrious adults. The mundane was both expected and rewarded in the town, and at night, the grey people slept a deep black sleep, eyes clenched against the hesitant brilliance of the moon.
All that is, except for her. At night, Sisi sat on her bed on the upper story of her adopted parent's home and wrote poems, or just sat and looked out of the window, past the borders of the town to where, through the farther buildings, she could make out glimmers of the ocean.
When Sisi was in kindergarten, she drew grinning suns over fields of riotous flowers. Her fellows drew orderly rows of squat grey houses, or Mum And Dad And Me.
In high school, Sisi wrote poetry, words splashed and splattered across the page, words wild and powerful like an avalanche, dangerous and beautiful like a panther.
Her fellows wrote carefully printed compositions on How To Improve this or that's Efficiency in the town, or accurate recounts of field trips.
Sisi grew up.
Finished high school, got a boyfriend, got a job. But always always the grey sky hung heavy and low, and the grey walls towered and seemed to inch closer and closer together, and closer again, stifling and suffocating until it started to show. One day at work, Sisi's hands trembled; she took down orders wrong, handed out the wrong change. Blandly concerned, her boss sent her home to get some rest.
That night, Sisi sat staring out of the window, arms wrapped around her folded legs, chin resting atop her knees. Her pen and paper lay untouched on the bed beside her as she ran her fingertips idly across the top of her foot.
Suddenly, she sat up straighter, unfolded her legs. There, unmistakably, on her foot where she'd been rubbing-a patch of pink. She licked her finger and rubbed at the patch-wherever she rubbed, the grey dissolved like so much dust, revealing her blush colored under layer. The color, that pink, it triggered memories and Sisi closed her eyes and allowed them to cascade over her- that sky fernplant smile.
And all of a sudden, the grey grey surrounding her squeezed tight, and she couldn't breathe and she couldn't think so she stumbled off her bed fumbled for shoes the door swung shut behind her and she ran.
She ran along the roads at first, then over grass, until damp and trembling, her fatigued muscles demanded she stop. She looked around her, turned slowly in a circle. Behind her, the town huddled in the grey predawn. In front of her, and some distance down, waves hurled themselves against the foot of the cliffs.
Sisi settled in the grass, facing the ocean. She sat and watched as purples oranges pinks splashed evanescent across the sky, as the sun rose ponderously, throwing diamonds across the wave tips.
She sat and watched and her heart ached. She stood, and reached out with her arms, reaching straining because there, out there, on that horizon, that was her home. Longing to dive into the color, she reached and strained and stepped almost to the cliff edge-but it was too far away.
Her shoulders slumped. She turned to walk back to the town. But after that horizon, her eyes felt blinded by the big grey town-shaped smudge.
She turned back to the ocean, felt the tugging of her spirit towards it. So she fell into herself, searched her private inside until she came to the shimmering centre where her poetry stemmed from.
She grasped this ethereal ball, and, holding it in her two cupped hands, Sisi edged as close to the edge as she dared- and threw.
She stood and watched as the glowing sphere sprouted wings and flew towards the sun.
Sisi returned to the town.
She went back to work and married her boyfriend.
She had children who went to kindergarten and drew orderly grey houses.
But at night, passing unnoticed over the deep black sleep of the town dwellers, a ball of light flew into Sisi's room. It settled on her forehead and whispered of what lay beyond the horizon. It whispered vermillion and indigo, deep midnight blue and brilliant emerald green.
And in the dead of night, Sisi rolled onto her side, towards the wall where no one could see, and smiled her own private, pink smile.