There are still ways in which this city changes, of that I can have no doubt.
Once, long ago, before I forgot how to speak, I used to take walks. I would stretch my legs and stride down the hill, placing my footsteps in the shadows of the brilliant green leaves of the oak trees that lined the road. Sometimes I would skip, sometimes go carefully, and on rare occasion, I would dance with the breezes that swirled uphill as if the city overflowed with movement. I can see it now, the way the sunlight would sparkle off the glittery mica in the concrete sidewalk. I can smell the bakery that I would pass shortly after dawn.
Can you? Can you hear the whirr of close-flying hummingbirds, or the laugh in a child's voice after a street-hockey goal was scored? Can you hear the reassuringly rhythmic murmur of conversations passing by? Somehow, I think that these details have been lost to the Gray.
It wasn't a sudden thing. I don't think it was really noticeable, or even an intentional shift, not at first.
There were a few days when the mica in the sidewalk didn't glimmer as brightly, but I thought it was just a passing cloud making itself known. My footsteps didn't echo as loudly on the ground, and the conversations I passed were quieter. People still called out greetings to me, but there was just the slightest shade less warmth to it. The baking bread smelled less like wonder and more like flour and yeast. Still, I just shook my head and walked on, sure in my knowledge that this quiet would pass. After all, long walks had been my habit my whole life, and in all those days, uneasiness had never stuck for more than a season.
I just... I'm sorry. Words grow difficult. Tragedy is heavy, and made more so because it is unseen and thus unshared.
There were times in those brighter days when my thoughts would stray to the manner of my ending. I had always felt that it would be a time of my choosing. I was drawn to the water then, pulled by the same want that forces birds to migrate. I would sit on the bank of the stream above the little waterfall, with just my toes making ripples, and watch the light shatter and the sheltering leaves dance. I felt safe there, planning to end my days on this world that way, with my feet in the water. Perhaps I would go without breath, or it might be that I'd bleed, cut open, the red flowing out from me like music and carried, diluted, purified by the water. I know that those are awful thoughts, hard as diamond and far colder, but sitting like that I felt safe. Looking back, I cannot say that knowing the truth would have made it any easier. I've never been the sort to resign myself to unwelcome circumstances easily.
The days between the first fading and these Gray days are a blurry, hazy thing. The deeper I go, the more the details fade. Voices stopped echoing from the brick walls. Children still played, but the warmth of kindness seeped out of their play, the grace of youth replaced with twitchy suspicion. The sunlight itself took on an edge like the scent of antiseptic, and scents were no less pungent but somehow less emotionally striking, as if they had come unmoored from memory. People stopped calling out to me as I passed, though I still walked. I could see eyes shift away from me. Of all the things I had lived through, I had never been unseen before, not unless I willed it.
It hurt, to be unseen. I had always done my best to be friendly, accessible. I had always been willing to help however I could when someone needed something. To have people notice me and then deliberately choose not to see me was awful. Looking away as if I were suddenly something shameful. Every so often, one or two familiar faces would still seek my attention, but only to ask something from me. It was around then that I stopped talking.
Time has passed, and the Gray has gotten ever deeper. My city changes still, but I cannot walk there any longer, the air is too thick and the hurt is too deep. A haze lies between myself and the people, and even if I could breach it, I can't be sure that they'd want me to, so I just leave well enough alone. I stay here, under the oak trees, with my toes just touching the water enough to make ripples. Every once in a while people walk near my little safe place, but they never stop. They don't even need to look away to not see me, I choose to remain hidden. I can't speak their language anymore, so why should I bother trying to make contact?
Far better to stay here with my feet in the water. Far better to end my days in this world as the god I am, than as the beggar they see. These are not days for gods to walk the earth any longer, and I am going home.
Though some small part of me still wonders, will they see the ripples when I walk away?