Feeling good in the warmth of a brisk pace, Francois walked towards his small apartment. A thick mist began to form in the air but the sun remained. The veil of a million illuminated droplets was far brighter than the bare blue skies of summer, and he squinted at all that lay ahead. Early autumn was his favorite time in Paris; the magnificent old buildings would be darkened by light rain, never being more solid and infinite than after a fresh soak, and the water caused the cool untainted air of morning to last until dusk, when the sun would use the broken field of clouds to display wondrous new colors.
Francois could remember a time when the beauty of the scene was enough to fill him with a lust for paints and brushes, and the strong desire to portray that beauty, to create a truer picture than his memories would allow. The emptiness that filled him now without such desires was a dark sore that tainted all his thoughts. Nothing was changed in the city, but it no longer inspired him to create, and he could not reason why it was so. He felt his life to be in rapid decay without the need to paint. His small reservoirs of pigments grew solid in their bottles and his brushes became brittle. There was no purpose. He began to consider what it would be like to throw himself from the tower, and considered the beauty of such an end. Either illuminated at night, or in the pinks and purples of a setting winter sun, glowing as he flew. He told this to the men of the book stalls and they humored him, recommending a certain kind of bolt cutter to get through the safety fence. But this was not a serious consideration so much as a waking dream. Francois knew that he had to paint. He decided that if he could no longer find purpose in appreciating the beauty he once saw, he would instead destroy it. He began painting again. He painted terrible scenes of rubble and plague. In his pictures the buttresses of the great church were smashed to the ground in clouds of smoke, and fallen bridges, stripped of golden ornaments, clogged the river. To massacre the scene was to provoke appreciation for reality. Pleasant pictures on cards trivialized it. Paintings once again came to him naturally, yet the emptiness remained.