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Lea de Vinci
My finger is calloused from having to press down on the triggers of a spray paint cans, releasing their bullets disguised as colors. Blisters form on my palms from smoothing out lines with paint brushes after I shoot my parades of colors from my spray paint can. The wall that I have been working on for the last hour is almost complete.
My name is written widely over the cement of the trains rails. Some of my friends call it the overhang, I call it depressing. Well, not anymore. Deciding it needed color, I gave it just that. My tagging mark is written in large delicate bubble letters that are surprisingly elegant looking.
Da Vinci is written there, along with a pretty amateur looking attempt to paint the Mona Lisa. It doesn’t look bad though, good enough if you ask me. I take one more swipe of the brush, one more try to make it look slightly better. Swaying as I do so, the ropes that are holding me up dig into my sides. Ignoring the slight pain, I keep thinking about how to make it better. I wonder if Leonardo de Vinci ever second guessed his work like this, always searched for a way to make it better.
“Come on Lea, you’re not fat or anything but it’s tiring to hold you up like this for two hours.” Andrew yells down at me and I can feel the rope quiver at his hold, but Hayden’s grip on the second rope that’s holding my other side up is steady and stable.
They are my ‘team’. Hayden and Andrew also tag and do a lot of art themselves. We all have nick names. Andrew’s is Speedy Gonzalez because (just like that stupid cartoon mouse) he speeds right through his work and finishes what he has set out to do quickly. Hayden’s is Bubbles because in EVERY tag he does he can’t help but do something in bubble letters. Mine, as I slightly mentioned before is Lea de Vinci, putting a girl name twist on Leonardo de Vinci. I got it from the fact that I actually do art, not saying that other taggers don’t do art, but I do more pictures then names is what I mean. I also take about as much time as a real artist does.
“Ok, I think I’m done.” I say and I feel a tinge of guilt in my stomach, like it hurts to leave my dear Mona Lisa behind. They tug me up and heave me over the stone wall.
“It better look good.” Hayden winks and I smile, taking off the harness. Believe it or not, we take this seriously, and the last thing we need is to fall off of a building and die caught red handed.
We get to the tracks in a few minutes to admire my work. I look at the piece. Mona Lisa’s eyes have to be my favorite, because they hold so much emotion. I look lower down her face and see where I smudged out her mouth with black. This has to be my favorite tag yet. I love it. Bringing out my camera, I zoom in.
“Good job Lea.” Hayden says assuring me that I’m not the only one who likes it.
“Thanks.” I say quietly because I have a little crush on Hayden and have for a while.
“Why don’t you two just date already?” Andrew butts in and drapes his arms over each of us. I pull a strand of my dark brown hair back behind my ear and take another picture. The snap of the camera makes the awkwardness thicken in the air. I look over to see Hayden’s reaction, his beautiful green eyes are on me and I smile.
Before he can say anything, streams of red white and blue lights flash toward us. S***, not another run in with the cops! Andrew is already on probation! One more and he’ll be down to two strikes, leaving him with one more. The officer pulls up and I hold the camera back up, making it look like I am taking another picture yet I’m just doing this so I can make up an excuse in my head. By the time the cop gets here I have one set and ready to use.
“Is this your work?” He asks the group of us as he gets out of the car, hands on his belt.
“No...” I say before Hayden can interrupt me.
“No sir, I am new here and I can’t help but admire that work. I mean, look at it.” Hayden’s finger is pointing to Mona Lisa’s face and I blush a little.
“Ok, well welcome here. May I ask what your name is Sir?” the officer holds out a hand to him and Hayden takes it, shaking firmly.
“Hayden Sage.” Hayden answers and then the cop releases his hand and move it in my direction. I stare at it like a rabid dog. Taking it, I shake, but I forgot one of the number one rules of tagging: Wash the paint off of your hands.
Pulling his hand back the cop looks at the black that is now on his wrist and palm.
“Ok, now I’m going to make you a deal Lea de Vinci.” He says and I start to wonder how he knows my name. “You aren’t that bad at art, but you need to stop doing this on private property.” He says and I laugh, out loud and in the open.
“Private property? Teenagers from every last inch of this town come here every weekend to get drunk and you never catch them.” I scoff at his stupidity. He allows drunks and drug abusers to use this place as a hideout, but nooooo I can’t make an art piece here?! “So when someone makes this place look less disgusting you try and mark them down for it?!” I yell slightly, but quiet myself because I realize that I’m talking to an officer. “I don’t understand.” I say, hoping not to be or struck down or something.
A long moment of silence crawls by and I can hear Hayden, Andrew’s and my heartbeats all at the same time, keeping rhythm with one another. I wonder for a brief moment whether or not they will be upset with me after this, and scares me. Andrew got caught before he was the finalization to our group, and he got kicked out of the group for it! Would I get kicked out? Then, Hayden’s fingers curl around mine and I don’t feel any doubt in me staying.
“You have some guts kid.” The officer says and I smile a thin up turned on one side smile. “I’m going to let you go this time, but promise me you won’t do this again or else I will have to mark you.” He says, walking over to the other side of his car to get in.
“Yeah, because next time I’ll remember to wash my hands.” I say with a wink and he only smiles and drives away.
Once he’s gone Andrew starts to laugh and I take another look at my painting. Realizing that I smudged the mouth out because I didn’t really like the original art piece with a smile makes me think about how not everybody will like your work, or what you do with your life. It makes me think about how the cop didn’t approve of my tagging and it stings a little bit.
“It’s beautiful.” Hayden whispers and I make my final conclusion.
Sometimes people won’t like what you do, and some may even strongly disapprove. The fact is that while that may hurt and just straight up suck someone HAS to like it. Maybe not who you thought would, and maybe only one person alone likes it (even that one being yourself) but if it makes someone happy you should continue to do it. Well, unless it’s drugs but that isn’t the point… I love art. I love paint and I will forever hold my gun that looks like a spray paint can. I will keep my finger tight on the trigger, but mostly I will always remember to wash my hands.