Lavender Trees On A Brick Wall


caspian_icon.gif silvia_icon.gif

Scene Title Lavender Trees On A Brick Wall
Synopsis A chance meeting early morning has Silvia and Caspian discussing the power of art in a war zone.
Date March 4, 2018

Red Hook Market

An out-of-the-way side street, near a makeshift church.

Sunday mornings in the safe zone are generally quiet. What few stalls are open or sparsely stocked, and the local Catholic diocese has started there early morning Lenten service. It's difficult sometimes, living in the safe zone, to be reminded of what it was. Old rituals bring
back memories long thought buried, and In the cool of an early March morning, despite the hunger, songs of praise can be heard.

Caspian never really considered himself a religious man. Growing up, he never really attend a church services or really even believed in much of anything. Amazing how a war and superpowers will change your view on that.

Sitting outside the makeshift church, Caspian works idly on some bit of discarded electronic gear.
Not entering, only sitting in and listening, waiting for the coffee stall to open up and enjoying the singing.

Old songs were ones that resonated with Silvia. They used to sing those songs, not always in a religious context, but just to sing them. Just to sing. So as she walks, coming within earshot of the music, she begins to hum a harmony. At first she doesn’t notice Caspian, but it’s not long before she does. She stops for a moment, humming stopping as well, as she seems unsure about approaching.

After all, he had raised his voice once before, would he do it again? She didn’t want to sand, not if she could help it.

It's a lot different now than it was before. Instead of a crowded salon with everyone using their powers, here, in the streets, it's quiet. Very few are moving here and there, and the coolness of the morning does wonders for soothing tempers that may be there. Caspian turns the radio he's working on over, plugs a pair of batteries into the slot and flicks the switch.

Nothing comes from the radio.

Caspian gives a small frown as he fiddles with a few exposed wires, static coming from the speaker before he pulls the batteries out and tucks them away, humming softly in time to the music coming from the makeshift church, his foot tapping lightly against the well worn streets. He's not noticed her yet.

She has the upper hand. The upper hand of what, Silvia doesn’t know, but he hasn’t seen her yet and that gives her the element of surprise. But she’s not a prankster and she is certainly not cruel, so that leaves her with two real options. Walk away, or…

She approaches, making herself visible in the peripheral of Caspian’s vision, clearing her throat a bit so she doesn’t croak out her words. “Um, hello again.” She can’t manage more words, mostly because she doesn’t know what to say. Not now, at least.

Caspian glances up as she enters his peripheral vision. You need to keep your wits about you in the safe zone, otherwise you can get into some trouble. The best way to stay out of trouble is to never get into it in the first place. Setting his radio aside, Caspian lifts a hand in greeting. “Good morning to you.” He shifts a little in the dawn light. “Silvia, right? We met at Raquelle’s the other day, didn't we?”

“Yes, we met at the salon, I’m a friend of Joe’s—well, I guess all the Lighthouse kids in general, even if I haven’t met all of them yet. I’m sorry if I got startled, I’ve been doing that a lot lately but it’s something I’m working on. There’s just a lot to see and be aware of in the Safe Zone. It’s not quite what I’m used to.”

Silvia knows it’s a dangerous place, despite the name, and very different from Mexico. It’s made her a bit jumpy as she fully adjusts to everything. Time heals all wounds, they say, but it still takes time.

“I should have apologized to you. I'm not normally the shouting sort, but…”. Caspian Rocks his head back and forth slightly. “I was a little on edge with all of the stuff going on, and then Eimi popped in, and then you… “ Caspian waves a hand. “You know what I mean. Still. I'm sorry for shouting.”

“Let's back up a little.” He stands, dusts himself off, and offers a sincere smile. “Before the shouting. It's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Caspian and I'm an electrician and artist.”

“You got a little spooked too.” Silvia says, offering him one of her brightest smiles. “I’m Silvia, also an artist. I draw comics. I don’t know if they’re very good, but Joe and Lance seem to think I could sell them in the market. And don’t worry about the yelling. I completely understand, things get overwhelming and you just have to get it out.”

She knows that better than most.

And like that, the ice is broken, just a little bit.

Caspian sits back down and picks up his old radio, tinkering with the wires, like he doesn't know what to do with his hands. He really doesn't, though. He's nervous sometimes. “Yeah, I did. Didn't have the ability to vanish into the floor like you did, though.” Then, as an aside. “Sorry for dropping on you.”

“Tell me about your comics?” Caspian says offhandedly, the murmur from inside the makeshift church and the scraping of chair legs against the floor indicating the pastor asked people to stand. “If you're good enough for Joe and Lance to hype you up, we might be able to do something together. Brynn doing colors, you doing pencils. Heck, if you've got some ideas, I might pick your brain for graffiti ideas.”

“Well, I didn’t vanish into the floor, just a pile on the floor,” Silvia clarifies with a wry smile before she looks Caspian over, sizing him up a little. “A graffiti artist? That sounds like fun. So much space to do your art.” She pauses, seeming to take a moment to fully imagine all the art that could go up on buildings and other public areas. “So many people see your art too, I imagine. That’s powerful.”

After a moment, Silvia nods. It’s more of a slight incline of her head, but it’s enough to be considered a nod. “Right now I’m working on some comics of Lance and Joe. I figured they’re a great duo for adventures. I have two pages sketched out so far, but they’re at home. I have other work, too. A story of a girl who gets lost in a strange world like Alice in Wonderland. I thought of making it a retelling of the story but I wanted to be really original. That’s my longest one. I have three issues of it, but it’s all in Spanish.”

“Here, let me show you.” Caspian says with a smile. Reaching around to his backpack, he withdraws a big black sketchbook, opening it to the first page so Silvia can look if she wants too. “Some people see it as a nuisance, but I see it as urban beautification and a little bit of social commentary. The walls are so bare here, so I try to bring a little beauty to the world. Brynn and I are working on a mural in a day care, and we're going to do another on a wall in a few days of an old friend of mine, long gone.”

The art is varied and myriad, with riots of color, fantastic landscapes, and people standing there that blend in and make the viewer think. “Originality is the hardest thing in the world to find. It only hits people when it's good and ready, and even then, sometimes they miss it.” He flips the page past one that Brynn obviously worked on to a blank one, swings the book around, and offers a pencil while he takes one himself. “Show me what you got, /Niña./”. More of that restaurant Spanish as he starts to sketch. “If you have time, of course.”

“Wow, this is really good. You have a very creative mind. You are right about originality, it is hard to change from what everyone else is doing,” Silvia watches when he turns to the blank page, tilting her head to the side when she realizes what he’s doing. She nods, taking the offered pencil before she starts to sketch as well.

It takes a moment, but soon the shapes she’s drawing turn into the form of an apple tree, a few fallen apples at the bottom looking shriveled and rotten. “I like tree imagery. Life and death.”

Using an overturned bit of debris as a makeshift table, Caspian and Silvia draw for a while, the only sound the scratching of pencils against paper with the singing in the church behind. “Powerful image.” Caspian’s pencil stills as he watches Silvia finish the foliage and add the apples. He shifts a little to add a hefty branch to the tree, and a rope swing, and a little girl in a plain dress swinging on it. “Life and death, strength in he face of long odds, spring and winter…a million metaphors could be added to the meaning of a tree. Now put it on a wall and people will think. They'll ask what it means. Why it's there. What the artist meant by using a tree to make their statement.” Caspian sketches quietly, erasing an odd line here and there.

“This is pretty original already, though. Not many trees around town anymore. This….”. Cas taps the page. “Has a power beyond here…”.

He pauses. “We should paint. Sometime soon. We should paint this on a wall. Here. In the market somewhere. So people can see.” He sounds earnest, and not condescending in the least.

“Yeah!” Silvia finds her excitement builds at the suggestion of painting the tree image somewhere. “I’m glad you like it. The tree has been something stuck in my head for a while. It would be nice to get it somewhere that people can see it. It would be nice to make people think.”

Her eyes move from the paper to Cas again. “I like my comics. I like art. But I’ve never really gotten to move anyone with it. Never made anyone think. My comics are just fun, I don’t think they mean much, really. I’d like them to mean something, but I don’t know how. You seem to know how to move people.”

“This would be a great start.” Caspian turns to gaze at the picture, at the lines and swirls building on each other. “What message do you think it projects? Anyone can paint a pretty picture, having a meaningful picture is the trick. And there really isn’t a right or wrong answer to that - it’s just a start on how to look at the world in a different way.”

“Don't say that about your comics” Caspian’s voice is quiet, not shouty in the least. “Your comics are art. They’re a foundation, and most importantly, they mean something to you. That’s enough.” He sketches a little more, adding some movement lines to the swinging girl, her hair blowing in nonexistent wind. “Changing the world is doesn’t happen in a day, a week, or even a month. It just happens. Almost always unexpectedly.” Caspian sighs softly. “We just have to be lucky enough to be the ones to set it off somehow. The right place at the right time. Maybe one day your comics will. Or your wall art. Or you just being you. The trick is to know that, somewhere inside all of us is the capability to touch the spirits of other people in positive ways.”

Silvia’s own gaze goes back to the sketch, staring at it for a long time. “I want it to mean that people are strong, good. There may be a few bad apples but the tree is our hope—hope for life, hope for love, hope for family… the girl is the balance between these things, dangling from ropes that could break. Life is precious but breakable. But you can swing as fast or as high as you want, you could even leap off into the sky.”

She looks up slowly from the page. “I’d like to try changing the world. I don’t know if I’m in a position to do it, but I’d like change. I want to see people happy. I’m happy. My parents are happy. All this in spite of overwhelming odds. If I can bring happiness to one person, perhaps they can… ‘pay it forward’ I think is the term.”

“We can say it with words, or with images. Give people hints. Flourishes. Ideas with color. Make the tree bright, the surroundings dark, so it’s a beacon of hope in a struggling world. Show that even the best things sometimes have bad come from them.” Caspian smiles again, carefully smoothing some of the graphite to blend the lines with a fingertip. “What colors? Sometimes simple is best - just red and green ,black and white. Let the image speak for itself. We could make the leaves a crazy mishmash of color, too. So it really pops.”

“I like that idea. The tree as a beacon of hope, bright colors, dark in the background… you’re really good at this, you know that? I love the mismash of colors. A rainbow of leaves… people from all walks of life coming together in hope and love.” Silvia’s imagination seems to have been sparked now, and she smiles warmly.

“Maybe a normal brown bark for the tree but then those colorful leaves… sort of to root the tree in the real world and then pull it back out into an image with the leaves. If that makes any sense. You’re really good at this, you know. Do you do it for a living? I mean, as much as one can make a living out of art.”

“You kind of have to be as a graffiti artist.” Caspian smirks a little. “The books are what we use to plan out our throw ups. Before the war, people tended to kind of care where and when I painted. It’s not so much of an issue now, but still, if we hit somewhere like Yamagato park, time will be of the essence, you know? Guards, yard masters, rent-a-cops…they generally frown on things they didn’t order or expect.” He rummages around in the backpack, pulling out a small zippered case that, when opened, reveals a plethora of markers. Brown is taken, while red is offered to Silvia to color in something. “Time is of the essence. Usually three colors at most, twenty minutes to bomb a piece. This…we’ll spend a night or two on at least.”

Looking up from the trunk that he’s carefully outlining in brown he tilts his head. “Have you ever painted with a spray can?”

“I don’t know that Yamagato Park would be wise, I think my parents would get pissed if they recognized my art there. Not that they have much of a reason to be there.” Silvia seems thoughtful. “But somewhere it will be seen but they won’t care we did it so we can take our time… that sounds like an ideal place for me.”

She glances at the trunk as he outlines it. “I’ve sprayed one, never painted with it though. I think I have an idea how you can use it, though. Outlining and then filling in the center, just like you would any other art piece, right?”

“Exactly. Look….” Rummaging around in his bag, Caspian has, on hand, mind you, three cans of paint. A lavender, a black, and a white. Glancing around, he pulls on a pair of black rubber work gloves to keep the paint off his hands, walks over to an open bit of wall, and shakes up his can of black. “First thing is first. Got to outline your throw up.”

And just like that, in the middle of the morning, on a random wall, Caspian begins to paint. “For big jobs…” he says while he paints, straight lines now, then curves, then other squiggles that, at a glance, look almost like a sketch. “It’s a good idea for a particulate mask. Keep the paint out of your lungs. First time I did this, I was coughing up black crud for a week due to inhaling too much paint. Not fun at all.”

His mouth is closed as he paints, staying out of the spray as he works and, as he steps back, an outline of a tree can be seen blending into the brickwork, black and stark right now. “THen, once you have the outline, you start on the fill.” The lavender - an interesting choice for a tree - comes out, and Caspian starts to fill in the leaves, using the color more as an emphasis than a fill in, followed by the white to give it even more depth. HE works in layers, the bright color in the front, the darker ones in the back until he steps back. “Did I bring green?” he murmurs, rummaging in his pack and diving in a little when he finds the exact thing he’s looking for. THe tree, in lavender and black, gets a few green leaves on the top of the branches, the man stepping back and leaving a tag at the bottom of WTC-ONE in a black flourish. “Life finds a way….” he gestures, offering the can. “Anything you want to add? Street art is transient…so I put it up expecting it to be changed.”

Were this Mexico, SIlvia wouldn’t look twice. She’d seen taggers with authority figures in plain view because they just didn’t care. But she never thought it’d be true of New York. Still, it was the Safe Zone, not what NYC once was. She looks both ways to make sure that no one was looking at them, then she just watches him work. She observes in silence, taking note of how he layers, how he aims the spray, taking it all in with the attentiveness of a star pupil.

“No, it’s perfect,” she insists, unable to think of anything else that needed to be added. She looks around again. “And they really don’t bust you for that?” She’s wondering the feasibility of this being a somewhat safe but rebellious hobby.

Were this pre-war New York, Caspian wouldn’t dare do this unless there were some very specific circumstances, like a blizzard, a blackout, or being super late at night. “Not yet. No-one has even looked my way while I’ve been doing this.” He uses the black to fill in a little bit of empty space, making the tree’s outline even more bold. “It helps that i’m bringing color. That I’m making things nicer than they are. If it was just a gang sign or something, yeah, I’d expect them to kick my ass out of there for even trying. People are just tired of looking at ruins.”

“That’s… incredible really. You get to bring color, life to these dead ruins which, let’s face it, is what the Safe Zone is full of. I imagine the only way you’d get in trouble is if someone reports it… and with you doing, well, this,” here, Silvia gestures to the wall, “then I doubt they’ll give you much difficulty. Maybe they don’t like the art or something, it’s not that hard to paint over. It doesn’t look just like tagging.”

Silvia takes a moment to study first the wall and its newly acquired adornments and secondly its creator. She nods, slowly, a look of approval on her face. “You’re alright by me,” she says, matter-of-factly. “I like you, as a person, I approve of what you do and who you are. Not that you need my approval, just know you have it.”

Caspian just grins at that. “Primal.” The Lighthouse Kids are rubbing off on him already. “C’mon.” He tucks his spray cans away, takes off the gloves and puts them in the nearest trash can. “coffee shop is open. Let me get you a cup and a pastry.”

“Primal,” Silvia agrees, echoing the word and the sentiment. They’d rubbed off on her too.

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