Living Paintings


brynn_icon.gif silvia_icon.gif

Scene Title Living Paintings
Synopsis Two artists talk art and life.
Date September 9, 2019

The Lanthorn

When Brynn first arrived in the Safe Zone, she had a phone with her that she never used. Even to text her brothers, really! The world changed so much in their childhood that for her, it wasn't that big a deal to be cut off until you caught back up with someone. It didn't mean you weren't connected anymore, it was just distance. Brynn's a little better about texting nowadays than she was when she first moved here.

It's Emily's fault.

It totally is! Brynn now texts. Sometimes. Joe told her he'd seen Silvia and asked her over to their place. Brynn is hugely excited by this! She actually texted right away, gave the other teen the address, told her to come over, and also told her that Joe loves the house cuz it looks like the Ghostbusters.

Joe inviting her had been one thing, she figured at some point she’d come over, but when Silvia got the message from Brynn the invitation was sealed. She wasn’t really sure in the first place if Joe had offered one of those ‘yeah we’ll do this sometime’ situations that never really happen, boys can be confusing. But Brynn’s text was more than enough for Silvia to grab her stuff and head over.

Her messenger bag slung over one shoulder, Silvia reaches a hand up to knock at the door until she realizes that if Brynn’s the only one at home that will be a bit futile. So instead she pulls out her phone, tapping on the screen a short message to let Brynn know she’s here. Then, she steps back and really takes a good look at the building.

It really does look like the Ghostbusters place — an old firehouse! The door pops open and Brynn grins, gesturing her inside. The golden labradoodle standing in the foyer is watchful but his tail's wagging. He seems friendly enough. It's about time you came over here! You can't keep disappearing like that. Not that the other girl didn't have reason. That day on the beach was really bad! Joe told her about it. I missed you like crazy around here!

It's only after she's been hugged silly that she gets to take a look around. Brynn was apparently cut loose on the decor — there's not a wall in the foyer area that doesn't have color. The old hardwood of the stairs, the banister and the entire upstairs gleams a deep mahogany. The dark wood paneling that was hidden behind some of the sheetrock does as well, and the sheetrocked walls have a fresh coat of whitewash, as do the high ceilings of the main common room. The wall that surrounds the mailboxes set into a vestibule that can be locked off from the common area has been painted (or 'painted') to look like a Leonid Afremov painting, an Impressionistic view of a broad avenue flanked by trees and old-fashioned streetlamps perhaps implying old Central Park.

“You give the word and I’ll be over here any time you like,” Silvia says, thinking for a moment about signing it but instead going for speed and making sure she’s turned towards Brynn as she speaks. “I don’t want to outwarm my welcome?” For a moment, Silvia’s not sure if the phrase in English is correct, but she continues anyway. “Your paintings look wonderful. I have an idea for one if you still have wall space. I call it a living picture. Living painting? Not sure exactly how to phrase it well. Words are hard. Paintings are easier.”

The hugs are definitely returned and it appears that the girl is more than happy to be experiencing a bit of affection. “I’m jealous of this place. It’s lovely.” The last bit is in ASL. Might as well do a little practice.

It takes Brynn a long moment while she parses the outwarm my welcome, but she grins. There is no possible way you can outstay your welcome — this is the new Lighthouse. I've been calling it the Lanthorn. She fingerspells it. It's an archaic word for the lantern room of a lighthouse. I figured it was appropriate for us. And there's spare apartments and places for people to crash too. She's genuinely proud of what they're beginning to build here.

Oooh! Silvia has a cool new painting technique??! Brynn tugs her a little further down the hall to another large room that seems to be serving as a dining room. She hasn't gotten in here to do murals yet! Voila! she gestures for Silvia. What kind of paints do you need? We can do a spot while we hang out! Oh, she's missed this, being able to just hang out and chat. Emily texts and chats. But it's not the same.

“Joe said it was the Lanthorn. It sounds like a pretty name. He said I could come and stay if I needed or wanted,” Silvia says, definitely seeming like she’s considering taking up that offer. But art is on her mind and it brings her focus to one thing. “It’s, ah, a layering thing. You paint on top of paint… but the idea is, the subject of your painting is your life, it represents you, so you have your base layer but as things happen you fill in a layer on top of that and as it goes it gets more complicated and full of depth…”

She beams. “I thought we could do one as our collective story. People we know, people we love, things that have happened, places we’ve been, all little pieces.”

Brynn looks at the room after it's explained. So you painting over and over the same spot? She pauses. Guess it's a good thing we have a huge wall, even so. Because their short lives have been nothing if not fraught with adventure and emotions and people! That's a primal idea. And so is the one about you moving in! You totally should. We've got the four apartments for us pretty much set. Squeaks … Will be getting her own if she wants it. But Brynn can't finish the sentence. It's hard enough when people are gone and you know they're safe, but signing Squeaks' sign just drives home how long it's been since she's seen the younger teen.

Anyway, you can pick an apartment and we'll start getting that one livable for you! Brynn offers a game smile. She tries so hard to hold onto hope. And you can paint the walls any way you want. room-sized canvases are not exactly the norm.

“I’m 18 at the end of October. I’m sure my parents would let me stay longer, but I think I need to let them have their space with the younger ones. Time for me to try things on my own again. This time it’ll be a lot better,” Silvia sort of brushes off the mention of being ‘on her own again’ as she clasps her hands together. “Yes, you paint over. You don’t fully cover anything though, things still show through in the background, so the picture just has elements of old and new.”

There’s a pause. “I heard about Squeaks. I’m sorry, everyone must be really worried. I believe she’s okay, she’s smart… too smart for anything to keep her down. But I hope she turns up soon.”

Brynn nods slightly. She learned real early how to take care of herself. I know that. I just… there are a lot of jerks out there and she already got grabbed once. Emily got word… I'm not sure how. But that she's in California. Maybe one of the seers or dream folks saw her. But she let us know that at least she's not dead. She drags her hands down her face and then signs, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to suddenly dump that stuff on you. That's not why she invited Silvia over!

She knows that Silvia was on her own for a while before — she's a Lighthouse Kid. They've all got stories that make most adults blanch. She doesn't call attention to that, just signs, We're gonna love having you here, with a genuine smile for the other girl. The Kids are becoming the new Keepers of the light, and she lives that imagery. Oooh! Painting that!

Brynn's expression shifts to a thoughtful one. If we paint the base coat of the whole wall with a beach and lighthouse… then anyone who wants a piece of the wall for their personal images could put it there…. with the lighthouse standing sentinel. Watching over the living pictures as they change and grow.

“Been there. That could have been me, if I hadn’t gotten lucky when I did,” Silvia sort of finds a kinship in Squeaks, even if she barely knew her. “You aren’t dumping, though. I get what it’s like when you’ve got that kind of a situation on your plate. She’s family. You’re always going to worry about family.” That was something she was certain she felt strongly about.

“I love that idea, the beach and the water and the lighthouse would be the perfect base… I think I even know a good trick on how to make the lighthouse’s light really look like it’s glowing. Some American painter used to get famous off doing it.”

Brynn grins, glad that Silvia loves the idea. And she's intrigued by the Lighthouse light glowing. Oh wait… you mean that guy who did lots of … cottages and stuff? She as to fight to remember the name. I can't remember his name, but I think they even called him the Painter of Light or something like that. I saw some of those in a book once. I think he even painted a lighthouse.

She looks back at the wall and then smiles, nodding her head slightly as she envisions it. Primal. Then she turns and signs, Now, tell me what the heck you've been doing with yourself. Did you draw more comics? Can I see?

It takes Silvia a second to respond. Either it’s the fact that she’s still learning sign language or perhaps the fact that she didn’t really know what to say. “I’m no Joe or anyone, my life has been pretty dull lately on the surface. But…” Here, she gets a little bit more animated. “I’ve been taking some college classes and have been learning a lot. Been making all kinds of comics, lots of short little ones I use for class assignments.”

She pauses, looking around a bit. “Kind of had to put the one with Joe and Lance away for a while, I didn’t have any exciting stories about them to turn into something and it felt weird just fully making stuff up. I kind of feel like everyone got caught up in things. Being an adult, I guess, but I’m only part of the way there. I miss people.”

Awwww. We've missed you too, Silvia. Brynn's smile is quick. We've mostly been either out searching for Squeaks or busy moving, so… yeah, not the most exciting things. I think Joe is bored. I mean, overall — we all grew up with this state of constant readiness and … I think without something to be ready for, he's kind of… gonna get into trouble, she admits. Doing impulsive things is a very Joe specialty.

“I saw Joe recently and he seemed… I mean, he seemed himself but I think he could use direction. He might be useful doing some volunteer work somewhere. I imagine he could prove very useful,” Silvia says, looking thoughtful. “If he’s helping from what’s already happened, maybe that would be enough.”

She frowns. “I’d like to see him happy. Joe’s a good person.”

Joe is her brother, and he's an amazing guy. Brynn, however, also knows that sometimes he's a little hard to deal with. I would too. He's really really gung-ho about … using the training we grew up with. He's ready to run out and take on the slavers personally and all that kind of stuff. His ability means he can be pretty reckless and not get hurt, you know? She sighs. He's a little jealous of Lance and the others who landed internships. But… I understand why he might not be on their list as someone who'd be a good fit for that. He doesn't like rules. And he's not old enough to try for the police academy either, although he wanted to apply. He wants to help people! I'm kinda worried that if he can't find a job that channels it, he's going to start doing crazy stuff, she admits.

“There are all kinds of things you can do even if you don’t have an occupation that covers everything you want,” Silvia seems to think for a moment. “He can have a job he does for money and then when he’s not doing that he can volunteer. I wonder how well he does with fire… there are search and rescue groups that take volunteers. I think if he found a job that suited him that would be great but life doesn’t always give you the cleanest path to what you want.” She suddenly grins. “At least we know someone who will always help when we need it, regardless of what it is we need.”

How he does with fire? Like can his power keep him from being hurt? It doesn't. It's his skin that's the mostly impenetrable part… but he's not impervious to heat or anything. Even if his skin didn't burn, he'd be hurt bad. Brynn just shrugs slightly. I don't have any suggestions for him at this point. I mean… I love my brother, but I'm not a hero and I don't want to be. I just want to have a life. He wants to be a hero.

“Hm, well I guess firefighting is out,” Silvia shakes her head a little. “I don’t have a lot of suggestions either, just that he finds some volunteer group. Doesn’t even have to be a classic hero thing—I think just being there for someone can be heroic.” She smiles at Brynn. “I think you’re heroic too. We all have stuff we carry with us, something that tries to keep us down but you’re the kind of person who lets nothing stop you. You’re a hero, I look up to you.”

A grin is shot at Silvia. Brynn is in total agreement on who is a hero and who isn't. Although she demurs, I'm not heroic. I just know nothing worth having is easy. She shrugs. Brian's kinda my hero. Not because he tried to teach all of us to be soldiers, though. I mean, he did that, he taught us how to fight. But he and the others who stayed with us and took care of us? None of them had to. And it can't have been easy to make sure we were all fed, housed, and clothed. And not one of them had any kind of actual obligation to any of us.

She looks around and then nods slightly. I want to be here for other people. I'll fight if it comes to that again, but I just don't feel the need that Joe has to go out there and jump into everyone else's battle. I just … would like to bring a little beauty into the world. And take care of my family.

“My dad’s my hero, if I had to only pick one. He saw me at the lowest point in my life and somehow he thought, ‘Hey, that kid’s got something special and deserves to be loved and cherished’. He taught me how to appreciate people and care for them and to see what’s great about everyone. Not everyone can do all that, and certainly not everyone does,” Silvia smiles, then looks Brynn in the eye.

“Don’t let anyone stop you from putting your beauty into the world. And don’t let anyone tell you how to do it either. You’re the master of your own creation, your war to fight is just what beauty you show the world first.”

Brynn blushes at that but smiles. She clearly likes the thought that Silvia offers. This room is gonna be a perfect place for living paintings. I can't wait to get started. She pauses and then admits, Part of me wants to actually paint the backdrop, the other part just wants to use my ability to do it. her laughter is silent. Her ability is just a faster way to put it out there, but she's itching for the challenge of doing the subtle shifts of color with paint too. Such a conundrum!

“So use both? Big bits are much easier with your ability, I’d imagine. Then you can physically paint the small bits,” Silvia says, looking thoughtful. “Or maybe you can experiment with your ability and then when you’ve found what works the best, do it by hand.” She looks at the wall. “Might have to make a bit of a list to see who all should have an appearance somewhere on here.”

It's a long list, Brynn replies, perhaps a little more solemn of expression than she meant to be. Some of their people who should be up here are long gone now. But there are many others. I'm think the beach and the water, the sea grass on the dunes… the rocks on the beach. Those maybe with my ability. The Lighthouse needs to be by hand. It's a labor of love, like the mural in the entryway of the front hall.

SIlvia smiles at the suggestion of how to break up the painting. The solemn expression is noted, but it doesn’t seem to dampen her idea at all. “We can make a memorial section. Something honoring everyone we’ve lost. Just something to represent them.” Her gaze roams the wall again. “This is going to be so pretty once it’s done. Something worthy of looking at. Probably one of the best things I can put my name to.”

Brynn looks at Silvia with a sudden, huge grin. This is gonna be primal. It's the most meaningful mural she's ever heard of. Just the idea of having such an amazing piece of art in their home makes the deaf teen squee with glee inside. When do you want to move in? The others'll be thrilled.

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