Saturday 26 June 2021

'Graffiti Ghost' by Lisa Ferranti

Toby gripped the spray paint can. They were under the overpass, cars whooshing above them. Behind him stood their boys, as Benjamin had called them—a group of misfits held together by—what? By Ben, Toby thought.

He rattled the beads inside with each shake, not yet clamping his finger down on the valve to release the mixture of paint and pressurized gas that acted as propellant. Ben had taught him how to control the colorful mist of molecules, shape them into words. Peace. Beauty.

Ben was the artist. Science was Toby’s thing. He pictured the car that had propelled Ben into the air, the trajectory of his body. He’d called for help, run to him. In that split second, he saw the scene as Ben would have—as art—the angle of Ben’s neck, the can near his shoulder, fluorescent orange blending with red. Then Toby had vomited.

Ben thought art could make the world a better place. Toby wasn’t sure he’d ever agreed, but he’d gotten caught up in it. He shook the can now, feeling the boys watching him. “T?” one of them said.

He looked over his shoulder. Their faces expectant, searching for the same impossible things he was. Meaning. Hope. Ben’s words. Toby turned forward again, eyeing the blank brick wall. “Talk to me, B,” he whispered, raising his arm. He pushed the trigger, steadying his twitching muscles, and sprayed nice and even, like Ben taught him. Simple white outline, the loose shape of a ghost. He paused, forced his arm to move again. He wanted to write a word he’d learned in his botany class: cordate. But instead, inside the ghost he sprayed two semicircles, connecting them—the tops indented slightly, the bottoms coming together to a point.

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