Leonardo with Lisa
It was January 15, 2019. Lisa had just been dropped off at Garfield Junior High for another boring school day. She hated school. School was useless; she would never need it. She didn’t understand a thing that came out of the teacher’s mouth. Why even try?
She texted her sister, Carol, asking if she was going to participate in the upcoming Quiz Bowl, because Lisa could sign her up. Lisa and her sister were obviously opposites. Carol loved school--so much that she would be willing to participate in a Quiz Bowl, while Lisa scoffed at the thought.
Putting down her backpack, she grabbed her phone out of it. It vibrated, making her quickly flip her phone around and see what it was. Just a silly notification: 500 years ago, world-famous artist, scientist, and architect Leonardo Da Vinci died of stroke. Celebrate the life of Da Vinci this year.
Lisa disregarded this message, because she didn’t like the concept of learning history. She definitely didn’t want to celebrate it. Putting her phone up, she walked towards the stone entrance of the school.
Inside, Lisa continued down the long, gray, brick-covered hallway of Garfield past the ugly, olive green lockers and the chipped blue floor tile without expression. Turning left at a heavy, dark, wooden door. Lisa finally arrived at her 1st period Science class. Sighing, she opened the door.
When she got home, she plopped down her teal backpack and lazily bounced herself onto the couch. She grabbed the remote, flipping through channels as she called her dog Mitsy to come to her. Lisa had a look of angst in her eyes. Some happiness returned as she stroked MItsy.
“Hi,” Lisa turned her head rapidly to find her sister coming down the stairs.
“How was your day at school?” asked Carol in a friendly tone. No response.
Carol asked again more harshly, “How was your day at school?”
Lisa shot up with noticeable tears running down her cheeks, her face hot and red. She was breathing deeply, huffing and puffing, as if angry.
Carol felt bad; then again she only asked her how her day was. Walking quietly over to Carol, Lisa stood in front of her making direct eye contact, then blasted her way past Carol, stomping her feet all the way to her room.
Immediately slamming the door, she fell onto her bed sobbing.This is why I hate school… Going through her day step by step, she relived the awful things that had happened. Tears of fury ran down her cheeks. “I just don’t understand; I want to, but just can’t!”.
She heard a familiar ding.
She sat up, wiping her tears. Pulling her phone out of her back pocket, she read her sister’s text: “Hi, please come down. I want to talk to you.” She would not go down; she knew that her sister knew about school. Carol just wanted a rise out of me. She just wanted to see me cry. Why would she do that? I wouldn’t do that to her. With that, she lay still.
By this time, the moon was replacing the sun, and the twinkling of stars was showing brightly in the darkness of the navy sky with hues of purple and orange at its bottom. Lisa was lost in thought.
She ignored it. She didn’t want to see another text from her lousy sister.
Lisa shot up out of the bed and checked her phone. Her notification from the morning still showed. The ding rang faster and faster, as if trying to tell her something. Lisa felt the constant vibrations and heard the never-ending dings. The notification was going crazy! Standing up, she ran to the corner of her room, and stood there with her eyes closed, shaking vigorously.
The phone suddenly silenced, and Lisa opened her eyes with caution, slowly. Her heart seemed to stop when she saw a glowing box, just her size. Her eyes widened with shock. She couldn’t believe this phenomenon. Glittering like smooth and shiny aluminum, it had blinking red, green, and blue buttons. It was waiting for something to happen. The corners of the box weren’t pointed, but curved and modern. Antennae with golden dangling balls strikingly shot out of the top. An arched, silver door stood in the front of the box.
Lisa couldn’t believe her eyes. Her hands shook as she checked her phone nervously. No notification. Lisa’s heart was pounding.
After observing the box, Lisa had the courage to investigate. She straightened her head and back, determined yet scared. Quietly picking up one foot and then the other, she headed across the wooden floor of her bedroom. Soon she was in front of the machine.
“Hello?” Lisa couldn’t tell if someone was hiding in this magical machine. Lisa got no reply, a great relief to her.
Lisa stepped closer to the box and was surprised when the door flew open. Jumping back in shock, she said, “Oh,” peering at the box curiously.
The inside was really no different than the outside. It was empty and also covered with shiny steel. Lisa had expected something inside; she was glad that nothing had popped out at her.
Lisa couldn’t stand it anymore. The box was drawing her nearer and nearer; she felt attracted to it, like it was calling her name. She wanted to go in and didn’t mind leaving her family a bit. Lisa thought and thought, and finally decided to go in. With her hands at her chest, she cautiously stepped in.
The door simultaneously closed and trapped Lisa. It started shaking. There’s no turning back now. The lights flashed hard on the outside, and intergalactic sounds came from deep within. Lisa tried to remain calm, but found it very difficult.
The box whirled in circles inside the bedroom, miraculously not hitting anything. Lisa sat in a ball, holding her knees, obviously regretting stepping inside. Lisa tried to keep her balance, but couldn’t. The box was out of control, but suddenly stopped in the middle of the floor. Lisa did too.
She looked up and saw nothing different. She started to believe that everything was fine until the box started to vibrate. Lisa screamed. Her breath was cut short. No one could hear anything outside the box as Lisa and the box disappeared with a flash.
When Lisa awoke from a deep sleep, she was sitting in a wooden maroon chair inside a vine-covered stone cottage. The last thing she could recall was screaming. This was obviously a dream. Feeling the back pocket of her jeans, she realized her phone was gone. Starting to panic, the wails from a woman on a bed caught her attention quickly.
A small baby was being born. She watched in fascination as the woman was in great distress.
“The child is here!” said a man with dark hair and eyebrows. Looking relieved, the woman tilted her head back. After she recollected herself, she gave the child to him. He looked very stylish for his era. Looking at the baby with awe, he held it close and kissed it. Looking at the mother with the same awed expression, he said quietly, “I wish I could stay with you, but I am the son of the richest man in Vinci, and you are only a simple peasant woman. I must leave you now, and I shan’t come back to you, for I have found a new wife.”
The mother’s face looked teary. Handing the baby to the mother, he walked out. She watched as his leather boots clopped with dignity on the wooden floor of the house. He never looked back.
The mother started to weep, for she had no money and now must tend to a child all alone. She called a sad “Goodbye!” but doubted he had heard.
Lisa started to cry for the mother, putting her hands to her face to cover her mouth and nose as she sobbed. Releasing her hands from her face, she saw that her hand seemed to be faded. Standing up, she walked around with a perturbed look, expecting herself to still be human. Then again, it was a magical experience.
She looked at her legs, chest, and arms and saw herself ghostly and dimmed. Lisa looked back at the mother and saw her walk slowly and weakly to the opposite end of the room to clean the baby. Lisa saw her coming directly towards herself and ducked, startled. She couldn’t be seen, for Lisa did not know why she was truly there. Panicking, she stood to the side of the pathway of the mother. Praying, Lisa cringed with her eyes shut.
To Lisa’s astonishment, the mother passed right through her, unaware she was even there. Lisa straightened her back and stood unsteadily. How did that happen? Lisa sat back down, holding her head, amazed. Nothing like this had ever happened to Lisa; she was only a schoolgirl from the 20th century!
Lisa pondered her way of travel to this historic place. She just couldn’t explain it. She had blacked out, and here she was!
While Lisa was lost in thought, the mother spoke. “Little child, your name shall be Leonardo, for it means strong and brave. Da Vinci shall be taken from your father, so your name shall be Leonardo Da Vinci. Oh, beautiful child.”
Lisa looked over as the mother began to weep again. Lisa ran over to comfort her, but it was no use; the mother was unable to hear Lisa. She wept for her poor child, while Lisa said, “It will be alright!” repeatedly.
Feeling dizzy and finding herself spinning, twisting, and turning like a top around the room, she halfway disappeared. Then, she paused until the rest of her was gone.
With another flash, Lisa suddenly awoke inside a different room. A young child, sitting at a table, a quill in his hand, was busily drawing a magnificent mountain scene. Intently, he wet the paper with strides of ink and densely created blades of grass. He had a gift.
The same woman Lisa saw before gracefully walked into the room with a bowl. “Leonardo! Come, eat your supper. Stop painting that picture.” she put down the bowl full of bread and cheese.
“What are you painting now, a mountain? Very well, my boy. Eat your food. Call me when you’re finished.”
Picking up the quill as his mother left, he finished the tree sneakily. Then, he ate as fast as he could.
“I’m finished Mother!” he called after he had cleared his plate.
“Very good”. said the mother. “Come, and wash your plate, Leonardo.”
Lisa heard a faint laughing of the parent and child and started to feel dizzy again. Whirlwinds, thoughts, and emotions swirled in her mind like a sharp blender mixing a smoothie. As her brain felt this mentally, she felt the same physically. The machine’s magic made her spin and turn. “Oh, no! Here we go againnnnn… “ and soon, she disappeared into a cloud of dust.
Lisa loved watching these historical events unfold. She awoke again in a large, orange, polished stone, column-lined room. Leonardo, along with a taller grey-bearded man, stood next to an easel holding an unfinished painting.
“Thank you, Mr. Verrocchio. I am lucky my father lead me to you,” said Leonardo pleasantly.
“You are welcome, little one. You are very interested in art, are you?”
“Yes, since I was very young, I have appreciated it very much.”
“Then for a challenge, why don’t you complete this unfinished painting of The Baptism of Christ I started. Paint the background and shade appropriately. Having seen your work before, you should complete this well.”
With this knowledge implanted in Leonardo’s brain, Verrocchio left him.
Lisa watched him leave and saw Leonardo’s mind fill with ideas. He immediately picked up the brush, and it glided stroke by stroke like skates on ice. She would never have the skill to do anything like that. Lisa watched him paint until nightfall.
He left, and she quickly ran to the painting. “It is beautiful!” Her eyes widened with happiness as she looked at the vibrant colors and bold swipes.
The door rattled. A noise of chattering came from behind it. Children, she thought. A group of children bounded through the door and jogged right up to the easel. Lisa quietly watched.
“Well,” said a child, mockingly.
“Shall we?” said another.
“I’ll take the black paint, and you get the paintbrush.”
“Leonardo will rue the day he became a wonderful artist!”
Lisa watched them paint over a detailed angel and left as if nothing happened. Leonardo’s beautiful painting was ruined. Weeping for Leonardo, Lisa hated those ignorant and immature boys, who sacrilegiously ruined Leonardo’s painting. “Think of the trouble he’ll be in when Verrocchio finds out!”
She cried for Leonardo and his teacher who wanted nothing more than for Leonardo to succeed. She felt more dizzy than ever, spinning rapidly. Dust settled to the marble floor out of the tornado that was Lisa as she disappeared.
She now awoke in another room with Leonardo hard at work at a desk. Quill in hand, he jotted down all of the words out of Verrocchio’s mouth-- all the words of the world, seemingly.
Verrocchio recited a page from an old edition of “Art: The Complete Guide.” “Sfumato is the softening between colors, adding a certain...smokiness to the piece. It appears in the viewers out-of-focus plane, and should not be focused on, or it will be incorrectly applied.” Any questions, Leonardo?
“No, sir” said he momentously.
“Very well. Good night, Da Vinci.”
“Shall I expect you in the morning?”
“Of course. In order to succeed, you need someone, and I shall always be that person. Never ask that question again, little one.
“Yes, sir. Never again.”
Lisa thought about Verrocchio's words. She also had someone to succeed with, but she’d never cared to ask them. Her teachers would be pleased if the student who was slow in class was now asking for a more serious education. She pondered this statement and began to feel dizzy again.
When she appeared inside of her new place, the first thing she noticed was people chattering. On a wall was a famous painting, depicting a woman with a smile, posing for a painting. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da VInci. Lisa stared at the painting, “I can do it now! That’s why this trip was so important. That machine sent me here for a reason and I’m through.” She heard the blurry voices of people commenting on the painting. People crowded around it, blocking her view, yet Lisa stood. She knew she didn’t have to stay much longer to realize anything more. Lisa turned to her left and saw the shiny, glowing box that had taken her on the most magical journey of her life. She ran into it with confidence and whispered to herself, shakily with a tear peeking under her eye, “I’m ready…”.