Chapter 1 - Zivena

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    Spray paint hits the wall in a multitude of colours. Brilliant greens and purples make way for blues and oranges as I move with practiced ease. My breath is hot and humid inside my mask and the summer air dries the paint quickly as I add the finishing touches.
    "Are you sure this is legit, Zi? What if the police rock up and ask if you have permission? Do you have any paperwork to show them?"
    "It's fine," I reply, shrugging. "Apparently there was a last minute drop out and whoever is in charge liked my submission so I got in."
    The rapid clicking of a metal ball in a spray can fills the silence between us. I had painted most of the piece by myself yesterday as Imogen had been busy preparing for NYU. But the solitude had been good. I could let my mind wander freely as I painted all day. This morning is for the smaller details and to watch as the whole piece comes together.
    "I don't have a good feeling about this, Zi."
    I sigh and put down my paint can. "Keep your cardigan on Imogen. This isn't illegal, we're not going to get arrested."
    "But what if we did? What if there's some mistake and this isn't even the right building?"
    I roll my eyes. "This is legit, Immy," I say. "Besides, I'd never let you get arrested."
    Imogen raises an eyebrow at me, her fists on her hips. "How would you do that exactly?"
    I try to keep a straight face as I say, "I don't know, I'd probably hide you in a trashcan or something. You're small enough."
    The horror on her face sends me into a massive fit of laughter and I try hard not to lean on the fresh paint.
    "You're the worst!"
    "Am I though?" I wink at her. "Anyway, I'm pretty sure the cops would take one look at you and let you off with a warning."
    I have one more look over my piece and grab a fluro pink spray can and sign 'Z' on the bottom right corner.
    I shove all the paint cans into my backpack and take off my mask before I can change my mind and add more.
    "Are you done?" Imogen asks.
    Imogen hops off the milk crate she had been sitting on and stands next to me. "Zi, this is amazing!"
    I grin. "Thanks."
    "But why does she have green hair?"
    I shrug. "It's just how I saw her in my dream."
    We both stand side my side, gazing at the wall. Swirling green hair filled with wildflowers frame an ageless beauty and I wonder, not for the first time, who she is. Why she's been roaming my dreams.
    The sound of a camera shutter clicking shakes me from my thoughts and I look over to see Imogen taking a photo of me gazing at the mural. I pull a face at her and she takes another one.
    "Wow, that must look really attractive," I say and grab my backpack.
    Imogen laughs, "It doesn't. You look like a squished potato."
    "Ouch! That's just rude!"
    Imogen shrugs, "But it's the truth."
    "You are the worst friend ever."
    "At least I didn't say I'd shove you into a trashcan," she glares and takes another photo of the mural. This time without me in it. Thank god!
    We make our way to the road and we're about to wave down a taxi when -
    "Ahh, you must be Zivena."
    Imogen and I turn around to find a well dressed, dark skinned man standing a few feet away. His too white smile shines from underneath his black umbrella and his shrewd dark eyes travel up and down Imogen before flicking back to me. There's something about him that has me stepping in front of Imogen before I say, "Who are you?"
    "Lotair," he says, his voice smooth and cunning. He takes a step towards me and holds out a gloved hand. Frowning, I shake it. "I'm the co-founder of the street art project and I'd heard you were finishing up this morning." Lotair gives me a slow, toothy smile and for a split second I thought I saw...
    I shake my head. No, that - that's ridiculous.
    "It's an interesting piece you've created. What inspired you?" There's something in his voice and his eyes that tells me that this is no casual question...
    "It's just something I saw in a dream," I say cautiously.
    Lotair's eyes gleam like a rich housewife spotting a new expensive handbag. I frown at him.
    "Well, thank you again for filling in last minute. My partner was very intrigued by your submission."
    "Not a problem." I wave down a taxi. I want to get the hell away from this creep and quick.
    Lotair continues to stand there, studying me as we anxiously wait for the taxi to pull up. "Have a lovely day, both of you," he gives us yet another wide grin.
    The taxi stops beside us and I open up the door for Imogen to get in first. As I'm about to slide in I say without thinking, "It's quite sunny today. Maybe you should get inside before you burn to a crisp."
    In an instant his smile drops and his face hardens, "I've found that Guardians who run their mouths don't live very long lives."
    Before I can say anything else the taxi takes off down the street.
    Imogen turns in her seat to look at me, "What was that about?"
    I shake my head, instantly regretting opening my mouth at all. "Nothing."

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