‘An Esoteric Cry’ by Yea Nah, age 16

Recently my town added an art gallery for artists of all art forms to submit their work even if they don’t have professional backgrounds. Rows upon rows of different works are presented for the world to see. It’s such a beautiful sight to experience and admire. However, my favourite part of the experience is the blank wall where you can write your thoughts on the selection of that week. I spent hours on end reading all the comments to see if the people enjoyed the displays as much as I did.

Every Saturday, a new selection was showcased. I always attended and I always read.

At some point I noticed a concerning pattern. There’s one artist, Wei Li; their art is stunning, full of emotion and rich in depth and there’s always a sentence to caption the painting. It’s varied from, “I am no longer safe here”, “I need to leave”, “Where can I go?” and many more. Is this how they express art or is there more to this? Perhaps I’ll never know, or maybe I’m not meant to know.

The weeks went by and more submissions by the same artist came in, the captioning becoming more violent and the art duller. Like a life losing its will to live or a palette being washed to remove the paint splattered across it.

I met Wei Li purely coincidentally. After hours whilst I was still reading the comments of that week’s selection of art. They came up to me with sunken eyes, pupils hazy and dazed. Almost as if they were sleepwalking with their eyes open.

“You here to read the comments too?” I asked hoping to get to know the other.

“Comments? No, I’m just here so I don’t need to go back home”, they replied back with a raspy voice.

In all honesty, I should’ve realised sooner that something was terribly wrong. The dullness of the paintings which used to be so bright, the ever-growing violent captions of each artwork submitted, the dazed eyes, the raspy voice. Why does it all make sense now and not when it actually mattered?

Exactly one year after the introduction of the art gallery, Wei Li did not submit a piece of art. At first, I brushed it off, an art block I assumed. It’s nothing to worry about, there’ll be a piece by them next week anyway. But weeks went by and still they submitted nothing. I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

Wei Li was found dead that morning.

Couldn’t have been identified if not for their wallet, apparently.

Of course, I thought to myself, of course. It was so painfully obvious, all the evidence was there in the paintings, displayed on the walls for the public to see yet no one caught on. No one helped, no one responded, and no one acknowledged. After all, Wei Li’s paintings were just another piece of art produced by a no-name artist.

But the signs were there, written on that god forsaken wall.