Leonardo and Michelangelo

Submitted into Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about an unlikely friendship.... view prompt



Alvaro Valenzano looked at the blank canvas in his room. Fifteen days till the competition, he thought. The canvas was placed beside an open window, and the Italian sun shone brightly on its white surface. The window opened to a magnificent view of Florence, the city Mark Twain once described as the ‘City of Dreams’. He could clearly see the spectacular skyline, the crimson red rooftops, and the huge dome of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. He had placed his canvas right next to the mesmerizing view, hoping the city’s soul would inspire the artist inside him. Alvaro knew he was gifted with art. Already a high-profile figure in the world of art, he knew that winning this competition would lead to eternal fame.

Thirty artists from all over the world had been selected to participate in The Mark Accolade, a one-of-its-kind event that gave young artists like Alvaro the opportunity to show themselves to the world. The art piece that won the competition will be sold in millions to the highest bidder. As the competition was being followed by a billion people worldwide, the winner’s name would forever be remembered. His other pieces would also make millions, and be kept in an art museum after five decades or so.

Alvaro knew he was incredibly talented. Talent ran in his family and his grandfather Guido Valenzano was proof of it. He was an immensely gifted painter, whose work had sold for about half a million. His masterpiece, The Miracles of Grace, was being displayed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. His family had always admired all forms of art and their house had various masterpieces spanning many centuries. Alvaro knew that winning the Mark Accolade wouldn’t be a very difficult task. His teacher had told him that the judges admired his creativity and liked him best. Alvaro could imagine himself winning the award, buying a large Victorian cottage with his prize money, traveling around the world for his exhibitions, all his dreams coming true. The only person that lay in his path was Ferrucio Lazarini.

Alvaro checked his watch. It was almost time for his classes. Alvaro’s art teacher, Armani was very strict about punctuality. He was his mentor, after all, the one who had made Alvaro realize his talent. He had to discuss his progress with the competition. ‘What will I tell him,’ Alvaro thought, ‘I haven’t even started yet.’

Alvaro packed his bag and descended the stairs and went out of his hotel. He hurriedly made his way to his master’s home, running through the streets of Florence. With its abundance of timeless art, rustic Tuscan cuisine, incredible boutique shopping, and mesmerizing views at every turn, the city of Florence is nothing short of spectacular.

Armani’s Art School was only a street away when Alvaro was stopped in his track by a young man. He had shaggy black hair and deep black eyes, his skin pales in the Tuscan sun. Ferrucio Lazarini smiled at him, a smile that was more of a smirk.

" Late for your classes, Varo?” Ferrucio asked, slightly laughing.

" I will be if you keep on interrupting me like that,” Alvaro answered.

“Armani would surely excuse you, his most prized student. He’ll understand that you’re late because you were so busy completing your masterpiece.” Ferrucio said with an air of disgust.

“Well, you’re late for classes yourself! Or have you left Armani’s classes?” Alvaro said, trying to control his temper, but failing.

“Yes, I have decided that I do not need those classes, especially if you attend them. They have made me of a mediocre caliber, making me suppress my talent instead of expressing it.” Ferrucio said

“No, you’ve left them because they are too good for you, and you can’t keep up with the amazing artists being made there.” Alvaro snapped.

“Think whatever you may like,” Ferrucio said, waving his hand in the air. “What are you painting, by the way, a large portrait of your grandfather?” He added with a laugh.

Ferrucio had good reason to be jealous of Alvaro’s grandfather. Their grandfathers were rivals, the fiercest ever seen. That made Alvaro and Ferrucio rivals as well. They had been together in school, and both were accepted at Armani’s Art Academy as young artists. Te only thing any of them wanted was to be better than the other. Their family rivalries had started a century ago, and it was still fresh. Both of these young gentlemen carried the pride of their families on their soldiers.

“To know that,” Alvaro said, with an air of someone who knew what he was doing, “You’ll have to wait for half a month more.”

Both parted towards their ways.

Alvaro entered Armani’s class with hushed steps. The students were already seated there, conversing with the art teacher. Armani or Mafalda Armani was a middle-aged woman with her hair just starting to grey. She had big spectacles covering the glassy green eyes.

“Mr. Valenzano, you’re late for class!” She shouted. “Meet at my office afterward!”

After attending the class, Alvaro was seated in Armani’s office.

“So, Mr. Valenzano, what are you planning to present for the competition?” She asked

Alvaro hesitated.“Ma’am, I honestly have no clue. No idea I have is good enough”

“Do you want Ferrucio to win?” Armani asked. “He would be well on track by now. You don’t understand the gravity of the situation. If he wins, a son of Lazarini would have defeated the son of Valenzano. Don’t think about all the foreign competitors, your competition is with Ferrucio. One of you two has a solid chance of winning. Just think of the humiliation for you and your family”

“I understand, ma’am,” Alvaro said.

Alvaro couldn’t explain to Armani that the stress of losing to Ferrucio was the reason behind his inactivity. For the first time since he was born, he had no genuine idea. His mind was just blank. There was going to an exhibition of all the art forms and Alvaro could imagine the humiliation he was going to face when his podium was empty. No, he thought, I still have time, I’ll find the idea sooner or later

Alvaro idolized Leonardo da Vinci. da Vinci was the reason Alvaro had chosen to come to study art in Florence. His favorite piece of art as Mona Lisa and he fervently admired Madonna of The Rocks. He knew all of the secrets behind Mona Lisa, why she doesn’t have any eyebrows. He admired the Mona Lisa because Da Vinci had exploited an optical illusion to create a unique smile through perspective and his use of shadow work. Da Vinci had painted the Mona Lisa in such a way that the eyes of the Mona Lisa fall directly in the center of the vision of the viewer, while the lips fall just under the periphery of one’s vision. Alvaro had studied every detail of da Vinci’s life and he decided to review it to find inspiration. He looked at a copy of The Last Supper.

An idea struck him. He stood and decided to go to the library. the library hosted an enormous collection of books on all topics including art, literature, and science. Alvaro went straight towards the section that contained the book The Forgotten Works of Leonardo da Vinci and found a drawing. It was of a battle. He had just found inspiration. He smiled.

On his way back to his apartment. Alvaro saw that the door had been opened. He was in shock. who could have opened the door when only he had keys. He carefully went inside and saw a familiar face. His worst enemy. Ferrucio.

“What do you think you’re doing here?” Alvaro shouted.

Ferrucio seemed relaxed as if he hadn’t just been caught breaking in.

“Honestly Varo! I do the effort of breaking in into your apartment, and it was all for nothing!” Ferrucio shouted back.

“That is none of your business. Get out of my apartment” Alvaro was furious, for it had just been discovered that the Great Alvaro had run out of ideas.

“Where have you hid your painting, Varo?” Ferrucio asked. “You act as if you had a masterpiece in the making. Don’t you have the guts to show it to me? I won’t copy you, that’ll degrade me.”

Alvaro hated the word Varo, it was a nickname his sixth-grade teacher had given him, the one teacher he loathed. Ferrucio loved it.

“If you didn’t want to copy, you wouldn’t be here. Now get out” Alvaro said. Ferrucio was starting to guess that Alvaro didn’t have anything to show, so Alvaro got impatient.

“There isn’t anything to see in your apartment. Fine, I’ll go out” Ferrucio said, sneering.

Bang! Everything disappeared in the shadows of black and white. The only thing Alvaro remembered was masked men entering his apartment.


Alvaro woke up in a dark room, his head was hurting very badly. Ferrucio was by his side, looking as confused as he was. A masked man entered the room.

He pointed to Ferrucio. “What were you doing in Valenzano’s apartment, boy?” The voice was deep and extremely low-pitched.

“That is none of your business, sir.” Ferrucio was never going to admit that he had illegally entered his rival’s apartment to learn his ideas, even to a man who had just kidnapped him

“Very good. Spoken like a Lazarini. I wanted to get Valenzano, but I got a Lazarini too. It’s like getting two birds out of a single shot” The man said laughing.

“But who are you?” Alvaro asked.

“You see boy, Lazarini and Valenzano have both wronged me. I’m just here to take revenge” The man said.

“I don’t understand,” Alvaro said.

“My family has almost a historical rivalry with the Valenzanos. There was even murder of my late great-uncle. Both of the families got into the business. My family went bankrupt because of your grandpa Guido. And my father deserved his painting to be displayed in Van Gogh museum, but Luigi Lazarini made sure that it was Guido who won”

“Excuse me, but why would my grandfather help his grandfather. They were mortal enemies and we still think that his grandfather rigged the exhibition”

“There are many things you don’t know.” The man. said. “If you want to get out, you need to help me. Make me a masterpiece and you’ll be released.”

Saying this, the man went out.

Alvaro looked at Ferrucio.

“What have you landed me into? It’s one of your old family tricks. When they can’t defeat a person, just kidnap them and bribe them to work for you. That explains why you were in my apartment without me knowing” Alvaro shouted, agitated

“Hey, look, whoever that man was, he didn’t want me here. He only wanted you! I got in this mess because some thug lord wanted to take revenge on your family” Ferrucio snapped back

“Alright, alright. Now, what are we going to do? How are we going to get out?”Alvaro said, sensing that he might need Ferrucio’s help to get out.

“First, let me use my brains and find out what the man is up to,” said Ferruccio

He stood up from the chair and went towards the door to eavesdrop on the man.

A few moments later, he came back, his face flushed in anger.

“That monster! He’s going to make us create a painting for some anonymous competitor and let him win the prize” He cried.

Alvaro was stunned. “That is not fair! What about our works?”

“That’s the deal. We have to make our paintings as well but they have to be mediocre so that people won’t be suspicious about our not turning up anything” He said.

“Then we’ll do it. He’ll kill us if we don’t.” Alvaro said shakily

“I always knew you were a coward. This competition is a lifetime achievement and you’re gonna blow it up like this? You’re just like Leonardo da Vinci, a coward”

As Alvaro loved Leonardo da Vinci, Ferrucio was a Michelangelo fanatic, and though both the artists were similarly talented, their followers were always fighting about who was better.

“Don’t put da Vinci into this, please” Alvaro said. “Let’s make a plan to get out of here”

“You leave the plan-making to me, I am better off for the both of us without your help” Ferrucio bragged.

“So, what are we going to draw, Mr. Michelangelo?” Alvaro snorted.

The two young men stayed awake the whole night and planned, with constant arguing. In the end, they had an incredible idea. An escape plan.

The masked man entered the room in the morning with breakfast. He was happy to hear that both the boys were willing to cooperate.

The man moved them to a new room. It was brightly lit as compared to the dark one. It had three canvases and a large number of painting supplies. Alvaro was going to start making the kidnapper’s painting and Ferrucio had started to make his painting first. Both the boys were ready to cooperate.

Two days later, Alvaro was drawing something he just couldn’t draw perfectly. Alvaro had slept due to exhaustion when he woke up to find Ferrucio perfecting his work.

“Well, I want the both of us to get of here alive, you know. We’ll have to be perfect.” And suddenly, both Alvaro and Ferrucio, supporters of Leonardo and Michelangelo became friends and friends like that were never seen before.

Both of them wore incredibly talented but human. And being humans they were bound to have imperfections, make mistakes. Luckily for them, the weak point of one was the strength of the other and they never could have imagined how wonderfully they worked together.

Ferrucio offered Alvaro pieces of advice and a week later, a week before the date of the competition, both of the boys had finished their works. They showed the main painting to the masked man, but they reminded him that they reserved the right to not show him their piece. The masked man didn’t have any taste in art and took them for their word that the painting was good. They only now had to wait for the competition.

“No, I can’t let you go, you have to win the competition first,” The masked man said.

So Alvaro and Ferrucio were stuck together for a week. It seemed strange because a week ago, they couldn’t stand each other for a minute. Now a week seemed a short time.

“Did you know that da Vinci was ambidextrous, and he made a flying machine?” Ferrucio once said. It was strange coming out of Ferrucio’s mouth, but the boys had discovered something. It was the love of art, not the love of Michelangelo or Leonardo. They had come to know that lovers of art respected and admired every masterpiece, regardless of where it came from.

Ferrucio was always eavesdropping, desperate to find out who had led them to be kidnapped. who was their competitor that wanted to win so much that he had kidnapped the two most likely contenders?

Nine days after their kidnap, the boys found a way out. The door was left open and the masked man was nowhere to be seen. Alvaro woke Ferrucio and showed them that they had a path. Both of the boys took their paintings and left the main painting behind. The opened door leads them to the balcony of a grand house, its walls, and floor marble white.

As they were quietly making their way out of the house, they stopped in a huge room. sitting in the room was a girl, about their age. The boys knew her well. Aurora Storti. She had been with them since school, but she came third in any competition and Alvaro or Ferrucio always defeated her. She was always complaining. But all the defeats had led her to this.

Careful not to be seen, they made their way out of her house.

When they were out of the bounds of the house, Ferrucio stopped to catch a breath.

“Thank you, Varo, for saving me too,” said Ferruccio

“No, your painting idea will save us for real” Alvaro smiled back at him.

“Look, if you ever need any help—-” Ferrucio said.

“—I’ll know a genius can help me,” Alvaro said.

Both of them were grateful to return home.


The exhibition is in full swing. There was a massive crowd., waiting for the winner to be announced. The people gathered near the stage where the runner-ups were being announced. Finally, only three were left. The first three.

As was tradition, the winner was announced first. But there was no winner, there were winners. Alvaro, Ferrucio and Aurora, all had won the first prize. Aurora’s work, the main painting was a beautiful portrait of the landscape of Florence, the Dome, and all. Alvaro’s piece was that of Leonardo watching the Tuscan skyline. Alvaro’s piece was that of Michelangelo. The three of the pieces were so incredibly crafted that they had tied for first place. People were astonished to see that Alvaro and Ferrucio had made the same painting, but with different directions and featuring different artists. Alvaro went to the stage first to accept the prize, but first, he rearranged the paintings. on rearrangement, the paintings looked like one painting. Leonardo and Michelangelo were standing on a rooftop with Leonardo on the right and Michelangelo to the left, both facing towards the Florentine skyline. People were amazed. Some words were written in the painting, seen only in the sunlight. Alvaro asked Aurora, their fellow artist what they were.

Aurora had no idea. After many investigations, Alvaro and Ferrucio, childhood enemies and lifetime friends were declared winners

May 29, 2020 07:04

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Julian Woodruff
21:15 Jun 07, 2020

A commendable subject and an interesting story. In general you've told it well, but 1) you should change the name of Prof. Armani (it doesn't so much matter to what, but no prominent, very real fashion designers!), 2) there are some narrative discontinuities, e.g., from the after-class interview (where, by the way, the instructor seems implausibly biased) to "He stood and decided to go ..."; 3) numerous line edits are needed (typos, shortenings like "He hurried through Florence's [narrow] streets to his master's home," etc. Tighten this piec...


Iman Fatima
16:14 Jun 08, 2020

Thank you! Your review means a lot. I'll try to learn from it 😀


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06:15 Jun 05, 2020

Loved the story. The unlikeliness of the friendship and the fact that they are all human is beautifully presented. Lucid description adds color to the story. Pay close attention to avoid small mismatches of the narration, in your future work. Good luck!


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Lynn Penny
16:14 Jun 02, 2020

This was awesome, I loved everything about it. Best of luck!


Iman Fatima
07:09 Jun 04, 2020

Glad you like it! :-)


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