We met the Collector outside his cabin. It was a very welcoming place. The design and décor was a cross between rustic and Victorian. He welcomed us inside to rest after a long day spent out on the path.

He showed us around and cooked us a meal. After dinner we shared conversation during which we touched on the subject of his collection of oil paintings. He told us of each one and the story behind it. Then after he had talked about every other one of his paintings he came to tell us the story of his most prized piece.

He called her “Mary”. He didn’t know the actual name of the work, but that is what he decided to call her. She was a beautiful young blonde-haired woman sitting naked on the edge of a bed with only a pink cloth covering her lower half. She had a captivating look about her. There was something in her smile that touched the soul of the viewer. The Collector said he came into possession of the painting via a bar in Chicago where she had hung for many years. The artist’s name was Simon, but beyond that he knew very little about her origins. The Collector told us that one of the reasons she was his favorite was that the work inspired something in him. It made him curious. He would sit looking at the painting and let his mind wander. He often wondered who she was and if she was still living. He wondered about why she was immortalized in oil. His mind wanted to know what her life was like and everything leading up to the painting and then afterwards. He told us that one day he was so focused on her that she even came to life.

Mary and the Collector would sit and talk with each other as if they were just two regular people. It wasn’t long before it became so real to him that she would step out of the frame and join him in his cabin. We all thought he might have spent too much time in the forest.

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