Creaking floors, a sagging roof, and furniture coated with more dust than fabric. It was perfect! Lester plopped himself onto the ancient feather mattress, his joyous dive giving rise to a debris cloud from the bed and tortured shrieks from the rusted springs beneath it. In the far corner of the room hung a painting. Its oil surface shone faintly in the dim light cast by Lester’s electric lantern.
The painting had a thick wooden frame, intricately carved with woodland animals of all variety posed in perpetual and futile chase. A small cabin, encircled by menacing forest and enshrouded by shadows, stared out from the center of the painting. The cabin was fronted with a slat-covered porch that sheltered the small glow of a lantern; the only bulwark against endless night. Lester squinted his eyes and could barely make out the blurred form of a man seated behind the lantern. The lantern’s light hid most of the figure, washing out the colors until he all but faded into the background.
Lester could discern little of the man’s portrayal and yet he was overcome with surety that they knew each other intimately. The sense of connection sung so strong and personal within Lester that he couldn't refrain from rising and moving closer.
Lester stepped across the creaking floor, kicking up dust. As he drew closer the man on the porch seemed to lean forward, his features growing more distinct and gaining color. Lester stood before the painting and slowly, reverently, ran his fingers along the frame; tracing the chase of animals. His eyes, though, were riveted on the man’s face. Shock of recognition rippled through Lester's body; a felt but unreachable knowledge deep within him, sheltered at the core of his being.
With his mind lost in a haze of attempted recollection, Lester let his fingers drift from the frame and across the painting. His hand tingled as it drew closer to the seated man and his lantern. As the tingling increased the sense of recognition grew stronger. Lester's fingers shook with the anticipation of understanding as they closed the final distance and drifted onto the man's face.
He awoke bleary headed, wiping a hand across his eyes to clear away the cobwebs of sleep. A look of sadness stole across the man’s features as he remembered the dream. Once again, he had dreamed of being more than just a painting.