Skip to content

The Collector
Florence Dunington

Old Arthur Bailey was exhausted. His thickset boots had collected mud from differing miles, and the soles were worn thin. He had been lolloping through the woods like a bear for hours, the speed breaker-roots tripping him up occasionally. With each stumble, the tired old man would pause to set himself right, and would continue plodding on.
            Coming upon a clearing, he pulled out his little three-legged travelling stool and perched himself down, heaving a whooping sigh as his knees creaked. Resting his sagging leather travelling bag upon his knees, Arthur panted shallowly and passed a gnarled hand through his greying hair. The view from the clearing stretched wide and vast before him, the hills swooping away like the undulation of waves on a calm spring morning. The wind was cool and bracing, brushing against his weathered, leathery skin, and pulled threads of clouds along with it.
            When his breathing had calmed, Arthur reached into the depths of his coat pocket and pulled out his treasures that he had collected since this morning. A glass marble with a vein of orange permeating through it. A shrivelled tube of oil paint with little scabs of blue stuck to the cap. A large leaf that suggested autumn was on its way; its edges singed with brown and red. It was the sort of leaf his granddaughter might have picked up in her five-year-old wonder. A safety pin, a train ticket, a copper coin with her majesty’s profile scrubbed in soil, and a bicycle light that glowed like a hunk of golden tree resin when introduced to the sun.
            Arthur carefully looked over his riches before delicately placing them inside his bag. Clasping it shut, he stroked the beaten fabric, the colour like the smooth shell of a conker, with the pad of his left thumb. His wedding band winked at him when it hit a shy beam of cool sunlight.
            His tired eyes blinked slowly as he continued to gaze at the view. He was not looking for a way to go, he never did. He just saw what the world offered him.  It was enough.

Inspired by Seated Figure – Sean Henry