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“Don’t stare at her,” Mary ordered as she pulled Ib away from a painting of a young girl riding a horse.

“Mary, is everything alright?” Ib asked. Mary always got this way about Ib looking at paintings. It started at Guertena Weiss exhibit. It was like she was jealous of the paintings. Ib thought it was a little silly, the paintings were pretty, but Mary was her sister, of course Ib cared about her more than any painting.

“It’s fine, Ib.” She tugged on Ib’s hand again.

“Why don’t you like me looking at some paintings?” Ib let Marry pull her along.

“It’s because she’s mean and she says bad things to the other paintings at the exhibit. She doesn’t know what it’s like it be lonely.”

“Paintings can have personalities?” Ib asked as she was pulled to look at a landscape with horses on it.

“Yeah, all artwork has a personality.”

“I’d like to meet a painting one day,” Ib said. “It would be fun to talk to her the way the two of us are talking. I could show them all my stuffed bunnies.”

“No.” Mary shook her head. “Paintings can only come into the real world if they take the place of someone else.”

“That’s… That sounds really sad.” Ib felt like crying, she didn’t know why.

“Yeah, it is,” Mary agreed as she studied Ib’s face.

“Mary, Ib, come along,” their mother called out to them.

“Coming, Mother,” the two girls said in unison. They returned to their parents.

“Mom, can I have my crayons?” Mary asked.

“As long as you promise to be careful, sweetie.”

“I will, Mom.”

Mary worked during the rest of their visit to the museum. She wouldn’t show Ib or their parents what she was working on. Every time she’d say that it was too soon. It was only as they were heading out to the car that she slid her sketchbook into Ib’s hands.

Ib looked at Mary curiously before silently opening the book. There was a picture of a teenage boy with his hair covering one eye. It made Ib’s heart ache to look at him but she didn’t understand why.

“Um, if you ever end up inside a world of paintings he won’t kill you to take your place,” Mary said. “But I don’t want to see this ever again once we get home.”

Ib smiled slowly. “Thank you, Mary.”