Fuck, you think. This is boring.
You are propped up on two wooden poles in front of a field of corn. The wind rustles your rotting overalls and makes you sway back and forth.
You can hear the farmer harvesting the corn behind you.
SHINK, SHINK, SHINK, the scythe goes, SHINK, SHINK, SHINK
You can feel crows flying all around you, but diving away from your line of sight as soon as they get too close.
CAW, CAW, CAW, the crows go, CAW, CAW, CAW
Is this all life is? you think. Scaring crows, having teenagers drunkenly steal you, and cover you in the stenches of beer and weed? Only to be returned to the farmer weeks later by shame-faced parents?
Occasionally you have thought of trying to come alive, maybe moving on your own. But what would you do then? Go looking for a brain maybe? One made of flesh would probably work better than one made of straw.
But whose brain then? Not the farmer. He’s an idiot.
Damn fool couldn’t even stitch a straight line on your face for a mouth. All you have is this ridiculous curve stitched across your face. It looks more like the product of drunken surgery rather than a mouth. Then again it does match the pair of massive googly eyes superglued above it.
You remember dimly your face being made. First, you were a flour sack. Or was it a pair of old stockings? You can’t seem to remember. But you remember being on the farmer’s lap. You remember the spittle of chewing tobacco raining in spit covered heaps on your face as the farmer stitched you together in his lap. He was humming ‘Home on the Range’ as he tore the needle through you with no hesitation.
STITCH, STITCH, STITCH, the needle goes STITCH, STITCH, STITCH
You can feel the ants and weevils working their way through your slowly-rotting body. Eating the straw, increasing the rate of your decay. You wish you could do something about them. Rip out the weevils and ants and then stomp them into a fine paste.
CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH, the bugs go CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH
What will happen, you wonder, when you finally do fall apart? It’s coming soon, you can feel that. Straw and burlap doesn’t last forever.
Will the farmer fix you? Perhaps change out the old moldy straw with fresher stronger stuff? Maybe something artificial that doesn’t rot. That might work, you think.
For a time, you content yourself with the thought of having your innards scooped out and replaced with something that can’t break down or rot. Rubber maybe. Or cement. Can you be remade with cement, you wonder? Of course, that would entail the farmer getting off his fat ass and actually bothering to tend to you.
A darker thought surfaces, one that has always nagged at you. One you have tried so very hard to forget. What if the farmer just replaces you?
You dimly remember something being torn off of the very wooden posts on which you now reside. Right before you were hammered upon the wooden posts like a sacrifice. You might even remember something or was it, someone, moaning as it happened.
PLEASE NO, PLEASE NO, PLEASE NO, it goes PLEASE NO, PLEASE NO, PLEASE NO
Would the farmer, do it? Switch you out for another man made of straw? Or woman, for that matter? You are a scarecrow, but you aren’t sexist. Cast you aside like all the work you have done warding off crows was nothing?
You’d kill him first. The thought burns through your straw mind like a forest fire.
Or maybe you’d just run off. Hop right off these wooden posts and go in search of…something.
Maybe a brain?
Could you do it alone though? Would you?
Maybe the best thing would be to wait until someone came along and helped you down. Wait until someone would go with you and keep you company. Maybe someone with a dog. You like dogs.
BARK, BARK, BARK the dog goes BARK, BARK, BARK
You recall dimly that the last time you saw a dog, it was when you were abducted. Torn down from your post by teenagers in the dead of night. Their faces were ghoulish white in the moon, and their breath smelled like beer.
Their fingers tore into you like fish hooks as they pull at your straw guts.
HA, HA, HA the teenager goes HA, HA, HA,
You bounced in the back of their car, bits of straw flying out in all directions, as they drove screaming down the interstate. One of them giggled incessantly as she sat next to you. She poked at your chest with a long nail. The fingernail dug a hole into you.
The teenager paused for a moment, confused as if she thought you were a real man, not made of straw. Then she started laughing again, this time even louder.
She dug her hang into your chest with a hang slick with pizza grease. She laughed with breath that smelled of whiskey. Her hand burrowed deep into you, searching for your heart, but finding nothing.
Stop, you remember wanting to tell her. Please stop.
Her hand thrashed around for a bit inside of you, disturbing mealworms and straw. Then her eyes rolled into the back of her head, and she vomited.
Hot regurgitated fluids seeped into you.
With a cry of disgust, the car was turned back around. The teenagers returned to where they stole you away, and with a great heave tossed you onto the ground.
Then they drove off.
You laid there for what must have been hours with your face in the dirt. Cold mud and hot regurgitated liquids mingled around and within you.
A stray dog briefly wondered by and sniffed at you. It prodded you with its wet nose, perhaps wondering what you were doing on the ground.
Then it trotted off, leaving you alone.
The farmer found you the next morning and remounted you on your post with the usual dull look on his face.
BLEH, BLEH, BLEH, the girl goes BLEH, BLEH, BLEH
It is lonely here, you think. So very lonely.
Only the crows to keep you company, and they hate you.
Hate you more than anything. You starve them, and their families. You can hear them cawing in unabated hunger. You can almost hear their chicks starving. You can imagine feeling their small, emaciated bodies as they wither in the nest.
You can feel the eyes of the crows burn into you with malicious hate as they grieve for their children. The children you are killing, albeit indirectly.
CRY, CRY, CRY the starving chicks go, CRY, CRY, CRY
Maybe, for that sin, you don’t deserve to get a brain. Maybe it is just poetic justice, as they call it, for you to rot away. To decay into nothingness. To die and be replaced like a lightbulb.
No, a stubborn part of you wants to scream. This is not how it ends.
You can almost hear the farmer coming to tear you down, and discard you. You think about trying to come alive.
Not to look for a brain you think. What is the use of a brain? You’re already rotting. Even if you get one, you can still be discarded.
You can still be replaced. No, you will be replaced.
Not if the farmer is dead, your thoughts hiss. Not if they’re all dead.
You should kill him. Tear into him with a rusted sickle. Harvest him like wheat.
Then after the farmer is dead, you could go after some teenagers. Pay them back for stealing you so many times. For using you like a sponge to mop up beer. For putting you in a dress and taking you to prom. You should kill them all. The farmer, teenagers, anyone who can discard you like trash. Kill them all.
STAB, STAB, STAB, the knife goes STAB, STAB, STAB
Take them apart, you think. Remove their flesh, tan their hides and then rebuild yourself with it. Become something not of straw but of flesh. Something that will never rot.
As night falls all around you, you try to move. You try to go off. You try to go and butcher and reap.
You try and will yourself to move. Wiggle each piece of straw. Come on, you think. Move. Live.
But you find you cannot.
So instead you stay on the poles, swaying in the wind like a drunken dancer.
Until the farmer comes. In his mouth, he chews tobacco.
CHEW, CHEW, CHEW the teeth go CHEW, CHEW, CHEW
He grabs you with calloused hands. Their touch sends a slight shiver throughout you.
With a mighty twist, the farmer pulls you down. The decayed straw spills out from you like candy from a smashed piñata. The winds catch it and drifts away.
And then you know no more.
Barton Perkins was born and raised in Birmingham, AL. He is a fan of dark fairy tales, high fantasy, and generally spooky things. He currently attends American University in Washington DC working towards his MFA in creative writing.