Lilly always said the scarecrow was her friend. The rest of us kids didn’t like it. We wouldn’t admit it, but we found the ugly monstrosity really scary. Kids never admit they’re afraid, but they usually are. Of thigs that go bump in the night, or lights out, or some godawful half human/half stuffing thing staring down at you out in the field.
But not Lilly. She loved the scarecrow. She named him Jim, after some cousin of hers she’s seen in photos but never met. Her family moved out here about a decade ago, before Lilly was born. Leaving everything behind. Some said they were running from something. I always thought they seemed more like they were running towards something – us, our community, the farm.
I don’t know. Just seemed that way to me when I was ten. Not sure how it would seem now. But that was so long ago.
She said Jim, her cousin, died that summer when she really took to the scarecrow. She’d swear blind that Jim was there, in the stuffed thing. She said he had nowhere else to go and no-one else to love but her. A she said sometimes he’d even come out of the field to talk with her. Because he was lonely.
I think Lilly just wanted someone to love. Her family were strange. Real, real cold. They never mixed, never came to church, and little Lilly used to run away all the time to the fields to see Jim. I think she was lonely. Hell, I’d have been lonely living in her house, with her family.
Then Lilly said she was going away with Jim. They’d decided to run away together. What a fanciful girl, I thought. I laughed at her. I guess most of us kids laughed at her. Most of the time. Lilly didn’t care. She was quite sure of it.
Then one day I saw her in the field, near the scarecrow, and she wasn’t alone. Some man was with her, head bowed, leaning over to talk to her. The scarecrow looked thinner somehow, like the man had jumped out of it. Stupid I know.
I should have gone to check. Lilly disappeared that day -I guess with the man. It’s scary to think. I tried to comfort myself that the scarecrow looked smaller, like Jim really did jump right out of it to ran away with her. My childish self did kind of believe that.
But now I’m grown. And scarecrows don’t turn into people, do they? I mean, there’s darker and more realistic versions of this story.
Still, whenever I visit the field I check to see the scarecrow still looks thin and bedraggled – more so than always. Because at least then, I can hope….
© Helen M Valentina 2020