Visit the Scarecrow

“Scarecrow! Scarecrow!”

The little boy had straw for hair himself. It waved a little as he shouted and pointed in the direction of the damp, frayed figure slumped on the public bench.

“Look Mam, a Scarecrow!”

He trained his eyes in the direction of the boy’s finger, and found himself looking down at his own collapsed clothing. It was as close to bandage as it was garment. The woman who accompanied the child seemed to retreat into her hat the way a tortoise might back into its shell. When the Scarecrow attempted to smile up at her, she could not see it. He was left to guess at how she might have looked as she spoke, whispering a really sorry through the shield of purple fabric. Yanking the boy at the wrist, she dragged him away. They were out of sight before he even had the chance to test a reply. That boy was the first person to acknowledge his existence since he’d arrived in town.

The streets around him became populated quickly once the sun was in the sky. This town had a very busy set of people. His eyes were dizzied by the frenzy of it all. He’d been sat on the same public bench for over thirty five hours now. His insides hissed as he shifted his weight a little. He had begun to dry out in the glut of morning sunshine that followed the damp dawn. Having watched the area for some time after arriving in town, he’d observed that the bench was the place people sat to have conversations with others. From the bushes only meters away, he’d seen people make their way to the bench alone and eventually strike up conversation. It happened eight times in the first day, and a further six yesterday before he made his way from the bushes to sit down himself.

He wished the boy and his mother hadn’t left in such a hurry, but he knew why. He’d listened as best he could. If the people in town weren’t talking about the conditions in the sky or whispering too quiet for him to hear, they were talking about eachother’s clothes. The old men around town were all dressed well. With coats as combed as their white heads. The women too, seemed to have been assembled carefully. One item at a time. He looked down again at his own outfit. His woollen sweater no longer had a colour. It had kept his chest from exposure to the wind for a good few winters now, but the fabric had begun to slacken and thin out. It was more net than knit. His trousers were the grey-brown of drainage slime, and holes had been torn in the fabric around his knees.  Knees do not lie. The straw of him was now sticking out of those knee holes in frayed, broken clumps. The fact was, the last couple of winters had aged him as much as it had his clothes. He had felt it with every step taken on the walk into town. His joints simply weren’t built for long stretches of mobility. The Scarecrow knew that if he was going to live a life full of the movement he craved, he was going to have to learn to look after his joints better. He knew too, that if he was going to have conversations, then he was going to have to dress better. No one wants to talk to a thing that looks like it climbed out of an irrigation channel.

 

(Apologies, extract-only for the time being. This short has found its way out of the Jungle and entered a literary competition.)

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