Scarecrow stood in the cornfield. He stood there everyday, even when it rained, even when it was night.
He didn’t remember how he got in the cornfield. He thought about it sometimes.
Every morning birds sat on his arms, and his head. He liked them to hop along his arms. The bird’s sharp toes were pleasant on his itchy, straw-filled arms.
A big stick went through one of his red, paisley, shirt sleeves, across his back and out the other sleeve. The big stick was hooked in its center to a post in the ground. When the wind blew, Scarecrow had no way to make his legs stop flapping. A little of the straw that was stuffed up inside his faded jeans, fell out and blew away.
All summer, Scarecrow stood in the field. His visitors were birds, and field mice, who chased around him in the corn or ran up his post. Once in a while a raccoon strolled by.
On a hot summer day, two boys ran through the corn, laughing about the swim they had in the farmer’s fishpond. They stopped when they saw Scarecrow. The taller boy kept looking at him. Scarecrow thought it would be nice to get down from his post and talk to the boys. No matter how he willed it, his arms and legs would not move.
“Let’s go,” said the boy with the blond hair. “I don’t like his eyes.”
The boys ran toward the road.
Scarecrow heard the tall boy say, “My dad had a shirt like that.”
Days and days went by, through morning mist, sunshine and soft summer rain. After the longest time, the two boys came back! The tall boy had a large sunflower. He pulled its stem through the top button hole in Scarecrow’s shirt.
One morning, before sunrise, big harvesters and tractors rumbled through the cornfield. Their headlights were so bright, Scarecrow couldn’t see much. When the machines got past Scarecrow, most of the cornstalks were gone.
The leftover cornstalks became a place of interest. Crows came and ate the corn. Mice ran up the stalks looking for food to store away for winter. A corn snake slithered by, looking for mice. Little birds came and ate the seeds from the dried sunflower in his shirt’s top button hole. Scarecrow was content with all of the activity. He didn’t feel like he was all alone.
The days got shorter and the air got colder. The leftover cornstalks shriveled and turned brown. One frosty morning, the farmer and his wife drove an old white pick-up across the field and stopped. The back of the truck was full of pumpkins, which they scattered around under the old cornstalks and under Scarecrow.
The farmer’s wife looked Scarecrow right in the eyes. Scarecrow felt afraid when she did that. She reached out and took the dried sunflower out of his button hole.
“How did you get this?” she asked, as if he could answer. Her face looked angry. Scarecrow felt practically terrified.
The farmer’s wife continued arranging pumpkins and directing the farmer while he placed other pumpkins around. All of the pumpkins had faces carved into them.
“Just before sunset, we’ll come back and light them up,” said the farmer’s wife. And then the farmers drove away.
Scarecrow felt much better when the farmers were gone. A little mouse ran up his leg and perched on his shoulder. The mouse ran across his arm and around his neck. It made Scarecrow feel relaxed. He dosed off for a while.
When Scarecrow woke up, he realized something. He remembered. He remembered the tall boy. The tall boy was his son, Alby. And he remembered, he, Scarecrow, was Tom Wilson.
If Tom could, he would run, he would yell, he would fight. He remembered.
Tom was taking a load of fence posts to Spragg’s Farm. He thought it was really cool because his wife, Kelli, and his son, Alby, loved the pumpkin display and bon fire every Halloween at Spragg’s Farm. He couldn’t wait to tell them he actually made a delivery there.
Tom used the company truck to take the fence posts to the farm. It was early spring and still cloudy and cold outside. The truck broke down about a half of a mile from the farm. He radioed for a tow truck and waited.
Farmer Spragg drove up in an old, white pick-up and asked if he’d like to wait at the house. Mrs. Spragg would give him a hot cup of coffee to warm him up.
Mrs. Spragg didn’t look like a farm wife. She had long black hair that fell prettily around her shoulders. She was thin, and her flowing dress was more suited to a dinner party than to farm chores.
She smiled at Tom and said, “You are so skinny. Doesn’t anyone feed you?” She put a bowl of hot soup in front of him and a fancy dish of crackers, and poured him some coffee.
“Cream and sugar, Tom? Is that your name?” She asked.
“Yes, Ma’m, just a little sugar,” Tom answered. “Thanks Ma’m.”
She smiled slyly and backed away.
Tom sipped the coffee and broke some crackers into the soup. The first taste was a bit grassy and bitter, but he swallowed, not wanting to be rude. He hesitated before taking another spoonful of soup.
“Go on, eat up. There’s plenty more,” said Mrs. Spragg. She smiled expectantly.
Tom took another spoonful of soup, and closed his eyes to swallow. He felt himself tip over and opened his eyes again. Mrs. Spragg was right next to him, and she looked like she was satisfied about something. Her smile turned into a frightening sneer. Tom couldn’t keep his eyes open; although, he was awake.
“To make sure this spell sticks, I must disclose to you, Tom, that you must wake and remember before twelve a.m., when Halloween turns into All Souls Day, or you shall remain under this spell, forever.” She laughed, a sickening laugh.
“It won’t matter though,” she said. “Halloween night we have our Spragg Farm Bon Fire, and all the old scarecrows are burned.”
He was so scared, he passed out. Tom remembered no more.
Tom, the scarecrow, thought he would burst with his desire to be free, and tell everyone what happened to him. The sun was low in the western sky. The farmers came back. They lit up all of the pumpkins with candles.
Tom strained with all of his will to make himself move, but he could not.
Mrs. Spragg patted Tom’s chest. Her eyes were cold and her smile was lifeless. “We’ll be back tonight, for the bon fire.” She got into the pick-up and the farmer drove away.
Tom hung on his post, helpless. He had no way to tell anyone. He dreaded the coming night. He felt a tear roll down his cheek.
Darkness came and the glow of the pumpkins was full of portent. Tom remembered, regretfully, how he used to admire the pumpkins at Spragg’s Farm on Halloween.
Tom could see cars on the road to the farm. How he wished he could warn them away. He hoped with all his might, that his family would not make the traditional Halloween visit to Spragg’s Farm.
The white pick-up rolled up to the field. The farmer opened the tailgate and he and Mrs. Spragg began to stack the wood they brought into a big burning pile. The truck bed was full of wood and it had three scarecrows as well.
Tom lamented all the times he had watched the Halloween bon fire with the finale event- Burn the Scarecrows.
Groups of people began to arrive. Spragg’s Farm offered music by a small local band, and hot apple cider and popcorn balls. Tom worried about that.
The fire had gotten huge. To Tom’s dismay, he saw his family walking around the crowd. His consolation was that they were with their friends and Kelli’s sister’s family, was with them too. Alby’s friend, who Tom remembered, was Jacob. He and Alby had spent all of their free time together since first grade.
Two of Tom’s mice friends climbed up his legs and sat on his left shoulder. Tom hoped they would get back down before he was thrown into the fire.
The music stopped and the band announced it was time for the finale. The people who won the chance to throw a scarecrow into the fire were called to get their scarecrows and make a circle around the fire.
The farmer lifted Tom down from his post. He was going to do the honors himself, with the last scarecrow.
Tom saw Alby and Jacob walk closer to him. “No, no, no,” he thought. He could still feel the mice. They were under his shirt.
Mrs. Spragg started the count down. “Ten, nine, eight…”
The crowd joined in, “seven, six, five…”
“Now!” Yelled Alby.
Alby and Jacob rushed at the farmer and grabbed Tom out of his hands. They ran as hard as they could to Kelli’s car.
Kelli ran after the boys. “What are you doing, Alby?” She asked, confused.
“Trust me, Mom,” said Alby. “Let’s go.”
The boys put Tom in the back seat and Kelli drove toward home.
“Why did you take that scarecrow, Alby?” Kelli wanted to know.
“He has a shirt like Dad’s and I couldn’t let them burn him. We can keep him with the Halloween decorations and we’ll put him on the porch every October, ok Mom?”
The radio DJ announced it was midnight. “Happy All Souls Day, Ghosts and Ghouls. Keep the party going! Here’s The Monster Mash!”
The Monster Mash filled the car, and Tom started to feel very strange. He moved his hand, and then he felt the mice climb up to his shoulders. He tried his mouth, “uh.”
Alby turned around to look in the back seat. Kelli looked in the rear view mirror.
“Kelli,” said Tom.