Look over there, under the tree- is that Dad? That’s Dad’s shirt alright, Dad’s floppy hat, too. But look closer, honey. It’s not Dad at all. It’s a scarecrow!
Are you frightened? Are you frightened of the scarecrow? Oh sweetie, there’s no need to be scared. It’s just dead things pressed into the shape of a man. The thing that you thought was a person is just leaves and grass once alive, now teeming with insects and wearing people clothes.
Do you see, baby? The scarecrow is just an effigy dressed like your father. He doesn’t even have eyes with which he could watch you- instead he has two mismatched buttons loosely hanging from where his eyeballs should be. Non-eyes like that could never have a soul. Why, they’re even staring off in different directions, so you can’t even tell what he’s looking at!
Even the crows don’t fear him. Do you see how the black carrion birds perch calmly on his spindly arms? He’s nothing to fear, nothing to fear at all.
That’s why we named him Jack, after that older boy at school who used to harass you so.
We certainly haven’t endowed him with any greater power by projecting on to him your real life fears and traumas. THIS Jack would never hold you down and give you noogies until you have an asthma attack in front of the whole school, that weaselly little laugh of his ringing in your panicked ears. No, this Jack is a just a silly old scarecrow! Aren’t you, Jack? Aren’t you just a silly old scarecrow?
Look honey, he’s smiling. Do you see? Do you see how the yarn we crudely stitched across his face twists up into a little smile? Funny how even though we affixed the yarn with the intention of giving him a mouth, it looks instead like we’ve sewn his mouth shut into a permanent grin. Why, Jack could scream and scream as loud as he’d like and the sound would be trapped in that scribbled mouth forever.
Maybe the bug-riddled leaves we stuffed into your father’s soiled shirt want to say hello. Do you want to say hello to Jack? Jack wants to say hello to you. He looks like he’s got a funny little secret, doesn’t he. He looks like he wants to whisper a joke in your ear.
I wonder what he has to say.
If I were a scarecrow, do you know what I’d say? “Hey you, don’t be frightened of me, the scarecrow. I’m just dead things pressed into the shape of a man.”