Life was normal before The Scarecrow Maker came to town.
I was only five when he moved in to the house at the end of the street. I used to play down there with my brother when the house was always empty. But nowadays, my brother and I avoid that end of the street. When we walk to school, we take the long way around, so that we don’t have to pass by The Scarecrow Maker’s house.
We call him ‘The Scarecrow Maker’ because we don’t know anything else about him. He stays inside the house all day, and only comes out at night to make scarecrows. I hear him sometimes when I’m trying to sleep. The sound of a hammer driving a stake through the earth, as another humanoid is erected in front of The Scarecrow Maker’s house. Almost every week, there’s a new one standing in the garden. I see them when we drive past with Dad. That’s the only time I feel safe to look, when I’m in the safety of the car. But on the way to school, my brother and I walk down the other end, avoiding the gaze of the humanoids’ lifeless eyes.
Dad says that The Scarecrow Maker is probably just very lonely. Making scarecrows must keep him occupied. But still, the sounds of the hammering at night, down the end of the street, keeps me awake.
The people in town all tell stories about a strange man who lives in our street. No one ever walks down here, because they are afraid the stories are true. No one’s ever seen The Scarecrow Maker. Not at the market or even at church. It’s like he doesn’t live here. But we know he does. We can all feel it.
A few days ago I cut through the field on my way home from school. The field is across the road from The Scarecrow Maker’s house. After crossing the field, I always walk around the next street to avoid walking past the house that haunted my sleep. On this day, I noticed something standing erect in the field. Something that wasn’t there in the morning when I had walked to school with my brother. I feared that The Scarecrow Maker had expanded his boundaries, and had begun erecting scarecrows in the field now.
Light was fading as the day slipped away, and I wanted to be home. I cursed myself for staying back so late, and walked as swiftly as I could through the dry grass. As I came closer to the scarecrow, it became clearer. One lonely humanoid silhouette, standing still in the barren field.
I continued to move. But as I walked past the figure from a distance, I saw it move in the corner of my eye.
I stopped walking.
The scarecrow turned in my direction.
I was frozen in the dusk lighting.
The scarecrow moved towards me, stretching out a hand.
It was then that I started running for my house, away from the wicked humanoid. But as I did, a woman’s voice spoke.
“Where are you going?”
I stopped. But I did not turn to look at who had spoken.
“Are you okay?”
I turned around, and now that the figure was closer, I saw the sweet face of a young lady, maybe in her early twenties, with long brown hair. I had never seen her before.
“Are you The Scarecrow Maker?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know, The Scarecrow Maker who lives just over there?” I pointed in the direction of the house I always avoided, just across the field.
“You…don’t even know who I’m talking about?”
“No, I don’t. Who is it?”
“Why were you standing in the field like that?”
“With your arms outstretched.”
“I thought it was going to rain.”
I looked up at the dark sky. Indeed it was probably going to rain soon. “Oh…”
“Do you want me to walk you home?”
“Are you sure? Come on, I’ll walk you home,” the woman insisted, holding out her hand.
“Okay, but please don’t come inside. My parents wouldn’t like it if they knew I was talking to strangers.”
“I’m just one stranger.”
I didn’t take her outstretched hand. Instead, I walked her in the direction of my house. She followed me to the end of the field and across the road toward The Scarecrow Maker’s house. I made sure that as we walked by, she was standing closest to the house. She didn’t seem frightened by the presence of The Scarecrow Maker, who could have been watching us from his windows. I led her past the house and down to my end of the street.
“Is this your house?” she asked me, as I stepped onto the stone pavement of my driveway.
“Yes,” I said, turning to face the woman.
And she was gone.
Her voice; a whisper in the wind.
No one behind me. No footsteps.
I raced to the front door of my house, and fumbled over the threshold as my mother greeted me.
“What’s the matter?”
I saw my mother look out the door before closing it behind her. “There’s no one there.”
I tried to take a deep breath.
“Dad will be home soon. Are you hungry?” My mother said as she walked into the kitchen.
“Come in here. I can’t hear you if you’re in there.”
I followed her and sat down at the bench. I heard a thunderclap overhead and the pouring of rain began.
“What is the matter with you?”
“Nothing.” I was shaking.
“I’ll let you get your breath back. By the way, did you see what your brother did at school?”
“What did he do?”
My mother took a sheet of paper from under a magnet on the fridge and placed it in front of me. “He loves drawing, that boy.”
It was a drawing of a scarecrow. With long brown hair.