Dustyhead the Not-Just-Any-Old-Scarecrow This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Agatha sat on her old rocking chair on her ancient front porch. She had turned 119 years old today. No one had come to celebrate though, for all of her friends and family had died long ago. The only things left in her life were her old house, the small cornfield in her backyard, and Dustyhead, a beat-up, shabby, old scarecrow.

Agatha remembered the day she and her grandfather had made Dustyhead as though it was only last Tuesday. She had been only 6 years old back then. As she and her grandfather lived out in the Cotswolds, the winters were extremely cold. So, every autumn, Agatha’s grandfather cut down a large amount of wood to burn in the fireplace every night. However, that particular winter hadn’t been very cold, and so when springtime came, Agatha’s grandfather had a large heap of wood with no particular use for it.

As her grandfather pondered as to just what he should do with the extra wood, Agatha raced through the house to him and shouted, “I went to Sara’s house just now, and their cornfield has a scarecrow. Ours doesn’t have a scarecrow. Grandfather, can we please, please, PLEASE, have a scarecrow? Please?”

It was then that Agatha’s grandfather knew what to do. “Alright,” he said. “We shall make ourselves a scarecrow.”

“Yay,” Agatha shouted in glee. “We’ll need plenty of straw, and-“

“No, no, no,” her grandfather shook his head. “We shan’t have just any old, straw scarecrow. We shall make him out of wood.”

“Wood?” asked Agatha.

Yes, wood. Agatha’s father began carving out a body and limbs out of the extra lumber. Agatha put door hinges on the scarecrow’s elbows and knees, “So that he can move them.” Next, they took some old gloves and sacks, filled them with sawdust, tied them at the ends, and put them on as the scarecrow’s feet, hands, and head. After that they put on Agatha’s grandfather’s Sunday clothes, and a tall, tall, tall, top hat they found in the closet. Agatha and her grandfather then painted two little eyes and a great big smile onto the scarecrow’s face. When they were done, Agatha’s grandfather christened the scarecrow, “Dustyhead the Not-Just-Any-Old Scarecrow”. Finally, they hung Dustyhead out in the cornfield on a post.

Agatha remembered at how only a year later, her grandfather took ill and died. She remembered running past the neighbors who tried to offer solace and out to the cornfield where Dustyhead sat. She remembered falling down to the post where he sat and bursting into sobs and sobs, and Dustyhead seeming to look down protectively at her, as though he knew that they were all they had.

So many, many years had passed since then, and all those years Dustyhead had still stood there, able to comfort Agatha. When the couple that had taken her in passed away, Dustyhead was there. When her Husband died on a hunting expedition, Dustyhead was there. When her only son died in Africa, Dustyhead was still there, sitting on his post, smiling. Dustyhead truly was all she had left. Years ago, she had moved Dustyhead’s post so that it stood next to the porch. She slowly craned her neck towards Dustyhead. Even after all these years, he still smiled that comforting smile at her. She slowly smiled back at him.

It was then that Agatha noticed the flower. It stood out amongst the dead grass as a beacon of life. It was a lovely shade, between a light purple and a dark pink. It seemed almost to glow. Agatha looked at the flower on Dustyhead’s jacket. It had withered away some time ago. Agatha slowly got up, and ambled over to where the flower was. She slowly bended down and plucked it from the ground. She suddenly felt younger than she had in years, almost like a woman of 20 years of age. She then walked over to where Dustyhead was, and replaced the old flower with the new one.

Suddenly a change occurred. A sweet yet terribly faint tune began to play in the air, and slowly, ever so slowly, Dustyhead started to move. His head lifted up on its own. His knees and elbows started to move on their own accord. He slowly moved his arms so that his hands rested on the post, and then, with a great whoop, He swung himself up in the air, twisted and turned in mid-air, and landed on the top of the post using only one hand. He then looked at a rather shocked Agatha, clambered down, and gently hugged her.

Agatha had no idea what to say. The flower seemed to give of life. She still felt younger, but now not by so many years. Still, it was though the flower produced life itself. Dustyhead’s eyes seemed to glow almost with a soft, blue light. And his smile glowed on its own accord. For the first time in many years, Agatha felt happy.

It was getting late, so Dustyhead helped Agatha up the porch steps to her house, and then helped her into her creaky old bed. After that he went back outside to his post, and hung his arms around it again.

That night, Agatha felt a sudden pain in her chest. She clenched her teeth, and tried not to cry out, as she was a proud, old woman. The pain passed, but Agatha knew it would come back again, and she also knew that that time, she might not recover from the pain. She felt humbled by knowing this.

The next morning, Agatha woke up to the screech of a tea kettle. Agatha looked and found that Dustyhead was making tea and biscuits. After he was done, he put the tea and biscuits on a tray and brought them over to her. Agatha tasted the tea. Earl Grey, with just a hint of milk, exactly the way she liked it. Agatha then tasted the biscuit. It was soft enough for her old teeth to chew. She looked at Dustyhead. He simply stood there, smiling, bidding her to finish.

“Can you talk?” Agatha asked Dustyhead.

Dustyhead seemed to try and try, but as his mouth was simply painted on he couldn’t. He seemed very distressed by this, and started to try and rip open his mouth so that he could.

“That’s quite alright. You don’t need to talk,” said Agatha, and Dustyhead immediately stopped what he was doing and continued to smile at Agatha.

Suddenly, Agatha felt the pain in her heart come back again, and she clutched her chest. Dustyhead rushed over to her, his eyes pleading to know what was wrong. He was incredibly distressed.

The pain left though, and Agatha smiled to show that nothing was wrong. Dustyhead was very relieved, but still seemed worried. Agatha was secretly worried as well. Had she simply lived out her days alone the thought of dying would have been more of a relief then a cause of sadness. But now, with Dustyhead, with some one to leave, Agatha didn’t like that.

When Agatha was finished with her breakfast, Dustyhead took the tray and teacup and washed it all in the sink. Throughout the day, Dustyhead helped Agatha with her daily activities. He cooked and served her meals, he washed and dried her clothes, and he swept out the house. When he was done with all his tasks, he would simply sit on his post until Agatha had a need for something. Agatha looked at how selfless, how innocent Dustyhead was, and felt sad knowing that she didn’t have long in this world. Wondering what to do, she sat at her little desk for a while. Then, after much quiet thought, Agatha took a quill and pen, and began to write.

Dustyhead and Agatha lived together for about a week. Around the end of the week, the pain was so great; Agatha had to send Dustyhead away from the house to do things so that he wouldn’t worry. It was on one of those tasks, looking for flowers to bring back for Agatha, that Dustyhead came back to see Agatha lying on the bed, not moving. Dustyhead walked over to Agatha and gently nudged her. She did not move. Dustyhead then looked at her eyes. They no longer glowed with life. Dustyhead dropped the flowers. He started to shake Agatha to no avail. He shook her harder and harder andharderandharderANDHARDERANDHARDERANDAGATHAWHYWON’TYOUWAKEUPPLEASEWAKEUPPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!!!

“Snap”

Dustyhead recoiled suddenly. Had he broken something of hers? He felt awash with guilt. Maybe if he hadn’t shaken her so hard, she would’ve woken up. It was his entire fault, all of it. Oh no. Dustyhead buried his head in his hands. He looked at Agatha’s lifeless body and felt as though he had done something horribly evil.

Then, he noticed a piece of paper in Agatha’s hand. Dustyhead slowly took it from her, and read it.

“Dearest Dustyhead, my Not-Just-Any-Old Scarecrow,” it read. “If you are reading this now it means that I have passed away. My heart has been feeling pain for some time now. I just wish for you to know that my death was not at all your fault in any way. I was simply old.

“I have thought long and hard on what you should do once I am gone. I want you to see more than just this ancient house and its withered cornfield. Please, once I am gone, see the world. Go to France, Germany, even America. I don’t care, so long as your life is not simply this withered, old place.

“First though, I want you to look on the desk. I have left some matches there. I know that as a scarecrow made of wood yourself, you must not like fire very much, but please, for me; light one of those matches, and burn this house and cornfield to ashes. Let me burn with it as well, I wish to go along with my last possessions. My life is ending, but your life has just begun. For my sake, do not let it go to waste.

Sincerely, Agatha Stapleton”

Dustyhead looked at the desk. Sure enough, there were some matches there. He then looked at Agatha’s face, and closed her eyelids. After saying a little prayer, he slowly got up, walked over to the desk, and picked up a match. Dustyhead looked at the match, then he looked at the house, then he looked at the letter. He folded it up, put it in his jacket pocket, and lit the match. Slowly, Dustyhead let go of the match and watched it fall. As the tiny spark grew from a flicker to a flame, he took one last look at Agatha, and walked out of the house.

Later, as Dustyhead watched the smoke rise from miles away, he felt a tide of sadness washing over him. However, he felt something else wash over him as well.
Hope.





Join the Discussion

This article has 11 comments. Post your own now!

Moonlitnight said...
Feb. 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm
That is so beautiful!! 5 stars! :)
 
The_Earl_of_Zerces replied...
Feb. 14, 2012 at 6:26 am
Thank you very much! :)
 
sophza said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm
whoa... I was getting images from Howl's Moving Castle by Haio Miyazaki. The relationship between Granmda Sophie and Turniphead was a lot like the relationship in this story. Great job!
 
The_Earl_of_Zerces replied...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 6:48 am
Ah, blast it, you caught me. I got the idea for this directly from Turnip-head. "Sigh" Might as well come out with it. :) But still, everything else is purely original.
 
sophza replied...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm
Sorry for unmasking your muse. You did a good job of keeping the Turniphead references to a minimum, though, to incorporate your own stuff. I especially liked the fire part at the end, but maybe you could have drawn it out longer for a more emotional farewell.
 
The_Earl_of_Zerces replied...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 6:47 am
Hm, well, I wrote this about a year ago and dug it out of my Word-files, so I'm not sure if I could really get back into the whole groove. I'm "kinda" (hehehe, get it?) like O. Henry, I lose interest in the feel of a story after awhile, thus prompting me to lock myself in the computer room to finish something. (And people wonder why I write short stories)
 
Kloey said...
Dec. 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm
wow. your story was AWESOME. it was really descriptive and i just LOVED the overall story. good job and congrats on getting editors choice award :D
 
The_Earl_of_Zerces replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm
ありがとう!
 
The_Earl_of_Zerces replied...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm
I'll be sure to check out your stuff as well, since you were kind enough to comment.
 
IreneEYtonKratz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm

This is great! You deserved the editors mention :-)

Feel free to check out my story, The Lament of Juyili. I'd love a comment. :-)

 
TheEarlofZerces replied...
Nov. 13, 2011 at 9:22 am
THANK YOU!!! You're the first person to comment on my stuff! I'll check out your article just for that!
 
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