An Autumn day full of plums. The crows are a frantic carousel riding the horizon. There is nothing on my mind, except maybe the gnats that are coming to nibble my flesh. The sky is a pumpkin wearing a burgundy robe and the clouds are grim masks. I wish I wasn’t so alone with all this beauty. I wish the crows would have left behind some of their feathers today so I could’ve put them in my hair and felt fascinating.
But they apologize for it with resonant, serene cries as I approach mother scarecrow. I am only out here to change her blouse and paint her sticks. Kneeling, I chew at the veins in my wrist and dab my fingers into the wet wound. “Just for you, mama.” I whisper as I paint her arms. “My own blood, my own paint. I’d give you my heart too if there was one to give.” A breeze surprises her posture and makes her body creak. Her hay makes an eerie noise, and her stony eyes throb my heart with an ugly thrill.
I remove her lavender blouse and dress her in a mustard one with azure flowers on it. The crows chase the old blouse as I toss it high into the air. I am jealous of the colorful leaves that cling to the distance behind my mother. Why can’t I be that lovely, that dramatic in appearance? Why must I have black, unkempt hair and malevolent blue eyes? “Ah.” I sigh, my body sagging towards the ground. “So hideous. I need you, mother. You shouldn’t have sliced your arteries. You shouldn’t have bled all over me and left me to mourn the scarecrow I have made out of your remains.” I look up. Something has touched my face. Mother is stroking my cheek bone and rubbing my eye lashes. But she is breaking. Her tree limb arms are chipping as they admire my face, and there is a miserable moaning coming from her button mouth.
I rise, frantic, desperate. I wrap my arms around her and weep. “But tell me I have not made a monster of you!” I sadly whine. A crow screeches so loud that I fall backwards in alarm, and when I search to see what’s the matter, I see a group of crows fighting over my mother’s old lavender blouse. My mother abruptly slaps me, and I become so sensitive that I do not rise again to beg for her compassion. I lay in the cold, coarse grass and have visions of my mother the night she set her blood free. Maybe I shouldn’t have changed her blouse I think. Maybe I should have buried her beneath a tree.
-- Ashlie Allen’s work has been published in The East Coast Literary Review, The Squawk Back, The Burningword Literary Journal, The Crab Fat and Conclave: A Journal of Character. She writes fiction and poetry. She also has plans to do photography.