Thursday, May 31, 2012


Another story from my Memorial Day Weekend Challenge! I asked you to RT PTKY or share it on Facebook, and in exchange I'd write a story on whatever you wanted. My friend Valya Lupescu (a VERY talented author) gave me the most specific request: "Son of Southern IL farmer who had a traumatic experience with a scarecrow, developed corn/corn product phobia, & moved to Chicago." Here's my take on it: 

It’s a lot better in the city, especially on days like today, when the sun shines so hot and bright on the brick buildings that I just want to lick them. Chicago is so comforting, so solid, so free of organic material. I’m fine as long as I don’t go in the produce section of the grocery store. It’s not safe there.


When I was six, my parents let me spend the summer on my grandpa’s farm outside Pittsfield. I was so excited to play with all the animals; my cousin Ronnie promised he’d even teach me to ride a horse. It was the happiest I’d ever been in my short life—until the fourth week I was there.

One night, Grandpa Steve and I walked to the middle of the cornfield to fix the scarecrow, who had fallen off its perch. As he shoved the straw-stuffed torso back onto its post, my grandpa grinned and asked, “Jed, you know why the scarecrow stays here and doesn’t wander off, dontcha?” I shook my head. “’Cause all his teeth are covered up by these here corn husks. He doesn’t want anyone to take ‘em, least of all the crows.” His phlegmy laughter gargled in his throat. I turned and ran back to the house as fast as I could. That very evening I called my parents and begged to come home.


From that day on, I couldn’t eat corn. I couldn’t even go near it. All I saw were rows and rows of yellow teeth—then the scarecrow’s jagged slash of a mouth, with its flapping, ragged burlap edges.

I always tried to stay in the most populated parts of my town. Whenever we had to drive past a cornfield, I’d close my eyes and hold my breath, the way other kids treat a graveyard. I never saw Grandpa Steve again before he died. It was hard for him to visit us, and I refused to return to the farm, much to my parents’ dismay.

I came to Chicago for college, and this is where I stayed. I studied business, since I knew it could get me a job high up in the steel skyscrapers, far above the soil and the things that grow there. It’s not the easiest way to live—corn’s in everything. I spend a lot of my time at Whole Foods searching for natural soda and grass-fed beef. And I’ve had to become an awfully creative chef. On the other hand, that at least impresses the ladies.

I’ve considered therapy, but I just don’t think I can face it. I never want to be that six-year-old boy again, staring into the blackness of a dead, gaping mouth. I never want to butter up those teeth and tear them from the cob, the stringy bits clinging to the roof of my mouth. 

Hope you like it, Valya! 

Everyone, I'm going to have to ask a favor of you. My super-talented friend Leta made a t-shirt design for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science 2012 Sci-Fi Film Series contest, and she's one of the finalists. In order to vote for her design, all you have to do is like and/or comment on the picture on Facebook. Would you mind helping out? After all, you like things on Facebook every day. Why not like something that's truly fantastic?!

1 comment:

  1. Becky, thank you!

    I always enjoy these vignettes, and it was a special treat to give you a seed like this and see what you come up with.

    I was not disappointed! Great imagery and quite a character.

    Thank you again.


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