I flick through the clothes on the rail. They’re all the same, mostly. A frumpy sea of greens and browns.
When Daddy asked for a “whole outfit”, does that mean just trousers and a shirt? Or a jumper too? I want to get this task right, I want to be good. I grab all three, in varying shades of boring and hurtle down the stairs back to him singing, “Daddeeee, readeeee!”
Today we’re making something special for the farm. Something Daddy says we need if we’re going to be proper farmers. Daddy is ever so clever; he knows how to work all the machinery and how to keep animals, showing me how to feed and clean them, preparing them for slaughter, ready to be our meat.
One of the animals was naughty though, he wasn’t obedient like the others. He refused to remove his clothes. Silly beast. Animals don’t wear clothes. It made him look so silly in the pen with the others, desperately trying to hold onto his modesty.
Now Daddy has to teach him a lesson.
“If he wants to wear clothes, Blade.” Daddy says, winking at me as he hurls the hessian sack over his shoulder. “He can at least be useful about it!”
I have to trot quickly to keep up with Daddy’s pace. He’s happy here. He likes the sunshine and the outdoors. It gives him colour in his cheeks and a renewed energy.
Energy that he channels into the physical work of the farm and into teaching me. It shows in how his muscles have grown, skin tanned from being outside, defining his shape. It shows in the swelling on my face, beautiful bruises that show my Daddy loves me.
The sack only starts squirming and moving once we get to the field past the barn. Daddy dumps it down and gives it a swift kick, barking in his loudest voice, “Hush!”
It works, the sack stays silent. It doesn’t move an inch all the while Daddy is fixing the cross, the cross Daddy carried all by himself, all the way up to the field this morning. He’s so strong, carrying the heavy wood that is twice his size.
It’s quite a big structure, dark wood held together by big nails that Daddy hammers in. I watch him work from the shade, crouched down by the side of the field, shaded by the growing corns. It distracts me from watching the woodlice busily businessing around, always in a hurry.
It’s so quiet here. Just the sound of birds and bugs. We’re miles from anywhere. From anyone. Our peaceful, tranquil haven.
I frown at the sound of the silly animal threatening to spoil the tranquillity. He starts his whining as soon as Daddy pulls him from the bag, gasping in enough air to give him his voice.
I practically feel the weight of Daddy’s fist against his jaw and it makes my girl parts clench. I see that dark look flicker across Daddy’s face as the flesh connects and I want it. I want it close to mine.
It’s gone in a flash, gone with the boy’s consciousness, slumping quiet into Daddy’s arms. Gone before my creeping hand can find its way into my underwear to relieve the ache that’s begun.
Daddy distracts me, “Blade, bring over those clothes.”
I scurry the bundle over to him, helping Daddy dress the drowsy fool, the larger clothes pulling easily over the ones he so adamantly refused to part with. The boy’s daddy was a big fat heffer, good for steaks, Daddy said.
Daddy props the body against the cross so I can step back to assess our work. The shades complement each other beautifully, as anything in that musty old wardrobe would have done. I wonder when the old man had last gone shopping or where you even buy clothes like that.
“Hmmm.” I ponder in a half whisper, “It’s missing something…Oh, I know!”
Daddy turns to me with a smile, quick to encourage my creativity, “Please my little darkling, whatever you think will look right.”
I falter, dancing from foot to foot before I move to check that I may. “He’s your dolly to dress.” Daddy offers, gesturing toward our little project.
“Back in a minute Daddy! I’ve got the perfect thing!” I gleefully turn towards the house, taking the field in large skipping strides. I’m barely out of breath this time as I reach the far edge by the barn. Daddy says I’m getting stronger every day. Strong like him.
Focusing on my task, I race onward toward our new home. I’d seen the hat when we’d taken the house, popped up on a peg, ready for the wet weather no doubt. The green waxy material feels smooth under my thumb. I hold it up to the sunlight pouring through the window of the cottage, turning it this way and that. Yes. This is perfect.
I hear the wails long before I get back to the field. Daddy is still working on our project, demonstrating his dedicated work ethic. I recognise the pitiful plea, my new mannequin is awake again.
Excited to see the progress I bound my way back, weaving around the barns and stables, keen ears picking up on the murmurs of our growing menagerie. Finding the path across the field, I run back to my Daddy as fast as I can.
Daddy is pleased with the hat, giving me a big beaming smile and scooping me up to place it on his head, the body firmly held in place with the same big nails Daddy used for the cross. “Perfect. Now you see Blade, this will help keep the birds away.”
“Oh I see!” I exclaim, “because he’s making so much noise they’ll be too scared to come and steal our crops!” I plant a big kiss on Daddy’s face; what a good idea.
Daddy chuckles, “Well yes, my precious girl but actually, our new scarecrow will keep scaring away the birds, even after he goes quiet. Isn’t that clever?”
My wide-eyes give away my disbelief, “But how Daddy?” I query, ready to listen to his explanation, one he begins in earnest and I try to listen, I do, I want to know what the birdies think but with the wind changing suddenly the smell hits me.
The scarecrow has another use, he’s bleeding, bleeding hard from his fixing points and it’s waking my beast. A beast that’s awoken hungry.
Daddy feels my shift, my attention diverted, he feels it in the bucking of my hips, he feels it and responds, propping me against the scarecrow, never letting up on his lesson, still telling me of the birds and the reasons, even as I drink from the wounds, even as Daddy pounds hard inside me, my underwear ripped from me and littering the field. The clean white quickly spotted with blood, dripping from our sobbing scarecrow.
I gather them up when I’m finished, after Daddy drops me to my knees to clean him. I hold them tight in my little hand and look back up at the scarecrow, weak and barely whimpering now.
Inspired I pull Daddy close and whisper in his ear, an idea of my own. One that makes him beam, holding my face and declaring me to be even more clever than he. “This is why I teach you Blade, so you can go on to be more successful than I, I teach you so you can make me proud. Yes, of course, my very clever girl, that’s a wonderful idea. You can even choose the clothes if you like, find another perfect hat!”
Chest puffed out I take his hand as we wander back to the cottage, Daddy excitedly planning the logistics of my suggestion. “We can do that!” He promises. “It makes sense, we don’t want to have to keep replacing them when they rot down. My clever girl… I was so quick to teach him a lesson I perhaps used him up quite quickly…of course…our next scarecrow can be our forever scarecrow. We’ll fix them in place permanently, keep them shouting to scare the birds. I’ll find a way.”