Today I really began to wonder, what would it feel like to become aware as the Scarecrow was built? What sensations would he have and in what order would they awaken? The original “Oz” describes an order (which I have followed) but it doesn’t explain how this felt to Scarecrow.
I also wondered, how would it feel for Scarecrow to just be left. How does this affect him?
If his mouth and eyes were painted, what would happen that they became gaping holes and a torn mouth? In the original, his mouth is painted on and so I (perhaps too logically, given the source material) wonder how he makes words. (I once had a teenager ask me what dinosaur I would own if I could own any. I told him a Brontosaurus and he reprimanded me, saying it was unrealistic due to the amount of food it would need. My concern over how a scarecrow talks with his painted-on mouth is a bit like that.) I also wanted to know how he learned to talk and how he developed such a good aim.
This is an ongoing NaNoWriMo project in which I retell The Wizard of Oz. The original Wizard of Oz is really a structure of a story with little to no description or detail. You can read my original project idea here as well as link to the first chapter.
Raw Writing Day 9
Scarecrow’s Story and the Forest
Dorothy, Toto, and the Scarecrow walked for hours along the yellow brick road. In the land of the Munchkins, the road had been cared for. It was smooth and clean and the bricks were in their proper places. But as they walked, the edges of the road were no longer straight and the bricks began to show signs of wear. The fruit trees had broken branches and the fields were overcome with weeds. Holes began to appear in the road where the bricks were missing and mud was splashed over their surface.
There was no longer any fencing along the yellow road and the farms were set further and further back. The homes looked worn and Dorothy did not see any Munchkins working in the fields. The doors may have once been painted blue, but now the paint peeled. Some doors were broken from their hinges and there were roofs that had caved in. Dorothy sensed that they were being watched, but could never see any eyes looking out at them.
The scarecrow, always walking in a straight line, began to fall.
“Scarecrow, do you see how Toto goes around the holes?” Dorothy asked.
“I am trying, Dorothy,” he would say, before tripping and falling again.
“Scarecrow, do you see how I am able to go around the holes?”
“I am trying, Dorothy.” It was as if he could not see the danger.
“Scarecrow, stop! There is a hole in front of you,” Dorothy warned. Scarecrow would stop but he did not seem to know how to go around the hole, and so Dorothy would move him into a safe position.
Toto ran ahead, not bothered at all by the rough road. He seemed to take it as a game, jumping and leaping and wagging his tail. Dorothy was watching Toto when the Scarecrow fell once again and landed directly on his face.
Dorothy caught her breath as she watched him hit the ground with a thump. “Scarecrow, are you all right?”
Scarecrow lay with his face on the ground. Dorothy heard his muffled voice say, “I’m okay.”
She rolled him over and said, rather sharply, “Scarecrow, you must be more careful! You scared me.”
“I’m sorry Dorothy. I see the spots in the road but it does not even occur to me that I might fall. It is one of the problems with not having a brain, I suppose. I am sorry if I am slowing you down.” He looked so sad that Dorothy promised herself that she would try to be more patient.
“You are not slowing me down, Scarecrow. I just don’t want you to be hurt.”
“But I told you, Dorothy, I can not get hurt.”
Once again, Dorothy picked Scarecrow up and put him to his feet. Being made of straw and a broom, he was quite light.
“Perhaps we should stop and have some supper. I think I see a creek ahead, where the thicket of trees starts,” said Dorothy.
Dorothy took Scarecrow’s hand and guided him around the rough road.
The creek was small but the water was clear and fresh. Toto was waiting for them there, drinking deeply. Dorothy unpacked the food, giving Toto a bit of meat and setting out cheese, bread, and fruit for herself.
The land was changing, it no longer seemed like farmland. The trees were taller and the branches thicker. Dorothy could see on the horizon very thick trees pressed together into a forest. It appeared dark there, as though the sun, now moving lower in the sky, could not penetrate the leaves.
“Would you like some bread or some cheese, Scarecrow?”
“I am made of straw, I do not feel hunger. The food would have nowhere to go. Tell me of your home Dorothy.”
“It is called Kansas,” and she began to tell him about the pale blue sky and how the earth was often dry. She told him how the brightness of the colors here made everything seem gray there. She told him of the storms that came suddenly and turned the sky green, and how it was one of those storms that picked her up and brought her here. She told him of the grasshoppers that liked to eat their plants and how she did not have any friends there because they lived so far from town and their neighbors.
Scarecrow asked, “If the land is grey, and the storms are fierce, and there are bugs, and you have no friends, why do you want to go back?”
“Because I haven’t told you about Uncle Henry or Auntie Em. I haven’t told you of our horses, Shy and Brash. I haven’t told you of the pigs and how the hens sing a song after they lay their eggs.”
“But why do those things matter?” asked the Scarecrow.
“Because I love them.”
“What is love?”
“How do you…,” Dorothy had begun to ask how he could not know what love was, but caught herself, realizing that the Scarecrow had never known love. He had never known anything but hanging from a post. She started again, “Love is a feeling that you have inside of you. It doesn’t matter what the world looks like around you. It doesn’t matter if the world is gray or if your home is small. If you are with the people that you love, you feel like you are home. And that is why I need to find my way back to Kansas.”
“What does it feel like when you feel love?” asked the scarecrow.
“It makes you warm inside, and it makes your heart feel safe. It makes you feel like you would do anything for that person.”
“Well then Dorothy, I love you.”
Dorothy smiled, “You don’t know me yet, we only met a few hours ago.”
“It doesn’t matter,” said the scarecrow. “I feel warm inside when I am around you. I feel like I would do anything to keep you safe.”
Dorothy reached over and squeezed the scarecrow’s hand. “Will you tell me the story of how you came to be hanging in the cornfield?”
The scarecrow looked off into the distance. Finally, he began, “The first thing that I remember was pressure. I think that this was when the man stuffed my head with straw and stuck the broomstick inside it to hold my head up. All I could feel was a tightness that I couldn’t describe, only that I existed.
Then, there was sound. I couldn’t see, but I could hear. I heard the voice of a man talking about fields and corn and birds. You see, the first thing the man painted on my head was ears. I didn’t know what the words were, only that they sounded like music and they filled my head and I was happy.
The next thing that the man gave me were eyes. Suddenly the world wasn’t dark. I saw a yellow light, but everything was blurry. I saw the brush as its tip dotted my face. As the paint dried, I saw the man. I watched his mouth move as the sounds filled my head and I understood that the music was his voice. We were in a room surrounded by brown boards and there were piles of hay against the wall.
Then he painted me a nose, and I began to smell the warm dust and the hay that was stacked around me. I’ve come to know it as the smell of the land.
Finally, he gave me a mouth, but it was only painted with red stain. I did not know how to talk yet, only how to hear and see and smell. I already had the pole in my head and I could see as he stuffed the pants with hay and wrapped the coat around me. I watched as he put old boots on my feet and gloves on my hands.
I could not move yet, I could only watch. He sang to me the song that I sang to you. Finally, he said, ‘Well, I think that you will scare the crows well enough.” I felt proud; proud that I would do something well and proud to be in a body.
Then he lifted me and carried me into the field. It was a far walk from where you found me. He used a ladder leaning against the post and slid the wood up my back until I hung there, looking out at the waves of corn. He filled my pockets with rocks. “That is so that you don’t blow away in a storm,” he said.
And then he left. I felt afraid and alone, surrounded by green in every direction. I tried to get down from the pole, to run after him, but my arms only twitched a bit and my legs hung sadly. I tried to call out to him, but my mouth was only painted on. I managed to tear the fabric just a tiny bit, but I did not know how to speak. I could only groan through the hole.
The first sunset was beautiful, and I was grateful that he had left me facing that direction, but I was lonely.
In the beginning, the crows and the ravens left me alone, cawing from above. They thought that I was a man, and they did not want me to chase them. But in time, they knew that there was nothing I could do to them. And so they began to eat the corn around me.”
“Were these the birds that tried to steal my food?” asked Dorothy.
“No. Those are the Kaliemas. They came later, after the crows. The crows began to keep me company, but I felt guilty that I was not doing my job and keeping them from the corn. One would sit on my shoulder and talk to me but I could only groan in response. The more the crow spoke to me, the more I tried to speak in return. The more I tried to talk, the more my mouth tore open. My voice became stronger with practice. I practiced waving my hands and kicking my feet. In the beginning, the movements were tiny.
The crows cheered my efforts and in their way, they were my friends. But they were free and could fly away. They told me what it was to think, to have a brain. They told me that I was not much different than most men. They said that most men who have brains do not use them.
You are lucky that you have a brain, Dorothy. It is a terrible thing to have nothing in your head.
In time, the Kaliemas came. They chased away the crows that were my friends. They pecked away the paint at my eyes, but I could see more clearly, even in the dark. I learned to throw the rocks in my pockets and was able to knock them out of the sky. They left me alone, but again I was lonely. Staring only at the sunsets.
And then you came along. And I am grateful that I was strong enough to throw the stones. I do hope that Oz will give me a brain. I feel empty without one.”
“Even if Oz does not give you a brain, you are no longer stuck in the field. You can go anywhere that you want to.”
Dorothy packed up their food and they decided to continue on their way. She was careful to guide the scarecrow away from the holes while Toto walked ahead. The trees thickened and soon they came to the dark forest. The sun was low in the sky, but in the trees, it was even darker.
“Scarecrow, it’s starting to be too dark for me to see and we need to find a place to sleep. You said that you can see in the dark. Will you look for a sheltered place for us to spend the night?”
“I will look,” he said.
She wrapped her right arm through the Scarecrows and felt Toto move next to her left ankle.
“Scarecrow, I can not keep us from falling if we come to more holes in the ground. You must tell me if you see something in the road.”
The scarecrow did his best to tell Dorothy what he saw. Toto, who could see well in the dark, would stop and bark if anything was in their path. In this way, they continued to move slowly through the dark forest.
“Dorothy,” said the Scarecrow, “There is a house on the side of the road. It is set back a bit, covered in branches with trees growing up against its sides. Do you want to go there?”
“Yes, please. I am very tired.”
Scarecrow and Toto guided her to the door. It was broken and hung from its hinges. They went inside and the Scarecrow showed her to a corner that was covered with thick leaves. Dorothy curled up and immediately fell fast asleep with Toto in her arms. The Scarecrow stood nearby, watching over them as they slept, waiting for the sun to rise.