The popsicle stick scarecrow woke up in a panic.
Where am I he thought to himself. This doesn’t look anything like my dining hutch drawer. Where are all the candles? And the scrapbooks? And the napkins?
Looking around, he could see none of the things that had become so familiar to him during his year’s in the drawer. And while that life had become very predictable, he was at least happy to still be with his family. Now, it seemed as though there were no humans to be found and he began to worry.
As far as his button eyes could see he spotted more toys just like him. He saw one part of the land that was covered with cotton ball covered landscapes, a sports field littered with haphazardly sewn footballs and baseballs, and also a phone booth filled with tin-can telephones. But he couldn’t find anyone to talk to and he was becoming desperate for information on where he was.
A long walk through an egg-carton decorated Christmas tree field led him to what he was looking for — something to talk to. A troop of sock monkeys was congregated by a field of banana peels and the scarecrow cautiously made his way over, making sure not to splinter a leg walking over the slippery discards.
“Hello Mr. Monkey,” he said to one of the monkeys who still had both ears sewn on. “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Ask whatever you want,” the monkey grumbled back. “But I can tell you the answer’s going to be we’re doomed no matter what the question.”
The scarecrow was taken aback by this negative response. Where he was from, he rarely heard such pessimism.
“Where are we?” he asked anyway.
“We’re on an island for children’s crafts that parents don’t want to keep anymore. For example, I bet yesterday you woke up in some cramped drawer somewhere far away from your creators room, didn’t you? And then today you woke up in this forsaken place. You know why? I’ll tell you — because they needed to use your bed for something better than you.”
“But I’ve lived in the dining hutch for a long time. I find it quite comfortable.”
“Most of us losers here were happy just like you,” the monkey went on. “Gladly being folded up or having limbs bent for the sake of a storage solution for parents who don’t care about us anymore. Well I’ll tell you something, none of us monkeys are putting up with this anymore. We’re going to find a way off this island some day and we’re going to put an end to children craft neglect.”
“It can’t all be that bad,” said the scarecrow, unable to believe his family would abandon him to make room for something else. “There must be a better reason why they send us to this place.”
“Take a look around then scarecrow. All you’ll find is a bunch of broken down crafts. Look for meaning all you want. If you find it, be sure to tell us monkeys, maybe it’ll help us get out of here.”
The monkey ran off to join the rest of his troop, leaving the scarecrow to digest what he had just been told.
The scarecrow was left to walk around on his own with gloomy thoughts running through his straw brain. How did I not notice I was unwanted? he thought to himself. And why did they take so long to get rid of me if I wasn’t needed? And the most awful thought was what will I do in this land of discards with no love around me?
He continued walking and his worries were further worsened by the sad looks of some of the other crafts. They were for the most part a very worn down bunch and most of them looked fast asleep.
But it’s the middle of the day the scarecrow thought to himself. How can all these crafts sleep through the most exciting part of the day? I can’t imagine how I could possibly find any love in a place like this.
Disconsolately, the scarecrow walked over to an old broom handle and construction paper tree and sat down at its base, hopeful that maybe he could at least sleep away the pain he was feeling in his heart. But sleep never came although his tears did blur his vision from what was happening around him.
It was the chirping noise of a bird that woke him from his stupor and made him clear the tears from his eyes. When he did eventually open them he saw a flock of beautiful paper-maché birds flying around his tree and happily thought to himself that there are some things of beauty on this island.
Slowly, one of the birds began making its decent until it was close enough for the scarecrow to touch.
“Hello,” the scarecrow said to the bird, hoping it would be able to understand him. “You are a very pretty looking creation. What are you doing here looking so happy?”
“Hello to you too,” the bird said. “We are a flock of paper-maché birds and we’re doing our daily fly around, looking for new crafts and answering any questions they might have about our wonderful island.”
“Wonderful island!” the scarecrow screamed unbelievingly. “All of us homemade toys are unwanted by our families. I find it more sad than wonderful that all these childhood creations are abandoned like this.”
“Oh scarecrow, that is not at all why we are all here. I bet you’ve been off talking to those unhappy monkey socks — they’re always talking doom and gloom with our new crafts. You see, we’re all actually here because our families want to be able to remember us forever, and not keep us locked up in a drawer where they’ll never think of us.”
“Really?” asked the scarecrow. “Then why do all the crafts seem so worn down and tired? Most of them are asleep and it’s barely past lunchtime.”
“Because the daytime is when we need to get our sleep,” the wise bird said to the scarecrow. “Night time is our chance to reconnect with our families and none of us ever want to miss out on that. Wait until you see this place light up at night. If it brings tears to your eyes, I personally guarantee they will be tears of joy.”
“I’m sorry wise bird but I don’t think I understand. I can’t go to my family in the night time. That’s when they all get their sleep. I would feel very bad if I had to wake them up at night so they would spend time with an old scarecrow.”
“You see scarecrow, at night it is our job to get very comfortable and then think very hard about our families. Not just thinking about the fun times we had with them when we were still widely used, but also thinking about the very fine details — the colour of their hair, the way they smell in the morning, what they like to eat for dinner are some of the things I personally think about. We get so caught up thinking about how special our times were with them that we make our way back to them — not to their physical home but into their heads, into their dreams.”
“Wow,” said the scarecrow with a smile on his face. “They think about us in their dreams?”
“Yes they do, if we do our jobs right. Some poor families, like those of the monkey socks, unfortunately suffer from terrible nightmares — the result of a craft that spends it’s time thinking of itself and not of its family.”
“So every day it’s up to me to remember to spend time thinking of my family?” thought the scarecrow to himself. “But not just thinking of them, making an effort to get them into my brain as much as trying to get me into their brain. And then they spend the night thinking of me?” he then directed at the bird.
“Yes, when we get there, we spend entire nights with them — far more time than we ever got to spend from drawers or stacks of paper or wherever most of us were stored away in the house. But you must remember that they will not remember that we visited them every night. There are still bound to be periods of time where we go unremembered but this doesn’t mean we are unloved.”
“I knew my family wouldn’t have abandoned me without reason,” said the scarecrow. “I’m going to start thinking of everything they do right now just in case they go for an afternoon nap. This is even better than life in the dining hutch!”
“Of course it is. Parents are a very smart bunch. It might take time for some children to get over losing their favourite childhood crafts but parents can see that we are bigger helpers when we appear in dreams from time and work to fend off nightmares. They make the ultimate sacrifice of angering their children for their own benefit. And it serves us best to remember this when we appear in dreams.”
“Thank you wise bird,” the scarecrow said passionately. “Please let me know if there is any way I can help future crafts adjust to life on the island.”
“I will. Now get thinking for that afternoon nap — you never know when you’ll be needed.”
And the paper-maché birds flew off through the sky looking for other crafts who were feeling lonely. Meanwhile, the scarecrow sat back down at the base of the tree and started thinking of his family, having never felt more loved.