Just through a deserted cornfield lies a sanctuary. Not a lot of people knows about it. The field hasn't been used for decades. Rumour says it's haunted. Once upon a time a serial killer took his
victims there to be executed and not one single corn crop has borne fruit ever since. Yet the crop won't die out. Year after year it stands there without a single corn. The only one who has ever
been seen in that field, is a scarecrow. I always thought he looked lonely. He was wearing a top hat with an old suit. Like he was expecting company, but they never turned up.
One day, a couple of months ago, I decided to pay him a visit. And that's when I found it. The sanctuary. A willow tree with a single swing. A little quiet lake. And the sun shining down making you believe it was only shining here and nowhere else. It was a pure sanctuary indeed. I used to go there a couple of times a week just to get away. Away from the capitalistic world we live in. Away from societies expectations. Away from living a lie.
I work in a dead end job in a company I'm not even sure what does. Maybe it's something with teddybears, maybe guns. Perhaps they are buying smaller companies just to tear them apart and keep the profit to themselves. I don't know, and basically I don't care either. I just put some numbers from one column into another and get paid for doing it. I bet they wouldn't even realise it if I was gone.
In my spare time I don't really do anything. I don't have any hobbies or the desire to do anything. I am not an undiscovered artist, an unpublished writer or an unrecognised genius. My presence is somewhat indifferent. When I'm not in my sanctuary, I just sit around staring into the blank contaminated air. Trying not to breath in to much of it.
But tonight I have plans. I have a date. My parents set me up with this guy Marvin, I think his name was. Or Martin? I stopped listening to them when they set up the second catastrophic date for me. It's always a friend's son who happens to live right in the neighbourhood. What a coincidence. I have stopped keeping track of the amount of dates. How many friends can a middle aged, middle class married couple have?
It's now 7:12. They said he would pick me up at 7 o'clock. A part of me wish he won't show up. 7:15. 7:22. The doorbell rings. I guess I can't be so lucky. Outside stands an unshaved man. His pants are a bit big and his un ironed shirt is wrongly buttoned. "Hi, I'm Melvin. Sorry I'm late, I went to pick you up these flowers." He pulls out some flowers from behind his back, like he was some kind of magician at a children's birthday party. The flowers look exactly like the ones from outside of my apartment building. I mumble "thanks" as I lock my front door behind me. Lets just get this over with.
Melvin drives me to a little Italian bistro. My parents must have told him I like Italian food. Which I actually do. A waitress comes over. She is wearing a little black vest, black jeans and a
very tight, slightly see-through, white shirt. The shirt is hardly buttoned, making her huge breasts extremely visible. She has long straight hair nicely put up in a ponytail. "Are you ready to
Melvin keeps looking down the menu. He is sweating a little bit.
"I'll have the salad with sparkling water on the side." I say knowing it is the cheapest on the menu. The waitress turns to Melvin, who is now sweating to the extreme.
"Make it two" he mumbles, while not looking up.
We sit in complete silence all through dinner. When the check arrives, Melvin pulls out a crumply note from his pocket. Frustrated he looks for more cash in his other pocket, but without any luck. His eyes wanders around the location. I can tell he is thinking about fleeing, so I give him another note, still in complete silence. I wonder where my parents find these guys. If they have even met him, or if they are just so desperate to have grandchildren, that any scumbag, cheapskate will do.
Not thanking me, Melvin pays the check and drives me home. Again in an awkward silence. Melvin leans over trying to kiss me. As a reflects I turn my head, so he ends up kissing my cheek. He sits back looking down at the steering wheel. I feel a bit bad for him. I mean, he must not go out a lot. Maybe he has a hard time meeting girls, or just talking to them for that matter. Maybe his parents had to talk him into going tonight. Giving him money and lending him their car. What if he works at a dead end job too, not getting a real pay like me? His un ironed shirt must be the only one he has and his pants are to big, because he can't afford to eat properly. Maybe we are not so far alike?
I lean over to kiss him. I do feel sorry for him. He grasps my right boob and kisses me back. He unbuttons his pants and moves my hand down there.
I wonder what the scarecrow is doing right now. If he is looking down the sanctuary, wondering what it would be like to take a ride on the swing. Have the sun shine on him. Forgetting all the troubles of the world. Why the corn can't grow, yet not die. Where his beloved farmer went, and why he doesn't visit. What will it be like to swim in the quiet lake? Are there any fish? If there were any fish, they would swim with the scarecrow. They would all smile and laugh. And as he would lay in the grass to dry, the sun would warm his cheeks. He would put his top hat back on and walk back to his pole, knowing he has a good life.
Melvin lights up a cigarette as I put my panties back on. He offers me a drag, but I kindly decline. I never understood why anyone would smoke. It smells awful, it looks awful, it tastes awful. Maybe it's the thought of something killing you slowly. Eating you up from the inside. Taking down one organ after the other. Organ failure; that's the way to die. As slow as possible, so you can feel the most agonising pain imaginable.
I have seven missed calls from my parents and three texts: 'How did the date go?' 'Call us when you get the chance.' 'We have talked to paster Matthew, and he would be happy to do the
Melvin is puffing the last of the cigarette. He looks happy and yet still sad at the same time. He throws the cigarette butt out the window and looks at me for the first time in the entire evening. Is he trying to say something? My phone vibrates. Incoming call; Mum. Melvin looks down, he must have lost his nerve to talk. I answer the phone.
"First we were worried about you when you didn't answer your phone, but hen we talked to Melvin's parents and they hadn't heard from him either, so we assumed it was going well..."
I step out of the car, start walking towards my apartment building, not looking back.
"...How was he? I knew you two would hit it off. Did he pay for the meal? Oh, I bet he took you to that cute little Italian bistro you like so much. He did, didn't he? He is such a nice young man. His parents are nice too. Did you know his sister just had a baby? He properly already told you..."
I unlock my door to see my empty furniture-less apartment.
"...I have booked the starlight room for the spring. I know it's a bit early, but you know you have to book it in advance. And we were lucky there was a cancellation. I already spoke to the paster, and he is available..."
Should I tell her the date went catastrophic? That I ended up paying? That we didn't speak to each other the entire time, and that I don't want to see him again? Or should I let her be happy and dream about a big wedding and grandchildren for another five minutes? If I wasn't such a big disappointment, I'd tell her. For now she can be happy. She proceeds to talk for another twenty minutes, I have no idea about what, until she hangs up.
It's important that I put them numbers into that other column. If I look busy, no one will talk to me. I can eat my lunch at my desk and not do anything for the remaining thirty minutes. This is
my every day at work. But not today. Today is different. My boss came up to talk to me, for the first time in four years. He asked me if I like working at TLB inc. I didn't tell him I don't even
know what TLB is short for. I was sure he'd fire me when he started talking about how much the company cherishes me. How much they appreciate my work. But the rotting bastard gave me a raise.
As I bike home from work, I keep playing the conversation over and over again in my head. Did he really say the things he did? Did he really give me a raise? I have to talk this over with the scarecrow. He is the only one who listens and who can give me advise. He told me to quit my job and pursue my dream of becoming an environmental lawyer. What will he think of this?
I am so swamped in my own thoughts, that I barely see the car parked in the parking lot, before it honks. It's the car Melvin drove last night. I sigh. What does he want from me? It was a horrible date! I cannot bear another three hours of silence with him. Not tonight I can't. I've got important plans! Should I pretend I haven't seen him? He honks again. Plan failed. New plan: I go over there and tell him exactly what I think of him and his pathetic existence. I've got a raise today, I can do this.
He is wearing the same clothes as yesterday. I almost feel sorry for him. We sit in silence on the way to the same bistro. We sit at the same table, as the same waitress comes over to take the same order. Am I reliving yesterday? Is it some form of evil circle I have to live until I can prove I am a worthy human being? Or did Melvin's ignorant stupidity just not realise I am not into him?
I excuse myself and go to the ladies room. This is to freaky to believe. The waitress enters. I am trying not to stare, but my glance keeps ending on her cleavage. It's like I'm drawn to them. Like moths to a flame. They are just so big and round and perky. Complete perfection. She walks up to me and looks me straight in the eyes. Just for a second. Before she pushes me up against the mirror, starting to kiss me. I can feel just how perky her breasts are. I can tell she is not wearing a bra. There is a tinkling sensation running through my body. I have never felt anything like this before. It's amazing, yet scaring. What does this mean? Can my mum not get the grandchildren she so deeply desires?
I pull away. Why does my mum pop into my head? What's wrong with me? Why can't I just enjoy it? Why does she has to ruin it? Why do I let her?
The waitress looks at me with a bit of confusion to why I pulled away. I want to say that the kiss was amazing and she looks absolutely stunning. I have never seen anybody as beautiful as her. But shy and awkward as I am, I leave the room without looking back.
I don't think Melvin noticed I had left and even that I was gone for so long. He is still eating his salad. In silence.
Melvin drives me back to his place after he payed for the salads. It looks kind of nice from the outside. A little house just outside of town. It has a little front garden. There isn't much
planted, but on the other hand, we are going into autumn and not much grows in this season. That's what I love about autumn. Everything withers and dies. The leafs turn orange, red then brown and
falls down creating a kind of 'dry rain'. The inside of his house is furnished with shaggy old second hand furniture. There are week-old dishes in the sink and his laundry laying in the corner. I
think it had walked there itself from his bedroom, just to get away from the smell of stuffiness. And I wanted to get away too. We weren't that far away from my sanctuary. If I left now, I could
be there by midnight.
We sit down on one of the many couches and Melvin kisses my cheek. I don't fight him. He pulls my pants off and runs his hand up my inner thigh.
I know that the scarecrow is supposed to scare off the birds and other creatures, but I have always seen him as a friendly scarecrow. The kind that wants the birds to fly to him, sit on his shoulders and keep him company. That could be a reason why he looks so lonely; because no birds ever come. If he wasn't tight to that pole, he could fly up to the birds and tell them that it hasn't been his intention to scare them. And the birds would thank him for his honesty and show him the most wonderful places. The funniest looking clouds. The soft breeze of the wind. And he would show the birds the sanctuary. Show them how if you lay in the grass, the sun only shines on you. The birds wouldn't be up for a swim in the lake, but they could drink from the water. If only he wasn't tight to that pole. And if he had wings of course.
Melvin lights another cigarette. Obviously he is retarded. If I didn't like smoke the first time, why would I like it now? He falls asleep with his cigarette still lit.
Quietly I sneak off into the starry night.
The next morning I wake up covered in leafs under the willow tree in my sanctuary. The dew had fallen around me and the grass was glistening in the dawn. I feel guilty. The scarecrow would never judge me for anything I'd do, but I feel like I let him down. I don't know if I can face him right now. I don't want to be me. I am not the person anyone would like to be. I am a horrible person. A hypocrite. A coward. I am not worthy to have a friend as loyal and kind as the scarecrow. He is always there for me. He listens and gives me advise. He waits night and day for me to visit. And I can't even turn a creep down to keep my promises to him. I should be ashamed of myself. And I am.
I look him in his big round eyes. He is happy to see me. His smile warms my soul and gives me comfort. Everything is going to be okay. I can make it okay. I can make it better. I run to him and as I fall into his arms, I cry. I can't remember the last time I have ever cried so much. Hell, I can't even remember if I have ever cried.
By the time I reach my home and charge my phone, I have one new voicemail. I close my eyes and cross my fingers praying it is not another one from my mum. It's from Melvin. He wants to meet me tonight at the bistro. This can be a great opportunity to let him down easy. While being in public, he can't be upset and make a scene. I can finally tell him what I think of him. This time I can do it. This time I know for sure that the scarecrow has faith in me. I have faith in me.
I am wearing slacks and a t-shirt, like I usually do. There is no need to dress up for Melvin. I park my bicycle outside of the bistro and walk in. Melvin is not here yet, so I sit down at our
table waiting. The waitress is working again tonight. I try not to make eye contact with her, which is easy because she is quite busy. A few tables away from me, there is a bachelor party. The
men keep ordering more beer and every time she walks by, they slap her arse and burst out laughing. They think they are so funny and irresistible. I think they are pigs.
The evening moves along slowly. There is still no sign of Melvin. I study the bachelor party intensely. It's like being at the zoo at feeding time in the monkey cage. One of the monkeys got a banana, and even though the rest of the monkeys got their own bananas, they all want that same banana. The monkey with the banana swings from tree to tree, teasing the other monkeys. And the other monkeys follows him around, not giving him a chance to sit down and eat. It's fascinating how men resemble wild animals so much. It's like they have never evolved. I must be the only one who finds them fascinating, because all of the other guests have left, and no new ones dare to enter this zoo.
What appears to be the best man of the groom, who by the way is so hammered he just fell off his chair and is now pissing himself, attempts to order another round of beer. He puts his arm around the waitress's waist and yells out something I can't really make out to be words. She pushes him away and tells them with the most polite manor that it is time for them to leave now. I don't know how she can be polite to them. I would have lost my patience a long time ago. She is truly an amazing person. The men seem to respect her statement. They pay the bill, leaving a big tip, and proceed to drag the groom out by his legs. Just before the door closes behind them, I hear the best man talking about a strip club and the rest of 'the monkeys' cheering him on.
The waitress looks at the pool of pee and sighs. It is only me and her left in the bistro. She gets out a mop and a bucket and drains the pool. She cleans up the numerous beer mugs and as she comes out from behind the little bar she has a glass of white wine in her hand. It's for me.
"Where is your boyfriend?" she asks while putting the glass in front of me. "Oh, he is not my boyfriend!" I burst out, leaving her with a little smile. She brings another wineglass and the rest of the bottle of white wine. I tell her about my job. How meaningless it is. She is resting her head in her hands with her elbows on the table, only moving them to take another sip of wine, or refilling my glass. Her eyes are big and green like a polished jade with a small circle of orange around her pupils. She tells me about how she recently moved here to start over. Apparently she was living on the other side of the country with her ex-girlfriend, whom she had been with for six years. The word 'girlfriend' took a spin through my head. I never knew it was possible for women to have a girlfriend. I never really thought about it. I mean, it's normal to have a boyfriend, right? That's what everybody has. It's what everybody expects for you to have. Men aren't really that attractive. They are all hairy and smelly, but I always thought it was normal to think that and that you just get on with it.
"I hope you don't mind that I am gay?" she asks me. I shake my head. I want her to tell me more about her life in a big city so far away. About what it is like to have a girlfriend, and what she used to do before waitressing. I want her to tell me all about her previous life. But I am to afraid to ask. She stands up and takes the empty bottle wine away. She turns off the lights behind the bar. I guess it's time for me to leave now. I walk out to my bicycle, not saying goodbye. Just as I am about to leave, she comes out. Without a word she takes my hand and drags me with her.
We are sitting on a couple of swings on a playground nearby the bistro. The waitress and me. She is wearing my jacket. She didn't bring one herself, and she looked cold. It is starting to rain.
Not only 'dry rain' but real rain. She is still shivering. "Take me somewhere" she says out of the blue. Where should I take her? I don't know anywhere in this town. The only three places I am
ever at, is my home, work and the sanctuary. I don't want to take her home. What if she sees my cold apartment, walks out and never speaks to me again? I can't bring her to work, because that is
just a depressing place to be. I don't know if I can take her to the sanctuary. I haven't spoken to the scarecrow about bringing other people there. He might not like it.
I don't want this night to end, and I am afraid if I don't take her somewhere, she will leave me sitting on the swings. I take her hand. It is soft and warm. Her nails are short and painted dark green to match with her eyes.
We walk towards the cornfield. The tall crops cover the sunset, making the field dark and frightening. I look back at her. I hope she doesn't think I am going to kill her or something in that order. But she just looks back at me with a warm trusting smile. She must not know about the serial killer story. We are reaching the scarecrow faster than I calculated. I haven't figured out what to say to him. How to explain the waitresses appearance. The rain is increasing fast now. I can barely see where I am going, nor can I see the scarecrow. The waitress takes a firmer grip around my hand. I know we can seek shelter under the old willow. We run through the rain as fast as we can. She is laughing. I don't know why, but it is making me laugh too. We stop up under the willow both soaking. She takes my jacket off. The rain has soaked through, making the white shirt completely see-through. Her nipples are pointing at me. I can't stop staring.
She takes off her vest and the shirt. I can feel the same tinkling sensation running through my body. What it this feeling? It is freaking me out. Does it mean that I am ... gay? Why can't I just be normal? Why do I have to feel this way? She is gorgeous. Her breasts are even more perfect than I first imagined. Slowly she pulls her jeans off, wiggling her hips. There she is. Standing completely naked before me. Exposed.
I don't know if I am shivering because I am cold or because I am nervous. Most possibly because I am nervous, I think. It's like all of the feelings I have suppressed my entire life is finally coming out of the locked box they were safely placed in.
I take my slacks and t-shirt off, leaving my underwear on. She takes a step closer towards me. I don't step back like I normally would have. She runs her hands down my side and places them on my hips. I am not shivering anymore. Gently she kisses me on my neck and whispers in my ear that I should just tell her to stop. I don't. She unhooks my bra and lays me down on the soft grass before she pulls my panties off.
The following morning I wake up with a smile on my face. It had been the most beautiful night of my life. I am not scared. I am not nervous. I have found my key to freedom; the waitress. I can
get out of this cage I have locked myself in. I turn around, expecting a couple of jade green eyes and a warm smile to look back at me, but nothing. She is gone.
Confused, I put my clothes back on. Was it all just a dream? It couldn't have been. My imagination isn't that great. I did have the best night. It was real. I am sure of it. The scarecrow looks at me with a bit of a blank mimic. He knows he is no longer the only person in my life. He knows I am a changed person. I explain to him that he will always be a part of my life and that seems to cheer him up.
I walk through the cornfield back to the bistro to retrieve my bicycle. The bistro is still closed.
I have never heard from Melvin again. It's like he has vanished into the thin contaminated air. His disappearance is all over the news, but I don't really care. His existence never mattered to me, why would his disappearance? I have had several voicemails from my mum saying that she hasn't cancelled the starlight room. But I haven't returned any of her calls. I have quit my meaningless job and applied for law school. If I get in, it means I would have to move away from this town. Away from the sanctuary. Away from the waitress. I don't mind moving away from the waitress. I haven't actually been back to the bistro to see her again. She unlocked me from what I had become, and I will always be grateful for that. But I don't know if I can ever see her again. She made me feel something I have never felt before. She made me feel like a human being. She opened my eyes to the possibilities of life. She made me see what true love is all about. I love her, but I don't know if I will ever feel the soft caresses of her touch again. I will miss the sanctuary though. The scarecrow especially. He is happy for me, but nothing will ever be the same again. I am not indifferent anymore.
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