She lay the clothes in the field. Spread so far apart there was no doubt that they covered everywhere the body could have lain. It was here, on this spot, that her mother must have felt stabs, as sharp as Shinsakuto knives. Those were the sharpest knives in the world, she knew now.
A warm glow crept over her back. What if it didn’t work? Would the colour make a difference? Was red more frightening than blue? In her head it seemed like a whirlwind. All sorts of scenarios played in her mind. What if they wouldn’t fall for it, or what if the clothes had a feature she didn’t know about: fewer buttons, a more pointed collar or a shirt pocket. Wouldn’t the monsters see immediately that this was not a real man?
The rake had fallen to the ground, but Orli hadn’t felt it slipping from her hands. She imagined how her mother had instinctively grabbed her face. Cheeks, nose, lips; her fingers recognised nothing. Whether it was awareness or pure loss of balance, she seemed to be teetering on a twig above a wild river. Merciless gravity. That’s what it must have felt like. Nothing could lessen her anxiety. Whenever Orli drove home from the city with her parents she saw them standing. Stuffed with straw, dressed in checks or some other pattern and sometimes a hat. She was afraid of them. And of the pitch-black crows too. She had watched the sky all summer, from the swing, thinking about her worries. As she was lying in the grass, or in her bed looking upwards through the attic window, she reminded herself that mother had said that there was no monster. No, there was nothing up there. Nothing that could hurt her. And yet…
She began. The stick went into the ground, right in the middle of the circle of clothes. Another stick formed the skeleton of the arms. Everywhere she looked Orli gathered together dry grass. She had to stand on her toes to do up the buttons on the shirts. One by one, patiently filled with straw, until the scarecrow looked as big and strong as her father. The monster would surely be afraid of him, wouldn’t it?