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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)

TITLE: Counting Crow
By Susan Lower


The brakes of the yellow school bus puffed coming to a halt in front of the dirt lane. A sapling of a boy gathered his bag shifting the pack onto his shoulders stepping down on the dirt path. The doors slapping shut behind him, he walked down the lane.

On both sides, tall green stalks of corn rustled in the afternoon breeze. A few months back he’d sat on the fender of his father’s tractor helping to plant the seeds; now nearly a head shy of his height. He paused looking up the winding lane then across the reed like stalks. His Pa wouldn’t mind, just as long as he didn’t trample the crops.

He weaved his way into the maze of corn heading in a diagonal direction. The short cut familiar between the rows. A foot print, here and there, from other journeys he’d taken in previous days. In the middle of the field he was greeted by the lonely scare crow dangling on a wooden stake. Black blurs of retreating crows flocked in different directions at the sound of his approach.

It had been his sister Maggie’s idea to resurrect the figure there. His parents encouraged her, giving her Pa’s old red flannel shirt, and a pillow case to stuff. But, now the stalks were grown concealing the creation from sight. What good could it possibly do way out here? No hands, no feet, just two wooden poles in the form of a cross holding the figure in place.

Hadn’t Christ been hung on a cross for crimes he didn’t commit? He seemed to remember his mother mentioning that one night. Condemn by our sins he paid the price for our transgressions. Not nearly same as some old clothes stuffed with straw hanging from a post. Although it reminded him of the position Christ took for him. It wasn’t the scarecrow that caused the lump in his throat, nor the burning in his eyes. Odd how a symbol of a cross could bring such strong emotions inside his heart and make a tear or two escape.

Dark streaks were circling above him, swooping down low, jetting through the neatly spaced rows. They would be the ones come to mock him, the scarecrow. To test his guard, to tease his place, and laugh while they perched upon his out stretched arms. The crows come to scavenge in the field. The way sin often found a way to scavenge our souls.

The boy shook his head. It was just yesterday he’d been tempted to lie. A bad grade on a report card he couldn’t deny, but the lie wouldn’t have hurt him as much as Jesus. The false words slashing another wound across Christ’s back. He’d rather take the extra week of chores than have Christ endure another slash for him. Hadn’t Christ already paid his dues? He wasn’t going to run a tally.

His musing took him away from the scarecrow and to the edge of the field. There he walked out onto the front lawn just below the old farm house where he lived. His mother was standing at the line hanging a load of wash. His little brother wrapped around her legs. His sister not home for another hour he supposed. “Where have you been?” His mother asked spotting him heading for the porch.
“Just count’n crow.” He said shrugging out of his pack.
“You’ve got chores to do.” She said.
“Yes, ma’am” He ducked his head retreating inside the house.

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Member Comments
Member Date
valerie chambers08/25/06
Very good job--I loved the title, very catchy and the idea of the boy going over all the musings in his head
Mo 08/29/06
Very nicely done! I particularly liked your descriptions, like "sapling of a boy". It really made me see it all in my mind.