Once It Was Our Bridge
by Tim Philippart
Be careful son, with our eyes big as saucers and long pointy noses, it is hard to conceal what we are. Keep your hat pulled down, your coat collar turned up and, with our sun glasses in place, no one will pay attention to us.
Every troll makes this trip because, the fear we feel here teaches us to be cautious even though we live high in mountain caves that should be safe.
This is not a story or a fable, but the very real place where the great grandfather of all trolls met his end. Trolls lived here for centuries. It was our bridge. In those days, undergrowth concealed our lair below the bridge. There was no path for humans to walk with their irritating singing, incessant talking and perpetual stone skipping. Our kind lived here, drinking from the stream, concealed from enemies and, even, catching a hearty meal from time to time.
Yes son, this was the last place we dwelt before we fled to the caves. It is not a fairy tale. It’s where we learned the price of arrogance. When that last Goat Gruff fell upon and dispatched the greatest of all trolls, every species lost respect for us. Every goat wanted to fight. The goats even herded up to drive us away. Humans cut away our hiding place and put in the path. Our abode was lost and we fled for sanctuary.
To this day we don’t disturb any goats, no matter how helpless or friendly they might appear. We never speak to them. Etch the image of that bridge in your mind. It will help you remember the Third Precept in the Book of Troll: "To live by the goat is to die by the goat."
The stream under this bridge has grown slow and tepid and cannot rival a quaff from the worst of our mountain streams. Our cave is warm and its darkness lets us sleep late into the day. The rattle of goats clip-clopping over the bridge on their way to get fat on yonder hillside doesn’t bother us any more. The messy humans, with their cattle and horses, do not disturb us in our high sanctuary. The sweet mountain flowers and the succulent mushrooms that flourish in the mouth of the caves taste better than anything offered near this bridge.
As a group of humans approached, the troll and his son hastened in the direction of the mountains. That night, safe in the cave, when the only sound was that of trolls snoring in their great rumbling way, the young troll sank into his sleep, dreaming of goats but, even though all trolls are drawn to bridges, he never went near another one, until he taught his son the Third Precept many years later.
Tim Philippart sold his business in 2015. He ghost blogs, writes poetry and nonfiction. He wishes he had not waited decades to pick up the pen.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Beatles and Beethoven'
'Water Under the Bridge'