I don’t want to cross the bridge.

I sit, petrified, gripping the reins with white knuckles, staring at the open mauw before me. The path before me takes me under the old McGowan bridge, a bridge like any other but for one damning difference. There is no alternative to this path. I would have to dismount and guide my steed and our load in the steep climb up and over the wall that formed the bridge. Or we would be forced to travel far off the path to cross at a lower point.

I must come this way frequently and my fear of what lays before grows with every passing. I peer out, looking for signs of clear passage, but the darkness yields no shape. During the day the unknown was not so gripping but the threat was still there, but here in the night with limited perception, I am filled with trepidation.

Under this bridge lies a troll.

I approach and I feel a sense of dread rising in me. The troll had been there for as long as I could remember. He was only there during the day. He never did much, he sat there staring and sometimes would shout and wave at nothing in particular. My first few passings were nervous ones, worried he would leap out at any moment to attack and rob me. But he continued to sit motionless in the same spot, day in and day out. As I grew accustomed to his presence, I began to worry he was mad or ill in some way. I hoped for some sign of lucidity, but he continued to sit and stare. I began to think of him as a harmless, permanent fixture. As I passed I would wonder what drove him to sit there like a statue. What else did he do all day? I never saw him sleeping under the bridge. Did he sleep? Did he have some thatched hut or cave to go and sleep, if he did? Was he getting enough to eat? Did he have friends? Should I try to be his friend?

Then one day he was gone. At first, I was relieved in his disappearance but the selfish respite soon gave way to guilt and worry. Where had he gone? What drove him away? Is there a scarier monster now? Did he get sick or hurt? Should I have done something when he was around? Should I do something know? What could I do?

A few days later I saw him wandering the path that led to the bridge. Then the next time I returned that way he was opposite his normal side. The sudden change in pattern was just as scary.

(eh I’ll come back to this one someday. Started strong, running out of steam, but at least I got my 20 minutes in.)

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