Title: Troll Bridge
Featuring: One
Date: One
Location: The Woods

A boy and his mother lived deep inside the woods. Every afternoon, the mother asked her son to pick up some firewood. The firewood was located on the other side of a bridge. For years, the boy would cross the bridge without a problem. He would pay for firewood and bring it back to his mother. Although it was a lonely walk, the boy would often go without hesitation.

“You don’t always have to go by yourself,” the mother reminded the small boy one day, “you can take the darkness with you. It is very bright outside.”

The boy looked at the corner of the room, seeing the darkness just sitting there. “No thank you, mommy,” the boy said with confidence, “I like to go by myself. I am the light.”

The mother did not put up a fight. After all, it was merely a suggestion.

The boy continued to pick up firewood until one afternoon he was stopped on the bridge.

“Hello there,” a voice exclaimed. The boy was unsure who this was or where it was located.

“I can’t let you pass,” the voice bellowed again, “not without payment.”

The boy was rattled when he saw what looked to be a very short man with blue skin and a long, boney nose pop up from under the bridge.

“What is the meaning of this?” The boy inquired.

“This is a toll bridge now,” the toll man mentioned. His eyes were yellow with crazy red veins. His blue skin was hairy and unkempt. He had drops of gold liquid coming out of a crack in his shoulder blade. “You are required to pay before passing.”

The boy was taken back by the person in front of him. The toll man did not seem friendly at all. “I’m sorry, sir,” the boy started, “I only have enough to buy firewood with.”

“I’ll have to take it all from you then,” the toll man said, as he reached into the boy’s hand and plucked the golden coins from him. “Come back with more money the next time.”

When the boy returned home he told his mother what happened.

“It sounds like a troll has arrived,” the mother said with certainty, “I knew one would come eventually.”

“What will I do?” The young boy wondered, “the troll is scary and mean.”

“Why don’t you take the darkness with you this time?” She asked him.

The boy, however adamant, shook his head no. “Can I take more coins with me instead?”

The mother smiled and rubbed the boy’s head. “Here is money for tomorrow. Enough for firewood and the troll.”

The next day the boy went across the bridge again.

“Stop right there,” the troll started, “you cannot cross without payment.”

The boy nodded. “Yes, sir. I have enough money for you today.”

But it was too late. The troll approached the boy immediately as he held out his hand. Slime dripped from the troll’s mouth as he looked the golden coins over…

And took them all.

The boy went back to his mother. He told her what happened. She said he could still take the darkness with him but the boy refused. The mother tried to instill more confidence in her son for the next trip.

But every day the boy went across the bridge, the troll took advantage. The boy was never able to cross. No amount of money was sufficient.

“It’s okay, mommy.” I won’t go anymore, the boy said to his mother, almost in tears. “I’m sorry I failed you.”

The mother was confident. She knelt down and put her hands on his shoulders. “You don’t have to worry. You did your best,” she stated. “You led with your heart and believed the troll would not take advantage of you.”

The mother walked to her purse and gave the boy more coins. “Go one more time but please take the darkness with you.”

The boy shook his head. “No, mommy. I am the light.”

“And you will always be the light,” the mother reassured. 

The boy tried to make sense of this but he couldn’t.

“How do we know something is dark?” She asked her son. “We only know darkness because there’s no light. But even the darkness will not stay dark forever.”

The boy tried to think and think. He smiled at his mother and turned to the darkness, which idly sat in the corner. “Okay,” he said with such bravery, “I will give it a try.”

“Now run along,” the mother remarked, “and use the darkness when you need it.”

“I will, mommy,” said the boy as he walked to the doorway, darkness behind him.

“And son,” she started with a mischievous grin.

“Yes mommy?” The boy asked.

“Don’t forget to kick that troll’s ass.”

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