Sometimes, stuff I write when I’m exhausted comes out funny. But it’s 4:00 in the morning (well, it was when I wrote this ^^”) and I can’t sleep (thanks a lot, chocolate), so I figured I’d at least record it for future amusement.
If the plot is kind of meandering–well, you know why ^^”
“Jean,” Olaf scrutinized my face. “You spoke with Jean?”
“You know what, forget it,” I said, crossing my arms. “I shouldn’t have brought this up.”
“No, no!” Olaf exclaimed, insisting that he was unaffected by the news. I had known him long enough to know otherwise.
I waved my long, bamboo fishing pole from side to side, “It’s not that she doesn’t like you,” I said slowly. “You know that, right?”
Olaf didn’t reply. I glanced over to see that his face was stormy, his brow knit. “If she liked me, she would’ve talked to me first.” He turned his attention away from his fishing and kicked a loose pebble across the cobblestone bridge. “She shouldn’t have just disappeared. She should’ve told me where she was going.”
“Maybe she just didn’t want you to worry?” I suggested.
“Didn’t want me to worry!” Olaf exclaimed. ”If she didn’t want me to worry, she shouldn’ve just told me flat-out where she was going instead of vanishing on me!”
“I don’t think she meant to hurt anything,” I said cautiosly. “And, besides, she’s back now!”
“She still left,” Olaf sulked. “I’ll bet she hates my guts–I’ll bet she never actually left. She probably just hid from me every time I was coming.
“I don’t think she’d be able to pull that off,” I said skeptically, trying to keep in mind that Olaf was emotionally comprimised. Still, it was really hard not to say something rude about his las comment; the idea just seemed so ridiculous! “But, hey, who knows with girls. She seemed to like you when I talked to her, though.”
“Oh, yeah?” Olaf tried not to act interested. “What’d she say?”
“Well, she asked how you were and she asked if you talked about her or thought about her any. I’m pretty sure that’s girl talk for ‘I still like him, but I’m too chicken to talk to him myself’.”
Olaf smiled, staring absently into the water beneath the bridge.
The sudden movement of something out of our sight caused ripples to spread across the otherwise calm pond. Olaf quickly stood up straight and turned to look at me.
‘Did you see that?’ he mouthed.
I nodded, “Do you–”
Olaf held a finger to his lips urgently. I stopped speaking and mouthed, ‘Do you think it’s them?’
He nodded, his eyes twinkling with excitement.
We stared down at the water beneath the bridge expectantly, waiting for something to happen. Olaf pulled up his line and found that the bag of shiny pennies he had tied to the end was gone. I quivered with excitement. Olaf had met The Trolls once before, and he said they were all right as long as you respected them, but I had been too scared by the horror stories my mother told me before I went to bed every night to even try to visit.
The trolls around where we lived were benign creatures–that is, if you didn’t bother them. They had been chased out of their previous habitats by city expansion and the overpopulation of humans, so they had apparently struck a deal with the founder of our town that said that, as long as the town did not bother them and gave them peace beneath their bridges, they would stay away from the locals.
Luckily, the area they had decided to settle in had lots of ponds. It seemed like there was always a simple construction project going on; a new bridge on a new pond for the trolls to inhabit. The remarkable thing was that this had been going on for years, and not a single pond had more than one bridge on it–in fact, some remained without bridges still! I liked it, though; although the marshy landscape depressed some people and worried them about their shoes, I thought it was very interesting.
Not to mention that our neighbors were trolls.
A wet hand plopped itself down on my shoulder, jolting me out of my thoughts. I turned quickly to see a creature–a foot or two taller than me–with bumpy brown skin (although I couldn’t tell if it was brown naturally, or colored brown by a thick covering of mud) and dirty, lanky hair looming over me. He grinned–he had the worst teeth I had ever seen!
“You called?” he asked, holding up the bag of pennies. “You pay toll without being asked. I like that.”
I swallowed hard, finding myself at a loss for words. I had expected trolls to be more–well, bloodthirsty, I guess!
“This is my friend, Digory Shields,” Olaf said, putting words into my mouth, an action for which I was very grateful!
The troll looked at Olaf and gave a start, “I see you before!”
“Yes,” Olaf said, “I’ve visited. But just once.”
“No, I see you somewhere else!” He scratched his balding scalp. “But where?” Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. I nearly jumped out of my skin–it sounded uncannily like a finger snapping in half. Well, it sounded like what I thought a finger breaking would sound like. I’d never actually heard a finger break before. “In sketchbook!”
Olaf cocked his head. “Sketchbook? Like–someone was drawing me?”
The troll nodded. Olaf got a weird, disgusted look on his face–I didn’t blame him. If someone had been drawing me without my knowing it, I would’ve been pretty creeped out.
“Come, I show you,” the troll motioned for us to follow him.
I glanced at Olaf, but he was giving me the same, uncertain look. I’d heard tales about children who wandered off to find trolls, and were never heard from again. Was this how the trolls lured them in? By tricking them into entering their lairs?
The troll laughed, “I won’t hurt you–you friends!”
Olaf and I exchanged another look, but Olaf (who was dangerously curious) walked after the troll after a moment’s hesitation. Figuring it was best to stick with Olaf (safety in numbers was another key point my mother had always pushed upon me), I followed, still a bit jittery because of my nerves.
The troll lead us under the bridge. At the base, mud walls had been built up from the ground to the bottom of the bridge, creating a sort of house. There was a table, three cots (two of which had privacy curtains pulled around them), and the farthest wall (which was made of stone, as it was a part of the bridge) was plastered with drawings. They were very good!
“Hey,” Olaf said, pointing to one of the drawings. “That one looks kinda familiar. I feel like I’ve seen someone drawing it!”
I squinted at it. “No,” I said slowly, “I don’t recognize it. And, besides, why would you have seen a troll drawing before?”
Olaf shrugged, but I had a feeling he was figuring something out that he wasn’t telling me.
The troll was rummaging among some papers on the table. Most of them were sketches, but others were–
“Are those math worksheets?” I whispered to Olaf.
Olaf watched the trolls rifle through the papers for a moment, then laughed quietly. “I think they are! I guess trolls aren’t exempt from the horrors of Trigonometry.”
“Hey, Trig’s not half bad,” I argued.
Olaf rolled his eyes, “You only think that because you’re good at it. And teach favors you.”
I shrugged, trying to dismiss his comment, even though I knew it was true.
“Here!” the troll said, pulling a sketchbook from the piles of papers. “This one.” He opened it, and when Olaf saw the cover his eyes grew wide. The troll searched through the pages and finally found what he wanted, “Here,” he turned the sketchbook so that its pages faced us, and pointed to a drawing on the back side of a page. It was a crude characature, but obviously Olaf.
I was so surprised, my eyes almost got as wide as Olaf’s.
“Dude,” I whispered. “That’s–”
“I know,” Olaf said, a confused tone entering his voice.
A heavy sigh came from one of the curtained cots, and the curtain was pulled aside. A very familiar person–well, I guess troll–sat staring at us.
“I should’ve known I couldn’t hide it forever,” Jean sighed. “Olaf, I’m sorry–I just didn’t think you’d like me if you knew I was a troll.
Olaf stood there, his jaw touching his chest for a moment, then he shook it away. “Are you kidding?” he laughed. “This is, like, so awesome!”
Jean blushed, “Really? So… you wouldn’t mind if I actually started acting the way I wanted to now?”
Olaf grew pensive, “And how’s that?”
“Like, rolling around in mud and stuff, and getting dirty–not ladylike activities,” she sounded kind of embarrassed.
“Of course not!” Olaf grinned. “That would be awesome! I love doing stuff like that.”
Jean’s face practically beamed, but Olaf grew grim again.
“I still have one quesion,” he said. “Where did you go when you disappeared?”
Jean sighed, “I’m sorry, Olaf, it was stupid of me not to tell you. Our family goes to meet with our relatives on the other side of your town every year–I could’ve just said I was visiting relatives, but I couldn’t remember what I’d said about relatives to you while I was pretending to have a human family, so I didn’t want to get all caught up in my own tangle of lies–It’s all so complicated.”
“It’s O.K.,” Olaf said, his jovial attitude returning. “I just wanted to know, that’s all.”
Jean brightened instantly. “Well, that’s awesome! I know this great place to catch toads–there are these ones that are this deep olive green color–Really pretty!” I followed them as they walked back up onto the bridge. “And when you scratch them under their chin,” Jean continued, “they turn brown!”
Olaf laughed, “No way! That’s too cool.”
“Don’t believe me?” Jean asked. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
I stopped where I was–at the highest point in the bridge. They kept walking.
I felt a little lost–Olaf had been my best friend for as long as I could remember. But, at the same time, it was nice to see him so happy, and I was glad the whole Jean issue had been resolved.
“It sad when friends leave,” the boy troll’s deep voice startled me, but I was not anywhere near as afraid of him this time. “But there always new friends.”
“Yeah,” I said, “he and Jean sure like each other a lot. They’ll probably get married.”
The troll laughed, but for some reason I knew there was truth to my statement.
“Don’t worry, human,” he clapped me on the back. “You find love some day, too.”
“I don’t really care about it right now,” I said, “I just wanna be a kid. That’s all.”
“Awww,” the troll said, “you humans speak so frivolously, but you so wise.”
I was shocked by the troll’s use of the word “frivolous” (although I wasn’t sure it could be made into an adjective). Apparently, they were smarter than their speach patterns would lead one to believe.
We stood there in silence for a bit.
“I guess this means he’s grown up, huh?” I asked finally.
“No one grow up,” the troll said, “until they ready. He ready. You don’t have to be sad–he happy, and you grow up some day, too.”
“I know,” I sighed, “and I’m happy that he’s happy, but I’m still sad to see him go.”
I turned to look at the troll, who was nodding his head in agreement. I took a moment for myself and just stared at the water beneath the bridge. I realized that I could always have other friends–and that Olaf would still be my friend, he just wouldn’t be the same Olaf I had always known. He’d be changed–but he’d still be Olaf. I couldn’t even figure out why I was sad any more.
“Well, there’s one good thing that comes out of this,” I said, finally. “He has someone else to drag around on his weird little adventures, instead of making me risk my life and limb just because he has an impulse!”
The troll did not respond. I turned to look at him, and found he was gone. I looked back down at the water again, and saw that it was rippling. He must have gone back into his house.
I went home–there was no point in waiting for Olaf.
I will always remember that day, even as an old man. It was the last time I saw Olaf as a kid, and the one and only time I ever went fishing for trolls.