The Troll of Glasonbury Bridge

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SIX

The previous day’s outlandish surprises were wearing thin in his memory. Gilbert couldn’t help but think of what the young witch Candice had told him, even though he didn’t feel it to be entirely true or of much concern to him other than a pleasant yet weird happening, there was some niggling doubt.

He removed himself from the blankets that barely kept the frost from his body at night. The top blanket was partially frozen; Dilbert picked it up and stood it against the rock pillar of the bridge. He knew that by mid-morning it would thaw out and collapse to the ground.

He scratched his head running his fingers through his disheveled hair trying to wake up; for some reason he couldn’t quite get there today. The sun was already nearing the middle branches of the oak tree across the pond, so he knew it was precisely half past eight – very late for him, perhaps that witch had done something to him more than she revealed.

It wasn’t important. Walking over to the stolid water of his pond he bent down close to the edge and looked at his reflection. Looking back at him was a man worse for wear. It was the first time in many years that he’d felt that the man in the reflection wasn’t him. He waited for a minute in silence only broken by a slushing turtle dove thinking that she was alone and landing beside Dilbert’s leg. He slowly turned his head, the movement too great for the cooing creature – it flapped its wings in angst.

Dilbert washed his face with the crisp water, gathered his things and left the bridge for the long walk to Glasonbury. The wind quickly dried his face and curled the wet ends of his hair while he walked.

“I’m hungry, what should I eat this fine morning?” he said to himself.

He thought of going across the way towards Leslie Parker’s house and tempting his stomach to the smell of bacon, freshly cut and fried in the skillet by Mrs. Parker, but he thought not, and decided to head across Lanyon way where he knew he could find some lush fruit ready for the picking. It was definitely the season for grapes and oranges - just the thing.

Glasonbury was humming. The baker had been working since very early preparing his daily sourdough for the oven that was primed at a constant temperature by the burning wood that had to be carefully watched. Mothers had already picked up their loaves for the day on the way home from walking their children to school. Usually their husbands had left for work very early, mostly before sunrise.

It was Wednesday - late that afternoon the Hub would be opened to receive its fortnightly share of rapture from the folk of Glasonbury. Although Dilbert was aware of the Hub and how it was frequented by the public, he’d had nothing to do with it himself. He thought of it as a ridiculous ritual, and after the warnings that his father used to give him it was all the more off limits.

His breakfast consisted of three red-oranges, an apple and two bananas that he borrowed from the Stollie’s cart that had been sitting on the edge of their farm, freshly picked. It wasn’t stealing Dilbert thought because he would always confess at a later date. It was such a little amount of fruit that it was insignificant in the scheme of things. There was more waste from what birds would half-eat or drop to the ground.

With as full a stomach as one needed Dilbert rubbed his belly, smacked his lips and wiped the juices that cascaded down his chin.

‘I can’t keep living like this. It would be a lie that festers without justification, and my father would never approve. Would he?’ Dilbert’s thoughts rang through his mind, echoing – a hand maiden to his higher self.

A crow swooped down, its deep black beauty a contrast to the green reeds that stood on the side of the road. It squawked, shuffled sideways then forced its beak into the ground and withdrew a worm. It was devoured within seconds.

Dilbert stopped to look at the creature go about its daily business. It didn’t bother with him at first tilting its head slightly to focus one eye on the stranger, but all the while keeping a look out for food or things to collect.

He sat down and watched with envy at its ability to just know what to do in life; knowing that it must eat, explore, feed its family and the next day do it all over again.

‘Why can’t I be like that he thought?’

‘You can!’

“What?” Dilbert asked, thinking that perhaps he was going mad.

‘I said, why can’t you be like me? My life is good; I have family and friends and I always have something to do.’ The crow thought.

“Why can I hear your thoughts? It is you isn’t it?”

‘Yes it’s me. You can hear my thoughts because you are ready to – that is all.’

“Ready?”

‘Correct Mr. Dilbert, you are ready to change, and because of that, you are opening up to different things in your life. I must go now; it has been nice meeting you, and good luck with your journey.’

“Journey! I’m going on a journey?”

Without answering his question, the crow’s mighty wings spread, casting a shadow over the grassy field and jumped and flapped at the same time rising into the air and over the reed beds of the adjacent farm.

Dilbert watched in awe as the bird left him there, stunned. After he could see it no more, he shook his head in disbelief, got to his feet and walked on. That’s all he needed, he thought, another random event to confuse him about his once simple life.


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