Chasm-Keeper

And the Troll of the Bridge asks,

“Do I not deserve your coin?
You say my price is high, but where were you,
where were you,
you who would judge,

when there was nothing here but chasm?

No thinking creature wants to look
into desolation;

but look,
look, if you will,
if you disagree with the cost
of crossing,

consider
what you have
without a bridge.

There is nothing which feels so helplessly huge
as nothing;
and there is a great nothing underneath,
a great nothing between here and sky,
a great nothing without the bridge,

so great you feared to even go near it,
built fences
at the edges

despite the fact that on both sides
of where I am

people want, need, hope
to cross the divide,
to move with freedom from one place
to another.

I don’t have that freedom,”
says the Troll of the Bridge;

“I don’t have that freedom,
but I have a freedom from fear.
I am not concerned what will happen next.
I am at the joining
of two places
which thought they’d never touch.

“I have broken what others believed;
you ought give me your thanks,
as well as your currency.

“You could have made a bridge,
you,
with tools,
and clever hands,
or simply with numbers,
many of you,
working together.

You did not.

You still could,
if you truly don’t want
to pay this toll.

…but bridges are hard to make.

You prefer to make divisions,
and that is why
you have not come together
to build a bridge
of your own.

Sincerely: go ahead.
I won’t be offended.
I used to hate you, I won’t lie,
and I thought of this,
at first,
as an opportunity to take your money.

But I have had time to think,
and I would not regret
if you built a chasm-crossing of your own.

I would not be sad
to lose the dosh;

I hear it’s good to rest,
and perhaps I would rest.

Or perhaps I would find another chasm.

It took me years to grow tall,
and each year,
I thought you’d take away my opportunity,
and build a bridge.

But it was too difficult for you.
I lived in a cave
of the chasm,

its acoustics were excellent.

I heard you complain,
yell,
accuse both humans and Gods,
scream curses,
fight battles,
do everything
but make a bridge.

Where were you
When, having grown enough
(I hoped) –
I made the Leap,

spanning the chasm,
scrabbling huge and heavy hands
for purchase on one side,
hooking my great, awkward feet
at the very last moment,
to rocks and stone
on the other side.

Where were you
when I stretched out,
risked my life,
drew my body taut with pain
and elation,
and became the Bridge?

“Pay my toll,”
says the Troll Bridge,
the bridge made of troll.

“Pay my toll,
for though I have little use for money,
I would extend you the kindness
of extracting a price
for my services.

“Thus I become part of a teaching;
you’ve heard it:

‘All things have a cost.’

“I spent my animation,
my flesh,
became mostly stone,

that I might make a change in the world.

“For a while, I gloried
in being on your maps,
in having my brethren laud me
when they collected your money,
and then throw great drunken parties
on my now-unbreathing chest,
daring themselves towards the edges of my
unmoving body,
admiring the Leap,
and fearing it themselves.

All thinking beings fear the Chasm inside,
the divide in soul and heart
which marks the ragged boundary between
fleshly Animal
and freeflowing Mind.

But this is the joy of building a bridge:
I no longer fear that Chasm.

Pay the damn toll;
it is my gift to you,
it is the pain which will someday
force you to build a bridge of your own.

…perhaps.

Or perhaps,
in fact, more likely,
despite your desperate need to cross,
you will,
someday,
come to me with sledgehammers and acid
and shatter my feet or hands,

plunging me to death,
and leaving you one step farther from
ever being whole.

And that, too, is good.

I will help lift you, as I lifted myself,
or I will have my revenge.

One is a good life,
one is a good death,

and meanwhile,

I am the Bridge:
I persist.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

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