Rock On



“Remember the trolls?”

“Miranda, honey, I will never forget the trolls. Why?”

“They want to meet Jordan.”

“I don’t think your mother can go through this again, Miranda. She’s very fragile now, you know. She’s only been home from the hospital a few months.”

“I know. I told them that Jordan is still a baby and can’t even walk that good, but I wanted to let you know in case…”

“Miranda you never told me much about these trolls.”

“There’s not much to say, Daddy. They’re just rock people.”

“‘JUST rock people’? Miranda, that makes no sense to me.”

“Weren’t there trolls in your day? They told me they’ve been around as long as the sky and the planets and the sun and the stars.”

“I’m sure if they’re rock people that’s true, but…”

“Haven’t you ever talked to a rock? I talk to rocks all the time.”

“Miranda, you’re five. Five year olds talk to everything all the time. It’s part of being five. It’s not part of being a daddy. Daddys who talk to rocks, well, Miranda, it usually doesn’t end well.”

“But daddy, you told me rocks are in EVERYTHING. They’re in my crayons and clothes and even in me!”

“That’s true, sweetheart, but usually they don’t build secret doors under a little girl’s bed.”

“I didn’t know that, Daddy. I thought that was part of growing up, like a loose tooth. If there’s a tooth fairy and Santa Claus, why not trolls?”

Tom closed his laptop, recognizing that this was an important moment in the life of his little girl and how he dealt with it would affect her life forever. The long litany of life’s disillusionment sped through his mind. He sighed. “Come here, Miranda,” he said, lifting his little girl up on his lap. “I confess, Miranda, I don’t understand the story of the trolls. I don’t know what happened that night other than your mother and I were terrified we’d lost you forever. When the police officer said it happened all the time — little girls disappearing behind tiny doors built under their beds — well, it really didn’t help. How could such a thing happen?”

“Simple, Daddy. The trolls came up from the middle of the earth and opened the door. Those doors are everywhere. We just can’t see them most of the time. Are you going to tell me there’s no Tooth Fairy that it’s you and mommy? And there’s no Santa Claus? That’s you and mommy too?”

Tom nodded. Clearly the trolls were not going to be dismissed as one of those inscrutable stories adults tell children, stories meant to nurture that magical sense of wonder which kids have on their own, all the time. Thinking about it, was it any crazier to tell his kids that a fat guy in a red suit landed on the roof with reindeer? A real door under Miranda’s bed was really LESS crazy than a fantasy fat guy flown through the sky by ungulates.

“Miranda, I’d really rather Jordan didn’t go visit the trolls if there’s anyway we can keep that from happening. Your mother would never recover from a second experience like that. Maybe you can explain that to your rock friends?”

Just then, from down the hall, the last room, came a cry from a little guy who was supposed to be sleeping. “Daddy! DADDDY! DADDY! I have a bad dream!!”

“Sorry Dad.”

Last spring I wrote a story about a little girl’s experience with trolls. Seeing the prompt today, there was only one place I could goHere are links to the “backstory.”

Part One: Bad Dream

Part Two: Hot Knob

Part Three: Blasé Cop

Part Four: Real as Real

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