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Trees, Books, and Mountain Trolls

August 15, 2013

Once, I sat and watched a tree grow every day for weeks. I didn’t see any change. Then, I left for a year, came back, and it was like a completely new tree. I doubted it was the same tree I had looked at before.

Another once, I wrote a book. Every day I went to write, the ability to ever complete the work seemed utterly impossible. But, I started typing until the day was done. I closed my laptop and went to bed, and the following day, I did the same.

– – –

Somewhere in the rocky mountains stretching over the Utah, Wyoming border, lived a tribe of mountain trolls. No humans knew of their existence, because no humans knew the land like these mountain trolls. They lived at the top of the mountains, feeding on big horned sheep and spiders. They loved spiders like we love ice cream.

These mountain trolls were tall in stature and wide in frame. They were not attractive creatures, at least as far as the human race is concerned. However, they considered themselves to be the most gorgeous and handsome creatures to ever exist. They praised themselves, and each other for their beauty. It wouldn’t be fair not to. It would be like hearing the funniest joke ever told and not laughing.

One particular mountain troll was not tall in stature and wide in frame. He was small and skinny like a rag doll. He was the ugliest mountain troll the tribe had ever known. He was a sweet and gentle creature, who did not partake in the hunting of mountain goats. It wasn’t in his nature to go through the violence of taking down even a small mountain goat. He lived solely on spiders and rodents. The other trolls did not tease him, or belittle him with words. They did not ever verbally acknowledge his ugliness. Instead, they went about praising each other’s beauty as if he were not even there.

He was a lonely creature, but he really did not mind the solitude of his existence. Until one day, he discovered the concept of love. Sparked by the observance of two mating mountain goats, he saw something in their eyes that was more than physical pleasure. “A mountain goat?” he wondered to himself. “A mountain goat feels something deeper?” None of the other mountain trolls ever saw this phenomenon because their own beauty was all they needed. They found no other beauty in anything else.

This mountain troll went to one of the larger, wider mountain trolls of the tribe and asked him, “Do you know anything about love?” The mountain goat looked at him with an empty expression; as if he were looking at a fallen rock on a cliff’s edge. Then, he turned around to stare at one of the other mountain trolls. So, the small and skinny mountain troll went to his mother. “Who is my father?” the mountain troll asked. “Who the hell cares?” his mother said, keeping her eyes from making contact with him. “I’d like to know who my actual father is,” he insisted. “We’re all your fathers and we’re all your mothers,” she said and turned around to stare at the circle of mountain trolls behind her.

This only caused a further yearning for intimacy in the small and skinny mountain troll, so he decided to be the first mountain troll ever to descend the mountain. His journey was slow and clumsy. By the time he reached the valley at the base of the mountain, his whole body was covered in scrapes and bruises. He was sure he looked uglier than ever. But, he found a dirt path and continued on it, stopping occasionally to look at the wildflowers, the bees, and the spiders which he ate.

A human came down the path toward him. He stopped in his tracks and looked on in wonder. He did not know humans existed. The human then stopped in her tracks and looked on in wonder. She did not know mountain trolls existed, at least not in reality. Then, she smiled. “Hello,” she said softly, but the small and skinny mountain troll did not know what “Hello meant,” so he took a step back in fear. “What are you?” the human asked, but he did not understand that either. “Whatever you are, you’re a little cutie.”

The human ended up taking the mountain troll home as a pet. Giving it a soft bed in the corner of her small apartment, and a bowl of dog food. He hated the dog food, but ate it out of politeness. He craved a good spider, but any time he found one, he stopped himself from catching it, because he was always full from the disgusting dog food.

She often brought her friends over to see the small and skinny mountain troll, and they gawked over him, picked him up and hugged him, and pet the top of his mostly bald head. He hated this and quickly longed for a life of solitude more closely to the his life at the top of the mountain. But, he was in the middle of a large city with fast moving objects all around and constant noise that began to drive him mad. He needed the wind, the cold, the altitude. But all he had was comfort. So, he started acting up. He wanted love, but all he got was admiration. He hated being the only mountain troll around because everyone admired him like he was just another of the mountain trolls from his tribe, but he had nothing to admire himself. And so, he grew angry and bitter. He began to bite and scratch at the visitors who came by and picked him up or talked in squeaky voices at him.

The human who took him in brought him to the pound where he lived out the rest of his days, happy in the solitude of a cage. He began to realize, the only thing for him left to love was himself. And he ignored everything else like the other mountain trolls of his tribe had ignored him. Everything else ceased to exist.

Days later and moments before his death, he looked around at his concrete cage and then up at the ceiling. He saw a spider hanging from a web in the corner. He had forgotten spiders existed, so he smiled to himself and said, “Oh well.”

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