The Bridge

When he was a young boy, Max would play imaginative games with trolls, goblins and the Troll Slayer. Max, of course, was the gallant troll slaying knight, rescuing villagers from mortal terror. The boy Max would use everything within his reality for his games. Tree branches would become bridges and castle turrets, all the better for him to overlook the villages he was relinquishing of monsters. Cardboard boxes would become Max’s breastplate, shield, and helm. A stick found on the ground would become his sword.

As he grew into a man, Max’s playful imagination faded into logic, statistics, and facts. The man Max could no longer hear the goblins’ growls and the villagers’ screams. Max was a businessman, his childish antics a distant memory. His life was now a rhythm of routine. This day was no different from the rest. Alarm sound at 6:00am. Morning workout until 7:00. Shower. Breakfast. Get in the car, drive. On the road, Max’s ringtone suddenly sounded. Sighing Max glanced at the phone, it was a business call. Reluctantly, Max reached for his phone. As his fingers skimmed the phone, Max heard the piercing sound of terrified screaming. 

Max pulled onto the shoulder of the highway. He saw a rickety old bridge tangled with leaves, branches, and vines. He could just make out the shape of buildings with hedge fences. On the far side of the bridge. Max hesitantly stepped out of the car, squinting to see better. The screaming was clearer outside. Max gingerly started across the bridge, grabbing at the branches and vines to steady himself. Nearing the end of the bridge, Max paused. It was as if he was taken back to a medieval time long forgotten. The buildings were village huts, the hedges unkempt. There were creatures of indescribable horror galloping and soaring maliciously through the village. Villagers were screaming, running, and fighting with stakes, pitch-forks, and shovels. It was terrible chaos.

Looking back across the bridge, Max could see his car parked on the side of a highway; the outline of a modern city in the background. Returning his attention to the village in peril, Max recalled his childhood duty as Troll Slayer. In need of a weapon, Max pulled at the branch he was holding until it snapped into his hand, he now had a sword. Looking down, his business suit became a shiny silver suit of armour. Ready for battle, Max charged into the village mayhem. As he entered the violence, the screams became cheers as the villagers celebrated the return of their hero. To chants of, “Troll Slayer has returned!” and “Hail, Troll Slayer!” Max vanquished the monsters in bloody battle just as he had done years ago. His old friends saved, Max left the village across the bridge.

Halfway across the bridge, Max heard the sound of busy rush hour traffic: whirring of car motors; the swishing of vehicles passing through the wind; and enraged drivers impatiently thumping their horns. Hurrying back to his car, Max’s sword became a branch, his armour became business attire. In the car, Max’s phone was still ringing. Answering his call to business, Max’s thoughts returned to statistical data. Driving, Max smiled to himself. No one would know of his gallant adventure as he returned to the rhythmical routine of life. But all he had to do to remember was imagine.