Totally AWOL last week and still concentrating elsewhere, for good or ill. So for this Monday it’s another piece of flash fiction. The only context is this was for the Flash Fiction group, the trigger word was “Toll,” and I was feeling a bit fey. So here is:
Another Fairy Tale
Once upon a time there was a good-natured boy named David who didn’t listen.
“You lazy, good for nothing dolt!” Which was his mother’s standard morning greeting, What he heard was: “Good morning, My Blessing.”
“Mother, I’ve decided to go out into the world to seek our fortune.”
“Our fortune? You couldn’t find your arse with a torch!”
What he heard was: “I will miss you. Please be careful.”
“I will, and I love you too.”
She just shook her head. “Mark my words, you will have a heavy toll to pay.”
Having bid his wonderful mother goodbye, David hoisted his pack and left. In five minutes his mother had his room cleared out and advertised for renters.
As happens in such journeys, David hadn’t gone more than a few miles when he met a magical cat sitting beside the road. “Here comes another bungler,” the cat mumbled.
“Did you say you were hungry? Have some cheese.”
David gladly shared what he had. When they were done, the cat sighed. “According to the rules I must help you now. Look under that fallen tree.”
Now the cat may have been magical, but he was also ill-tempered and ungrateful. He fully expected the lad to uncover a nest of hornets and be stung within an inch of his life. Instead David came back with a small bag of gold and the cat just stared.
“I could have sworn I hid that better.”
What David heard was: “This will make your journey better.”
David thanked the cat and continued on his way. The cat stared after him.
“No way this ends well,” the cat said. “I must follow and see.”
So he followed David unseen until the lad came to a river bridge, which the cat knew fully well was the home of a voracious troll. “I will enjoy this,” the cat said to himself.
As David approached the bridge, the troll appeared and roared at him. “I shall make you my dinner!”
What David heard was, “Please make me some dinner.”
“I can’t do that,” David said. “There’s barely enough in my pack now to feed a mouse. But I know what it is to be poor. Maybe I can help you.”
“No tricks,” growled the troll. “No BS about your brother coming and he’s fatter than you. Been there, done that.”
What David heard was: “I’d appreciate anything you can do, and that’s that.”
“Buy yourself a nice lunch.”
He tossed the bag of gold to the troll who opened it and could only stare, dumbfounded, at the treasure, so David crossed the bridge and went on his merry way. Soon he met the same cat again.
“How did you know that would work?” the cat demanded. “That troll should have eaten you!”
“Well, did you see him? He was twenty-five stone if he was one.”
“And what has that to do with anything?!”
“I simply heeded my good mother’s warning. She did say I’d have to pay a heavy troll.”
©2020 Richard Parks. All Rights Reserved.