The bridge between my house and my neighbor’s house always equally terrified and enthralled me. My older brothers always whispered stories to me about the trolls who lived under the bridge who would sneak out and eat little girls if they ever tried to cross alone. Our nearest neighbors lived on the other side of the bridge, but after the troll story I was too scared to go visit Elena and Virginia alone. Mom would try to send me over with fresh cookies on Saturday afternoons as a bribe to get me out from under her feet and never understood why I suddenly felt sick.
She eventually stopped asking and often wondered aloud to my brothers about what had happened. I think they started feeling guilty about telling me the story about the trolls and made a point to walk with me so I could play with my friends. They tried to convince me the story was just a joke, but I never completely believed they weren’t tricking me again so I never went unless someone was with me. As I grew older, I finally became brave enough to go by myself, but only partially because if I was going to get to school, I had to cross the bridge by myself. I never got over my fear and continued to hold my breath and run to make sure the trolls didn’t know I was crossing alone. Everything was fine until the body got stuck under the bridge.