The Spring Troll
Rest In Peace
Five years later, during Norway's bitter winter months, Alffina's health deteriorated greatly. In early March she developed a wet cough, and began to wheeze with every breath she took. Marten immediately went to see his father Johannes, and told him that he did not think his grandmother had long to live. Johannes, in turn, rode out and informed his sisters, Emma and Sofie, that their mother's health was fading fast. Everyone in the family dropped what they were doing and came to Marten's farmstead as quickly as they could to see Alffina.
Time had caught up with Alffina and there was little that anyone could do for her. They made her as comfortable as possible, changed her bed clothes when she soiled them, wiped the sweat from her brow, and gave her what little food and drink she could tolerate. As it became clear that the end was drawing near Alffina began to ask for Sirik again and again. When the fever was upon her she would plead and cry for someone to bring him to her. It was hard for the adults to listen to, but it was especially hard for Tomas to hear. He loved his, " great mother ", but he had never gotten over the disappointment that he felt deep inside over the fact that she had lied to him about the Troll who did not exist. And in turn this disillusioned him forever about her tales which he had so cherished.
Alffina, despite her worsening condition, repeated over and over again that she would not die until she saw Sirik one last time. Tomas had heard enough !
" Great mother ! Why do you keep calling for someone who does not exist ! " he shouted at the pitifully frail woman who lay shivering on her death bed.
Gertrude and Marten were shocked by their son's rudeness and reacted immediately.
" How dare you speak to your great grandmother with such disrespect ! " Gertrude yelled at her son.
Then she added in a quieter tone that she thought Alffina would not hear :
" Is it not bad enough that she will die on the first day of spring ! Must she be insulted by the child she treated so well, and loved so much ! "
But Alffina did hear Gertrude, and she for a moment came out of her delirium and sat up.
" Tomas ! Tomas !! Go down to the bridge ! It is spring ! Tell Sirik I wish to see him !! " she uttered befor falling back down on her bed exhausted.
Tomas was stunned that his " great mother " had been coherent enough to understand what he had said. He was also very embarrassed by his outburst, and stood with his head lowered as his aunts and uncle, and cousins, stood staring at him in disbelief.
Marten was also embarrassed by his son's disrespect for his great grandmother and angrier than he had been in years. He grabbed Tomas by the arm, and threw him up against the wall near the door. He then ripped open the door and grabbed his son by the back of his neck and threw him on the ground outside.
" Come back and knock courteously on this door only when you are ready to apologize for what you have done and said here today ! " he shouted at Tomas.
After his father slammed the door shut Tomas picked himself up off of the ground. He knew he was wrong to have uttered what he had said, but for several years now he had been secretly angry at his " great mother " for what he perceived as her telling him falsehoods. And although he was glad to be out of the house, which a pall of death was hanging over, he wished deep down inside that he could rush back in and ask for forgiveness. Tomas was certain, however, that his father would expect him to take time to think about what he had done before coming back.
Tomas walked around aimlessly, though he could not fool himself about his final destination. As the sun rose high into the morning sky he found himself near the stone bridge that spanned the river. With emotions that were mixed, confused, and running high, he slid down the embankment and walked over to the bridge abutment.
" Well, are you happy ! You made a poor old woman beg for you to come and see her ! You should hear her pitiful rants ! I had to ! She misses you, .... AND YOU DON"T EVEN EXIST !! " he screamed at the stone structure.
Tomas burst out in tears, and dejectedly sat down on the embankment facing the flowing river.
" I am sorry " great mother " ! I am so very sorry !! " he cried out .
Through tear filled eyes he watched as the river flowed swiftly by. Then, suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of a flower as it unfolded it's petals in the bright sunlight. He looked at the flower for a moment, and then to clear his thoughts he tried to remember if he had ever seen such a flower before.
" I wonder what kind of flower you are ? " he asked himself in a whisper.
Tomas felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up moments before a hand gently fell upon his shoulder.
" It is called Balder's Brow ! " a gruff voice said from behind him.
Marten slowly turned when he heard a knock upon the door.
" I believe that your son has returned to apologize. " Marten told his wife before he walked over and opened the door.
Marten was about to say something sarcastic to his son when he saw the stunned look upon his face.
" What is wrong son ?! " he asked Tomas in a concerned tone.
Tomas looked up at his father, and pointed behind him before speaking.
" Sirik is here to see " great mother " father . " he replied in a quiet voice.
Marten's eyes narrowed and his fists clenched . He was about to strike his son when a huge hand came from behind his son and grabbed his fist. For a moment Marten was not quite sure what was happening. When his son stepped to the side, however, things became very clear. The, ..... thing,.... that had stopped his fist in mid - flight was a Troll, ... and there was another Troll standing next to it !!
Sirik smiled a toothy grin at the stunned human.
" May we come in ? " he asked as he let go of Marten's hand.
Marten could not think of anything to say. He moved to the side to allow the strange visitors to enter, and pointed silently to the bed.
Gertrude, puzzled by what was going on, asked :
" Who is it Marten? "
She received no answer. She did not need one however. For there, standing just inside the doorway were two Troll people ! A collective gasp rose up from those gathered at Alfina's bedside as the two odd beings approached the bed. Out of respect,... and a little fear, they parted to allow the Trolls to stand next to the bed.
Alffina began to cry when she saw her old friend.
" You came ! I knew you would come !! " she said in an unsteady voice.
Sirik smiled at Alffina.
" Of course I came. I have waited to see you for so long. " he replied.
Alffina looked up at her old friend with a sad face.
" I am sorry ! I could not go to see you. " she explained to him.
The Troll had been hiding something behind his back, which he now presented to his old friend. Alffina could not help but smile despite her discomfort.
" You remembered ! Such a beautiful bouquet of Balder's Brow ! " she cried out as she clapped her hands together.
Then she added with a raspy giggle :
" I thought you did not like anyone picking your flowers ? " she asked.
Sirik hid his sorrow behind a broad smile.
" For you I would do anything ! " he told her.
Alffina's lips began to tremble and tears filled her eyes. To change the subject she shifted her gaze to the Troll standing next to him.
" And who is this ? " Alffina asked.
Sirik pointed to the Troll woman next to him.
" Why, ... this is my wife Geitla ! " he told her proudly.
Geitla nodded at Alffina.
" I have heard so much about you ! It is nice to finally meet you. " she said with a big toothy smile.
Johannes came out of his stunned silence, and as the head of the family realized that he should in turn introduce Alffina's family.
" I am Johannes, Alffina's son. This is my wife Anna, and the man by the door is my son Marten. " he began.
Then Johannes pointed to Gertude.
" This is Gertrude, Marten's wife, and the one who brought you here is my grandson Tomas. " he told the Trolls.
Johannes introduced Sofie's family and Emma's family before bringing two chairs over to the bed for the Trolls to sit on.
Alffina closed her eyes and remembered back to that spring day so long ago. When she opened them again she looked Sirik in the eyes and asked :
" Please tell me the stories of the Old Gods ? "
Sirik smiled and nodded.
" In the beginning nothing existed. There were no seas, nor sand......."
Alffina died peacefully before he could speak of the birth of Odin and his brothers. Sirik, seeing that his old friend had passed, placed the bouquet of flowers in her hand and crossed her arms upon her chest. He then gently closed her eyes for the last time.
Tomas, who was crying as much as the others, whispered to Sirik.
" I wonder if the Old Gods, or the new God, will let her into their heaven ? " he asked.
Sirik turned, and as a tear rolled down his face, answered the young man's question :
" She rejected the new God years ago. Alffina,... my old friend,... will reside in the hall of Frigga. Because of her unyielding faith to the Old Gods she has been chosen to be a minor handmaiden at Fensalir. "
- The End
- Next : Mirror Image
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.