Issue Number 7 (Web Issue #3?) Winter/Spring 2001
The Troll of Barondale Public Schoolby Catherine M. Harris Davies
Not very long ago, at the corner of Barondale and Wildwood, there was an empty field. Oh, there were a few houses and a playground, but mostly there was tall grasses and ducks that swam in mini ponds created by the rain; there were dried up Christmas trees and broken bricks and twisted bicycle rims. In the middle of this mess there was a sign that read, "This land is planned for public school purposes. For information please contact the Peel Board of Education."
So it was for a few years and in that time there were babies that grew into toddlers who later went to kindergarten, some of them at Nahani Way.
Then one day there came the diggers and the bulldozers and trucks of every shape and size. The ducks flew off, the garbage disappeared, a hole was dug in the ground. Workers put in pipes and bricks and concrete blocks. There were roofers and framers and plumbers and electricians, everyone who was needed to create a building was there.
One of those workers was an old guy named Joe. Now Joe was a little fellow, very quiet and very efficient. He showed up every morning and when he left every night his work was always completed. Joe was there the whole time the building was being built; some say he was a welder, but no one's really sure.
It took a few months for the school to be built and Joe never missed a day. In fact, he would often walk through the neighborhood after his shift, smiling at the parents and kids and dogs and cats. Joe liked the area so much that he decided he wanted to stay. He liked the children and the school so much that he decided to live there. Quietly he built a secret house for himself behind the school under the pavement. It had a tunnel that led to a trap door in the grass at the back, and a door in the basement of Barondale that only he could see. And that is where he lives to this day, or so some say.
Allison was nine years old and in grade 3. She lived with her mother who worked a lot, and her teenaged brother who was sometimes very mean.
One day a student in another class made fun of her very colourful dress.
The dress was her favorite and she didn't know why the girl called her a clown but it made her feel very sad. So sad that she went to the back lawn, sat down, and cried.
"Who's crying?" came a voice from deep underground.
Allison looked around. Was somebody talking to her?
"Who's crying?" the voice asked again.
"Me?" Eyes wide, she looked behind her and there stood a little man.
"Why are you so sad little girl?" he asked.
"Because when people are mean they hurt my feelings. My brother's really mean to me, and my mom works all the time, and today some girl I don't even know called me a clown!"
"Ah, I see," he said and smiled. "I think I have a solution for you. Wait here." Allison blinked and he disappeared. She blinked again and he was back. The man held out his hand. Sitting in his palm was a little green haired troll. He picked it up by the hair and handed it to her.
"Little girl," he said, "my name is Joe. And this is a very special troll. Put it in your pocket. Whenever someone is mean to you, hold the troll in your hand and wish very hard in your mind for the troll to help you find the answer. Then listen to your heart. I promise you, you'll feel better. And maybe you'll hear the solution."
"Um, okay, thank you, Joe." Allison replied. She looked at the troll in her hand, and when she looked up again, he was gone.
The bell rang and the children ran to the doors in a blur of colour and sound. The rest of the day went very well for Allison.
That night her mom phoned to say that she would be a little late. Her brother was supposed to make dinner and it was supposed to be Allison's choice. When her homework was done and her tummy was rumbling, she asked her brother to do her dinner.
"I want macaroni and cheese with tomatoes tonight." She told him.
"We're having liver and onions." He gruffed.
"But it's my night to choose and I want macaroni!"
"Too bad! I'm in charge. We're having liver and onions."
She hated liver and onions, and her first inclination was to stamp her foot and yell, but then she remembered the troll. She put her hand around the troll and wished very hard for the answer. A tiny voice inside her told her exactly what to do.
She didn't get mad. She didn't yell. Instead she said with a firm, clear voice, "It's my turn to choose dinner. If you don't make my macaroni, I'll tell mom and you know what she'll do. She'll tell you what your dinner is for the next week and you know it."
"Yah right, pipsqueak." He said and at that she headed straight for the phone and started dialing. "Hey!" He yelled.
"Or," she said sweetly, "you can make what you want to eat and you can make what I want to eat and we'll both be happy."
He grumbled and complained but he did as she said and she was really happy.
A few days later she wanted to play Nintendo but her brother, who had been playing for 3 hours straight, refused to let her on it. She could have turned the game off on him, she could have yelled and screamed, but she didn't. Holding the troll in her hand, she said nicely, "Mom got that for both of us. You can let me have a turn, or, I can tell mom you never let me play it and she won't let you play it for a week." Then Allison smiled. "Or, you could be a nice big brother and play a game with me. Which would you prefer?"
"Oh, all right," replied her brother.
In her class was a boy who'd been picking on her from the time they were toddlers. He pulled her hair, he hid her homework, he stole her shoes, he messed up her desk, all bad things, but one day he called her a really bad word. The kind of word Allison heard her brother's friends use when they thought no one could hear them; the kind of word that would make her mother change the channel if it happened on a t.v. program. She told him right away to stop calling her that, but that only made him use even worse words.
The troll in her pocket told her to talk to an adult, and that's what she did. She told her mother who told the teacher who told the boy's mother who told him to never, ever behave like that again. So he didn't.
The funny thing was that the more she used the troll, the less she needed it. Until the day came when her mother was crying, sad about something, and Allison looked all over the house for her troll and couldn't find it and she didn't know what to do. So instead Allison went to her mother and gave her a hug and a kiss and said, "Everything will be all right, mom." Just like her mom says to her when she is sad and her mom smiled and said, "Thank you, sweetheart." And got them both a big bowl of ice cream.
The next day Allison went out to the back of the school and sat down where she'd sat before and quietly called out for Joe. In the blink of an eye, he appeared.
"Joe, I don't know what to do!" she exclaimed. "I lost your troll! I've looked everywhere. Now people are going to be mean to me again!"
Joe gave a little laugh. "Let me tell you about magic trolls," he began, "for they are very interesting creatures. They'll stay as long as they're needed and then poof! They go away and wait for some other girl or boy to come along who needs their help."
"But what do I do now? What if some one is mean again?"
"Do like you did with the troll. Look into your heart and ask what you should do. The answer will come. You don't need a thing to help you with that. So long little girl, take care." And he vanished, just like that.
On the way back to the door she saw a dejected looking grade one boy sitting by the wall. She asked him what was the matter, and when he told her his problem, she noticed a green cat's eye marble on the ground. She picked it up and gave it to him.
"Let me tell you a story," she said, "about the Troll of Barondale Public School."
© 2000 Catherine M. Harris Davies