The stillness of the afternoon sits, heavy as a sand bag, on his head and outstretched limbs.
He’s lain under the bridge for hours. His back is still damp from the morning dew, trapped by his mass, while the grass around him has turned brittle in the heat.
This is his favourite place, the best time. Crickets rasp at his ear then flick over him, ants worry his hair. Better than town, the children’s sniggers, the adult’s guarded looks.
Troll, they call him and worse. Beast, Foetus … Abortion. He didn’t know that last one, so he asked Gem at the store who laughed spittle in his face. Gem’s words buzz like flies. Unwanted … Terminated.
A fleshy burn rises inside him, filling his chest and throat. The day fuzzes with tears.
Footsteps on the bridge make him jump. The touch is light, a skip-skip-hop.
Troll licks his lips.