Finally, Icouldn’t take it anymore—the bats, the cold, the gray shapes that seemed to bemoving toward me, and the utter stillness of everything around me. I stood upand began to run back home, berating myself for the foolishness of my pride,and cursing my brothers for forcing me to prove my masculinity.
I reached the town in ten minutes. Tired by my run, I plopped down on a bench in the plaza contemplating my next action. Should I spend the whole night there?
On my way back,passing by the first rice field, I realized that nothing stirred. I slowed downto a walk and listened. Not a single stalk of rice moved, not a single cricketchirped. I remember thinking that it was too calm, too still. I was halfwaythrough the second rice field when I detected movement ahead of me. I hoped toGod that it was only one of my brothers, or our neighbor Pilo the drunkard, oranybody except the one I thought it would be.