I’VE BEEN DOWN SO MANY of these streets before, though it’s easy to get lost back here in this new part of town. Light falling snow drifts down in thick wet white chunks at 1 in the morning on a Monday, officially, the start of the work week. A world or life of excommunication in a cold place that doesn’t even know the meaning of the word. Snow drifting, snow wind rustling the house lights, some Christmas lights still up, lanterns on the street corners, lanterns in the windows, all covered in wind, night, and snow. So quiet in the black of the winter, so silent, not even dogs barking. Just nothing, just deathly silence, the silence of the windows, the silence of the people you thought were your friends. When she moved here, she did something wrong, and when she did something wrong, her friends dropped her. They refuse to even speak to her, and everything she did to unwrong her wrong only made it wronger, trapped like an animal. There must be another way forward than this kind of village small-town hell-bound mindset. What you did. What you said. How you said it. How you did it. That thing you said, that thing you did, that way in which you did and said it. Village codes violated, a grotesque breaching of all normal customs, a disgrace. Nightmare lanes. Walking and walking. The harrowing voices ringing like swampland birds of prey. “It’s not normal. It’s just not normal.” The Christians killed pagans, burned witches, pressed men to death, severed heads, hands, alighted political enemies at the stake, and sent many thousands to die in pointless wars in the Holy Land. They were a violent rueful lot. The pagans did mostly the same. But if there is any base, põhi, grounding of empathy, altruism, charity, goodwill, humility, it can’t be found here. This is the land of E, E is for ego. That thing you said. That thing you did. That way you did it. A turn of the corner. All still silent and peaceful. The public is sleeping in its beds. The snow is still drifting. There shall be peace in town again, at least until daybreak.