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Antonija begged him not to. Her hands clasped to her

chest, her eyes filled with tears and: You can’t have him!

She went to watch them dig that night, proud and not her

usual self. Four young men came down the road in a cart

pulled by a lame mare, and got to work. The boys stole

glances at Toņa and, laughing and snorting, shovelled her

hero unceremoniously into a wooden box. Or rather, what

was left of the hero – his pelvis and ribs, then his head with

its mat of hair, his liver and hands with now-emaciated

fingers, which were no longer beautiful. Because the soil by

the Daugava was wet, and time had taken its toll. Finally

the diggers rambled off toward the Brothers’ Cemetery,

challenging one another to see who could stand up in the

cart the longest. They looked back at Toņa for some time.

The wooden box with the hero jostled around the cart.

– Riding, riding, with a horse, once it keels we’ll get a new

one of course! children shouted from the ditch.

Toņa didn’t watch them leave. She studied the scattered

earth for some time, the opening like a raw wound, like it

had just given birth, imprinted by someone from an

unknown and past life. Everyone else had already gone

home, but Toņa still sat with her back against the oak,

facing the crimson sunset. The evening wind thrummed

over the Daugava. A storm was in full force on the opposite

side of the river.