It is the time of El Niño, a season ruled by superstition and fear. The rain is long in coming, the ground has cracked up dry. The ricestalks are thin and sickly. Villagers go hungry. And a boy dies from a snakebite. The adults splinter. Some pray. Others join a cult to appease earth spirits and wait for the ada, the ricefield spirit goddess of bountiful harvest who dances naked on moonlit nights and signals the need for a virgin’s sacrifice. There are fence sitters, equally pro-church and pro-cult. A landlord’s steward enforces his master’s usury on hapless farmers. A self-righteous priest says rain must first be deserved. Two young women fight for the right to do with their bodies as they please. A bastard boy and a blind girl come of age. Yesterday, they were children.