• And in that field, he saw a tree, and a man. The tree was old and worn, like himself, but the man was not. He was young, handsome even. His clothes we're plain, and overall he appeared unremarkable. But to the old man, the pain in his face was unmistakable. In a rare peak of curiosity, he went to the him and saw in his hands a halter of straw.
    “Go away.” said the man. “Leave me in peace, though I deserve none.”
    “Why, what guilt is it you bear? What is was your crime that you should deserve no peace?” he asked. It took along time for the young man to give an answer. What was his crime? A crime like no other that had ever been committed before. A betrayal unspeakable. How could he possibly communicate it to this stranger?
    “I killed a man.” said the broken man, eventually.
    “Surely simply to kill a man would not bring you so grief. Was he your kin?' asked the old man in piqued curiosity.
    “He was one I loved with all my heart.” answered the betrayer.
    “Then I understand your pain. That crime is mine as well.” A terrible betrayal. A crime beyond any that had ever been committed before, it had been. At the strangers words, the young man became angry.
    “What do you know of my sorrow? That which you have done is nothing compared to my sins! You know nothing of my pain! Be gone with you!” he cried as brandished the alter at the old man. Neither moved. For long moments, the guilty men looked into each others eyes. One with anger, one with sorrow.
    “I think you're wrong.” said the old man. The younger man began to speak but he quickly cut him off. “Perhaps,” he expounded “if I think so little of your crime, and you think so little of mine, we ought to exchange our guilt.” he seemed amused. “Tell me, how did you kill him?”
    “With a kiss.” said the man by the tree, with such great pain and self-disgust that he spat the words in droplets onto the ground.
    “Well then, kill me as you killed him, and I will kill you as I killed my flesh and blood.” Without considering, without emotion or forethought, the young man laid a kiss, loveless and unfeeling, onto the head of the stranger.
    When the men opened their eyes, the man who had kissed the other found himself looking at man holding a straw halter. He was immediately confused. How could the stranger have moved so quickly? How had he taken the halter without being noticed? After a moment he noticed that his clothes seemed to have changed. No, the clothes the man wore were now his own clothes..and, he realized with horror, his own face. A terrible, gut wrenching fear overcame the man who had a few moments before been drowned in sorrow. He looked down at his own hands in terror and saw that they were old and shriveled.
    The man with the halter spoke to him. “And of course, I will complete my end of the bargain.” Then other man stood still, too confused to react, while what seemed to be his own hands thrust a dagger into his heart.
    He fell, in pain but fully conscious. His eyes fixated on the figure with the halter. As he watched, the figure mirthlessly tied the halter around his neck, and hung himself from the tree.