The boys recoiled at the insect in my hand.
‘No, it doesn’t bite. In English, we call this ‘stick insect’. It looks like a stick, like this, you see?’
Phone is the leader, a fifteen-year-old novice monk with the bald head and eyebrows of a baby. He is the only one who speaks English.
‘They do not think he bite. In Lao, he is called ‘ghost carrier’. They think he carry the ghost on his back.’ he says. ‘But I do not believe this story and I am not scared.’
The others peer at the bug from a safe distance.
‘It make no sense,’ Phone explains confidently. ‘The ghost is very, very big. This animal is very, very small. So how can it carry the ghost?’