We chat, nibble on sausage, and dry our sweaty shirts in the breeze.
Two hours later, we take off our boots and wade into a bottom—clear lake. The silence is back, bigger than it has been all week. A giant rock leads into the water, then drops off like a cliff. The fish are rising now, and my dad follows the ripples out to the edge of the lake. Watching him, I rehearse different ways to interrogate.
So, Dad. When was the first time you…abused me? (Too clinical. This isn’t an after-school special.)
…touched me? (Too real-time.)
…completely fucked up my bearings?
Yes, that’s it. That’s how I’ll start the conversation when we get to The Temple and he’s so tired he can’t defend himself. I join him by the water. He looks up and smiles. “Feels warm enough to swim.”
My dad collapses the second we reach the altar. We’re in the middle of the boulder field that threatened to break us in half. Sweat drenches his entire torso. His face looks punched and weak. Before we left the trail, he stopped to peer up at the stone minarets surrounding The Temple. I heard the bones cracking as he craned his neck. “Beautimus,” he whispered.
I crouch down, slightly behind him, and dig in my pack. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for: when the truth will shine down upon us and the heavens break open under the weight of a million dirty-white doves. I take out my dictaphone, test the battery, and push record. The entire conversation will last 13 minutes.