The year has turned once again and the dads have come back to the hills, as they always have, pulled by some mysterious force, some unspeakable compulsion. The journey is long and dangerous, and many dads arrive scarred and bloody from travel: missing eyes, severed hands, skin pulled away from the muscle underneath. One, near his end, is more scar than dad; in the half-light of evening you can watch the ponderous thump of his heart through the parchment of his skin.
“Good team this year,” says one, a young one, scratching an unfamiliar beard. This is his first year, and he is shy, eager, and dry for blood.
“Could go all the way,” agrees the old one, his milky eyes focused on nothing much, the puckered mouth of his wrist searching the air. “If they want it enough.”
The young one edges closer and shivers as that rough stump finds his shoulder. He closes his eyes, and thinks of the coltish daughter waiting at home, the yearling son hiding behind her. “Still, you never know.”
The old one laughs, deep in his hollow chest, and leans in close to the young one, his breath hot against his beard. “No, you know. You know.”