She climbed the slope of the landing pad where her father had slept. She gazed at a trench overgrown with grass and yellow wildflowers. The mountains behind her must have been where a young Delmer schlepped through thick jungle with a gun in his hand and a radio strapped to his back.
She could still see tank tracks embedded in the asphalt. And boot prints. Christal stepped inside, Vietnam surging through her body.
She felt ashamed she had treated her father the way she had. If only she could go back in time.
Delmer felt the same way.
He told her he locked himself away because he didn't want to hurt her.
"I let her down," he says. "It's my fault. I didn't realize I was hurting anyone."
One time, he was frantic on the phone with Christal. He hadn't burned any villages or killed any people, he told her as though someone were accusing him.
She no longer thought him crazy.
She told him he's the bravest person she knows. She is sorry she couldn't see that earlier.
"I forgive you. I forgive myself," Christal told him.
Delmer says he's happy, at least, that before he hangs up the phone with Christal these days, he can say: "I love you."
There is a temple in Vietnam, lush with ponds and trees with branches hanging low.
Outside, merchants sell birds, turtles and fish. Christal learns that people buy them and set them free in the temple, in accordance with the Eastern belief of the eternal nature of the soul.
She thinks back on a childhood fishing trip with her father. The fish she caught swallowed the hook and worm whole. It bled through the gills and gasped for life. "She's dying," Christal howled, begging Delmer to save it.
Delmer was calm, confident. He cut the line, freed the fish and assured her it would live. It struggled for a few seconds and then dived deep into the water.
Christal thinks now her father is like that fish -- a survivor.
It is the day before she is to leave Vietnam and journey home. She steps forward, peers at the bags of goldfish for sale. One is black, like the fish she had in her aquarium as a little girl. That's the one she chooses.
She walks over to the pond, opens the bag and watches the fish swim away.