He keeps to himself and waits for others to show that they know. None of the children has demonstrated promise. His wife ruminates and spits out her version: If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you.
He consoles himself that the children are physically healthy. The job of a parent, he is fond of saying, is to render oneself unnecessary, but he can never look too closely at any of them. It's because of the silences.
He wonders if it will be possible to speak about his own life as it nears its end, but he knows better, knows he won't tell the story of that girl, before his wife, the one who got away. Letters had gone astray. Long Distance had been a major event and a serious expense.
He's seen his wife wanting the children to be what she can't be herself, the apple of his eye, the male eye, the masculine sanctioned world. And then growing jealous when they manage the impossible. Is there anything he can do?
Absence, he sighs, like disappointment, produces the rust in distrust. They will understand when they reach middle age, or later, when they stand face to face with their own choices. They will work out for themselves who he was.
words: Margot Miller, Maryland (Margot Miller)
photo: Steve Wing, Florida (sand shadow)