Uit: Color of Darkness
“Sometimes he thought about his wife, but a thing had begun of late, usually after the boy went to bed, a thing which should have been terrifying but which was not: he could not remember now what she had looked like. The specific thing he could not remember was the color of her eyes. It was one of the most obsessive things in his thought. It was also a thing he could not quite speak of with anybody. There were people in the town who would have remembered, of course, what color her eyes were, but gradually he began to forget the general structure of her face also. All he seemed to remember was her voice, her warm hearty comforting voice.
Then there was the boy, Baxter, of course. What did he know and what did he not know. Sometimes Baxter seemed to know everything. As he hung on the edge of the chair looking at his father, examining him closely (the boy never seemed to be able to get close enough to his father), the father felt that Baxter might know everything.
“Bax,” the father would say at such a moment, and stare into his own son’s eyes. The son looked exactly like the father. There was no trace in the boy’s face of anything of his mother.
“Soon you will be all grown up,” the father said one night, without ever knowing why he had said this, saying it without his having even thought about it.
“I don’t think so,” the boy replied.
“Why don’t you think so,” the father wondered, as surprised by the boy’s answer as he had been by his own question.
The boy thought over his own remark also.
“How long does it take?” the boy asked.
“Oh a long time yet,” the father said.
“Will I stay with you, Daddy,” the boy wondered.
The father nodded. “You can stay with me always,” the father said.
The boy said Oh and began running around the room. He fell over one of his engines and began to cry.
Mrs. Zilke came into the room and said something comforting to the boy.
The father got up and went over to pick up the son. Then sitting down, he put the boy in his lap, and flushed from the exertion, he said to Mrs. Zilke: “You know, I am old!”
James Purdy (17 juli 1914 – 13 maart 2009)