My father had once talked about buying a boat, though he’d never
done any such thing and wasn’t on the water very much. In fact he rarely
took vacations. Sometimes now it struck me that I’d been hard on my father—he had been hard on me too, very (I still thought that)—but I had
been stubborn and enraged and unforgiving. I admired myself for it too.
I did still. When I pictured my father in my head, I had no interest in
offering apologies, but I had great sadness at the thought of him. What a
big deal we had made about everything.
I was sorry it couldn’t have been otherwise, I might have said that
much at least. (It was not easy to imagine this conversation.) And I would
have wanted him to know, of course, that things had turned out well for
me; it might not look that way, but they had. Here I was, taking in the
luxury of an evening walk along the byways of an Asian city, gazing at
the lights of settlement on an ancient waterway, pleased at the form of
my days. I had honorable work in a part of the world I loved; a beautiful
woman was blessing me over the Internet. I couldn’t ask for more than I
have, I would have told him.
Joan Silber is the author of eight books of fiction. The most recent, Improvement, won the National Book Critics Circle Award
and the PEN/Faulkner Award. She also received the PEN/Mal-amud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. She lives in New
York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Warren
Wilson MFA Program.