Friday, May 06, 2005

159. Alfred

Friends who have raised small children have explained to me how the magnitude of a given event tends to change in their perspective. An infant's facial expression, a toddler's first tentative steps, a child's attempts to speak: each of these small triumphs feels colossal in a way which is foreign to colleagues who spend their days in the adult world.

So it has been here at Wayne Manor lately. Four days ago, Master Bruce left his door open instead of closing it. The following morning, I actually saw him for a split second, roaming the hall in search of something I could not fathom. He was silent, but the next time I saw him, he said, "Hello, Alfred," as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. That was all, but it was more than I have heard from his lips in months, and the joy that washed over me was enormous.

Earlier this evening I walked into the kitchen, only to find both Master Bruce and Mr. Grayson sitting at the table, eating calmly. Silent, again, but they seemed to be sharing some sort of wordless solidarity. I could not help smiling. I felt that it was not my place to linger, so I retired to the Batcave. When I returned, they were gone. Each man's door was closed again.

First steps. First steps.