Absent. The perfect word to describe the situation.
Paul and Maria Strickland sat at their kitchen table eating breakfast, as they did every day. Forks scraped against plates as they lifted their scrambled eggs to their mouths, chewed, swallowed. All in silence. They'd been married for twenty years, eating in silence together for fifteen. Eating in silence was the only thing they ever did together anymore, except take care of their son, Mark.
The boy watched them from the den, where he'd taken to eating alone as he watched TV, a tray attached to the armrests of his black Quickie wheelchair. He wished he could fix them, fix himself, fix whatever problem he'd caused in his ten years that made them the way they were. But, he didn't know what to do, so he ate. In silence. Absent from them as they were from each other, and from him.