“Are you still thinking of moving?” I asked Sarah. Ever since she caught the bouquet she’d been telling me she needed to get out of town. On weekends she went to Lincoln; she was seeing a guy there sometimes.

“I don’t know,” she said. “This town isn’t doing much for me. I have a little money from selling the hardware store. I am seriously thinking about getting out of here.”

“Would you go to Lincoln?” I said.

“I don’t know,” she said again. “The problem with this guy is that he wants a family.”

“Don’t you want kids?”

“If I can have them.”

“You can.”

“Are you a doctor?” she said.

“Yes,” I said.

FOR A LONG TIME, Berne and I weren’t getting pregnant either. He thought it made me sad, and he bought me lots of presents: another necklace (this one had a cross), another scarf (this one was blue), another hat (it looked just like the first). I didn’t like the necklace or the hat, but I loved the scarf. I wore it all the time, and even Sarah agreed that it looked like a dream on me. But then I lost it. Berne never seemed to notice, and I certainly didn’t mention it. Then I got pregnant, and it didn’t seem to matter anymore. Berne told me that the baby was a girl, that he was sure of it.

“I want to name her Laurel,” he said, “after my father’s mother. If it’s a boy, I don’t have any ideas.”

ONE DAY IN WINTER, I was out in town, getting some things for the house, and I came home to find a note from Dave on the counter: it was folded up and tucked inside an envelope, though the envelope wasn’t sealed. It said he couldn’t stay anymore. It thanked me for my generosity. It told me that we would always be special to each other, even without Ed, even without the hardware store. It said that there was a painting in the barn for me, the portrait of the woman that Sarah and I liked so much. It didn’t mention Berne.

I went out to the barn. Even before I got there, I knew that there was someone inside. “Dave,” I said. “What’s with this note?”

But it wasn’t Dave. It was Berne. He was standing over Dave’s bed, looking down on what was left there, the twisted bedsheets and the portrait of the woman Dave had known in Lincoln. As I came through the door, Berne turned and made a blue fist at me. I say a blue fist because that’s what it looked like. It was actually his normal- colored fist, but it was wrapped inside a blue scarf. “What is this?” he said.

“It looks like my scarf,” I said.

“I thought you lost that scarf,” he said.

“Yes,” I said. “I thought so, too. Where did you find it?”

The fist tightened and took some of the creases out of the scarf. “I found it,” he said, “in here. With Dave’s things.”

“Why would he have my scarf?”

“That’s what I’m asking myself, Susan. Why would he have your scarf? And why would it be in the space between his bed and the wall?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“You don’t know,” he said. “Do you know why he would write you a note saying that you would always be special to each other?”

“No,” I said.

“And do you know why some of the guys downtown made jokes when he moved in here?”

“No,” I said.

“Well, then you certainly don’t know why those guys would say that once upon a time Dave and you were sneaking around?”

“No,” I said. “What guys?”

“Ed,” he said.

“Ed?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “He used to talk about you and Dave to anyone who would listen. He sounded proud. I think he imagined that you and Dave might end up together.”

“When we were kids, maybe he liked me. Maybe he made up a story and told his father. But there’s never been anything between me and Dave,” I said.

“Am I a fool?” he said.

“No,” I said.

It must have been the wrong thing to say because he stepped forward and hit me. Berne had never hit me before, so I didn’t really understand what was happening. When I figured it out, I also thought that the scarf would cushion the blow. But his knuckle was poking out through a wrap, and it caught me right on the cheekbone, and I fell backward.

Berne stood over me. He was trembling. Then he unwrapped the scarf and threw it into the air. It opened up and came down slowly, like a parachute, and before it hit the ground he was gone from the barn.

I STAYED IN THE BARN for hours, sleeping on Dave’s board bed until Sarah came over. I was crying, surprised that I was crying, but I stopped when she showed up. She took one look at my black eye and walked right out. I started crying again. “Stop that,” she said, ducking her head back inside. “I’m just going to get something.”

She came back with a makeup case and started putting foundation on my eye. “What a bastard,” she said. “What a fool.”

“He’s not a fool,” I said.

“If you don’t think so, maybe you’re one, too,” she said.

The makeup was cool on my skin.

“Why do they call it black and blue?” I asked.

“Is this a riddle?” she said.

“No. I just want to know. It has red in there and brown, and when it heals, it will go to green and yellow.”

“Tell me again what happened?” she said.

I told her. When I got to the part about the note from Dave, she asked me what it said. I said I didn’t remember exactly. “I mean, did it say where he was going?” she said. I shook my head no. She kept on with the makeup.

When I got to the part about the scarf, she stopped and closed up the makeup case.

“What?” I said. “Do I look okay now? Because I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of going back in there looking like I got hit.”

“I have to tell you something,” she said.

“What?” I said.

“I have to tell Berne something, too,” she said.

“What?” I said.

“It was my scarf,” she said.

“What was your scarf?”

“The scarf he found was mine.”

“It was mine,” I said. “I lost it. Did you take it from me?”

“No, Susan. You showed yours to me, and I liked it so much that I went and got the same one.”

“So how did it end up in here?” I said.

She didn’t say anything.

“Tell me,” I said.

“I was here,” she said.

“When? Since when are you and Dave speaking?”

“We’re not just speaking,” she said.

“I see,” I said.

She could tell from my tone that I didn’t believe her. “What?” she said. “You think I’m trying to cover up for you? I’m telling you. Dave and I are having a little thing.”

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