BETHANY

You know there are things I still hate about you.  Things I remember being your wife.  I hate the way you brush your teeth.  The way you grind down the bristles.  I always had to buy you another tooth brush…

DAVID

Yes, I know…  And I snored.

BETHANY

I didn’t think I could sleep with you…  And you knew.  You knew it was wrong.  What made you feel guilty is you wanted to do it again.  And it was easy which was why it was hard.  I didn’t have to talk you into it…

DAVID

Was it easy?  Easy to fall out of love?  I was tired of being lonely.  You were tired of being someone else’s wife.

They’ve made it to the tree.  Bethany puts her hand up to the etching.  The knife scars on the trunk where Benjy etched Aaron’s and Dulcy’s names.  She follows the lines of the heart with her fingers.

BETHANY

We were just mirrors.  I became your mirror.  You just thought it was a lie when I told you.  When we walked along the riverfront.  But I was telling you the truth.  It was why I crossed it.  The river.  Why I came to you on the West Bank.  Why I was at your door in Algiers.  I told you you were just as evil as me.

DAVID

Yes, but you were the one that said it… You came from it.  From my Sodom and Gomorrah…

BETHANY

And you played there.  You played there so I could hear it…

DAVID

And our firstborn buried there.

Bethany still has her hand up to the etching.  She faces David.  One hand on the tree the other on her hip.  Her figure is still good though she’s past forty by just a couple of years.  She hasn’t taken on that habit of older women.  The over adornment of jewelry and makeup.  Her hair is done up naturally by a brooch, a silver brooch fashioned as a flower.  It’s what pulls her hair back from her face.  She leans against the tree and slowly slides down so that she sits.  She folds her hands over her knees.  Over the simple white dress she’s wearing.  She’s barefoot.  David looks down from her smile, the surety of it fixed by her eyes.  He looks down to her wiggling toes.

BETHANY

You know it’s not always like that.  Seek and destroy.  Is it like that with her?  The woman who lives above the bar?

DAVID

Why don’t you ask our son?  Why not ask Benjy?

BETHANY

Is that what you think?  You think I sent him to her? You still are—you’re still beautiful to me sometimes.  You notice everything except what’s crucial. You read but you don’t comprehend.  It only comes to you alone.  Later.  After.  What you should have noticed while it was happening.  You have the heart of poet.  You do.  Maybe that’s why the man gave you that guitar in Mississippi.  It’s a deal you made long before you met me, but you want me to take the blame.  I just showed you what you are.  I gave you children…

DAVID

Yes, but you knew the gift before you gave it.  That I did read, and it made me lose my faith.  That’s what you gave in order for me to lose it.

Bethany rests her head against the tree and laughs.

BETHANY

You’re alone because you want to be.  You’re hated because you want to be.  It’s the same either way.  The response.  Or lack of it.

DAVID

Yes and you will love yourself either way.  The response is whether I should so the same…  To make some money I’ll go to New Orleans.  I can’t stay with you and the children in Sunset.  There’s a band out of Shreveport.  I’ll tour with them through the winter, but I can come back every other weekend.  I promise to be there when the child is due, and I’ll say what you want me say when you take Benjy and Dulcy back to Hemphill.

BETHANY

You promise?

David reaches over Bethany’s head as she looks up.  He traces the heart etched in the tree with his fingers.

DAVID

I can only promise what you will promise.  You know that.  You know because we’ve both taken that ride.

BETHANY

It wasn’t your first…

DAVID

Yes… and it won’t be our last.

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