She had, the story went, run off with her daughter's swim coach, though they went nowhere (save margin to edge like parallel lines). Run off was a curious term, rain spilling from a gutter (O they needed rain, they needed moisture and relief, anything inward and dark, a breeze, movie theatres, malls, the bedroom air conditioner, lavender powder, the honey membrane of plums tinged with crimson at the pit). Run off was the filmstrip memory of girlhood science lessons, farmers fields running off to the sea (she had a faint memory of a lesson regarding the Po Valley in Italy which had to do with heavy metals, recalled sitting at her desk and thinking how a ball of mercury felt in your palm, something they did for fun in the days before they knew the world was poison. It was a pleasant thought, one that took her from school.)

She wished she had run off from school.

Run off suggested more mystery, an idiot's sense of romance, the moviegoer myth of Thelma and Louise. It was something ordinary enough, they were an ordinary couple (and this was why their parallel lines would not merge into a vanishing point, nor cross like the wishbone of the loveline on the palm). Still it was, she knew, what people said, Tevet (Beth, she called herself now) reported as much. And though the divorce would have happened had she had "run off" with a woodchuck or buried herself up to her armpits in the garden, she knew they said as much in the staff lounges, scrubrooms, and OR lockers at the hospital. Not Javier, however, he had been, if anything, a little excited, a little too solicitous, a little too happy to be delivering her up to someone whom he imagined soft and sweet (dolphins were hammers, sometimes, pinked elsewhere, and this one sometimes held her down until she wriggled like a moth, its wing caught under a fingertip). Still his macho wasn't affronted (it was supposed to be otherwise, she knew) since there wasn't a man to rival him and this event enabled him to continue to claim (his constant out) that all women were a mystery.

Lisa saw it more simply: "He imagines himself among dykes, there are men like that." It made Aurelie uncomfortable to hear her say this, it was surely cruel and she disliked the word in any case and, if the truth be told, hated even the suggestion that this man or any could make his way into the dark, quiet space between.