Our original story this month comes from Brooklyn-based writer Alison B. Hart. The Duel looks closely at a long life together and relates the wisdom of mates one finds in Wallace Stegner or Kent Haruf. When a reader learns that this older couple still made love like rivals, the broader meaning of the title comes into focus: a lasting marriage is more often duel than duet. Through tender rivalry, a relationship can strengthen and sustain. Harts story is clean and quiet in execution but suggests that healthy relationships need mess and noise.