His wife, Ellie, had packed that lunch the night before, as she grudgingly had done for the five years her husband had worked for the government. The dryness of their New Mexican environment—their home, their workplaces, their relationship—had begun to affect her views in ways she had never considered.
The sand with its grit seemed her alter ego; the shy girl raised in California’s Central Valley by a Unitarian minister and his common-law wife, was changing like the slow wind design on a dune high above the Tularosa Basin. She was done with Ed. Had been for five years.
That morning, when Ed left for the base, she left too.
Backing her 1942 P14S Deluxe Plymouth out of the garage, she looked once more at her house and framed it symmetrically in her mind’s eye. As she blinked, her optic nerve took a clear black and white photograph that later, in her old age, she would capture on canvas in shades of tan, beige, white, and burnt umber.
No more listening to Ed’s pressured speech about the Germans. No more catering to his every desire. No more listening to his telephone conversations with the missile men. No more shopping at the base commissary for white bread, American cheese, and turkey. No more tension.
Ed had no idea.