Murder at the Monument (2) Ellen Stern

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.
No idea.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Murder at the Monument ( a story of New Mexico), My fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Murder at the Monument (2) Ellen Stern

  1. Grace says:

    this is terrific. captures the rut of middle age beautifully – the feeling that nothing will change (“the dryness”) accompanied by the viable option of being able to change everything.

  2. Cheri says:

    A+ in literary analysis, Grace. That polarity, among a few other things, is exactly what I was trying to show in this short piece.

    Not sure if you read Exercise in description (1) but the tale will progress.

  3. Phillip S Phogg says:

    Ellie’s domestic lot was typical for married women of her generation, was it not?

  4. Cheri says:

    Yes. But she is a little different, don’t you think?

  5. Ellen says:

    The analysis was perfect…it is how so many women ruin their lives. Thinking this is a role they have to fulfill, quietly resenting every motion and finally exploding. Sadly, does she EVER learn that she chooses her place, her happiness and her discomfort?

  6. Douglas says:

    Interesting. I passed quite close to that area just last month. I understand the time frame now. I will follow this if you intend to give us more bits and pieces.

  7. Cheri says:

    Ellen: I assume you mean women in general, correct? Or do you refer to Ellie?

    Douglas: Hi, again. I am posting short bits about a story that I am working on for my book. Hope to do it once or twice a week. Wasn’t sure where to put my fiction, so created a category. Tell me about your observations of New Mexico.
    And yes, this story is set in mid to late 40’s.

  8. Douglas says:

    Cheri, I traveled through New Mexico via I-40, turning off onto US 180 to US 60/180 to head toward I-25. I had hoped to continue on US 380 and angle down to Carlsbad Caverns but never did it. I still plan to explore that area in the future. I hit US 60 as it was getting toward evening. The last three hours on it before I-25 were in total darkness. It was a dark night and the road winds through the mountains as it twists and turns toward Socorro from Pie Town east of Quemado. I was sorry it was dark because that is the most beautiful stretch of US 60 after leaving Show Low, AZ. After spending the night at a Motel 6 in Socorro, I decided to head south on I-25 because I wanted to get to Mobile by Saturday morning. Still, the ride down through the desert toward I-10 on I-25 is incredibly interesting. The mesas and desert canyons carved out by winds, water, and time are impressive. Yet I regretted not taking the US 380 route all the while. The old highways are always the best if you have the time.

  9. steve block says:

    I became forlorn reading this piece. The desert is like alcohol. If you are in a good place, it can bring one closer to oneself-perhaps a self you want to be closer to. A release into the spirit of Mother Earth. But if you are not in a good place, it can be very lonely and depressive. Ellie and Ed both sound like sad sacks and I trust the desert for them was like a rung of the inferno. I look forward to the unfolding of this story.

  10. Christopher says:

    “……Ed had no idea…..”..

    Why did Ed have no idea? Is it because Ellen never spoke frankly to him that she was fed up, thereby giving Ed the opportunity to defend himself, or to agree that he should change?

    On a first reading, my sympathies are with Ed. .

  11. Cheri says:

    Ed wouldn’t communicate with Ellen. He was a know-it-all and secretive. For sure, he wouldn’t agree to counseling.

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