They parked under a large sign that read J4. He commited the alphanumeric pair to memory while she opened the driver’s side door, giving a blast of hot air permission to buffet their faces. It already felt stifling. He tried to mentally prepare himself for the task ahead. He looked over at Em. She seemed to be taking it all in stride, but he knew less and less about what she was thinking by the look on her face these days. When had they grown so distant? He started to reminisce and realized Em was at the trunk , procuring their kits. He unglued his back from the seat and with effort stepped out into the desert torridity. Walking toward Em he could feel the heat from the macadam softening the rubber soles of his shoes and seeping up into his feet.
“We made pretty good time.”
“Sure did.”
Small talk. He surveyed the sky. It seemed as if the blue had been extracted from it to be painted elsewhere in some masterpiece, leaving this sky colorless and drab. Later he would realize the sky was a portent.

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