September 1 2010 – from the3six5

Writing by Mo Fanning

Writing by Mo Fanning‘What if one of us dies?’ he asks me.

It’s another conversation about upping sticks and leaving the city.

‘How is it any different to what we have here?’ I say. And he nods.

I sense the sadness. You’ve done this, he wants to say. You. Not me.

Once, I’d have been overjoyed to live amongst noise, mess and people. Now I crave silence.

So we book a holiday. To the middle of nowhere to see if we like it. It’s September 1st and the kids are back behind school gates. The beaches are empty. The forests deserted.

‘I wish we could stay here,’ he’ll say, and we’ll talk about how one day we’ll live in a big house in a big field with chickens and dogs and a donkey. And I’ll hurt when I know I can’t give him that.

Because I don’t do off-grid life.

As I plod towards 50, I’ve realised I do comfort and familiarity very well. I used to sell old CDs and second hand books to fund a night out, now I have a gold card. A week in rural France no longer calls for a tent. It involves a converted barn with a dishwasher and microwave oven.

‘What if we’re living in the middle of nowhere and one of us dies?’ he asks again.

‘Let’s open another bottle of wine,’ I suggest and leave his question hanging, hating that uncertainty is what hurts him the most.

People grow old. What once seemed fun becomes anathema.

So what if one of us dies, I think.

This piece was published in the3six5, a project featuring short pieces of writing from 365 days, as told by 365 different people over 2010.

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