Closet of Anxieties Life and Death Our Life


“How long do you want to live?” Bob asks over a steaming bowl of fried cabbage

If all goes as planned, I’ll get off this bus in 2039. Before my childhood shorelines completely disappear and before the summer heat forces me underground. Bob says he’ll try and keep himself alive until then, too, so I won’t be left without a spouse. A wild card bonus would be having enough money to pay for groceries, taxes, and medical care until the end.

“How long do you want to live?” Bob asks over a steaming bowl of fried cabbage on our shaded back porch. My eyes wander upwards, my tongue chasing a piece of fried food. “I’d like to make it to eighty-five,” I say, placing my bowl on the wooden table to my left.

“That’s what I was thinking, too.”

A few feet away, two hummingbirds face each other in a waggle dance. “They must be courting,” Bob says.

“I like the way the sun filters through their cute little tails.”

“That way I’ll only have to make it to eighty. Or seventy-nine and a half.”

“No, wait,” I say, struggling with the math.

The perfect scenario involves painless, simultaneous death. Maybe we should believe in The Rapture. What a great way to go, just lift off and ascend into another reality. A reality in which the ditch doesn’t need mowing, and dinner dishes don’t keep appearing in the kitchen sink. A world without friction, pain, or worry. Silent bliss.

Bob and I believe in nothing after death. Not heaven, which frankly sounds terribly boring — all needs met, no hard surfaces, no problems to solve. We prefer the notion of nothingness.

Not life after death. Just nothing. Complete and utter nothing, same as before we were born. No memory, no brain whirring away, no sensations. No guilt for the ones we leave behind to sweat it out.

We finish our dinner and go back inside. Bob turns the A/C back on, and I wash the dishes. I wipe my hands on the towel that hangs off the oven handle while he pulls down the movie screen and fires up the Roku.

We’re still on the bus, still tooling along towards wherever it is we’re going. If all goes as planned, we’ll arrive at our stop before things get really ugly.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

2 replies on “EXIT PLAN”

Thanks, Lyle! That means a lot coming from a delightfully bleak and funny author. 🙂

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