There are countless things to fear out here, but they're all in my mind. There's more to fear back in the city, real things, but over the years I've learned to switch off and ignore them, to survive. Out here, when I try to go to sleep, strange noises keep me awake; a howl, a dog barking, wind creaking the trees, debris clanging around into the house. Here, there are four doors to the outside and every one opens up to an empty paddock, one has a dirt driveway down the centre. There is no escape, no options. If fire's rose, we were helpless. If robbers or criminals lurked, there would be no police. If serious injury fell upon one of us, we'd never make it to a hospital. The screams, the gunshots, the violence just inches from my apartment window poses an actual threat on my life, but I've trained myself to block it out. I give my walls supernatural powers of protection, and find solace amongst the danger. I've conditioned myself to think of it as a haven, as a sanctuary. Out here, life is in its most primitive and vulnerable state. It would be so calming and beautiful if I didn't have the city coursing through my veins. The city of opportunity, of protection. The city of false hope. I might be able to enjoy myself here in paradise if it weren't for the city.
When the noises subsided I thought of all the people who weren't welcome back into this house. Family members. The happy memories of us playing and opening presents on Christmas morning were now sharp, pointy and poisonous pangs that started in my mind and rang out through my entire body. It used to be seven of us, including the house. Now it was down to three, and the other two weren't looking so good.
When I stopped torturing myself I noticed the large crack running down the centre of the wall. It seemed to be growing longer and deeper as I stared at it. It forced me out of bed and around to the other side of the wall. The crack was just as visible on the other side and one of us lay still and awkward on the ground beneath it. We were now down to one and a half from seven.
I walked through the rooms of the last surviving member, besides myself, and I felt its pain. This house had suffered enough. I wouldn't let it suffer the ambulance, the doctors, the police. I wouldn't let it suffer the real estate agents and stupid, smily home buyers or slow-witted farmers. The house looked old, tired, worn out. Done. I couldn't stand seeing it so defeated. So, it wasn't really a decision in the end. I dragged one of the logs out of the fire and let it rest on the rug. The violence quickly danced to the curtains and I walked out the front door. By the time I had my car started the flames were licking the tin roof through the broken lounge-room window. I drove away as if it were daytime, but soon I wouldn't be able to see the sun. And no-one else would have seen a single moment of it.
I stopped to sleep in the dark. In the sanctuary of my car. Then I would drive back to the city where I could pretend I was safe, where I could pretend I was happy.
And I believed it.