Life in Ruins

Renwick Ruins

© Roger Bulltot

I like it here. I know, there are more reasons to tear this place down than to preserve it. And yet I find the aging, crumbling walls have their own beauty, especially in the way that nature has chosen to integrate herself in this place.

I have a confession. I like it here because it reminds me of me. The Renwick Ruins and I are the same, aging, decaying, and yet seeking our own place in the world. There are reasons why I should be torn down, too. We are both old. Does that mean we should both die?

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is exactly 99.

The image is titled “smallpox hospital” and it didn’t take much “Googling” to discover that the photo is of the ruins of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York.

In some ways, this blog post is related to one I wrote on a sister blog late yesterday. Both are about the examination of an older life struggling to survive and somehow remake itself. Like the Renwick Ruins, it might not be possible, but who knows.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to


58 thoughts on “Life in Ruins

    • Thanks. By the way, I tried to comment on your blog but the options to choose an account such as Name/URL was blank. Have you noticed an issue with your blog?


    • True, but regardless of how old you get, it’s never easy to face. My Mom is 85 and her memory is going. We keep talking about her moving into assisted living but she’s having difficulty facing it. My Dad died in April, so she lives alone. She’s got friends, but she won’t be able to adequately care for herself much longer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Can she get more support at home? Here in Australia services are gearing more towards enabling people in their homes. Our family has been through this with two of my grandparents who lived into their 90s. Moving into care, was very difficult but there became no choice…a situation so many families are dealing with.
        xx Rowena


      • Not really Rowena. She’s actually decided on moving into a home the first of the year. It’s a tremendous decision for her, but at 85, she has had to face the next phase of her life.

        Liked by 1 person

    • In this case, it’s the ruins of a smallpox hospital, so I don’t think there are plans to be build. That said, my wife is always trying to take care of my health and help me live longer and with a better quality of life, so who knows?


  1. There seem to be those who equate “old” with “useless” and “ugly.” Shame. And how did I miss seeing that the picture was identified as a smallpox hospital? Have to go look again!


  2. NO – Don’t die! Like ruins, we grow and change into something that is often more beautiful than what we began with. In other words, with age comes wisdom, faith, hope, understanding and a million other great traits that youth has not the experience to understand. I loved this write, dear one.


    • Thanks for the vote of confidence Jelli, but I suppose I’ll die someday (though hopefully not too soon). I do hope I have something to offer and will continue to do so for some time to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. James, I really enjoyed this with it’s philosophical reflections. Having disabilities myself, I’m all for preserving and enabling the disintigrating building. Never give up. Find a way!
    xx Rowena


  4. I love this. Sobering it may be, but I also find it uplifting. There is beauty in every age if we want to see it and don’t wallow in self-pity. Sure, there’s decline, maybe the building, or the person loses ‘usefulness’ as defined by someone else, but new points of view emerge that aren’t at all clear for the younger versions.


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