The Retreat

the retreat

© Karen Rawson

“You’re building a cabin here, Grandpa? Why?”

“There’s nothing here, Cece. I’ll have that wreck up top demolished and put my cabin there.”

The eleven-year-old still couldn’t understand. “But no electricity, plumbing, or wifi? Yikes.”

“Solar will provide electricity, and the water and sewage lines run this far out. No wifi’s the point”

“I’d die.”

“People my age get tired of the constant bombardment of opinions in social media.”

“Turn off your computer.”

“Can you?”

“What will we do when I visit?”

“Hike, fish, explore the beauty of nature. This is where real life happens, not on Facebook and twitter.”

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

I saw the challenge right after looking at Facebook and twitter, and frankly, sometimes the demand and entitlement qualities of some of the comments are pretty hard to take. I’m torn, because the internet has also become an important information source for me, as well as a method of communication (hence this blog), but it’s a double-edge sword.

Today’s wee tale is my commentary on all that. Sometimes you have to turn everything off for a while and walk away, remembering that social media is an illusion and real life exists “out there”.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

83 thoughts on “The Retreat

  1. I totally identify with this character. Sometimes I think it takes those of us in the older generation to take a step back and see what our kids and grandkids are missing. with their dependence on electronics. Great story.


  2. Dear James,

    You can’t be serious??? Life without computers and wifi? Grandpa’s a radical. Hunting and fishing, indeed. 😉 Good one. (Of course without wifi, we wouldn’t have Friday Fictioneers.)



    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually Cece is a girl, but it’s all good. The cabin is a retreat, not his main home. However, for a generation that has never known life without smartphones, wifi, and the internet, living without it for even a few hours can seem like purgatory.


  3. On the other hand, if that cabin were to be wanted as a retreat for writing, and the research which it may demand, access to the ‘net is desirable. Also, one never knows when one might need to communicate with emergency services. Earlier remote communication technologies, like a ham radio or mobile network or CB radio, may not be monitored as once they were. You didn’t mention a telephone land line, but I presumed that also was not in the picture. SatCom, which would enable ‘net access and VOIP telephony, would be the most logical means for remote communications access, even if intended and activated only for emergencies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen to that, everything in moderation. Interestingly, I read somewhere that the younger generation coming into their teenage years now are actually spending less time than there predecessors on social media, so perhaps there is hope yet.


  5. Now, that is a good one! I saw on the news this morning where the current generation of youngsters has been proclaimed the “loneliest” generation… and the experts can’t figure out why…ejeets! You answered it loud and clear here!


    • Yep. Take away their smartphones and they’re helpless. I read a news story a week or two ago about how students from Stanford University were protesting outside of Apple’s headquarters because the company had made the iPhone addicting. Imagine that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And to think, I have a phone…mostly because it’s more convenient to carry around than my camera. And, most of the time it’s turned off, unless I’m uploading photos. hehe. But, take away my inet… grrr….


      • I use my iPhone as a (gasp) phone, as well as to text and take photos, mainly of my grandchildren. I keep it turned on in case my family needs to reach me for something important. I rarely use it to surf the web since the screen is so small, and data is so expensive.


      • With my hearing the way it is, it’s virtually not a happening thing to use any phone. I do txt when needed. Mainly, it’s become a necessity because of Hubby’s seizures…the need to have 9-1-1 available (both voice and now txt where we live!). Wow, didn’t realize I could surf the web with a phone….something new to play with, thanks.


      • Sorry about your hearing and your hubby’s seizures. Most of the time, I don’t pay much attention to my tinnitus, but it’s exacerbated by stress, so occasionally, it ramps up its game quite a bit.

        I only access the web with my phone when I’ve got access to WiFi. Using cellular data is expensive, and it’s easy to run out of data for the month fast. In places like Japan where living space is at a premium, most people use their phones as their primary computer. I think many young people in the U.S. do the same.

        My wife does all of her computing on her iPad now and when he’s visiting, my nine-year-old grandson “borrows” it. His Dad got him a wrist phone so he could keep track of him (it has GPS) and when my grandson is back at his Mom’s he’ll still call my wife every afternoon to say “Hi.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the warning. Hubby gets audio books on his phone… might ask him how he does it. Says it doesn’t use up time. I have a prepay phone because I use it sooo little.


      • I buy and download digital books from Amazon, so they stay both on my local hard drive and in Amazon’s cloud. You can do the same with phones, which is really handy. I understand that you can actually check out digital books from the local library, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’m still fond of my hardcopy books.

        Oh, really old books can be had online for free. I got a copy of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” that way, along with most of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I hear you about the internet – I adore it and loathe it in equal measure. But then, it is only what people make it – lovable and loathsome as they are! Well written picture of a rural idyll James


  7. I can see Grandpa’s point. I wouldn’t mind getting away to the country and having a retreat from the internet for a while. Although maybe just a short while. And I’d still need my computer, so I could write! And running water and electricity, and decent heating, and a warm shower and a flush toilet, and… Hm, it occurs to me that I should take the grandchild’s advice: stay here in my comfortable life and just turn off the stupid internet sometimes!


  8. I think it would be a great place to get away – for a while. Not forever! It would be good for the child to learn how to enjoy life around him!.
    I really liked this one, James.


  9. The old man probably is right but I’d probably miss the computer if it was weeks on end if I’ve being honest. There would be a TV right? Great story, made me smile.


    • Not quite sure how that would work since we’re talking about different universes and Keisha is all about technology. She’s a tinkerer and an budding engineer, just like her Grandpa, and loves blinky lights and spinny stuff.


  10. It would certainly be possible to live a life without internet access, but it’s noticeable that many refugees make sure they have a mobile phone. I think that says something about the value of information and access to communications. It’s a survival tool just as much as a gun and a fishing line.
    But, I must say, I like the thought of your cabin in the woods. I could sit there, writing my novel in longhand, surrounded by the natural world, glass of wine in hand…


      • But the idea of renting out a yet-to-be-refurbished cabin that exists only in a story from your imagination reminds me of a definition I once read, that tried to distinguish between two psychological syndromes in lay language. If I remember it correctly, it said that a neurotic imagines “mansions in the sky”, whereas a psychotic tries to move into them. [:)]

        Liked by 1 person

  11. It is a difficult area, without the computer I was unable to write! So keep the WiFi, but ban most tv soaps. 🙂 I have a mobile phone, but it is just a phone, and rarely used


  12. You have captured modern life perfectly. My nephews cannot conceive a time without internet. I love having a holiday where internet is not possible – it is the only time I really get to relax. As you can tell I totally related to your story and loved it.


  13. We took our children camping many times over the years. Went to Yellowstone (awesome), 9 Eagles State Park, Breckenridge, and many, many more. Our four boys, to this day, remember the awesome vacations camping. I think all children need to be happy in life, is a happy childhood. Worked for my husband and me too. Good story!


    • My family took many trips when I was a child including Yellowstone. Yes, we have many wonderful outdoors areas. Of course, I suppose today, there are parts of Yellowstone that have WiFi.


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