Drama Fiction Inspirational

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“I quit”, Hannah said, her voice trembling as she slid her hastily written resignation letter across the desk.

Her boss sat back in his chair and clasped his hands together over his large belly. He looked at her with pity and something else. Disdain maybe. Hannah looked down at the letter on the desk and just for a moment she doubted whether she was doing the right thing.

“Do you have another job offer, Ms Pearce?” He was undressing her with his eyes again. This just made Hannah more resolute to leave this forsaken place.

“I have plans,” she replied before she turned around and walked out of his office. She stopped at her desk and took a deep breath. It was really quiet in the office. She looked around and realised that everyone was staring at her.

Joey mouthed, “Are you okay?”. 

Hannah nodded and attempted to smile. 

Was she okay? Maybe not right now, but she would be. She packed the few personal items on her desk into her handbag and looked toward the boss’ office one last time. He was leaning against the doorway, arms folded across his chest. Hannah raised her hand and showed him a middle finger. He laughed loudly. Too loudly, like he wanted to show his employees that Hannah couldn’t touch him. Hannah mockingly laughed with him before she walked out. She really hated his face.

When she got home, she broke down in tears. Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. But mostly, just stress tears. She remembered that she once heard someone say crying is like cleansing the soul. She could do with a good purge. She was exhausted. In a normal year, just being part of the rat race was hard, but since the epidemic, it had become unbearably difficult. When they moved from working at the office to working at home, everyone had to adjust to being ‘always on’. They already had email communication with clients, but then new messaging platforms were introduced to keep clients happy. Their personal phone numbers were added to client chat groups. They had to join meetings on Teams, Zoom and Google Meet. The internal chat platform was completely different from the platform clients used and the constant notifications drove her crazy. She thought that going back to the office would curtail some of the excessive noise, but it just got worse.

Hannah didn’t want to think about it. She picked herself up off the bed and walked to the little kitchen. She used to love the sunflower-themed curtains and the decorative bee figures that she had hung on the walls. Now, it all just seemed childish. Hannah’s phone pinged and she broke out in tears again. She was convinced that she had technology-related PTSD. She almost laughed at the thought of having to go to therapy, but it came out as more of a splutter. How could she explain that she was somehow afraid of her phone? They would lock her up in some institution and never let her out again. Hannah switched on the kettle when she had calmed down and took a green mug out of the cupboard. Once her coffee was made, she found her phone and sat down on the couch.

“Seventeen messages?” She frowned, switched her phone to silent mode and threw it on the couch next to her. Her mind was racing as she sipped on her coffee. She switched on the television to drown out her thoughts and started scrolling mindlessly through the multitude of shows available at her fingertips.

When Hannah woke up, the sun was glaring through the window. She felt like a bus had run her over. Her neck was aching from spending the night in some pose humans should not be allowed to fall asleep in. The couch felt a little damp on her cheek and she wiped away the last remnants of saliva as she sat up straight.

“I’m such a mess”, she said as she felt that her middle-length ash-blonde hair was sticking out in all directions, possibly resembling the Statue of Liberty’s crown.

“Okay. Okay okay okay okay. What’s your plan, Hannah?” she asked herself as her leg moved up and down nervously.

“I could get another job. I could move back to my parents.” She shook her head at that idea.

“I could sell everything I have and just slum it.” She laughed heartily at the image of dividing her car into a lounge area or bedroom by simply moving her stuff around.

“Oh no, what have I done?” She put her head in her hands and started crying again.

“No, Hannah, we shall not cry!” She said in a theatrical voice as she stood up, wiped away her tears and carried herself off to the shower.

Shower thoughts were called that for a reason. The universe showered you with thoughts when you were not distracting yourself with cell phones and TV shows and the internet. While washing her face, Hannah remembered that she still had a holiday voucher buried in her bedside table’s drawer. It wasn’t worth a lot, but if she found a cheap resort she might be able to stretch it. She got dressed and sat down at the kitchen counter with her laptop. The search was on. It took an hour or so, but she eventually found a place that would allow her to get two weeks’ worth of vacation from her voucher. Granted it was a camping ground, with no electricity, but she could set up a tent, right? She had never really been the outdoorsy type.

“Yes, Hannah, you can do this.” It was like she was her own motivational speaker. You go, girl.

She grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and started listing the supplies she would need. Next stop, freedom. Well, camping store, but after that…freedom.

Walking out of the camping supply store, Hannah had a distinct feeling of dread again. Why had she spent so much money? She needed to go slow with the little bit of savings that she had. She just had no idea how expensive camping goods were, which made her wonder how half of the population could even afford it. Even just buying the bare minimum had almost cost more than her holiday voucher. She had opted for the smallest, cheapest tent she could find. A little green thing that looked simple enough to set up. A small tarp for ground cover. A single air mattress. A compact gas stove, gas canisters and cookware. One camping chair and a folding table. Oh, and a kettle of course. How could she live without coffee? She packed her supplies in the back of the car with the clothes, bedding and food she had already packed, and got behind the wheel. She only had to make one more stop to pick up a few groceries, and she was on her way.

The drive felt way longer than the two hours it took, mostly because she kept replaying the previous day in her head. She blushed every time she thought about the way she had acted. To be fair, her boss deserved it. He had just added to Hannah’s anxiety. Ever since they had returned to the office, he had been flirting with Hannah. Sometimes he would even ‘accidentally’ brush up against her in the kitchen. Some nights he called her, supposedly about work, but he somehow always ended up talking about something personal. Out of fear of losing her job, Hannah had tolerated it. Until yesterday. They were alone in the kitchen. Hannah was making coffee while he was… She wasn’t even sure why he was in the kitchen. She was reading the news on her phone while slowly stirring her coffee. Her boss came in close, reaching for a mug in the cupboard above her head. He planted his hand firmly on her backside and squeezed. Hannah got such a fright that she spilled her coffee over the counter and almost dropped her phone. When she looked at her boss, he was grinning at her.

“Something got you excited there, Ms Pearce?” he asked smugly.

She left the kitchen without a word.

Hannah was well out of range of the city, on some dirt road she had never encountered before. 

“No signal”, a woman’s voice said. The map on her phone went blank. She stared at it, willing it to work again, but nothing happened.

“Useless.” She muttered this as she slowed down, looking for the entrance to the camping grounds. After a few minutes of driving up and down, she found it. It didn’t look like much of an entrance, more like a road leading to some grass under a canopy of trees. There was a small wooden guard house next to the road, but when Hannah stopped next to it, there was no one inside. She made a note to drive back later, in case she had to sign in. She continued down the road for a few minutes before she got to a bridge. It was just big enough for one car and maybe someone walking next to it. She crossed it and discovered a gorgeous camping site on the other side. It was surprisingly empty. Hannah picked a spot close to the ablution block and parked the car. She got out and looked around.

“This should be fun”, she said smiling and unpacked the car.

First, she unrolled the tarp that she had bought. She took the pegs that came with the tarp and hammered them into the ground, ensuring that it was secure. She put her hands on her hips and admired her handiwork. 

“Impressive. Even if I must say so myself”, she praised herself with a smile.

Next, she took the lime green tent out of its bag along with the poles, rainfly and steel stakes. She set it all down on the tarp and took the instructions out of the bag too. She read it and once done, she spread the tent out. Next, she took the poles and assembled them. Then she carefully threaded them through the designated tent flaps and stuck two of the ends in their respective fasteners. She walked to the opposite side and started elevating the tent.


A pole popped out of its connecting socket and the tent fell flat on the other side.

“Why?” Hannah asked in indignation.

She lay down the tent, removed the pole from the flaps and reassembled it. She threaded it again and carefully followed the rest of the steps to finish setting up the tent. 

It took her almost an hour and by then Hannah was sweating. She unfolded her camping chair, grabbed a beer from her cooler box and sat down for a minute. The silence that had been comforting when she arrived at the camping grounds, was starting to get uncomfortable. Hannah stood up and got her phone from the car. She sat back down and opened her messenger app. She started typing a reply to the first message, decided against it, and instead changed her status to ‘Off the grid for a few weeks.’ She locked her phone and took a sip of beer. The discomfort started gnawing at her again. She decided that she would play some music. 

That would be a nice distraction, she thought. 

She opened her browser, but a warning message let her know that she was offline. She looked at her signal bars and realised she still had no signal.

“So freaking useless” she exclaimed in frustration, finally throwing her phone away from her in anger. Her status update wouldn’t be showing either. 

“Just go with it, Hannah”, she tried to console herself. She wondered where it had all gone wrong. When did she lose herself? When had she become dependent on technology to entertain her? Or rather to numb the feelings of anxiety and insecurity that she felt on a daily basis? Or was it the technology that caused it in the first place? 

She took another sip of her beer and realised that she would have to finish setting up camp before it got dark. She took out the air mattress and had a sudden realisation.

“I don’t have a pump. What were you thinking, Hannah?” she burst into tears. 

She crumpled into a heap, while her internal monologue had a field day.

You’re so stupid, Hannah. Why’d you quit your job? Why did you think you could do this if you never went camping? Why are you so weak? You cry about everything. How are you going to fix this?

Hannah sat there until she was all cried out. She wiped her red, swollen eyes on her t-shirt, and once they were dry, she also wiped her nose on it. She had reached her breaking point. Her lowest low. Her rock bottom, but she’d be damned if she didn’t get up again. She made a pact with herself that technology would never rule her life again. That she would never stay in a job that caused her so much anxiety, or tolerate deviant behaviour just to keep a job. She would no longer measure her self-worth against other people’s island-hopping, travel porn. She would do the best she could, with what she had, and she would always just try to be a better version of herself. Starting now. Right where she was. Off the grid. Living her next two weeks in analog to find herself again. 

February 10, 2023 16:59

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Wendy Kaminski
13:45 Feb 16, 2023

This was a pleasure to read, Marlise! I think a lot of people have this fantasy, and your protagonist definitely made certain she brought everything she needed - good primer, in case I ever decide to "go for it." :D I got such a chuckle out of "“Why?” Hannah asked in indignation." lol :) (If the tent pole answers back, seek help!) I loved this particular observation: "Shower thoughts were called that for a reason. The universe showered you with thoughts when you were not distracting yourself ". Nice! Did you have any favorite lines as you w...


Marlise Pienaar
15:45 Feb 16, 2023

Thanks for the kind words, Wendy! Kind of based on my personal camping skills hahaha! Hmmm, think the shower thoughts part was probably my favourite too. Thanks for the warm welcome, it's quite daunting to actually post the stuff you write and have others read it, so I appreciate it <3 :-)


Wendy Kaminski
15:49 Feb 16, 2023

Yes, it is! I’ve posted many stories, and it can still be daunting. :) My pleasure. :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.