To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The “@Meanjin Twiction” rules were simple, tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280. The prize? The top ten stories to be published on the Meanjin Blog and the authors paid $1 a word.

As I commented in an earlier blog post, I discovered microfiction when I reviewed a collection, Loopholes by Susan McCreery, for the NSW Writers Centre.

I enjoy the challenge of the genre. There is no time for plot and character development; every word must count. The writer plunges the reader into the story and wrenches them back out, leaving it to the reader’s imagination to reflect upon what he or she has read, what lead to the situation, and how it might resolve itself.

We Need to Talk, is spot on 280 characters, including the #meanjin280 tag, or just under 50 words (so that’s $50 if the @Meanjin Twiction judges like it!). And yet, as when writing longer verse, the beginning and the end came to me first, and I just had to work out how to navigate from one to the other.

And here it is – I hope you (and the judges!) like it:

White walls, sweet antiseptic, tubes and wires, electronic beeps and the laboured, wheezing breath of my shrunken father.

We need to talk, soon. Not about the future or present; now we’ve only got the past.

But my phone distracts me. I wish we had more time and words!

© 2017 Robert Fairhead

NB. This microfiction is also published on You might also be interested in my selection of short stories. And here’s another microfiction blog post for you, Microfiction Dream (August 2017).



Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Among other things, Robert is an editor and writer at Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. In 2020, he published his first collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (available from Amazon).


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