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 were published on the Meanjin Blog, and the authors paid one dollar a word.

Microfiction Genre

As I commented in another blog post, Microfiction Dream (August 2017), I discovered microfiction when I reviewed Loopholes by Susan McCreery (review on Tall And True) 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 they have read, what lead to the situation, and how it might resolve itself.

Share Your Writing on

We Need to Talk

My microfiction piece was spot on 280 characters, including the #meanjin280 tag, or just under 50 words — so that’s $50 if the Twiction judges like it!

And yet, as when writing longer-form fiction, the beginning and the end came to me first, and I just had to work out how to navigate from one to the other.

So, here it is – I hope you (and Meanjin!) 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

With thanks to Iván Tamás from Pixabay for the phone image.

N.B. I didn’t win the $50 or get published on Meanjin’s blog. But I repurposed the story for another microfiction competition run by the Australian Writers’ Centre in August 2019, as We Need to Talk in 29 Words (on Tall And True). And [proud puffing of cheeks] this was published on their blog!

This post was proofread by Grammarly


Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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