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Mona Lisa smile

A faded photo of my dad from the 1970s inspired this microfiction. He had a faraway look in his eyes and a Mona Lisa smile on his much younger face. As art lovers have done for centuries with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, I wondered what was on my dad's mind when the photo was taken?

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

The bench outside the headmaster's office was hard. It was designed to make you squirm. But once you'd sat down, you daren't wriggle to relieve the creeping pins and needles. Because if you did, Old Heavy-handed Hamilton, would look up through the glass of his office door and note your fidgeting.

It's a warm, sunny day and I'm strolling along Brighton Promenade during my lunch break. The seagulls are circling and squawking and the sun's shimmering on the flat blue-green English Channel.

My class had a lesson on "conservation" at school the other day. Miss said that this was where people reused old things or used new things more carefully. She said conservation was important to stop the world from getting more dirty and to help make it healthy again.

"And now the piece de resistance," the old Colonel announced, leading his guest into a sunlit garden. "What do you think?" he enquired, waving his walking stick at the garden's centrepiece. Two life-size marble figures stood face to face, their hands caressing each other, their lips fused in a kiss.

I had borne guilt and despair on the fate of our over-populated and polluted planet for many years. Then in a waking moment, I saw how I, a lowly middle-aged nobody, could save the Earth, her people and all her precious life.

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