12+ I had borne guilt and despair about 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.
A gathering of world leaders was my chance. I would evade the security cordon, infiltrate their private meetings and convince them of the need for urgent action with scientific facts and figures and impassioned speech.
Yes, there would be consequences. I would be arrested, convicted and spend, long lonely years behind bars. And I would not see my children grow into adults. But the conviction and jail term would be worth it to know that I had saved the planet for them. And their children and their children’s children.
I smiled and made my plan.
Yet when the day came, I did nothing. I watched the world leaders on the TV news, pledging more “economic growth” and “security cooperation”. But with no mention of poverty, pollution or climate change.
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I lay in bed that night, sleepless, still wracked with guilt and despair. I didn’t save the Earth that day.
And I didn’t even get convicted.
© 2014 Robert Fairhead
This short-short story, or microfiction, on “guilt”, was written for a local radio competition in 2014, in the lead up to the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. The story had to be 200 words or less and to end with the line, “And I didn’t even get convicted”. I received a nice thank you for my entry. But I didn’t even get selected as a winner.
Robert is a writer and editor at Tall And True and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com. He also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast, featuring his short stories, blog posts and other writing from Tall And True.
Robert's book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media. In 2020, he published his début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story. In 2021, Robert published his first twelve short stories for the Furious Fiction writing competition, Twelve Furious Months, and in 2022, his second collection of Furious Fictions, Twelve More Furious Months. And in 2023, he published an anthology of his microfiction, Tall And True Microfiction.
Besides writing, Robert's favourite pastimes include reading, watching Aussie Rules football with his son and walking his dog.
He has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.