12+ 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.
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. 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, their children and their children’s children.
I smiled and made my plan.
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Yet when the day came, I did nothing. I watched the world leaders on the TV news, pledging more “economic growth” and “security cooperation”, with no mention of poverty, pollution or climate change.
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 on “guilt” was written for a competition run by my local public broadcaster radio station. It was 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!
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert Fairhead is an editor and writer at Tall And True, and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com.
His favourite pastimes include reading and writing, walking his dog, and watching Aussie Rules Football with his son. He is also a part-time dog trainer and runs classes at his local dog training club and through Robert's Responsible Dog Training.
Robert has worked as an electrician, a computer programmer, and a sales and marketing consultant, and he is the principal copywriter at Rocher Communications.
His book reviews and writing on dogs have appeared in newspapers and online. And in 2020, he published a collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story.
Robert has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.