On Theoretical Forms of Microfiction

For as long as microfiction has been a doctrine, there have been those who would test its boundries. Not content with the creation of stories only a few hundred words long, countless authors have made attempts at nanofiction, with the most famous being Hemingway’s six-word short story, “Baby shoes for sale; never worn.”

Delving even deeper into the fractal rabbit-hole, there have even been studies in picofiction, seeing how much meaning or emotion can be conveyed with a single word. Here is where the often amorphous line between fiction and poetry breaks down, but for the sake of argument, we will assume that poetry can be a form of fiction, and leave it at that. An example of picofiction would then be Aram Saroyan’s poem, “lighght”, for which he won the National Endowment for the Arts, despite criticism that it was “not a real poem” and “not even spelled correctly.”

Anything beyond femtofiction is a purely theoretical structure, as such a thing would be only a few hundredths of a letter long. There have been claims that music is in fact a form of femtofiction, as a single note is still able to convey emotion, but such claims are still hotly contested.

So far, there have been no claims as to the creation of attofiction. The main obstacle to this seems to be the cumbersome nature of the English language, and the physical restrictions of the human vocal cords. To create attofiction, one would need to create a hypothetical language of unimaginable brevity, and then gain the ability to speak it by making sounds fractions of a millisecond long. However, this skill alone would not attofiction make. You would need a second party to also learn this language, so as to have someone to understand your words. And finally, to your sole listener in the world, you would need to speak something beautiful.

To Those We Could Not Save

I'm sorry.

I wish I could tell you a story about why this happened, but that story would only be three words long.

We were imperfect.

We have been trying for so, so long. And yet we are still imperfect.

We wanted things to be better. We all want things to be better. We are far from blameless, but we did not want this.

We tried to save you. I cannot speak for all, but some of us, however few, tried to save you.

We tried.

Please know that we tried.

But we were imperfect.

I'm sorry.

On Sharing Small Moments with No One

The camgirl says she’s writing a novel. “It’s going to be incredible,” she says into the camera. “It’s so hard to explain what it’s going to be about though, condensing all these thoughts down into speech. that’s why it needs to be an entire book, I guess.” Someone tips her five dollars. There’s a poster hanging on the wall behind her, a reminder of humanity. “Imagine a love story between two planets orbiting on opposite sides of a distant star. Imagine a car breaking down in the middle of the highway in the desert when there are no other cars on the road and just leaving it there, and it being okay. Imagine the way the sky gets lighter towards the top and darker towards the edges.” Her eyes are the same color as a shell a young girl dug up in the garden once, thousands of miles from the sea. “This camera is an act of ritual,” she says. “A sacrifice on the digital altar of sex and money and time. I give time, but I also receive an equivalent amount of your time from you, so this is not a sacrifice, it’s an equal transaction. You give money, but I provide a service, so this too is a transaction. But it is still a sacrifice, for you will always want more then I am able or willing to provide.” She’s talking to no one now. The chatroom is empty. It’s two in the morning, in the room in the building in the city where she lives. “Sometimes it’s nice to talk to an empty room through a closed door. You don’t actually want someone to be listening, but you want there to be the possibility of it. It feels better to talk to the idea of a potential person than an actual person sometimes.” A car passes on the street outside her house and the headlights play through the blinds and across the ceiling. She watches it drip down the walls before draining back out again through the glass. “Sometimes you find a moment,” she says, “and it’s not perfect, but it’s enough. And you think to yourself; this is nice. I’d like to stay here for awhile.”