Readings From Three-Minute Fiction: Round 7

We received 3,400 original stories in this round of Three-Minute Fiction. Until the winner is announced next month, we'll be reading a few of the stories that catch our eyes. Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Robert Smith introduces the stories "The Weatherby" by Nicholas Googins of Waltham, Massachusetts, and "Turnover" by Margaret Friedman of Seattle, Washington.

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SMITH: We are knee-deep in short stories around here, 3,400 of them. That's how many you sent us in the current round of our Three-Minute Fiction contest. And until the judge for this round, writer Danielle Evans, wades through the best of them and announces the winner next month, we are going to share some excerpts with you. Here are a couple.

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BOB MONDELLO: (Reading) There's been a lot of turnover at that house, his mother, Patti, told her friend on the phone when the Lillers moved out. Forrest drew the house next door standing on its chimney with its wire and pipe-filled crawl space kicking in the air like a kid doing a handstand. Turn over. He taped it to the fridge. It's not the house turning over, genius, it's the people. So Forrest thought of the Lillers and their kids and their boxes all somersaulting down the front stairs past the same cardboard for rent sign that had been there the last time. People turning over, like clothes in the dryer, like his grandmother in her grave, if she could hear him blaspheme Father Vincent at St. Ronan's, or any object at zero gravity affected by inertia?

He had hated hearing the Liller triplets wailing in the yard. Once one started, they all got in on it like a pack of cats in heat. What do you want from 2-year-olds, Patti said, when he complained their shrieks were interfering with his map-making. He was laying out the complicated streets, alleys, tunnels, bridges and waterways of Trondine, which was already hard enough because the paper was brown and the markers were getting dry. Shut up and die, Forrest finally screamed at the chain fence between the yards. He expected some disciplinary fallout from his outburst, but there was none, which made it seemed pathetic.

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FELIX CONTRERAS: (Reading) Rob had the cancer down below, costing his family something serious. That's why all of us at the fire department hosted the spaghetti dinner and the raffle, why we'd been selling tickets all summer and into the fall. There were a few cash prizes: $25, $50, $75, but the raffle was just thrown in for show by Rob's wife, Janice, meant to be won then returned on the sly. Common decency, something that goes without saying, like throwing back a homerun ball hit by the opposing team. The drawing was held the week before Thanksgiving. Summer folk were long gone. Rob was doing pretty poorly, spending a night here and there at the hospital in Farmington.

Naturally, Janice had her hands full, so I offered to call Mr. Cargould for her. I caught him in his office. He was all confused. What raffle? The benefit, I reminded him, for Rob St. Clair. Oh, sure, the sick fellow. How's he doing? Off his feed, I said.

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SMITH: That was NPR's Felix Contreras reading "The Weatherbee" by Nicholas Googins of Waltham, Massachusetts. And earlier, you heard our own Bob Mondello reading "Turnover" by Margaret Friedman of Seattle. You can find these and other stories on our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction. And if you're looking for some back and forth about the contest, click over to our Three-Minute Fiction Facebook page. Gets kind of crazy over there.

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