Three-Minute Fiction: This Week's Featured Stories

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More than 6,000 original stories were submitted to this round of Three-Minute Fiction and we're on the quest to select just one winner. Until then, we'll be reading a few of the stories that catch our eyes. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz presents this week's stand out stories: Pilgrims by Catherine Carberry from Metuchen, N.J., and Fireflies, by Delia Read from Fairfax, Calif. To see these stories and others go to



She closed the book, placed it on the table and finally decided to walk through the door. That's the starting sentence for Round 8 of Three-Minute Fiction. That is our contest where we ask you to write an original short story that can be read in about three minutes. We are no longer accepting submissions for this round.

Our readers from across the country are almost done going through all of the more than 6,000 submissions this round. So let's hear a few samples of their favorites so far.


BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Ruby learned that if she kept her eyes...she could imagine she was alone in the forest instead of sandwiched by a hundred other rusted trailers with the ruined messiness of other people's lives easily spilling over onto her and Herman's rectangular plot of damp pine needles. Walking to Earl's office, Ruby tried to imagine herself in the old Mayflower, before it had a name, before it became a cramped makeshift city for people with nowhere to go.

It would've been a dense forest, all the sounds hushed by the pine needle floor, the sunlight diluted by tall trees. Back then, she guessed, a person could walk for miles without seeing a highway, a trailer, a neighbor with curlers in her hair. Back then, forests gave you room to breathe.

RAZ: That's NPR's Bob Mondello reading an excerpt from the story "Pilgrims" by Catherine Carberry from Metuchen, New Jersey. Here's another story our readers picked.


SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: We have to warn you that not everything burns. Sometimes people find bits of teeth, larger pieces of bone. It can be upsetting. Would you like to be there? She did not want to be there. She wanted to be far away on an island surrounded by blue water, pushing her toes through white sand. She wanted to be where time and seasons did not exist, where there was no outside or inside, where water and air and sand met, merged and disappeared. She just wanted to be.

She wondered if it were night yet and if the cremations happened here, maybe beyond these warm walls, with sparks flying up and out into the black sky like fireflies. She liked that thought. A quick orange spark and then gone. You should also know that the box will be heavy. It'll weigh about five pounds. I remember your mom. She was a tall lady.

RAZ: That's NPR's Susan Stamberg reading from "Fireflies" by Delia Read of Fairfax, California. You can find the full versions of both of these stories and more at our website,, and that's ThreeMinuteFiction all spelled out, no spaces.



RAZ: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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