Three-Minute Fiction: Round 10

Sunday's readings from Round 10 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest comes from Jason Scherschligt of Plymouth, Minn., and Kama Brown of Ellisville, Mo.

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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

We're going to continue playing excerpts of some of our favorite stories from this round of "Three-Minute Fiction." The prompt was "write a story in the form of a voicemail message," and our inbox was flooded with over 4,000 submissions this round.

Thanks to all the graduate students at more than a dozen schools - including University of Illinois, University of Texas and University of Michigan - who've been poring through these stories all week. Every story will be read. The best ones will be passed on to our judge this round, the novelist Mona Simpson. Here's one of those standouts, a story called "You Have Reached Sarah Wellman."

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Reading) You have reached Sarah Wellman. Please leave a message.

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BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: (Reading) Oh, hey, Sarah. This is Brad Davis from Slingshot, and I'm pleased - hold on. Your greeting there on your voicemail kind of threw me off. Did it seriously say, you have reached Sarah Wellman, please leave a message? It did, didn't it? Wow. OK. I don't want to be rude, but come on. You have reached Sarah Wellman? Seriously?

I mean, isn't that exactly the opposite of what I've done, because I have not reached you, Sarah Wellman. I obviously have not. OK. Anyway, no big deal, I suppose. Where was I? OK. This is Brad from Slingshot, and I was just meeting with the rest of our leadership group, and everyone thinks you would be a great addition. So we want to go ahead and - now, wait.

I just can't get past this voicemail thing - you have reached Sarah Wellman. I know I don't know you very well, but why would you even say that when I haven't reached Sarah Wellman; when, in fact, the precise point of your voicemail greeting is to let a caller know that he hasn't, in fact, reached Sarah Wellman. You get that - right? - that no one ever hearing that greeting would ever have reached Sarah Wellman.

LYDEN: That was Bob Mondello, reading an excerpt from the story "You Have Reached Sarah Wellman," written by Jason Scherschligt of Plymouth, Minnesota. Now we go to a different kind of story about abandonment. It's called "It's Not Okay to Act This Way."

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SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: (Reading) You were so beautiful in the picture I have of you. Dad said you were 21. What an age to be free. I don't blame you for running away and leaving me. I want to run away, too.

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STAMBERG: (Reading) Even though you're not here - and you never were - I feel your genes in me. I hear the ocean call to me in my sleep as it called to you. I smell the scent of a wild the same way you did. I understand why I couldn't come with you. I have a daughter now, too. I think I will leave soon, too.

LYDEN: That was Susan Stamberg reading an excerpt from the story "It's Not Okay to Act This Way," by Kama Brown of Ellisville, Missouri. You can read the rest of both of these stories at our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction. That's threeminutefiction - all spelled out, no spaces. And be sure to tune in next week to hear more voicemail excerpts from "Three-Minute Fiction: Round 10."

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