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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Close to 4,000 stories are piling up at our NPR offices here, stories many of you submitted for Round 9 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest. Now, if you forgot the challenge this time, it was to write a story - under 600 words as always - that had to revolve around a U.S. President, real or fictional. And as we go through those entries, we're going to be reading excerpts from some of the standout stories over the next few weeks, including this one. It's called "The Interview."

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BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: (Reading) Anne Royall was a professional, first and foremost, a point she had to keep reminding herself the morning she caught President John Quincy Adams swimming naked in the Potomac. Caught might not be quite right, since she had planned it and followed him, waited in the woods while he disrobed and dove - rather gracefully for a man of politics - beneath the quicksilver surface. An onlooker might have found her pursuit romantic, the greenery lush about her, dappled with rosy light, but the widow Anne was sharp-tongued and ruthless and had been waiting for this a long time.

You've forced me into this position, you realize, she called out to the shocked and sputtering man before her. Four years, 18 requests in writing, and still you refuse me an interview. I doubt the men at The Post have trouble of this kind. The president, who had started swimming like a madman to the opposite shore, paused and turned to face her, his body fully submerged. He blinked. The two were silent a moment as Anne watched him take in the situation. Finally, he spoke: Mrs. Royall, is it?

RAZ: That was our Bob Mondello reading an excerpt from the story "The Interview," written by Georgia Mierswa of Hoboken, New Jersey. The winner will be picked by our judge this round, Brad Meltzer, and the winning story will be published in the Paris Review. You can read more of "The Interview" and others we'll be posting at our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction - and three-minute fiction all spelled out with no spaces.

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