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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

We're reading excerpts of some of the best submissions from our Three-Minute Fiction writing contest. They were chosen with the help of graduate students from schools across the country, including the University of Iowa, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Washington University in St. Louis. The challenge was to write in the form of a voice mail message. Out of over 4,000 submissions, here are two standouts. First, a story about technology that many of you may relate to because it's called "Voice Mail is for Suckers."

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BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: (Reading) Dude. Yeah, it's me. Look, what is the deal? Where are you? You haven't responded to a single email. Everyone's worried, man. We checked your Facebook, and you haven't updated your status in a week - a freaking week. You haven't even liked anything - and you like everything - like, like, like - but nothing. Not even a single Icanhascheezburger cat.

So then we checked your Instagram and, again, nothing. No hyper-contrast photos of a home brew from last weekend, no warm, fuzzy photos of the goat cheese tart you and Beth made, no moody black and whites of the graffiti under the overpass. You haven't filtered any phone pics for days.

So then we checked your Flickr and your SmugMug and your Blogger and your WordPress and your Foursquare. You aren't checked in. You aren't checked out. So yesterday, I sent you a text. It says it was delivered, but you didn't text me back, man. So here we are reduced to this. Do you know how low this is, this moment? I'm leaving you a voice mail. Dude, what is this, 2004?

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LYDEN: That was NPR's Bob Mondello reading "Voice Mail is for Suckers" by Kristin Bonilla of Fulshear, Texas. Next, we'll hear a story about a childhood game called "Chubby Bunny."

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TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: (Reading) Hey, Mom. It's Kelsey. Sorry for calling so late. I'm kind of glad you didn't answer, though. This'll be easier if I can just let my words dribble out without any interruption. I don't know when you'll listen to this. I know you're getting up early to go to the gym before work. You look amazing, by the way. I feel inspired to get a gym membership now because of you. Crap, I'm rambling. I have a point.

OK. I have something I need to tell you. I've been - you know that game that Kylie and I used to play when we were younger, chubby bunny, where we'd stuff our cheeks full of marshmallows until our cheeks looked like fat, little rabbits? You always hated it. You said it was dangerous since we could barely talk or breathe. When I'm at home, I feel like I'm stuck in a game of chubby bunny. I can't speak. I can barely breathe.

Here's the part you hate. Here's the part where I cough and all the marshmallows come bursting out of my mouth onto the floor in front of you. I'm in love with a girl, Mom. God, look how messy I've made the floor. All the marshmallows are everywhere. I'm in love with a girl named Grace.

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LYDEN: That was NPR's Tamara Keith reading an excerpt from the story "Chubby Bunny," written by Katie Camlin of Warrensburg, Missouri. And if you want to find out what happens next, you can read both stories in their entirety at our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction. That's Three-Minute Fiction all spelled out, no spaces. Be sure to tune in tomorrow to hear more voice mail excerpts from Three-Minute Fiction Round 10.

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