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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

You know that sound. It means it's time for more Three-Minute Fiction excerpts. Now, these stories from Round 11 of our contest were chosen with the help of graduate students from schools across the country, including Johns Hopkins University, Indiana University and the University of Michigan. Our judge, Karen Russell, will be picking the final winner, and she chose our prompt: to write a story about a character who finds something they have no intention of returning. Our first story's character found a photo she wasn't meant to see.

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SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: (Reading) A photograph of two happy people in holiday clothing. One was her husband - looking festive - the other, a woman she had never seen before who was wearing a sweater knitted with falling snowflakes, white on a deep red. He had a drink in his hand. They were looking at each other, smiling. She pushed the picture into her pocket and began rehearsing what she would do.

She would leave it on his dresser, she would leave it on the coffee table, the kitchen table, on his dinner plate. She would thrust it toward him, throw it at him, wave it in the air where he could not see it clearly and grill him. Who the hell is this? Where were you? When was this? No. She would not complain, she would not confront, not again.

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LYDEN: That was Susan Stamberg reading an excerpt from the story "Snowflake," written by Winona Wendth of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Our next excerpt combines love and math in a story called "Geometry."

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: (Reading) Right before I opened your book, it occurred to me that you had intended for me to find it, that you felt it slip from you, saw the blue cover on black leather and left it anyway, that you felt - as I felt - a desire to collapse the space between us. Perhaps you - like I - had been perseverating over this distance and the implications it had for Euclidean geometry. Because the shortest route from Point A - my hand resting lightly on the gearshift - to Point B - your pocket - was not a straight line. The distance could not be traversed before first traveling to some other point not on that line.

It occurred to me, as I opened the pages of your book, that you not only recognize the fact of that other point, but also that I did not know how to find it. The journal was a map you had constructed to help me get there. I felt, as my fingers slipped into your pages for the first time, an overwhelming sense of gratitude that you would do this for me.

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LYDEN: That was Bob Mondello reading an excerpt from the story "Geometry," written by Eugenie Montague from Los Angeles, California. If you want to find out what happens next, well, you can read both stories in their entirety at our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for more selections from Round 11 of our contest.

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