A Peek At Three-Minute Fiction Entries
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GUY RAZ, host:
For the past five weeks, we've been going through thousands of stories you all sent in for this round of Three-Minute Fiction here on WEEKENDS ON ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. The challenge this time, each story had to have a character who cried and a character who told a joke.
Now, thousands of stories came in, and we're reading each and every one closely. Our judge, the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, hopes to have a winner picked in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, here are excerpts from a few more stand-out stories.
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SUSAN STAMBERG: (Reading) Ruth needs to rest her elbows on the table these days, even to reach out and cut a piece of the little yellow cake I bought at the supermarket. She slaps a thin slice onto her plate and pulls it towards her. What would my mother have said to see me leaning on the table like this, she laughs quietly and shakes her head.
Between bites, she tells me to look through her Christmas cards, stacked in a basket on her bureau. She used to tape them all up on her door, red and green and gold cards open for the reading, rolls of stamps on her table for the cards she'd send in return, even if took her well into January. Now, the standing, the bending, the lifting her arms above her head to tape up the cards isn't worth the pain it causes.
I rifle through the cards as she grows more bored with the silence. What do old age and Las Vegas have in common, she asks me. I shake my head. I forget, she says, with a small smile.
BOB MONDELLO: (Reading) At the grocery store, my wife and I spend an hour walking in circles looking for beer. Our new American friends must think that we are suffering from the effects of the war. Our search yields nothing. So we go to the cashier, in the dictionary, we locate the word pivo and point to the American equivalent, beer.
The cashier smiles. She turns the pages until she finds the word she wants: dry. My wife and I are horrified. Does this mean what I think it means, Alma says in Bosnian? Oh, dear God, I say. We've come to a place where you can't buy beer unless it's raining? Recent refugees stuck in a small Kentucky town and no beer? Fate indeed is cruel. But we are good legal aliens. We wait for a rainy day.
This time, we go straight to the cashier. Alma, wanting to practice her English, says: Today is raining. Please beer. Beer, the cashier says, her eyes open wide. Yes, Alma confirms, beer. Where, the cashier asks, alarmed. Alma and I look at each other. Why is the cashier asking us where the beer is? While we are sorting this out, the cashier starts yelling, bear, there's a bear in the parking lot.
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RAZ: That was NPR's Bob Mondello and Susan Stamberg reading excerpts from "Let it Rain," by Alen Hamza of Louisville, Kentucky and "Courtesy," by Meridith Sine of New York city. You can read the full versions of these stories and others at our website, that's npr.org/threeminutefiction. And that's threeminutefiction all spelled out, no spaces.
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