© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Three-Minute Fiction: First Stand-Out Stories



More than 6,000 stories came in this round of Three-Minute Fiction - 6000. Amazing. The challenge this time, the story had to begin with the sentence: She closed the book, placed it on the table and finally decided to walk through the door. It's going to take us several weeks to read through those stories and find a winner, but for now, here are a few samples of what some of you did with that sentence.


BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: (Reading) She closed the book, placed it on the table and finally decided to walk through the door. I sucked in a full exchange of air and my stupid faction began to lift. Oh, God. Did she respond to my note? She'd been sitting there long enough, but my study carrel stakeout afforded only intermittent glimpses beyond the long, dark hair that draped over the back of her seat. As soon as she was safely outside the building, I sauntered past the table and scooped up the book with hands as moist as squid sashimi.

Back at my study carrel, I wiped my palms on my jeans and anxiously flipped open the copy of "Coastal Climatology" that she'd been reading. There was my awkward calling card, scrawled in the featureless print preferred by secret admirers worldwide. Hi, there. Sorry if this seems weird. I've seen you around the university library quite a bit. I'm curious to know who you are and where you're from. Nothing. She'd left no reply.


SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: (Reading) A week before, she said, can I have a book instead of the meal? You have books, I said. She always had books, always read. She worked at the small library they had here. Not those, she said, a new book from a store. Will you get one for me, soon? She had never asked me for anything before, and I was so surprised that I blushed. I thought she'd want a classic like "Moby Dick," but she gave me the names of a few authors and said to get anything by any of them. They wrote romance novels - cheap paperback romance novels.


STAMBERG: (Reading) Did you do it, I asked her at once. She looked at me a long time with her cool, green eyes then shrugged the slightest of shrugs, a shrug that took in the 8-by-10 cell with the bed and table and toilet. The 14 years, the two appeals, the scar on her cheek that had faded with time, a shrug that was equal parts, what do you think and apparently so.


RAZ: That was our Susan Stamberg reading the story "Exit" by Richard Bader of Towson, Maryland and also our Bob Mondello with an excerpt from "The Dewey Decimal Suitor" by Steven Bismarck of Medford, Oregon. To read full versions of these stories, go to npr.org/threeminutefiction - that's all spelled out, no spaces. Listen for more stories next weekend. And soon, we'll check in with our judge Luis Alberto Urrea to see what he thinks of the entries so far.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.