My NPR competition submission (almost): Finally

NPR has been doing competitions on 3 minute fiction.  Stories of 600 words or less which can be read in three minutes.  My daughter pointed me in the direction for round 8 but I finished my submission just 2 minutes past the deadline, procrastination defeating me, ironic given the nature of the story.  Anyway, the first sentence, the one in italics is the line we’re given and then we must write the story from there, having, as I said, no more than 600 words.  I figured since I missed the deadline I’d post it here.  Maybe it will give me a kick and I can get back to my ostrich girl story.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this.


She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. She stood up boldly, feeling the muscles in her legs loosen and unknot at the sudden action.  At the same time the knots in her stomach melted away, relief warming and refreshing her.  She was relieved to be moving, to be walking now across the room toward the door.  The long wait, the anxiety, the debilitating procrastination and agonizing paralysis of decision making was over.

She slowed down, glancing at the book on the table.  She had left it open face down, (“breaking the spine” her mother would have scolded her.).  Why had she left it like that; like it was waiting for her to return, like she’d be back.  She never would of course, not if she walked through the door…when she walked through the door.  This was it.    Everything would be different now.

Her legs kept moving, her body following of course, but her eyes continued to linger on the book, her head turning as she passed by the book, worry creasing her brow. Maybe she should really close it first.  (“Why can’t you treat your things with any respect?” her father would have said, eyes rich with scorn).

She hesitated, almost stopping, but then she raised her eyes back to the door and began to move again, perhaps some anxiety was returning, but she was moving, still moving forward.  Where had this newfound courage come from she wondered? (“You’ll never change.” her husband would have said.)  What was it she had read?  What was the line in the book the heroine had said?  It had filled her with such confidence and hope when she first read it.  What was it now?

It wasn’t surprising that she’d found her courage in a book.  She’d always found the best things in books.  On the rare occasion when she didn’t find something good in a book she could just put it down, just walk away.  She looked again toward the door, mulling.  The reader of a book, she suddenly realized, had almost as much control as the writer.  The character on the other hand, had really no control at all.  Who was reading her story she wondered?

Maybe she had put down the book too soon.  What was it the heroine had said?  She turned toward the book, trying to remember.  Maybe she should read it again, or bring it with her.

She was stopped now, halfway between the book and the door, between action and memory.  She shook her head.  She knew instinctively that if she brought the book, if she brought anything that she would never be truly leaving.  No she had to go and it had to be now.

And yet, she hadn’t finished the book.  How could she know?  Maybe the Heroine was wrong?  Maybe she was learning the wrong lesson.

Slowly, knots returning to both her legs and her stomach she turned back to the book.  Numbly, she sat back down, picked up the book slowly and began to read.  Just a little more, she told herself.  There was always time to make the decision when she’d finished the book.  Then she’d know for sure.  Just a little longer. Maybe then she’d be ready.



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