NPR's Bob Mondello and Susan Stamberg read excerpts of two of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. They read Snowflake by Winona Wendth of Lancaster, Mass., and Geometry by Eugenie Montague of Los Angeles. You can read their full stories below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.
I found your journal in my car. A slim, Moleskin, six by ten centimeters, soft cover, blue, curving upwards at the edges like an incredibly shallow bowl, or a key dish. By the concavity in its form, the book seemed to be suggesting it was capable of carrying something. Something real. Not much. A few pennies. A handful of nails. One heavy pen cradled at that depression in the center, which had dropped out of the flatness of the book from riding around in the back pocket of your jeans.
She found the photograph early in the day, while she was cleaning for spring, pulling a winter's collection of domestic detritus out from under the bed. Ticket stubs, grimy grocery notes, coffee-stained lined paper, and dead pens. Their life: movies, food, and books. She didn't like housecleaning, but the weather had changed, and something moved her to sweep around, put things in order, clean them up.
I email. I search. I shop. I Facebook. I stream. I Skype. Every year I seem to do these things a little bit more. Stroke by stroke, as I slip deeper into the Internet's embrace, I find myself wondering:
"What would happen if the Internet went away?"
Can it? It was famously built to be indestructible, with no center, no hub, no "off" or "on" switch. It is, after all, a creature of the U.S. Defense Department, designed, supposedly, to survive a global war.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. In the two weeks since the Internal Revenue Service scandal erupted, the acting commissioner has been ousted, the head of the relevant section has been put on administrative leave. The Justice Department has begun investigating the scrutiny given to conservative groups that sought tax exempt status and three congressional committees have held hearings bombarding IRS officials with questions.
In his national security speech Thursday, President Obama discussed drone warfare and the Guantanamo detention camp. But a third controversial issue went largely unmentioned: the use of interrogation methods that are tantamount to torture.
"Don't put your daughter on the stage," Noel Coward famously cautioned his imaginary Mrs. Worthington, and no wonder: Stage acting is one of the toughest professions imaginable. For all the potential triumph, there's hardly any job security — and more than a little potential for heartbreak and disappointment.
Gnomes marched their way into one of England's most prestigious gardening events this year. The 100th annual Chelsea Flower Show, which ends Saturday, opened its gates to the flower-friendly creatures for the first time.
With summer travel season just over the horizon, millions of Americans are poised to take off for family vacations. But before they reach their destinations, they'll likely endure security lines, luggage fees, tiny bags of pretzels and unexplained delays.
Patrick Smith, an airline pilot and columnist, has written a new book for curious fliers. It's called Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel: Questions, Answers and Reflections.
The Gateway Arch "is really a monument to the 20th century and to the height of American power," says historian Tracy Campbell.
Credit Joe Raedle / Getty Images
The Arch nears completion as the two legs stretch to within 6 feet of their intended 630-foot height on Sept. 25, 1965.
Workmen bring the keystone section into place on Oct. 28, 1965. The crane in the background lifted the 10-ton stainless steel section. The Mississippi River is to the right.
A 60-ton steel strut is lifted into place joining the two towers of the Arch on June 17, 1965.
Workmen close the gap on Oct. 28, 1965, as they insert a 10-ton keystone, completing three years of construction. A hydraulic jack atop the 630-foot arch forced the structure's legs apart for installation.
Credit Fred Waters / AP
The next-to-last 8-foot stainless steel section is fitted into the top of the Arch on Oct. 19, 1965.
The Gateway Arch was completed on Oct. 28, 1965. It is pictured above in 1976.
Credit Charles W. Harrity / AP
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis was conceived in the 1940s and completed in the 1960s. It was designed to symbolize the opening of the West. Here, it is shown under construction on June 17, 1964.
Credit Fred Waters / AP
Tracy Campbell is a history professor at the University of Kentucky and the author of three previous nonfiction books.
The iconic Gateway Arch — overlooking the Mississippi River from the St. Louis side — took almost a generation to build, but the 630-foot monument hasn't transformed the city as hoped in the four decades that have followed.
Conceived in the 1940s and completed in the 1960s, the history of the signature American symbol is described in Tracy Campbell's new book, The Gateway Arch: A Biography. The story has some surprising twists — including, Campbell says, a very early vision of an arch by the Mississippi: