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Three-Minute Fiction: 'A Day In The Sun'


This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee, in for Guy Raz.


HEADLEE: You know what that means. It's time for Three-Minute Fiction, our contest where listeners come up with original stories in under 600 words. The challenge this round was to write a story that revolves around a U.S. president - fictional or real. Our judge, the writer Brad Meltzer, will be deciding the winner in just a few weeks. Until then, here's an excerpt from one standout story.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: (Reading) President Williams sits nursing a beer in his private quarters. He feels confined, like a goldfish in a bowl. Between the Secret Service, his aides and the constant presence of the media pool, he rarely has a moment to himself. He wishes he could have just one day where he could disappear for a few hours. Pierre Dumand is summoned to the White House the next day. The Hollywood makeup artist receives many strange requests, but this is a first. He waits in a basement room and fidgets with the two suitcases he brought.

The door opens and four Secret Service agents enter, followed closely by President Williams. Putting out his hand, the president says: Pierre, you come highly recommended. Let's have some fun. Over the next two hours, Pierre utilizes all his skills. He applies pouches, wrinkles, wigs, prosthetic teeth, scars and body-shaping pads. He selects appropriate clothing to complete the look he's after.

The group is driven to a remote parking lot. One by one, they exit the car. The president is the last to get out. He leans forward on his cane, adjusts his ball cap and overcoat and steps away from the car. He hasn't been anonymous since a couple of years before he was elected. All he wants is a day in the sun and a reprieve from thinking about polls and his current likeability ratings. It's a gorgeous day. People are walking dogs, having picnics, tossing Frisbees and riding bikes.

The president steps onto a walking path that circles a lake and begins to smile. This is exactly what I need, he thinks. Maybe I'll have Pierre come once a month. At that very moment, he hears a piercing scream and turns to see a small child sinking below the surface of the lake.

HEADLEE: That was Susan Stamberg reading the story "A Day in the Sun" by Rita Bourland of Columbus, Ohio. To learn what happens next to our presidential hero, go to for the rest of the story. That's Three-Minute Fiction all spelled out, no spaces.

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

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