3 Minute Fiction--Round 11

NPR sponsors this writing contest every few weeks, Three-Minute Fiction, where they give you a themed writing prompt and you have a week to write 600 words on it. A famous author then picks the winner and the winner gets published in The Paris Review. I've tried this contest about three times now and have never had a story picked or even featured on their website where they post some of their favorite entries. But it's still a good daily exercise. What I've done the last few times around is to write a different one each day, and then pick the one I like best to work on to submit. I did four this time, and one was a definite dud; the other three were workable. 

The prompt this time was this: Write a story in which a character finds an object that he or she has no intention of returning.

I wrote one on finding a letter on the ground, another about finding a dog, and then this one below about finding a body. The one I submitted was okay--not 100% worked out though. After the contest is over, maybe I'll post it here. 
I didn't submit the one copied below .It just seemed too far fetched, and a lot like the S. King short story, "The Body" (which later became the movie, Stand by Me), ans because I couldn't work out the ending, and finally, because it didn't quite fit the prompt. But I liked writing it in second person plural with the narrator intruding halfway through. Some of it is okay.

Boy
The abandoned house appeared just when we needed it most. We were thirteen and didn't like our parents. A cliché, of course, but each of us had good reason. Jodie’s dad was an abusive ex-Marine who made her eat soap when he thought she was exaggerating. After Karen’s's dad left, her mother ballooned up into a size too big for public viewing. Kendra's parents spent most of their time away from home with their respective lovers. The rest of us--well, who didn't have some reason to hate their parents? I can't remember who discovered that the house in the woods had a rusty back door, that we could easily slip. The rooms were empty except for odds and ends of furniture--a musty smelling paisley couch with broken springs, three straight backed kitchen chairs with missing rungs, a huge, empty traveling trunk full of quicksilver bugs. At first, we worried that someone might show up--a realtor or a care taker, but the more time we spent there, the more it started to feel like our place. Julie stole her mother's lavender scented candles to mask the smell of mold and Jeannine discovered by accident that the electricity was still turned on and so showed up one night with two table lamps that cast perfect rings on the splintery floor while we sat around, talking about boys and smoking Lisa's mom's Kool cigarettes.

I forget who found the body, but it was probably Jodi, because we didn't believe her at first (she was still prone to exaggeration despite the many lessons with Ivory soap). She said, No, you guys, I'm not kidding, come down to the basement with me, please, please. Some of us wanted to wait until daylight, and others of us thrilled at the idea of something happening, anything that would take us away from our own lives. We held each other’s shirt tails as we walked to the basement and she pointed to a corner, and we leaned in over the duffel bag she'd unzipped and saw it. His skin had dried up to the color of almonds, and stretched tight across his face, wrinkly, like an old man, but his body was small, maybe the size of a seven or eight year old. He wore an Atlanta Braves t-shirt and jeans.

Lisa, the smartest of us all, said that he’d been there for years and years, and that he’d become a mummy, like the boy king we’d read about in history.   

Julie panicked and heaved in the corner, and we glared at her. She was prone to dramatics.

We debated all that night and most of the next week what to do. Tears were shed, we got into fights, we hung up the phones on each other, but for some reason, we never told anyone about the body. We got into other things, some of us found other ways to distract ourselves. My brother got caught with LSD and our family was preoccupied by that, but it's not as if I ever forgot the boy.
Years and years later, my mother sent me a clipping from the local section of the paper, about how some other kids had found him, and immediately told. The authorities still weren't sure who he was, they just called him the Lost Boy in the Basement.
I don't talk to any of those girls now. They've vanished into their own lives. We promised we would never turn into our parents, but I suspect most of us have.

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