I entered yet another NPR contest. I do this more often than I admit, and never end up winning. I lost a cartoon contest, a music contest and recently a fiction writing contest.
NPR has this Fiction contest called “Three-Minute Fiction” where people are invited to write a story that takes no longer than than three minutes to read (about 600 words). The challenge this time was to write a story where a character comes to town and someone leaves town.
As I did not win, I present it here for any interested parties to read. I also did a little illustration for it.
His model train set took up half the garage. There was no longer even room for a car. “I call it Clever Town.” Harold said as he gave a laugh and shrugged his shoulders. “It’s somewhat a time capsule of the bygone era of America in the 1940’s.” He pointed towards a steam train that emerged from a tunnel. “That’s a replica of an engine my grandfather worked on.”
“Really? Very impressive. You even carved all the little people on the sidewalks?” Rebecca asked as she leaned on her cane examining one of the more elaborate buildings. “What’s this House here?” she pointed to a large white Victorian in the center of the tiny town. “It’s very detailed.”
“The most wealthy family in town lives there.” He looked at his feet and raised his eyebrows like a shy child impressed with himself. “Spent five months making that house.”
“Nice, I have no artistic talent what so ever so this is all…” She paused mid sentence as her eye spotted a tiny sign in the window of the down town diner that read ‘NO COLOREDS.’…very interesting.” The freight train click clacked by, making it’s way around a three-foot tall mountain.
“That’s Pinky Bluff.” Harold held up his left hand, which had only four fingers. “You probably wondered how I lost my little finger.” He wrinkled his brow. “Cutting wood for that mountain.” He gave a quick glance at the hill as if he were afraid of it.
“ I, well, I hardly noticed.” Rebecca held up her cane. “You never asked why I have a cane after all.”
“Well, we’re both in our forties! Lucky our bodies even made it this far, right?” Harold laughed loudly at his own joke, his basketball sized stomach shivering. “Anyway, it’s our third date. No need for secrets.” He motioned towards the model train. “Now you know what I do with most of my spare time.”
Looking again at the landscape, Rebecca spied another village half way down the room sized train set. “Is that a different town?”
“Oh! Wait a moment!” Harold cut her off as if he remembered something important and moved to his workbench turning his back to her.
Rebecca walked towards the other small village that sat surrounded by little fake trees. The passenger train sped by the run down shacks that were populated with tiny black figures. There were chicken coops and an old car with missing wheels. “Shanty town.” She read the tiny sign that was posted near the village. Reaching out she picked up a tiny woman. They were carved into bent over poses, and looked as if they were dancing.
“Here we are!” Harold was suddenly behind her with one hand behind his back.
“Oh!” Rebecca turned as she slipped the carved woman into her pocket.
“It’s only our third date so, I hope you don’t think this odd…” from behind his back he revealed a tiny person with red hair and a cane. “It’s just from memory. Sorry, I may not have your face perfect.” He gently placed the tiny Rebecca at the Clevertown train station.
“Wow. I’m um, flattered but…” She motioned towards the shantytown. “What’s that about?”
“Oh, well that’s where the blacks live. They aren’t allowed in Clever Town. They steal stuff.” Harold let out a little snorting laugh. “I’m awful, I know.”
“You’re saying Shantytown is a village of kleptomaniacs?” Rebecca asked.
“Huh?” Harold squinted at her.
“People who steal things. Kleptomaniacs.” She rolled the tiny black woman in her pocket between her thumb and forefinger.