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.
In 2005, Lance Cpl. Travis Williams lost his squad to an IED. He was the only survivor.
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams' squad, front row, from left: Michael Cifuentes, Christopher Dyer, Justin Hoffman, Aaron Reed, Edward August Shroeder, Eric Bernholtz. Back row, from left: Grant Fraser, Nicholas Bloem, Timothy Bell,Brett Wightman, Travis Williams, David Kreuter.
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams, 29, is an Iraq War veteran — and the only post-9/11 Marine to lose every other member of his 12-man squad. It happened in August 2005, when Williams and his teammates were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq.
"That morning, we loaded into the vehicle," Williams recalls. "And I get tapped on the shoulder, and I got told that I need to bounce up to the next vehicle. I said, 'Catch you guys on the flipside.' And that was the last thing I ever said to them."
A bride and groom exchange rings during a traditional Indian wedding ceremony. Although most marriages in India are still arranged, a growing number of women are taking matters of the heart into their own hands, using social networking clubs and matrimonial websites.
Simran Mangharam and her husband, Siddharth, founded Floh, a network for India's singles. They got the idea from their own first meeting at a friend's party.
In India, some of the most entertaining reading on a Sunday afternoon is found in the classified ads. Page after page, the matrimonial section trumpets the finer qualities of India's sons and daughters.
Parents looking to marry off their children often place ads such as this one: "Wanted: Well-settled, educated groom for fair, beautiful Bengali girl, 22, 5'3"."
The matrimonial ads are a hallowed tradition in the quest to find a life partner — part of the institution of matchmaking that is as old as the country itself.
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.
Will teaching in English at France's universities undermine the French language? That's up for debate in the country now, and the argument is heated.
The lower house of parliament approved a measure Thursday that would allow courses to be taught in English, something that is currently against the law.
Those in favor of the proposal say it will attract more international students and improve English language skills of French students. But opponents say the move will only impoverish and marginalize the country's tongue.
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.