Hrihorii Șevcenko was living his life in a constant frown, and if you were to salute him, without looking him in the eye, he would spit on the ground. Otherwise, his posture was as straight as the oak from which he used to carve doors to heavens, as he would call them - his eyes lighting up - the coffins, until he finished his bottle. When the war started, he hid three coffins in the shed. And three crosses - for his sons on the battlefield. That's all he could do for them. The Russians found them and accused him of sabotage. He asked for a cigarette and let out a sigh and a puff of smoke, but his forehead was serene. He had gotten rid of the great punishment: to see his children dying.

(Translated by Ana Spînu / University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II / Corrected by Silvia Petrescu, coordinator of the translations)

Real Fiction is a collective project started in 2013 by Florin Piersic Jr. The concept of Real Fiction continued to exist as a Facebook group, after a volume of stories was published at Humanitas Publishing House. (In September 2022, the group has 9,250 members.) The authors write ultra-short stories, with the texts limited to 500 characters (in Romanian, so the length of the English translation might be a little different) - a flash-fiction exercise on a topic that changes every few days. The group's coordinators are Florin Piersic Jr., Gabriel Molnar, Răzvan Penescu, and Luchian Abel. (Drawing by Adrian T. Roman)

Versiunea în română a acestui text se poate citi aici, în rubrica Ficțiuni Reale.

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