The sponge was the name of the IRTA bus with commuters from Sălăjan going back to the countryside. People who worked at 23 August, Republica, Anticorozivu', Policolor, dropping them off at Budești, Șoldanu, Luica, Nana, Valea Stânii. They carried sacks of bread from Bucharest to their villages to give to other people. I had become immune to sweat and alcohol. I sometimes found myself with a one-litter green bottle of stinky plum brandy slurped by their stale, poor mouths. I put my mouth on it, for they were urging me to act like a man. I got off. I was breathing. Holding a sack of bread.

(Translated by Ana-Maria Batog / 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 June 2023, the group has 11,430 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, Luchian Abel, and Vlad Mușat. (Drawing by Adrian T. Roman)

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

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