Laura Stanciu
I remember Zota, the vagabond. He had a red beard, always dressed in cloth trousers, jacket, and a green vest. He wore a hat and light-colored shoes during any season. That's how he passed by our gate during one winter. It was snowing heavily. He kept his collar up. He stopped and leaned against the fence. He caught his fingers through some metal loops. I was playing. He put his arm up, waving at me to make sure I saw him. I waved back at him. It must have been '83 when I last saw him.

Mihaela Popa
As a child, I used to go with Plugușorul[1] through my grandparents' village. Somewhere you could hear the goat Dance. On the street, we spotted a group of masked men. The one who was leading was the scariest one. He had a big beard and horns. My sister and I ran towards the first open gate. No one answered at the door. We wanted to go through the garden, but there an angry dog was waiting for us. We were speechless with fright. We passed right under the nose of the struggling dog on the chain, and then stepped onto the furrow. Just a bit more, and we arrive at home. It was already noon, and we were hungry.

[1] Plugușorul is the name of a Romanian New Year's tradition and carol.
Julia Sandu
That winter was very hard. The dwarf had died of Covid and Goliath maddened by the loss of his lover, had fallen into depression, and was lifeless and catatonic. The circus was decimated by the virus; even the fearless artists without nets, the trapeze artists, became utility climbers, destroying the crow nests that had invaded the city, drawn by the scent of shallowly buried corpses. There was nothing left that he could do. He had no money, not even for vodka. Swallowing his pride, he applied for Femina Club, for a job as Santa Claus. Afterall he was the bearded lady.

(Translated by Maria-Ilinca Darie / University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I / 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 January 2024, the group has 12,500 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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