Real Fiction 4

The Monster Under the Bed

The clock struck midnight. The fateful hour. If you truly exist, give me a sign, Mimi said, bored and convinced that nothing was going to happen. An ominous rumble coming from under the bed had pierced the air – it sounded a bit vague at first but then it became frightening. She felt as if the ground was cracking open. The bed swayed, her skin tightened, her body had become numb. What had she done? What if her message had reached someone else? She started to pray. Please, don’t prove anything to me. I believe you exist, but please, leave. The bed cracked and the echo of a sigh slowly died away into the abyss. (Tatiana Crețu, translated by Valentina Mihai, The Monster Under the Bed)

In the Attic

She had grown up and bloomed. She’d become a real young lady. Two weeks before she’d come home holding hands with a boy. The father’s vision had grown blurry. What’s this blighter doing with you? Is that what I’ve raised you for? You come with the barber’s son? From this moment on, I never want to see you again. And he didn’t see her all summer long. Only the grandmother smiled when she gazed up at her house’s attic turned into a secret room. Through the cracks appeared out of the blue in the ashen planks, sneaked wandering glances. The world was in a different story. (Tatiana Crețu, translated by Ioana Ștefan, In the Attic)

I Have 24 Hours Left to Live

I had finished digging the trenches with my comrades, when my brother came with the news that I was getting older and my hope was hardening. Here, on the front line, you don’t think about tomorrow. You live or you die. I sigh and ask for a cigarette. I light it. I smell musty and heavy, just like wet and dirty clothes. What did you find out? Tell me, what did your brother tell you? You are her living mother. There’s nobody in the back. Do you hear? No one. We have no reinforcements. They left us in the will of the Lord. I do not end the thought that the machine guns start firing. Tomorrow? Which tomorrow? (Tatiana Crețu, translated by Laura-Elena Dobrin, I Have 24 Hours Left to Live)


I am a mosaic of the splinters of life, which sometimes slips over sadness like a menacing shadow, or joy like a caressing light. The mirror doesn’t lie to me. We are lurking. He shows me the child hidden in the seasons, with freedom hidden in the cage or with hope paddling through dreaming. The strange thing is that I don’t know much about myself either, but I rediscover myself late, shining with the uniqueness I initially received. I shake off the dusty permanence, but I feel the pain of the one who has too high expectations from their peers. (Tatiana Crețu, translated by Anca Cristina Georgiana Mihai, Self-Portrait)

Antique Store

That was the only place where Grandpa could wander off on his own. Among the dusty shelves of manuscripts, you could make out two familiar symbols: the pipe and the moustache. Tireless, he was the seeker of universal truth. The neatly stitched tabs between the grey covers absorbed him and opened up, calling him into a cave from which he forgot to come out or was no longer interested. The light dissipated and only then, he looked at his pocket watch silently and shook his head, shook off the entanglements of addiction. (Tatiana Crețu, translated by Liliana Popescu, Antique Store)