Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, translator and popularizer of Russian literature in the West. Wikipedia

Title: Dream Tales and Prose Poems
Author: Ivan Turgenev
Translator: Constance Garnett

THE BEGGAR

I was walking along the street … I was stopped by a decrepit old beggar.

Bloodshot, tearful eyes, blue lips, coarse rags, festering wounds…. Oh, how hideously poverty had eaten into this miserable creature!

He held out to me a red, swollen, filthy hand. He groaned, he mumbled of help.

I began feeling in all my pockets…. No purse, no watch, not even a handkerchief…. I had taken nothing with me. And the beggar was still waiting … and his outstretched hand feebly shook and trembled.

Confused, abashed, I warmly clasped the filthy, shaking hand … ‘Don’t be angry, brother; I have nothing, brother.’

The beggar stared at me with his bloodshot eyes; his blue lips smiled; and he in his turn gripped my chilly fingers.

‘What of it, brother?’ he mumbled; ‘thanks for this, too. That is a gift too, brother.’

I knew that I too had received a gift from my brother.

February 1878.

THE SPARROW

I was returning from hunting, and walking along an avenue of the garden, my dog running in front of me.

Suddenly he took shorter steps, and began to steal along as though tracking game.

I looked along the avenue, and saw a young sparrow, with yellow about its beak and down on its head. It had fallen out of the nest (the wind was violently shaking the birch-trees in the avenue) and sat unable to move, helplessly flapping its half-grown wings.

My dog was slowly approaching it, when, suddenly darting down from a tree close by, an old dark-throated sparrow fell like a stone right before his nose, and all ruffled up, terrified, with despairing and pitiful cheeps, it flung itself twice towards the open jaws of shining teeth.

It sprang to save; it cast itself before its nestling … but all its tiny body was shaking with terror; its note was harsh and strange. Swooning with fear, it offered itself up!

What a huge monster must the dog have seemed to it! And yet it could not stay on its high branch out of danger…. A force stronger than its will flung it down.

My Trésor stood still, drew back…. Clearly he too recognised this force.

I hastened to call off the disconcerted dog, and went away, full of reverence.

Yes; do not laugh. I felt reverence for that tiny heroic bird, for its impulse of love.

Love, I thought, is stronger than death or the fear of death. Only by it, by love, life holds together and advances.

April 1878.

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Vestal Review turns 18 this March. We will be able to vote.
To celebrate our 18th anniversary, we announce a fee-free 18x18x18 contest. 18 word stories with 18 characters titles and $18 prize. And you, our reader, will vote for the best entry among the five runner ups selected by our editorial team.
Submit here.

Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press is pleased to announce the publication of Short on Sugar, High on Honey: Micro Love Stories, edited by Mark Budman and Tom Hazuka (2018).

Short on Sugar

300 little love stories
7–13 words
101 pocket-sized pages
An exciting new anthology of micro fiction by over 200 authors from around the world.

Link

Vestal Review Pushcart nominations

Print Issue 49: “Masking Tape Over My Fortunate One” by Shoshana Surek
Print Issue 49: “In Its Entire Splendor” by Tara Isabel Zambrano
Print Issue 49: “Birth” by Timothy Parrish
Print Issue 50: “Her House” by Merrin Jones

Congratulations to all nominees and good luck.

Sue, Mark, Cameron, Santino, Anita & Gillian

Calligraphy by Jesse Bradley 

The man waiting in front of you for his coffee evaporates. The last of him asks: Why me? You wait for flecks of his blood to fall but it never comes.

Your neighbor wonders: Where am I going? When his son comes looking for him, you point to the empty set of clothes at your doorstep, then up to the sky where new questions linger:

Can you hear me?

What happened?

Is this it?

You stop looking up after the third day when you feel your wife’s hand disappear. She manages to contort what is left of her into cursive:

I’ll miss you.

You think about what your body will say when it’s your turn, but you’re not sure whether anyone would read it.