Ondrej Stefanik

Ondrej

 

TO SACRIFICE YOURSELF FOR SOMEONE ELSE

 

I can’t sleep. Every night I count until I fall asleep. Today I read online that every five seconds a child dies of hunger somewhere in the world. How many people die of hunger until I fall asleep? I can’t count anymore; I can’t feed the kids either. I know they’re going to die even if I don’t count at night. And yet as of today, I won’t be able to count sheep anymore. As of today, I’m counting dead people. There are more and more of them. I can’t get bad thoughts out of my head.

“Go ahead, sir, count the people dying of hunger if it helps you fall asleep. You won’t change the world anyway. You don’t have what it takes,” the voice in my head tells me. I have no idea why the voice in my head keeps calling me sir. A while ago I suggested it stop, but it didn’t want to hear about it. It thought it would be inappropriate. It calls me sir because it’s younger than me. When I was a kid the voice was quiet; it didn’t exist. I don’t recall the first time it spoke to me. I like it. Just like I liked Alica.

“I think of you every second,” Alica had said. That’s what she said to me fifteen years ago. I haven’t seen her for some seven – eight years. I wonder whether she still thinks of me every second. I’m going to count the seconds Alica thinks of me. Can anyone break the seconds down into change for me? They’re too big, too long, just useless. They don’t help me sleep at all. I imagine that by the time I fall asleep the whole world will die of hunger. Damned Internet with its damned statistics! I want to see Alica. I really want to see her right now. I want her to think of me every second. I always think of her in the spring. The first day of spring is The Holiday of Alica for me. Perhaps I should think of her now, I should think of her in the winter as well. I should think of her more often and pay back all the seconds her cheerful mind had once devoted to me. I wonder whether she’s still so cheerful. Probably not, when she got married. I just hope she’s not a fifth one. Every fifth woman gets abused. But I don’t suppose every fifth woman dies of hunger. I’m not sure though. I’ll check the data tomorrow. Alica is not fifth or sixth, or even second. She’s unlike any other. She is the only one. She’s the only thing of pure, undiluted love that added a new holiday to my calendar. I won’t fall asleep. That much is clear. I think I’ll ask the doctor for sleeping pills. I won’t need to count seconds anymore. Children will stop dying of hunger at night. Alica will stop thinking of me.

“Go take a walk, sir,” the voice in my head says.

“Now? In the middle of the night? In this cold?”

“So what? You used to sleep in the woods with Alica, under the stars,” it reminds me.

“But that was a long time ago, I’ve become dumber since then,” I say. “What if someone attacks me?”

“You could drive around the night streets, sir,” the voice says.

“A person dies in a car accident every second,” I explain. “I just find it weird to get out of bed and go wander around in the middle of the night.”

“Go outside, dress warm, smoke a cigarette or two, clear your head,” the voice continues.

Its ideas are usually quite good; I should listen to it. It is the reason why I never had a psychiatrist. I didn’t want him to get rid of the voice. It’s a good voice, it gives good advice.

I’m glad I got the sheepskin hat. Who knows how many sheepskin hats are being sold every second. I will take a walk around the building. It’s been snowing all evening. I can hear the snow crunching under my feet. I like the sound. I’m leaving deep footsteps in the virgin snow. Small steps for a man, a giant leap for mankind – those kinds of steps. And it’s actually the other way around. I’m the first man in front of the building to walk through the fresh snow. I’m as happy as a child. I am the first one. I was never first at anything. I never noticed what beautiful footsteps I’m capable of leaving in the snow.

The older I get the more I love winter. Naked trees, eye-pleasing black crows, children wrapped in layers of clothing like fat little onions. The infinite white fields next to the highway when I go skiing. The smell of tea. I feel this is what it’s supposed to be like. Summer, with its high temperatures is just an unavoidable evil, a practice for the big burning punishment humankind can’t escape. Winter is different. Beautiful and truthful. Carefree moonlight loves the white snow. It beams over the soul and the soul blossoms in the quiet white winter in a more truthful way than a spring meadow. For a moment I freeze, sincerely expecting to turn into a wolf so that I would be able to talk to the Moon, sing to it and ask what it’s like not to breathe, and how to fall asleep without counting. I’m aware that only wolves and fools may interrupt the Moon while it’s watching over the Earth’s rotation. I’m neither a wolf nor a fool. I go around the building and return to the front door to light a cigarette. It’s rather windy and cold. My face is freezing off and that’s a good thing, that’s how it’s supposed to be. The cold will freeze all irritating thoughts; it will preserve my head fresh for the morning. In the morning I will defrost all thoughts and pick those that don’t contain cholesterol to eat. I light the cigarette and head to the bench in front of the building. The building looks like it’s missing teeth; only a few windows shine with light. I need to buy a white coat and a white sheepskin hat. I will become invisible. That’ll be something. I clear the snow off the bench and sit down. There is a snowman standing across from me. He’s looking at me with two black stones. He doesn’t fit my idea of a snowman. Considering that he’s a man-made product he doesn’t seem humble enough or something. The branches in place of his arms stick up into the air from his snowball body and give the impression that he wants to start a wave at a hockey game. He irritates me. He looks like he’s alive, although I don’t know what a living snowman looks like. It’s just a feeling I have.

“Watch out, sir,” the voice in my head says.

“What for?” I ask.

“For the snowman,” the voice says.

“Why?” I inquire. The voice is silent as if someone blew all the pollen off its wings.

“Do you have a smoke?” I hear a squeaky voice from somewhere. It’s not the voice in my head. I shiver. I look around. Not a soul.

“So? Can you spare one?” It’s the squeaky voice again. It sounds like the winter wind pressing against the windows. In a state of shock, I look at the snowman.

“I could use a fucking cigarette. I watch the smokers all day, they look so peaceful,” the voice continues. This is impossible. It’s him. The snowman.

“Why don’t you answer? You don’t talk to white people? You Nazi!” the snowman yells.

I never spoke to a snowman before. My fear morphs into joy. This is, after all, an exciting event. What can happen to me? Nothing. He’s not going to stab me with his carrot nose, is he.

“Do you really want a cigarette?” I ask the snowman.

“Well? Can you spare one?” The snowman goes on.

“Don’t you know that every ten seconds a person dies of lung cancer?”

“Do I look like a person to you?” he asks rudely.

“No, you don’t, but still, it’s not healthy.”

“Man, first of all, I don’t have any lungs, and, second, I’ve been diagnosed with melting. I have two to three weeks to live, tops. So hand me a damn cigarette.”

“You mean I should bring it to you?” I ask, slightly alarmed.

“No, I will roll over to you, idiot,” the snowman replies.

I don’t know. What if he’s a homicidal snowman? A talking snowman must be homicidal. Are there any other options? Why is the voice in my head silent? It should give me some advice. Should I get up and offer a cigarette to the snowman? I move closer, the snowman’s about a meter away. My knees start shaking. The snowman is staring at me with his black stones; they don’t look friendly at all.

“Are you serious? Are you really afraid of a snowman? I might turn into an avalanche.”

The snowman starts laughing. I relax a little. I jump towards him. I stick the cigarette into the snowball, right under the carrot nose, and I step back.

“Well thanks. You could also light it up for me,” the snowman says rationally. I pull the cigarette out of the snowman and press the cold filter to my lips. I grab the lighter and I light the cigarette the fourth time I try. I take a few puffs and put it back under the snowman’s carrot.

“Too bad I can’t inhale and exhale smoke,” the snowman states sadly. “Guess I’ll just fucking quit since I don’t get anything out of it,” he laments.

I go back to the bench. I don’t want to be too close to him. You never know. I take my gloves out of my jacket. My hands are cold. I look at the snowman. My thoughts are frozen.

“Stupid branches! Do these look like arms to you? How am I supposed to strangle people with these?” The snowman screams in a fit of madness.

“I think it’s natural for snowmen to have branches for arms. Why does it bother you? It’s perfectly normal for your kind. Do you think a chicken minds not having arms?” I’m trying to calm him down.

“I’m not a chicken. Could you get me some proper arms?”

“What would you need them for?”

“For strangling people when they piss me off. Or to fix my shape a little, those stupid kids can’t even make a proper snowball. Just look at me! I look like a white piece of horse shit,” the snowman complains and continues angrily: “I will strangle those kids who shaped me this poorly!”

“I think you look just fine. Life is all about your personal feeling,” I say, trying to help him cope with life.

“You don’t find it strange that a snowman that’s been standing here for just two days has a vocabulary this rich? Where did he learn all that?” The voice in my head finally speaks up.

“What do you mean by that?” I ask the voice and I simultaneously watch the snowman’s black stones staring at me in an evil way.

“I’m just wondering, sir, whether you are sure he is really a snowman,” the voice says and continues: “Three snowballs on top of each other, standing here for only a few of days – a snow tabula rasa. How does he know all that?” the voice asks.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s just a natural instinct or something. How do newborn turtles know they should run towards the sea?“ I ask philosophically. The voice is quiet. Sometimes it must think I’m completely stupid.

“What’s bugging you?” the snowman asks.

“How’s it possible that you’re alive? Why can you talk? And know the meaning of words?” I question him.

“I’m made of snow, that’s why,” the snowman replies.

“I don’t understand that.”

“You can’t understand. The snow knows more than you do. You will never understand that. Because you’re only human,” the snowman explains. I still don’t understand.

“As far as I know, snow is just frozen water.”

“And water is fundamental for the existence of life on Earth. What’s more alive than water?” the snowman says. His tone gets friendly.

“But so what? The water tap or a bottle of mineral water don’t talk,” I argue.

“See, if I had arms instead of these stupid branches, I would smack your face right now. Go get me some arms!” the snowman is raging.

The voice in my head clears its throat; it wants to say something: “You need to melt him down, turn him back into water, dive as deep into it as you can, find your demon there and cut it’s throat. How long can you last under the water without breathing, sir? In this water, you will need to last for a long time; you’ll need to suffer without breathing for a very long time. This is not like slipping during baptism and dropping to the bottom of the Jordan,” the voice in my head says, its tone serious.

“This is bullshit. What are you talking about?” I ask. I have to admit it caught me off guard.

The voice in my head goes on: “You better get some gill implants,” it says.

“Sometimes I don’t understand what you’re saying,” I reply.

“I’m serious, man. Please. I need arms,” the snowman interrupts us.

“Where am I supposed to get you arms?” I’m getting irritated. I’m starting to get really cold.

“How about the morgue,” the snowman suggests.

“Are you crazy?”

“I don’t have much time left. I’ll melt soon. Couldn’t you do this for me? Run to the morgue and get me some arms. Dead people don’t need arms. But I need them. Did you ever make a sacrifice for someone?” the snowman sounds desperate. He tries to blackmail me emotionally.

“You’re not someone but something. I’m not going to make a sacrifice for you. I’m not taking any risks or cutting off dead people’s arms for a mass of snow,” I say and I get up from the bench. I’ve lost interest in the snowman. I always lose interest in things that I have to make a sacrifice for. I’m going home.

“You fucking asshole! I’ll melt in seventeen days. Let me have arms! Please! I’m begging you! You heartless cowardly bastard! Or at least one last smoke you disgusting fuck!” The snowman’s yelling at me. I’m not listening to him. I start running toward the front door.

“I swear if someone gets me arms, I will strangle you!” The crushed snowman screams. I can hear him cry.

I finally get to my apartment. I take off the soaked winter clothes. The north wind is whistling inside my head. It’s strong and rumbling. I wash my head with warm water. I throw on a T-shirt and sweats and I fall on the bed. My head hurts. The snowman’s got seventeen days until meltdown. How many hours is that? How many minutes? I’ll count them all and I’ll fall asleep for sure. I hope I will finally fall asleep. How the hell am I supposed to fall asleep when a snowman wants to strangle me? I think I’ll never fall asleep again. Until that snow monster melts down.

In bed, my thoughts gradually defrost. I’m getting out of the bed again. I get dressed, run down the stairs and quickly walk outside. It takes me a while to rid the car of the snow blanket. I manage to back up. It’s almost 2am. I’m headed to the 24-hour Tesco. The streets are empty. It stopped snowing. I linger, like a kid on a bike. A big red snow plow in front of me is clearing off the snow. The voice in my head is quiet. I light up a cigarette and open the window. Silence is all around me. I love silence. Silence is vanishing from the world. You can’t recycle it; the reserves of silence aren’t limitless. I will have to visit the Moon pretty soon. There is plenty of silence there. All you can hear is the howling of wolves, which I don’t mind. Just the opposite. I consider the howling of wolves a form of silence. I make it to Tesco. No problem with parking spots. I don’t need a shopping cart. I can carry two arms in my arms. I don’t know why but this massive lit-up shopping cube, sticking out of the snow, reminds me of a monument. I just wonder whom this monument is dedicated to. Which fallen ones? There are only a few people inside. While Tesco looked like a monument on the outside, on the inside it’s a gigantic psychiatric clinic, lit up by neon into an artificial white. The few customers are severely ill patients who have been prescribed the pushing of shopping carts instead of electric shocks. I stroll through the aisles that have nothing to offer me. I have only one goal. To find the clothing department. To find a mannequin. To find arms. I finally bump into a plastic lady dressed in a red coat. I look around. I’m trying to track down a sales person. No one in sight. The end of the world. I walk a couple of feet and find a redhead in a uniform. A nice looking girl.

“Excuse me, I need to ask you something,” I approach her politely.

“Go ahead,” she says and gives me a tired smile.

“Do you see that mannequin?” I point with my finger.

“I do,” the redhead replies without interest. I quickly count the freckles on her pretty face, even though I can’t afford to fall asleep right now.

“I’m interested in that mannequin. How much is it? Although I just need the arms,” I tell her.

“You want the coat?”

“No, I want to buy the mannequin, or just its arms, if that’s possible,” I explain. The redhead looks nervous. Her frightened eyes search for a colleague, as if she suddenly got scared of me.

“That’s just a mannequin. It’s not for sale,” she informs me and starts walking away. How ignorant. I follow her and grab her shoulder. She turns around, frightened.

“But I really need it. It’s for a friend of mine. He only has a few days left to live. He needs the mannequin urgently. I’m not crazy. I’m a completely sane person. This is a question of life or death,” I insist, still squeezing her tiny young shoulder.

“Take your hand off me or I’ll call the security,” the redhead threatens.

“I apologize, but is there a way to find out if I can buy that mannequin? For my friend. It’s serious.” My tone is urgent as if it really was a case of life or death.

“What does he need the mannequin for?” she asks, this time with genuine interest.

“To keep him company until he dies,” I reply, realizing that it might sound a little insane. I should’ve come up with a more effective strategy to obtain a mannequin that’s not for sale. I guess my head’s not defrosted enough.

“I will ask my boss. Come with me,” she says encouragingly. I follow her pretty ass. Why have I never done it with a redhead? I’ll have to do something about that.

“This gentleman would like to purchase a mannequin. It’s a question of life or death,” the redhead explains factually. Her boss is a pale and small bald man with slanted eyes. Forty-ish, a nerd. His tie falls a good inch under the collar of his shrunken blue shirt. I realize this man won’t have the balls to make a decision outside of his manual; he’d pass out. He’ll no doubt need to get approval from someone above him and I really don’t think his boss works nights. It’s hopeless. Wrong time for sacrifices.

“Unfortunately the mannequins are not for sale,” he confirms what I expected.

“But I need it urgently. It’s a matter of life or death. A very noble cause.” I try to push the boss’s buttons. I’ve put everything into my sacrifice. The boss scans me with his slanted eyes. He doesn’t understand; he doesn’t want to.

“Unfortunately it’s not for sale, but we have an amazing deal on frying pans. 60 percent off,” he says.

“OK. Here’s the deal. I will buy ten frying pans. Full price. I will buy meat past the expiration date. And in return, you will sell me the mannequin,” I suggest. The boss starts to think. That’s a good sign. The redhead gives me a nice smile. I’ll give her a call tomorrow.

“What do you need the mannequin for? Why is it a matter of life or death?” the boss asks suspiciously and his narrow slanted eyes grow into ovals.

“It’s not for me. It’s for a good friend of mine. He’s melting, dying, actually. He needs company, and I can’t be with him all the time, I have to work. I don’t have time at all. So I have to place a mannequin next to his bed. He doesn’t even notice anymore. He won’t know the difference, he won’t know it’s not me.” I’m begging as if I was begging God to save mankind.

“But you just wanted the arms. That doesn’t make sense. I don’t get it,” the redhead says.

“Did you really just want the arms?” the boss asks in surprise and his oval eyes blow up into circles. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m a deviant lunatic now.

“I thought the arms would be enough, I was desperate. I wasn’t thinking,” I stutter.

“Unfortunately we can’t help you. Pick something else,” says the bald asshole and his eyes go back to narrow lines.

“How much do you want for the mannequin?” I ask him vigorously, like a Gestapo commander and take a roll of hundreds out of my pocket. The boss grabs his bare chin and scratches it with his index finger. The slanted eyes are turning back into ellipses.

“600 euros,” he says suddenly, as if someone had sprinkled him with fairy dust.

“That’s a little steep, don’t you think? It’s a matter of life or death, after all. It’s unethical to ask that much when the cause is noble,” says the redhead who, after this statement, will never be able to become the employee of the month.

“OK, fine, 400 euros,” the boss bargains, looking spitefully at his subordinate.

“If I wanted just the arms, how much would that be?” I inquire.

“Unfortunately, we don’t sell the arms separately. You need to get the whole thing. Without the coat and trousers, naturally.”

“Alright. I’ll give you 300.”

“400,” the bald guy insists.

“Fine.”

“And without the wig,” he adds, acting all strict. He’s in shape now. He’s got the upper hand and it’s filling him with joy. In a moment, he’ll ask me to hand over my lunch bag and pretend to be a dog. All the bullying his classmates put him through when he was a child – he’ll take it out on me. His eyes have turned into circles, circles rounder than those in the Olympics logo.

“And what about those frying pans on sale? Of course you will buy those too, like you promised,” the boss says.

Then he waves at the huge security guard, a man with the eyes of a wild prehistoric dinosaur. Only the ice age could take him down. After the security guard arrives, the price goes up to 700 euros. Every person calculates a different price when it comes to matters of life or death.

“You know what I just thought of?” the redhead I’m soon going to ask out for a drink suddenly shouts, her face all happy.

“We have those large dolls! They’re about three feet tall. They don’t really look like an adult person but if your dying friend doesn’t even register anymore… If you have the doll standing on a chair, it will be as tall as a grown person. And it only costs 40 euros and has both arms too. It looks quite realistic.” The redhead’s idea is great. The security guard turns red with anger. The slanted eyes of the bald boss shoot through the redhead’s skull; he’s just fired her non-verbally.

“That’s a fantastic idea,” I say. I’m happy. The redhead takes me to the toy department. She shows me the large dolls. They look very realistic indeed; and the arms are just fabulous.

“Do you need a hug?” she asks unexpectedly. “I know what it’s like to lose a friend,” the redhead says sadly and throws herself around my neck.

I feel like a conman. But I’m here for the right reasons. I’m trying to help someone. I’m trying to buy arms for a desperate snowman. I don’t need to feel remorseful. Just the opposite.

“Maybe your friend will make it,” the nice redhead girl says.

“Can I have your phone number? Maybe we could go for a drink sometime,” I say to her without hesitation. The hug ends.

“You’ve got time to go for a drink, but you want to leave a doll at your dying friend’s bed?” she asks accusingly.

“I just needed to talk to someone,” I try to improve my destroyed image.

“So, are you going to take the doll?” she asks with a professional distance.

“Of course, and thank you for the tip. I owe you,” I thanked her. I want to suggest to her that we could go out for a drink after my friend dies. In a couple of days. In the end, however, I chose my dignity. Thank god.

The doll sits comfortably on the back seat. It’s got black curly hair. It’s staring at me in the rearview mirror with blue vampire eyes. These dolls must be a form of punishment for kids. I’m hoping it won’t start talking to me. I’m hoping it won’t ask for a cigarette and beg me to find it a vagina. Thank god it’s silent. Poor doll. I will have to tear out its arms. It shouldn’t mind. Why is it staring at me like that? I pull over and throw a rug over its head. No talking please. No more conversation.

“Watch out for that doll,” the voice in my head says and I nearly crush into a tree. “I was just joking,” the voice says and starts laughing.

“Really funny,” I reply and inhale deeply. I hope I have a saw at home. I think I do.

When I got home I sawed off both of the doll’s arms. I left the rug on its head the whole time. I wouldn’t be able to bear its look. I had no idea a sacrifice for the happiness of a snowman could be this draining, physically and emotionally. I put the small plastic arms into a bag. I feel like a serial killer, not someone who just sacrificed himself for someone else. I had to take the murderously snowy road to Tesco, pay almost 700 euros, and act like a deviant weirdo who hunts for mannequin arms and goes out for drinks with the ladies while his friend is melting away.

The snowman didn’t say a word. While I was gone his stone-cold look got even colder. Standing in front of him and smiling a victory smile, I reached into the plastic bag and produced two arms.

“You broke into a morgue because of me?” the snowman asked with astonishment. Life returned into his stone-like eyes.

“Into Tesco,” I answer, excited. It’s great to sacrifice yourself for someone. I feel as if I’ve just been canonized.

“What kind of arms are these?” the snowman inquires.

“Regular arms. Just like human,” I say. The excitement is still pleasantly pulsing through my whole body.

“Fuck, these are doll’s arms. Do I look like a stupid toy to you?!” The snowman is furious.

“You should be happy you got something. Do you have any idea what I had to go through because of you!?” I scream. All the excitement has vanished like a brief storm over a village.

“How am I supposed to strangle people with these arms?” the white ungrateful creature asks me.

“You’re not going to strangle anyone. That’s not why I got you the arms. Promise me you won’t strangle anybody or I won’t give the arms to you.”

“I don’t even have to promise you that. I can’t strangle shit with these tiny arms,” says the snowman, annoyed.

“You could show more excitement.”

“It’s not my fault I’m so cold,” he pouts.

I remove his branches. I insert a plastic arm on each side. I turn the arms upwards, to make him look like he’s excited about something. I step away a bit and take a look at him. He looks strange. He’s no longer a snowman, but a strange object, a weird piece of art. He looks scary.

“So? How do I look?” the snowman asks.

“Pretty good,” I say. I lie.

“Can you turn one of my arms so that it faces down, please?” The snowman asks me. I grab the plastic arm and turn it to face down. I bend the plastic joint, so he can rest the hand on his snow hip. The other arm stays up, pointing to the sky.

“Sieg heil!” the snowman screams and starts to laugh manically.

“Stop it!” I scream at him.

“Shut your mouth already! People sleep at night! Get lost! I’ll call the police. Or I’ll come down and kick your ass!” someone yells from one of the windows.

“You’re crazy,” I tell the snowman.

“Not sure who’s crazy here. Who’s talking to a snowman in the middle of the night and even gives him plastic hands from a doll,” the snowman is chuckling.

“You know what? I hope you melt away slowly and painfully. This is the first time I’ve made a serious sacrifice for someone and instead of a thank you I get a sieg heil. This was a mistake. Fuck you. Do you hear me?” I’m screaming at him. Nothing. He’s silent like a snowman.

“Hey! Hey, you snow monster! Why don’t you fucking say something!!!” I’m screaming at the top of my lungs. The snowman is silent.

“I called the police! I really can’t wait to get up for work in the morning! Thanks for a great night you asshole!” The voice is coming from the window.

I stare at the snowman with rage. I stand helplessly in front of him for about five more minutes. The snowman is silent. I love silence but right now I hate it. Say something! Silence. I can see a police car in the distance. I run toward the building. I run up the stairs, into my apartment, and I slam the door shut. I sit down on a chair in the hallway. My head is about to explode. I’m breathing heavily.

“Did you really need this?” the voice in my head asks. I’m not answering. An unbearable anxiety has taken hold of me. I feel horrible, gloomy, dizzy. At least I don’t have to count. My eyes are tearing up. I hit rock bottom.

“Oh my God!” a terrified baby-girl voice sounds from the bedroom. I feel a drill boring into my head, and a chainsaw, all the tools from the hardware store are trying to take me apart.

“Oh my God, oh my God, where are my arms!?” the baby voice is shrieking, horror-like. Desperate frightening screams fill up the whole apartment. I freeze like a block of ice. Suddenly a shot of adrenalin hits my brain and my body; I’m not going to pass out anymore.

“Who took my arms?! My God, where are my arms?!” I start to count. I count the pennies I paid for the doll. One penny, two pennies, three pennies, four pennies, five pennies, someone died of hunger, six pennies, seven pennies…

“Where are my arms? Where are my arms? Help! Is anyone here? Please, someone help me!” cries the armless doll.
 
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ONDREJ ŠTEFÁNIK ( b.1978), a graduate of the Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, made his debut with a book of short stories, Pštrosí muž (Ostrich Man) in 2011. A novel, Bezprsté mesto (Fingerless City) followed in 2012 and has been shortlisted for the prestigious Anasoft Litera Prize 2013. For some years Štefánik has been professionally involved in advertising and holds many awards for creativity.
 
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About the Translators:

 
LUBA SPEAR-PIACKOVA graduated from Comenius University in Bratislava in 2001 with an MA in Marketing Communication and Cultural studies. She moved to New York City shortly after and briefly worked for a small local newspaper in Brooklyn. She spent the last eight years helping to shape brand, digital and most recently the Social Media content strategy for a small financial firm in Manhattan. Luba lives in Brooklyn, NY.
 
MARIA MODROVICH is a Czechoslovak-born (1977) writer and journalist dividing her time between Bratislava and NYC. Her short-story collection Lu & Mira was published in 2011 and her novel, The Silent Mode came out in November 2013. Her fiction has been featured in various magazines, such as 3:AM, Litro, Kinglux (UK), Anderbo (US), The Prague Revue (CZ) and Pravda (SK). She has translated David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water” into Slovak (2013) among other translation work. Her website is modrovich.com

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