A STORY COLLECTION-IN-PROGRESS
The duties for Marc’s teaching fellowship at Sveučilište u Zagrebu were light. One lecture a week on Russian literature, pre-October Revolution. The university had assigned him a boxy office in the Hydrography department, with a map of the Adriatic pinned to his wall. In the afternoons, pale ochre light slanted through the narrow window onto his desk and his eye would track the line of sun until he had to switch on the table lamp. In periods of boredom he flipped through the files in the cabinets, examining the datasets of river discharges and the surveys of unpronounceable glacial lakes. The Black Sea’s morphology interested him the most and he would unfurl the large topographic map to study the three concentric rings—the basin’s core at its heart.
Notre Dame Review, 2017
In the Land of Lakes and Birds
The first noise to interrupt Vedran’s sunbathing on the back lawn was the sound of the hallway telephone. As soon as he had dismissed the call as unimportant, his wife stood at the back step, the receiver cradled to her chest, her loud voice trilling an order to pick up Josip from the train station. At his spot overlooking the lake, Vedran leaned into his lawn chair and swirled the remains of rakija in his glass. Even though he had not once met his wife’s rich cousin, he had never cared for the sound of him. Vedran drained his plum brandy and lobbed the glass toward the lake. Then he rose slowly and headed inside the house. In the hallway, guests were arriving to the party and he avoided them and left through the side door, car keys in hand.
Day One and reprinted by Little A Books, Fall 2017
Aleksander flew into Split not thinking of his ex-girlfriend or of his seriously ill father in Chicago. For the entirety of the flight, he had refused to look out of the window at the country of his birth. But in this moment the rolling land below fell away to the vast gleaming blue of the Adriatic. Out in the sea, scattershot islands lay off the coast. Tiny houses and churches lit up in a circus of reds and whites, and stands of leafy oak and juniper sheathed the islands, only fading out at the pebbled beaches. The airplane circled around, descending through the turbulence to set its course onto the gray landing strip lined with winking lights. Aleksander’s motion sickness tore at his stomach and left a dull ache in the back of his head. He couldn’t imagine the ferocity of his father’s cancer or the type of pain that required morphine. Years before, he had lost his mother to the war, and now he was on the verge of losing his father.
Notre Dame Review, 2018
Whole Body Warm
When Branko heard the trucks rumble past the apartment building, he was stealing the transistor radio his elderly mother kept by her bed. He stuck the small radio in his pocket, then stumbled through the hallway to the living room. From the second-floor window he could see the old women climbing down from the flatbeds. The women sat on little wooden stools and guarded the soiled sofas and mattresses and broken refrigerators set out on the sidewalk. Their hands clutched net bags stuffed with loaves of bread and hard fruit.
Black kites once flew over our country. They glided on warm thermals, soaring over forests and cornfields for mice and sparrows and for bloodied carrion left at the roadside. Katarina, you may recognize these birds of prey from the ornithological guidebook you studied during the lunchbreaks at your gimnazija, or from the lecture your grandmother delivered on the eve of your sixteenth birthday. One of these black kites measured one hundred and fifty-four centimeters in wingspan, and the darkness of its plumage intensified at its forked tail. The kite’s feathers were later plucked by the young soldier who shot the bird from the sky. He pressed his pocketknife into taut side of the kite’s cloaca, drawing the blade sideways and around, removing the anus with an expert flick. As he thrust his hand inside the cavity for the innards, a warm liquid smeared his fingers, his hand stained crimson.
Fiction International, Fall 2018