PRISM 53:1 launched last weekend at Word Vancouver! Can’t wait to read it? Here’s an excerpt from “Postcard from the Adriatic” by Jasmina Odor, whose work has been featured in The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, and The Journey Prize Stories 24. If you’re intrigued, pick up a copy of PRISM 53:1 to read the full story!
In the summer of 1992, Ivana and Melita tanned themselves mercilessly. They were young, and uncertain and determined at once. Ivana was naturally darker, olive-skinned and dark-haired, and Melita blue-eyed and freckled, but both burned, peeled, and burned again. That summer, the four hotels of the beach complex Luna on the Dalmatian side of the Adriatic coast were filled with refugees. The girls, though also displaced, were not staying in any of the hotels; they had to walk for over an hour to get to the beach. That it was worth it was a given: the beach stretched for kilometres; it was sand and rock and concrete and forest and picnic tables and waterless swimming pools and endless possibility. They had both turned thirteen that year and had boyfriends, of a sort, who lived in the hotels; these boyfriends were a recent, start-of-summer development. Ivana and her boyfriend Marko would swim out far and hug and grope in the water, or walk off into obscure, wooded parts of the beach, to squeeze each other tightly on a bed of pine needles and inhale the scents of lavender and sweaty, sunned skin. Melita and Johnny had their places too: one, a room with a small window through which the sun shone with the sharply outlined intensity of light seen through a tunnel’s opening. The possibilities of the beach were grand.
The girls were cousins; their mothers were sisters. Since the previous fall they had been settled in a small cabin with Ivana’s mother and grandmother. Melita’s mother was in Austria, scrubbing toilets and polishing armoires, and sending German marks to the cabin’s address every month. Ivana’s father was on the front, and Melita’s father had not existed for her, not as a tangible physical shape, since the beginning of her memory. The cabin was in a tiny factory town on the outskirts of a Dalmatian city; it was the summer house of a distant relative, and the lock on it had needed to be broken. That much the girls did know, but the reason that they had ended up here in particular was a gap in their understanding, something vague and complicated. It was one of many things that the adults (either carelessly or deliberately, it was hard to tell), did not explain to them.