prose

Nora Verde: Until the Supplies Run Out

Antonela Marušić who now writes under her pseudonym, Nora Verde, was born in 1974 in Dubrovnik. She completed her degree in Croatian Language and Literature at the University of Zadar. She has published several collections of poetry as well as the semi-autobioraphical novel Posudi mi smajl (2010) (Lend Me a Smile), the novel Do isteka zaliha (2013) (Until the Supplies Run Out), and a collection of short stories O ljubavi, batinama i revoluciji (2016) (On Love, Beatings and Revolution). Marušić previously worked as a journalist and editor in the cultural sector as well as music, television and independent media. She is a contributor and editor for the feminist website Vox Feminae.


Her novel, Until the Supplies Run Out, which centers around a relationship between two female partners that is coming to a slow, painful and perhaps inevitable end in a city and a society that doesn’t accept their love is a stark, honest and thoughtful work.


Read an excerpt from Verde’s novel, Until the Supplies Run Out, below.
Translation by Paula Jurišić.



 

 

Until the Supplies Run Out by Nora Verde


She stood up from the couch gently rocking, when she finally got on her feet she headed towards the sink and turned on the tap leaving her whole arm under the stream of water.

- At some point, once everything falls into place, in a year or two, water will wash off all the guilt you can't stop yapping about. And guess what happens then?

- What?

- You'll start writing about it; won’t you? That’s exactly what you'll do. You just won't be able to wait to tell the world and the cultural audience about your painful relationship that lasted for six years. Otherwise, what else would you be writing about? Social dystopia? No, you wouldn't go there, it's not what you're good at, or what turns you on. You're an exhibitionist, just like those guys who jerk off in parks, only you fucking do it with words.

I sat on the kitchen floor, leaning against the wall and listening. Interrupting her was not an option, it seemed as though, after six hours of verbal beating, she finally got tired. I let her use up all the ammo she had left. My ego was no longer hurting anyway.

- You honestly think that the world is about to jerk off to your confessions?! After all, you pulled this off just to have something to prattle about on your laptop.

What she said has really hurt me, I muttered under my breath, thinking about what to say to her. The water kept running and I started to hate the sound of it, I waited for her to turn it off. Not a chance, though, as if the rustling, silvery water stream somehow made her brave and psychic. She cupped her hands together and drank. The amount of words spoken and tears dried has obviously made her thirsty. I was thirsty too, but I wasn't even thinking about stepping into her corner of the kitchen.

I had given up firing back at her; I had given up drinking water and opposing her. I would have given anything just to make my way out of there. During the session that took six hours I made three failed attempts to get the hell out of that place. Luna made me return every time, reining me in with a bit of guilt that made my tongue heavy and I kept staying just to hear more accusations, rants and questions.

When she finally turned off the damn tap, she came back with water stains on her T-shirt and on her hoodie and sat next to me. She looked refreshed, a bit more resigned, which is exactly what I was afraid of, those creepy moments of ceasefire and squinting through the scope. We kept quiet. I was getting ready, flipping the verbs, nouns and adverbs, trying to get the right combination on a slot machine in my head.

- I should leave – I said sighing heavily

She looked at me blankly

- Where to?

- Home. I'm wasted.

She wrapped her arms around her knees up and placed her chin on them. She groaned in what seemed to be a mixture of fatigue irony and protest. It was kind of erotic, when we least expected it. Suddenly, I wanted to stay a bit longer, but I immediately discarded such a foolish idea. I swallowed a bit of saliva, I wanted to push that urge deep down in my gastric well and drown it. I better not mess up such a fair and sporting chance of finally breaking free.

You're off to her place? - the question arose.

I didn't have to answer, she did it for me.

- You're definitely headed there, there's no way you'd go back to an empty flat now. You're way too weak for such a thing, I know you well.

I was slowly rising to my feet from that crouching position, trying not to look at Luna. She was sitting calmly in my peripheral vision. A moment later she jumped to her feet and stood right in front of me.

- Hold me, she said in a commanding tone.

I held her. With my eyes closed, and my senses numbed, I got only a whiff of her sweet sweat, but I handled it quite well. She wrapped her hands around my waist; loosening her grip she gently laid her head on my right shoulder and kept breathing.

- Honey, do you love me? – she whispered.

- Just say it one more time and I'll let you go for good, I will not be bothering you, you'll be proud of me, the coolest dumped person ever, in the whole region, as you’d put in those music essays of yours, get it…

She laid it all down in one breath, like a kid emptying his water gun in a couple of shots only. She looked at me with those watery eyeballs that were still red, waiting for an answer. I realized I needed to give it to her, she needed it desperately. I pulled my lower lip over the upper one moistening them, just to buy myself an extra second.

- Of course I do – I said automatically and felt my knees shaking. For the first time that evening, Luna managed to put up some sort of a twisted, second-hand smile.

We hugged again in front of the door.

 

***

I got into the elevator and glanced at myself in the filthy, peeling mirror. It seemed like a moment I will remember.

The descent was slow, numbers swirled hesitantly on a small square display.

As soon as I stepped out of it, I called Nev. She sounded tired, but it didn’t seem like I’ve awakened her from a deep sleep.

- Where are you? – she asked trying not appear nervous.

- In front of the building, where you left me last night.

- Do you want me to pick you up?

- If it's not a problem.

- Of course it's not a problem.

- Stop a bit further, though, in front of Lisinski, I’m too nervous to wait here, I'll walk.

- Ok, I'll meet you there in ten minutes.

I looked around; the street and the sidewalk were empty. It was just about to dawn, the coldest and the quietest hour. I didn’t mind the cold. I walked by a parked car, it was dotted with tiny droplets of dew. As I walked I ran my hand over the passenger side window. I was dreaming of a magic sponge to wipe my conscience with.

 

Translation: Paula Jurišić

 

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