prose

Enver Krivac: Wormrumours and Thumbelinas

LIT LINK FESTIVAL 2017

Enver Krivac (1976.) is a multidisciplinary artist from Rijeka.
Versatile in his expression, inspired by pop-culture and extra-literary sources, Krivac produces short stories, comics and music described by the critics as poetic, imaginative and playfull. His short stories collection „Nothing to write about home“ (2013) won the national literary award Prozak, and was proclaimed by the critics as „an encyclopedia of ideas, but also of many possible approaches to changing those ideas to literature“. He is known for his experimenting with language, aesthetics and humor. His writing style has „a simplicity that both enchants and frightens“. He is also a member of a musical collective Japanese Prime Ministers in which he acts as a co-author and a producer.



 

wormrumours

 

We had this dog; they called him Darky, which is saccharin for Dark, which is aspartame for Black. Granddad brought it home and said he will not take care of him. Me neither, said everyone else. The feeding and cleaning fell on grandma. She made a place for him under the staircase that led to the backyard. We had this dog; not exactly Anubis, a short-legged tramp and we couldn't leave him alone. And everything was good until, spread by fathers of the children who lived up on the hill, a rumour came. It descended down the street across the dewy spider webs of summer, a fine path, and sneaked in over wooden doorsteps and that piece of metal sticking out of the concrete on which they scrape off the mud when returning from spading. A rumour of dogs in our neighbourhood having roundworms and everyone bought it as soon as they'd heard it. The rumourworms became realworms and suddenly it's where are they where are they. I bet Darky has it, you can kiss me right here if he hasn't.

Our mothers, harmonious sisters, said the dog has to go. Granddad and a butcher/active hunter neighbour took him to the forest on the opposite hill from the one a lie came down. The neighbour shot him with his rifle, a little splatter of black blood from a black dog, a shot reprised couple of times courtesy of an echo echo and the dog was no more. After they had tossed him in the pit, they went to the pub. We were depressed for days. Especially when we heard, eavesdropping, great-grandma saying to grandma – They shot him because of our little ones. Imagine if they'd got the worms from him. Also, there's rabies. Corona. Heartworms. We have to keep our little ones safe.

In her language it sounded dark swaying breezy even worse.

Some neighbours decided not to liquidate their pets so, after a while, time showed that the dogs in our neighbourhood are all healthy. We were angry at our mothers. We tried with tantrums, defying, running away and malice, but our mutiny was strangled quick. When we were banned from a forenoon television, from animated mice, programs about leopards and genet cats, we settled down. Soon we found a new thing.

In water that stood in a barrel that stood in a backyard that stood between the house and the creek that stood under the hill that stood on Earth, unusual animals appeared. Miniature transparent flickerworms with series of flickery wings or fins, also transparent, with big transparent flickery heads, fascinating and gruesome in their transparency and flicker in equal amounts. We saw the life pulsating through them so we nudged them with spills to see if this life could pulsate any faster. We dared each other to touch them. Other children came to see our new discovery. Some were enchanted, some found our aliens disgusting. Some of them had the same aliens at home. Some and their names and faces are now, some thirty years later, completely forgotten and we are not worried by that at all.

Great-granddad wasn't a man who could easily be blackmailed by reducing of forenoon television or distracted by mosquito larvae in a barrel behind the house. When he found out who’d been spreading the wormrumours, he went to the pub and came back with his head opened. Blood flowed from his forehead as if it was about a brook and spring. He was fighting the great-granddads of children who lived up on the hill. When my one upright lemon shorter than me cousin saw him, she said – This country is hideous. She didn’t say this country is hideous, she was too young for such a sentence, but I live to believe that she understood why the old man cracks skulls across lost Sundays and that she was so astute to say this country is hideous and that she knew what she’s talking about. Today, she lives in the flyover country, in a motherfucking galaxy far far away.

 

 

thumbelinas

 

In late June or early July the neighbour's cow fell into a sinkhole. This neighbour experienced a lot of unusual happenings during his lifetime. A group of boys including his son decided to prove their courage with mutual incitement to all sorts of daring, so they placed a bet on who will go to the cemetery at midnight, pluck a wooden cross from a fresh grave, bring it, show it and return it. The neighbour's son proved he could, he had all that was required, but when he came back to return the cross, he caught his coat with the pointy end. He thought it was the dead man pulling him so he died, on the spot, from fear. That was the scariest story we had heard until then, except, maybe, the one about grandma's co-worker witnessing, in a procession circling the church, a woman who walked with no head on her shoulders.

Later we found out that every village has a similar midnight hero and a similar graveyard story, but that didn't help blunting the scare.

The cow unleashed herself, alone or by deliberate deliverance from an unknown, walked around and ended up in the first sinkhole. The animal broke, the bones and the moaning, we heard her crying all day and all of the night. The neighbour didn't pull her out or put her out of her misery because he didn't have the habit of leaving the house. It was a habit acquired shortly after his son won a bet. No one else helped her because no one else wanted anything to do with this neighbour. After a few days, she stopped wailing. Just like when a Christmas card stops congratulating when the battery runs out. We were all relieved.

Soon after, the neighbour also ended in a hole. The one at the cemetery. He left behind his two aunts, twin sisters born with achondroplasia, but it was easier to call them Thumbelinas. We persistently called them so, even though we were afraid of them. Sometimes, in front of the house, on a small bench, the small sisters sat. In black shawls and black dresses, always silent, following us with their black eyes when we passed. Two identical eighty year old little girls. Great-grandma told us their names are beautiful, something in the swing of Hanna or Julia, Ida or Dalia, Ida or Polonia. But she also told us that, while we're sleeping, the little sisters wander and steal centimetres from naughty children. They drift around like dogs after the new snow, all their old familiar scents covered and gone, those lost little sisters.

During the time this story had grip on us, we checked whether all our centimetres were in place, regularly, every morning. We leaned on the door and made lines above our heads with a pencil. We compared the lines with the previous day's results. Sometimes, after measuring, it seemed to us that we were the ones stealing centimetres from Thumbelinas and not the other way around. Maybe that's why they were so quiet when we passed by their house.

 

Translated by the author.

 

From short stories collection 'Nothing to write about home', Algoritam, 2013.

 

 

 

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