An Afternoon in Terezín

Both men shared a cheap cigarette sent by Cvjetko’s family, directly from Sarajevo. The chief guard tried to withhold the gift. The prisoner promised that on the next delivery they would send wine to the German soldiers.

“Vaso. Have you noticed what day is today? Three years since we’ve been here.”

“Three years since we haven’t seen Gravo.”

“Do you think it’s true? That he lost his arm?”

“I don’t know, guess so. That right hand was so damn good. He will have to learn to shoot with the other the same way once he gets out.”

Cvjetko smiled. He waited for Vaso to return the cigarette. One of the guards shouted something in German, letting all on the patio know they had five minutes.

“You’re too hopeful. Trifko and Nedelijko are already gone. If Gavrilo really lost his arm, then it’s a matter of time for him. And for us too.”

“Gavro is not like us.”

“Heroes also die from tuberculosis, Vaso.”

“Have you ever heard him swear? His father never cursed. Nor drank.”

“I doubt he hasn’t cursed in these three full years. Maybe no one heard it. But he did.”

“Trifko was for some time in the cell beside his. He told me stories.”

“Trifko was mad.”

“Mad, yes, but he had ears. Gavro talked from his cell. Trifko sometimes answered, but Gavro wasn’t speaking to him. He spoke to himself, or to God.”

“And what did he say?”

“That the world is going to end.”

“Big news. The world is ending. Everything is a battlefield now. Jesus, we’re almost lucky we’re here inside.”

“There’s more. Trifko heard him saying that aircrafts carrying machine guns and bombs would murder all the troops. That when there weren’t soldiers living anymore, the war would end, and all the kings and presidents would march in a big parade in Paris.”

“Trifko was fucking mad. Gavro as well.”

“And he said that from each side of the parade men would sprout, small and starved. That each of these men would kneel and puke. That from each one’s stomach would flow away not food, but a handgun. That the kings would stare from their cars, paralysed like statues. That one would finally do the correct math: for each man, a king, for each king, a bullet.”

Cvetko finished the cigarette while fiddling with a worm between the fingers of his other hand.

“We are not going to leave, Vaso.”

The two men stood up and started walking towards their single cells. Whoever disrespected the limit would lose the right to leave for the patio, one hour each day. If Gavrilo ever left his cell at any moment, they never got to hear about it.

Gavrilo Princip and his co-conspirators were sent to the Terezín prison, currently in Czech Republic, after being accused of conspiracy and murder. Gavrilo shot down Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, while they paraded through Saravejo in their car, on June 28th, 1914. This assassination is considered to be the trigger which overflew the tensions between the European nations, leading to the First World War.

[English translation of my short story “Uma Tarde em Terezín”]


Larissa knew the day had come when the last cat left town. It had been months since she began receiving the signs, which only she understood: the scent of sage rising from the manholes; the taste of iron in the fruits; the solar and lunar eclipses on the same month; the rats that overran the streets. She sat down to write, the way she liked, by hand. She knew her grandchildren said nobody used to do that anymore. She began with their names. She tore the notebook pages and thew the bits on the floor. Soon rats came to eat them. She thought about the school she went to, which had been long closed. The pages ended before the names and she stood up, leaving the rats which sprawled over her kitchen table devouring the notebook. With the pen still in hand, she squatted by the corner of the room, where the wall received no sunlight and was whiter. The act of writing fueled her memory, and the memory, her spite. She remembered her daughter, who she knew now called her senile. She drew her family tree, hurrying up with each branch while the rats devoured the previous one, chewing the bits of wall where her pen had just been. Some began eating away at the hem of her dress. More names: many neighbours, all of her lovers. The cashier who had winced at her teeth. Her dress was now rags, and the feet on her skin did no longer bother. Larissa recorded the name of each person, and wrote her daughter’s from ground to ceiling, so that no misdeed would be lost. By ten, moon turned dark once again. By eleven, power went down, and Larissa finally understood that in a lightless world there is no nudity. At a quarter before midnight, the rats started gnawing on her, starting by the feet. She smiled, and left a sole name for the end, which she whispered to the animal who bit her tongue away.

[English translation of my short story “Ninhada”]

Hans Reiter

A stomped blood flower in the desert

Could grow upward your skirt

Born from a sunset not red, but blue

The soul spinning in front of a TV crew

Well, I guess the killer is not nearby

There are just so many ways

Just so many ways one can die


Do the novels have the answers we ask?

Do you also remember the leather mask?

As much as you want to win the race,

It ain’t that pretty on your pretty face

Well, I guess the writer is not nearby

There are just so many ways

Just so many ways one can die


Through all that we went together,

I don’t know who or what’s still there

To grow old with a small roof above

To feel all the deaths a bird can die of

Well, I guess she is not anymore nearby

There are just so many ways

Just so many ways you can die