Runner-up: Cassandra

Emirates Airline flies Zagreb to Mexico City with as few as eight passengers, and still

makes a profit.

Sandra is telling me this because I was eating Croatian kiflice, to which I return.

She tells me that Zagreb is Croatia’s capital

and I am eating Slavic sweets – a connection!

I think about saying that connections are predominantly irrelevant fancies of quasi-

intellects, but I fail to see past the cost.

Sandra is telling me that she thinks we have a special bond.

When I was two, I was forced to smoke a bong, and I remember choking and crying

as several adults sat around, and filled the room with laughter.


Hemingway had a close friend who was told by a doctor that if he ever drank again, he

would die.

My friend says that he then went home and shot himself.

Bukowski once received similar news. That day, he only drank beer.


Agrokor is the largest retail company in Croatia. Forty-years ago it sold flowers.

Sandra is telling me she doesn’t remember which magazine it was, but I fail to see the


She shows me page after textured-gloss page: plain-white, eggshell, nut and cornsilk;

crème and ghost-white and bone.

I think about saying that intimacy needn’t be legislated, that relationships

are their own demarcation of promise, but I fail to see the romance.

Sandra is telling me that life is about more than just being angry.

When I was two, I was thrown across my bedroom, crashing

into a bookshelf and then to the floor, because my step-father had a temper.


At the supermarket, the checkout attendant glared disapprovingly at my naked arms,


I jokingly said that I’d just taken up needlework.

McGahan keeps smoking at the end of Praise. Fuck it, give us a pouch of red.


October, June, September and May are when it’s recommended you wed in Croatia,

according to Brides without Borders.

Sandra is telling me this while she fixes herself a shot, but I fail to even know what day

it is. She tells me of broken-

Pebble beaches, and small fishing villages: though we must get imported flowers.

I think about telling her I don’t love her, but she just handed me the works.

Sandra is offering another condescending truism.

When I was two, I used to dream of a television set tuned to static: white noise barely

audible, or sometimes piercing, and always saturated with dread.

I tell her that I forgot to buy soap, but Sandra doesn’t hear, just flicks through

Tired and crumpled magazines, smoking elegantly-thin, high-tar cigarettes.


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Ryan Prehn

Ryan Prehn is a writer and poet living in Melbourne. Current trends and forecasts of Australia's social and political climates make his nose wrinkle. He considers himself unemployable.​

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