Friday, May 1, 2009

Novak Nohtche (Part 2)

This is the second of five parts of my short story Novak Nohtche.

His daily ten o'clock appointment having become too crowded for his liking, Novak had begun waiting for the lady with the dog outside, in the midst of the shifting mass of man and machine. It was already Friday, his fifth day of waiting for her. On the first day he'd meant to bump into her, and had actually stepped out into the crowd, but like a leaf falling upon the rapids, opposing currents and eddies had ripped him away from her, forcing him to try again on another day. Yesterday success had been almost a hand's breadth away, if not for running into his creative director at the last moment. He had just been about to call out to her, catch her attention in some way, when he felt a hand around his arm, and a loud, un-ignorable voice call his name.

Today was going to be different. Novak had a different plan, a better plan. All this time he had been a fish running up stream, today he would let that stream break around him, forcing her to come to him.

Across the street from the light she stopped at every morning, Novak waited for the lady with the dog. It was ten o'clock, and while he could not see her yet, from where he was standing, he knew he would see her shortly. A couple minutes later, Novak's patience was awarded by a flash of pure white from amongst the muted shades. He could see her, right there, less than a hundred feet away. A heavy sense of anticipation fell over him. It was serendipity, fortuitous fate, destiny. They were meant to meet, and now they would. His heart beat faster, his hands began to sweat, his pupils dilated. Novak was ready.

Though he had been waiting for her, Novak had sense enough not to stare at her. He played it cool. He knew she was at the light, and by the sound of the traffic, both wheel and foot, he knew the light had changed. As the crest of pedestrians surged over him, he turned, ready to meet her at last.

She wasn't there. Panic flooded through him. He knew she hadn't passed by, not yet. He frantically twisted his head one way and the next looking for her in the crowd, but she was nowhere to be found. She wasn't there. He spun around, looking in every direction, but didn't find her.

It was not possible. Novak's mind couldn't wrap itself around what had happened. She had been there, across the street, only moments before. He had seen her. He had known it was her. Every morning at exactly this time she walked right past where he was standing. Every morning. Without fail. Yet today she wasn't there.

As the light changed again, and traffic sped past him, a flash of white caught the corner of his eye. It was the lady with the dog, crossing the street in the other direction. Hands in the air, as if saying the Our Father, he stared at her, watched her go. A pedestrian crossing from the other side of the street passed by him, pressing a five dollar bill into Novak's open hand. "Get something to eat," the man muttered as he passed by.

Today had been the day, and then it wasn't. Fate had smiled on him just moments ago, then laughed, pulling all of his hopes and dreams away. Every day for weeks he had watched her, waited for her to breeze through his life, even if only for a few moments. But this past week was different, he had taken matters into his own hands.

As Novak stood there, unable to decide what he should, he noticed a taxi, parked on the side of the road. In the midst of a hoard of people flagging down taxis, opening doors and stepping in, this one stood untouched, as if it were waiting for him. It was a sign. It had to be.

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