This is the fourth of five parts of my short story Novak Nohtche.
"There you are."
Novak froze, standing on the corner. He had sprinted all the way, or at least half the way, and then wheeze-hobbled the rest. If not quickly, then at least with purpose.
"It's good to see a man with determination. Heartening at least."
Bent double and panting, his breath still yet a ways from being caught, Novak nodded at the lady with the dog. She was sitting on a bench, barely ten feet from the corner.
"Some men just give up when things look difficult. There's no chase in them."
"Honestly is a rock attractive? Why is it that some men think they can just sit down in front of you, like a big, dumb rock, as if to say 'Here I am!' It's boring. There's nothing interesting in that. A fox doesn't run after a rock, it runs after the rabbit sprinting away. It goes for the chase."
"Hmm," Novak said,
"We pursue that which retreats from us. It's true. I saw it in a movie once."
Novak had now recovered enough to move to her bench, sitting down beside her.
"Life is about living, about feeling. Otherwise, why are we here?"
"Take my husband for instance. I hope you don't mind that I am married. But my husband, one could say he is a decent man in a sense, but really, he's nothing."
Novak looked down at her dog, which kept perfectly still.
"He's a lackey. He dances to the tune of other men. It disgusts me. I told him so myself. One day when I'd had enough of that ingratiating, sugary, cringingly respectful expression, I said to him 'Be off, you blockhead! And that was that."
"Really?" Novak said.
"He's pathetic. No ambition. No drive. And cheap. So very cheap. That I abhor most of all. You on the other hand. You seem different. What's your name?"
"Novak. Novak Nohtche."
"Novak? What kind of name is that?" She took off her sunglasses and leaned in towards Novak. At this close distance, he caught the overpowering scent of lavender, mixed with vanilla. It was cloyingly sweet, feminine, promising.
"It was my father's. He married late, and died early. When he was forty four, actually. He was a doctor."
"How did he die?" The woman asked.
"Tuberculosis. Very strange. Who dies of tuberculosis any more?"
The woman nodded sympathetically, and stayed silent.
Novak looked at her, waiting for her to say something, but the moment stretched into a minute, and the silence grew restless.
"Sorry. I forgot...forgot to ask your name." Novak said, finally.
"Yes you did." The lady replied.
Novak waited, but she didn't say anything further.
"So then. What...ah...is your name?"
"Anna." She replied.
"Are you busy now, Anna?" Novak asked.
"Bold. That's good. And no, I'm not. My husband's away now." Anna smiled, and leaned back on the bench. "What are you going to do about that?"
"I have an idea," Novak said.