The winters in Bratislava are a sight to behold. It might be because of this magical scenery that 420,000 Bratislavans are able to get through 0-degree winters with relative ease by comparison to the rest of Slovakians. Across the country, four hours away from Slovakia’s capital, the inhabitants of Kezmarok have a different perspective. While the scenery can be appreciated for some time, every day it is the same. For lack of a better word, it can turn the fervor of one’s soul cold. One can let the conditions of Kezmarok beat them into submission, into a defeatist acceptance that life will forever be this way, leading to a life of an hour of escape at the rink, and finding warmth only in pubs. Zigmund, a 35-year-old native of Kezmarok, who hardly ever left the city, had succumbed to this dreadful existence, and like many others was just waiting. Some good days; some bad days, but ultimately, just waiting for it all to end.
There was a time where Zigmund’s existence was not so putrid. A time where hope prevailed against the nihilistic nature of Kezmarok, where Sunday mornings meant Church at Baptisticky zbor and not Bloody Mary’s at Bondra’s, where the game of hockey meant competition and not the pub before the pub, where creativity had the doors swung wide open, begging to be walked through, and not slammed shut by misuse of time. In this time, Daleka was his. Somebody he could call his, and that she could call hers. Daleka, perhaps naïve, bought-in to Zigmund’s dreams with full belief. How long can one maintain belief without result? Would a Christian believe until the end of their days without seeing the hand of God at work? Even Job eventually saw the results of God’s work despite despair. Whatever one’s answer might be, for Daleka, belief without result was a hopeless endeavor. Naïve no longer, she hadn’t a choice. On a cold January night in Kezmarok, a half-awake, drunken Zigmund lay on the living room mattress, for there was nothing like a couch in their wretched apartment. One-fourth of a bottle of booze lay beside him, and a tearful Daleka knelt down next to him. She knew this was something that should have been done long ago, but she fought for what she believed in. With not an ounce of belief in the man she once loved, she spoke her last words to him. “My heart be with you always, Ziggy. May the Lord one day resurrect the man I fell in love with. Amen.”
Zigmund awoke in his essentially empty apartment to it unfathomably emptier. He polished off what was left of his bottle, and shattered it against the cold brick wall. Hunched over, he murmured to himself, “Možno to ukončím sám.” Kezmarok had officially become victorious. A grueling aspect of life. The pain of knowing the poor circumstances of one’s life are that of his own making, and the pleasures of life we owe to God and others. The ascension of Zigmund would not come promptly. Daleka made existence bearable for Zigmund. He thought so anyway. If he could only retrieve Daleka and convince her that change is coming, it could become bearable yet again. However, calls, texts, and letters to Daleka would fall on deaf ears, and so Zigmund descended into the pit of repudiation that so many others in Kezmarok have. Off to a joyless job behind a desk that does not cater to any of Zigmund’s abandoned skills; off to Bondra’s to surround himself with like-minded people, none of them that anyone in their right mind would like-to-mind. Back to his cold mattress, on the cold floors of his cold apartment, inside of those cold four walls. Back into the pits.
Daleka’s departing prayer remained floating in the cosmos. This is the power of prayer. It is out there and it will be found, it will be answered, eventually, usually not in the way we suspect it will. You’d be surprised how little it takes to pull somebody from the depths. A prayer, a smile, a single care to give, or perhaps, somebody struggling to the same degree or worse than you, struggling worse than Zigmund, but with hope, with gratitude. Zigmund is slouching on a park bench, finishing a pint just before sundown, wallowing in his acceptance of defeat. Picking up his head from its pathetic, drooping position, he saw a woman leaning on a fence overlooking a Cathedral. Sniffling, it sounded like. As she spun her head around to leave, her blonde locks majestically drifted through the air, representative of wind flowing through a white-sand beach, and her ocean-blue eyes were revealed to Zigmund. It was as if a sunny California beach had been brought to Kezmarok, a place that has frozen many souls. Ziggy quickly dispersed of his alcoholic beverage, almost embarrassed to have had it in front of whoever this was, and popped in a frozen stick of gum. As the woman was walking past Zigmund, he pitifully reached out a hand as if he were a homeless man about to ask for change, but it sufficed to stop her withdrawal from the park.
“Yes?” asked the woman.
“Forgive me. I know this may sound piteous, but I must know your name,” said Zigmund.
Any other day, she would meet this question with an eye-roll. For whatever reason, perhaps because of Ziggy’s acknowledgment of his own weakness, she obliged.
“Nadeja,” she said.
“Will you be here again someday, dear Nadeja?”
Nadeja, maybe instinctively, wanted to give Zigmund an opportunity to speak up the way that he used to, although she knew nothing about the Zigmund of yesteryear.
“Not if you have plans to stalk me,” she sharply replied.
“No! It isn’t that, dear Nadeja! It is not that at all! It’s just that.. It’s just..”
Nadeja cut him off to spare him any further embarrassment. “I will be here again tomorrow, my strange friend. Please don’t make me regret informing you.”
Zigmund took one last glance into Nadeja’s ocean-blue’s, she gave him a slight smile, and slowly vanished into the dark night of Kezmarok..
Zigmund returned home to his cold apartment. You would call them deluded fantasies if he did not already know he was deluded, but fantasies of Nadeja one day stepping into his icebox flooded his mind anyhow. He cleaned up the mess representative of his descent and considered it something of slight progress. That night he lost sleep. His emotions tossed and turned him on his mattress. The dominant emotion, anger, was his master for a large portion of the night. Anger at himself for his attitude and behavior in the latter years, but more at being so severely ill-prepared in his encounter with Nadeja. Ziggy wrestled with thought over something he read years ago, in a time where he was closer to God than he was now, “weakness is no excuse for sin.” Finally, he stopped his tossing, laid straight on his back, and stared fiercely at the ceiling as if he was trying to glare the roof off of his apartment. Then, for the first time in God knows how long, he prayed aloud. “Father, forgive me for my failures. Please give me the strength to be a mere percentage point better tomorrow than today. In your precious name, Amen.” In what seemed to be a nanosecond, he peacefully fell asleep.
A sunny morning in Kezmarok. Maybe this has happened before, but Zigmund hadn’t noticed if it has. An extremist, Zigmund, wanted to change everything in an instant. The thought of foregoing work came, but it came along with the idea of going to the pub earlier than usual, which opened the door for incapacitation before his second night with Nadeja. So off to work he went, laughing at himself over the realization of his warped mind.
“Goodness gracious me,” he murmurs. Time flew and stood still just the same. Thinking of his second night seeing Nadeja passed the considerably; however, thinking of whether or not she would even appear slowed it to a snail’s pace. Simple tasks became strenuous and agitating. Suddenly, he began thinking he was better than this job, better than the other people he worked with, while simultaneously thinking he had exactly what he deserves. Purple bags under his eyes from lack of sleep led to somebody asking him if he was ill. As time inched closer to the end of the workday, time inched closer to his confrontation with Nadeja, and anxiety struck him like a sack of bricks. Sweat poured through his clothes, and his hands shook violently. Due to symptoms of the mind that showed physically, he took advantage of this and told his boss, “I seem to have fallen ill,” to which the boss agreed to send him home. At least he thought he sent him home. In reality, he sent him to the pub. “A pint and a shot will do me good,” Ziggy thought. His bar-mates thought it peculiar behavior. Never had Zigmund stopped in for such a short period. The sweat became his ally. “I must go home and shower. I look like I have gone 15 rounds with Ruzena, the whale!” Mean, he thought, but the outburst of laughter would keep his acquaintances from bugging him further.
When he arrived home, he did shower and searched for his best outfit, although he thought it might be pathetic to dress like a “somebody,” considering the state he was in the night before. “Have to start somewhere. Fake it till you make it,” he thought. Zigmund put on his best suit, top hat, and all. He looked as best as he possibly could and made his way to the same park as the night prior. “Will she or won’t she,” consistently penetrating his mind. Sure enough, as he reached the top of the hill, there she was, overlooking the same cathedral. Something was wrong, or it was right, but the nerves Zigmund expected to feel upon laying eyes on her did not consume him as he thought they would. Maybe it was the pint and the shot. After a deep breath, Zigmund made his way down. Nadeja heard Zigmund’s footsteps as he approached, but she did not turn to greet him just yet. Ziggy sat on the bench, crossed his legs, and just waited. About twenty seconds pass with neither of them budging, which all things considered, is quite some time. Finally, Nadeja, without turning around, spoke to him whilst continuing to view the cathedral.
“Enjoying the view?” she began. “You’ve dressed for the occasion, I see—far cry from last night. You know, I saw you disperse of your alcohol before our conversation. It would have been cute if it weren’t so pathetic,” snarked Nadeja.
A bit of a challenge, her opening statement. Zigmund remembered the days when he handled this challenge in a better state. He offered some pushback. “I saw you crying last night before our conversation. I would’ve thought you unique if I hadn’t seen every woman do the same.”
This willingness to compete shown by Ziggy pleased Nadeja. She turned around as If it were in slow motion, and her eyes met Zigmund’s. Fortuitous for Zigmund, for if she had pierced him with her eyes before, he may not have met Nadeja’s challenge with such gall. Nadeja sat down right next to him, facing him as if she knew her ocean-blue’s were her greatest weapon, and Zigmund stared straight ahead as if he knew she knew.
“I suppose you are so tough that you wouldn’t cry over the death of a parent. No, surely not. You would just drink your way through it,” said Nadeja.
Zigmund knew she was attempting to call his original bluff. Still staring directly ahead, “I went to the pub before I came here, too. Liquor helps me appreciate the view, which is much better now than when I first got here,” replied Ziggy. Another test passed. Nadeja smiled and relaxed her warlike rhetoric. She thought she should take credit for Zigmund’s long-lost but newfound vigor.
“Well,” Nadeja began, “You wanted to know if I would be here tonight. Here I am. Surely, Zigmund, there is reason for your inquiry.”
“The floor is mine, I suppose.” Zigmund set about on what was to be a monologue of sorts. “Dear Nadeja, your eyes, your most beautiful ocean-blue’s, I’ve been calling them, have punctured my existence. One look from you, Dear Nadeja, has made me look at myself, and I have not relished in so doing. The man that shamefully struggled even to ask your name last night was a more accurate representation of the man I am today than you see today, as you have so kindly indicated. Details of my descent matter not, for you could fill in the blanks yourself, and the story would be nearly precise. Daleka, my dearest Daleka, finally made her departure from me. A decision she should have made many years ago. It would’ve been smart if delaying that long wasn’t so stupid. Perhaps any variation of that has become our catchphrase, Dear Nadeja. Every cold soul I have passed by in Kezmarok, and possibly because of their cold souls, has not made me give a damn, furthermore, continuing my destruction. It is as though they are me, and I am them. But you, Dear Nadeja, although admittedly pathetic this is, with one look and without a single word – Oh, Nadeja! It is as if your glance was the hand of God, reaching down to me to pull me out of this miserable existence. Tell me, Dear Nadeja, is not where I am where God seeks, in the depths? Is this not where He dwells, hoping one day a wretch like me may ‘seek and ye shall find?’ Oh, please do not misunderstand, Dear Nadeja! I am not waiting or requesting for you to save me. However, Dear Nadeja, they have said to me words that meant nothing before now, that God is everywhere, but who is to say that He has not revealed Himself to me through your ocean-blue’s? Oh, most beautiful Nadeja! It must be said, dearest Nadeja, that you are most beautiful, for I do not wish to take the floor you have given me and speak half-truths. Would I have made a fool of myself, as certainly, I have, dearest Nadeja, if you were not? Oh, but you must believe me, Nadeja! This is no plea for company. Theatrical, perhaps, dear Nadeja, but have you not awoken the drama in me? Is this not a blessing? Are our lives not stories? Assuredly, I would enjoy your company, my dear Nadeja, but that is not the motif. My wish to keep your company has only been revealed for honesty’s sake. The motif, Nadeja, is that I have found justification for being in your probing stare.”
Zigmund exhaled a sigh of relief. It had been some time since he had been able to release as he just had, not even expressing himself like this to Daleka, for fear she would think him to be weaker than he was. Finally, he turned his head toward Nadeja.
“How stupid I must sound. My afflictions cannot be of comparison to yours. Yet, here you are, having lost a parent, stronger than I in more grievous conditions,” conceded Zigmund.
Nadeja looked at him and smiled. Although she knew Zigmund was not intoxicated, she had one last dig. “I’d think that was genuine if you weren’t so drunk,” joked Nadeja. She placed her hand upon his. “I shall be here tomorrow night as well, Zigmund. The floor will be mine.”
Nadeja got up from her seat and departed, slowly vanishing into the now dark night of Kezmarok..
The war of the mind waged inside Zigmund’s head after his second night with Nadeja. He thought he had sounded incredibly foolish, loquacious, even embarrassed that he had vented so heavily to someone who had legitimate reasons, reasons to be suffering, that were not of their own making, as were his. However, a third night with the beautiful Nadeja was scheduled, provided that she made another appearance. Perhaps he had scared her off, he thought. These competing thoughts battled one another throughout the night, a constant resurrection and death, a sense of unease and discomfort one second, a feeling of restoration and dignity the next. The cartoon angel and devil upon his left and right shoulder, duking it out to win the mind of Zigmund, which of the two were most true? Could it be that this inkling of revitalization were real, is it possible that a turnaround of this magnitude could take place in the blink of an eye, ironically, by a simple look, or had he fallen into, yet again, a dream world, mistaking his momentary emotions as the genesis of some rehabilitation?
Suddenly, it occurred to him that he was thinking only of himself, even when the floor was no longer his, for Nadeja had told him so, and that it shall be hers tomorrow night. Is this not the same self-centeredness that was the root of his problems to begin with, he thought? Another thought, immediately after, “For Christ’s Sake! She said she had lost a parent! Yet here I am! Woe is me! Thinking of my self-imposed self-destruction!” He was berating himself, but something about his train of thought felt right, felt necessary. Zigmund dropped to his knees and said a prayer. “Father God, please help me to remove myself from the equation, for it is I who am my problem, for it is You who is my solution. I have lived all my days for myself, not for You, not for others. Oh, Father God, would you please – please pardon me of my offenses, that I may leave my prior behavior where it belongs, in the past, for it is not now, in this moment, with You, that I may turn my attention and focus to others and away from myself. In your precious name, Father, Amen.” A deep inhale-exhale, and mercifully, Zigmund slept.
He awoke late, frantically pacing throughout his apartment as he was late for work, and suddenly, the peace and serenity brought to him by way of prayer quickly subsided, cursing the people in his way en route. However, when he drew closer, he found himself laughing at himself over his hysteria. He thought of his upcoming encounter with Nadeja, and of nothing else for the duration of the workday.
The workday ended. He went home straight away, no pub in between, although the thought, naturally, crossed his mind, as it had become part of his regimen to do so, but the compulsion gave way to something greater: peak-condition in the presence of somebody for whom he had a deep admiration. When he passed the pub, he thought of Nadeja’s slight jab, “I’d think that was genuine if you weren’t so drunk.” It made him laugh and scoff coincidentally. “I shan’t prove the witch right,” he joked to himself, because of course, Zigmund thought of Nadeja as no witch, but an angel, and while he could admit to himself that dramatic, he would not move from the notion that something about his contact with Nadeja seemed divine. Zigmund, this time around, did not dress to impress, choosing to wear clothing that would adequately resist the cold weather of Kezmarok, which possibly, even still nervous, represented a certain comfortability he felt around Nadeja.
Off to the park, Zigmund went, and as he approached the top of the hill, there she stood, leaning on the same fence, staring at the same cathedral as she was the last two nights. Zigmund, increasingly more anxious with each step toward her, made his way to the park bench. Nadeja heard him, immediately turning around to greet him, instead of a sort of “hard-to-get” approach to the interaction she had undertaken the night before. It became less of a sport, their interaction, as it took on the form of something more genuine, something of more meaning. This bothered Zigmund to a small degree, as he was always game for game, but he reframed the meeting, seeing it as a sign of progression, and that perhaps the game had just changed is all.
“Zigmund!” shouted Nadeja. “I have been waiting for this night since, well, since last night! A free opportunity to release all of my innermost thoughts, with the best part being that, surely, you will be too drunk to remember any of it!” Zigmund only smiled, laughing on the inside, while calling her a witch in his mind yet again.
“If I am to endure the ramblings about death from a woman, with the assumption that I shall have to uncomfortably console you at some stage, the logic of arriving here pot-shotten reigned supreme, my dear Nadeja,” replied Zigmund. “Game on,” he thought. But it was short-lived as Nadeja took the floor.
“Do you know, Zigmund, why I can be seen in tears whilst staring at the cathedral?” Nadeja began. “It was there where my father’s funeral was held. My father died years ago, not recently, as you may have suspected, but I did not shed a single tear during the funeral, Zigmund. Would you believe they thought it to be a lack of compassion, that because of this perceived lack of compassion, I might have been responsible!? Such ludicrous sentiments have since fallen by the wayside, as if because I am a woman that I should have been in shambles, and it is not as though I have not spent many nights in such shambles, but inside the cathedral, I found myself serene. Joyful, even, if at least on that day. I’ve thought to myself that all the tears I was supposed to have shed, I shed them here, as if to make up for tears I did not shed, but Zigmund, do you know that I do not cry with sadness? Some nights, surely, Zigmund, for how am I not to be sad some nights!? I loved my father always. It is because of him that I did not cry then, I believe, as I did not see a tear drop from his eye when his mother, my grandmother, had passed. Lack of compassion! Ha! No, I never thought it to be lack of compassion! I thought it to be symbolic of strength – of hope! My father’s reaction to my grandmother’s death seemed to give people an impression, yes, perhaps only impressed upon them, as I do not know the condition of my father when he rested his head, but an impression that death, not just death, but the death of someone we had loved, was something that could be overcome – that it wasn’t, I do not know, that it wasn’t that. . bad! And it can be overcome! Does this life not continue, Zigmund? Oh, Zigmund, I cry with joy, I do! Not with sadness! Do not let me speak as if all my days are delightful, Zigmund. Certainly, angry days, saddened days, as anybody else, but it is because of my father, my mother just as well, who still lives, that I did not see a sad man when I saw you, Zigmund. Well, surely, you looked it. You will have to forgive me for my cracks at you. Funny, aren’t I? But have I seen something in you that you have not yet seen yourself? Who is to say, Zigmund, as I have only known you for a short time, but it must be said, that I do not see joy lying dormant in everyone. Oh, dear. You are not going to invite me to your apartment now, are you? Do not ruin it, my dear friend. Least not yet…”
Zigmund found Nadeja’s “monologue,” so to speak, inspiring, and of course, he became lost in the ocean-blue’s of Nadeja, making her story all the more captivating. However, Nadeja continued speaking to Zigmund, but something out of the corner of Zigmund’s eye had caught his attention, an unmistakable recognition. Brown hair, tan skin, tan for Kezmarok anyway, walking along the pathway hand-in-hand with somebody, joyously, freely, as if they only noticed each other. Daleka. A rage from the depths of hell consumed Zigmund, a sadness that only angels could feel when one of them falls, all in one moment. The man Daleka was with gave her a spin, as the two engaged in a quick dance, and she was now facing the park bench in which Zigmund was sitting. He was sure she saw him, but if she did, it perturbed her not, as they continued merrily on their way.
Nadeja, noticing a change in Zigmund’s demeanor, ended her speech. “Is everything okay, Zigmund? I have not disturbed you, have I? I’m sorry. You must not want to hear this cheery nonsense right now. Please pard-”
Zigmund grabbed hold of her hands and cut her off. “There isn’t need to apologize, my dear Nadeja, but I must be going.”
Zigmund got up from his seat and departed, slowly vanishing into the night of Kezmarok..
Zigmund returned home and found himself in an ominous staring contest with the bottle resting on the coffee table. Repeatedly, he would take the cap off, almost playing a game of roulette with it, and put it back on. The thought of Daleka, not necessarily being with someone else, but that she had forgotten him, tormented him. Up goes the cap. Black, so to speak, and he capped the bottle. “How could this have happened so soon?” he thought. Once more, the cap is flipped. Red, this time, and back on the bottle it went. He then picked up the bottle, twirling it as if it were a baton, and thought about heaving it against the wall; however, the cap came off once more. Zero, green. A healthy swig, down the hatch. One last hurrah, perhaps, as he dumped the rest of its contents down the drain, only after the image of Nadeja flashed in his mind.
Maybe due to only slight intoxication, rather than the norm of near incapacitation, he could engage himself in something of a rational dialogue. “She deserves her happiness,” he thought. “You only think you know her, but you know nothing. How could you? Why, you do not even know yourself! What do you know of her? That she was detrimentally loyal? Stupidity, that!” “You know she is stupid?” he jokingly thought. At least finding humor amid despair, he thought, signified that it was not the bottom of the pit where he once dwelled. “Were you not the cause of her suffering? Why do you think you should determine who shall remove it? If you truly loved her, ‘your dearest Daleka,’ would you not have changed? Have you not flushed the remains of your alcohol after, not the thought of Daleka, but of Nadeja?” Suddenly, he thought solely of Nadeja, as if he had come to terms with Daleka’s departure from his life in an instant. Anxiety set in. Had his impulsive reaction to witnessing Daleka with another done him in with Nadeja, whatever it was that was blooming between them, whether it was friendship or love? Zigmund dropped to his knees and prayed: “Abba Father, I lay my panic, my worry, my anxiety at your feet. Grant me serenity, peace, the calming of the mind, so that I may walk thy path, not mine. My soul is a heavy wind, a turbulent sea, a fire raging out of control. Lord, help me to remember that if I have nobody, I have you, always. In your precious name, which I lift on high, Amen.” In the blink of an eye, Zigmund slept.
Meanwhile, across the city of Kezmarok was Nadeja, offended and angry that Zigmund had just abandoned her after confiding in him. She hardly ever cursed. “A fucking joke, it is!” she thought to herself. Thoughts of resentment began to take over. “What do I do so wrong!? Do I not do my best? Do I not take my burdens on with joy? With a smile? Do I not try to spread this joy to everyone around me – and what do they do in return? Cast me aside, they do! How could I be so foolish to bare my soul to a… a low-life is what he was! Scum of the earth before he met me! Well, I shan’t ever do it again! Never shall I freely give! For if one wants to experience the joy that I know, they must seek me, instead of me seeking them!” All the while, Nadeja was replacing joy with resentment; and juxtaposed with Zigmund’s prayer, there was no such prayer from Nadeja. Usually, an every night occurrence, but not so on this night. As Zigmund slept, Nadeja lay awake, cursing existence itself.
When morning came, both Zigmund and Nadeja wrestled with the question: “To go or not to go?” The park in Kezmarok that had seen Zigmund and Nadeja meet on three consecutive nights remained virtually empty, almost as if the park itself had reservations for just the two of them. As if the park itself knew that a fourth night would catapult the two into something magical. Still, as the ever-so-rare sunset approached, Nadeja was not to be seen staring at the cathedral, and Zigmund was not to be seen sitting on the park bench.
Throughout the day, Zigmund rehearsed an apology. An explanation as to why he departed from Nadeja so hastily. He thought that perhaps she knew already. Maybe she would not even appear. Why bother with showing up himself? Zigmund felt he owed Nadeja at the least an explanation, for something she did had a grand effect on him, even if it was just listening to, in his estimation, his pathetic diatribes. After all, he poured out his liquor over the mere thought of her! What was it that she had done? Was it really a simple locking of the eyes? A simple stare into Nadeja’s ocean-blue’s? Whatever it was, the effect on Zigmund was palpable, and he longed for a fourth night, even if it was the final night. Zigmund, then and there, decided he would go – that he must go.
Zigmund grabbed his coat and went on his way. There he stood atop the hill, overlooking an empty park, with no sign of Nadeja. Nevertheless, he made his way down to the park bench, sat down, and waited. An hour passed, the sun still shining, but no Nadeja. Another hour passed, the sun not having said goodnight just yet, but still no Nadeja. Finally, Zigmund heard footsteps, accompanied by the sound of a woman’s trembling voice, which jolted his nerves, but outwardly, he remained calm. The woman came closer and closer. Zigmund could make out the sound of a cry, and a million thoughts raced in his mind at once as to why Nadeja could be in tears. Alas, as the woman passed by Zigmund’s view, it was not Nadeja, but somebody else. The sun had given way to nightfall, and reality had set in. Nadeja was not coming, and he may never see her again. Zigmund waited until the cold was too much to bear, but just as he was about to leave, the woman he had seen before came circling back around, still in a state of sadness. As Zigmund slowly sat back down on the bench, the woman sat beside him. As the woman looked at him, Zigmund smiled and introduced himself.
Before she had the chance to respond, Zigmund held her hand and said to her, “It is going to be okay. I promise,” and began traveling home.
The woman shouted at him before he was too far gone, “Will you be here tomorrow night?” she asked.
Zigmund replied, “Not if you have plans to stalk me!” The woman shot back a sly smile. “I shall be here again tomorrow night, my strange friend. Please don’t make me regret informing you.” After the woman nodded, Zigmund slowly vanished into the dark night of Kezmarok.
Somewhere in the vicinity, a sleep-deprived, still angry Nadeja made her way to a friend’s house. The friend answered the knock. Nadeja barged in, sat down in one of the dining room chairs, and began to smoke. “You smoke now?” the taken-aback friend asked.
Nadeja exhaled and replied, “No, I didn’t pick up smoking. I’m smoking now, but I don’t smoke. Perhaps the smoke will suffocate the ungrateful. Not you, of course, but the others in the city.”
The friend poured a glass of wine and sat it in front of Nadeja, looking at her as if to suggest that the floor was hers, after all, Nadeja did venture over precisely for that reason. “I take it you are not going to the park to see that man,” the friend prompted.
After a sip and another exhale, Nadeja replied, “Of course, I am not going. He shan’t be there anyway. No, he is probably pigeon-eyed as we speak, drinking himself into oblivion over that woman who no longer loves him. I don’t blame her, you know? Surely, this occurred many a time. A glimpse of hope, only to have the rug swept out from underneath her, over and over. Oh, I’m sure of it, but I am no fool like her. Picture me being swindled by a man like that! Ha! Not I!”
As the hours passed, so did the wine bottle, but Nadeja’s friend hadn’t had much of it. She spent the time listening to Nadeja’s off-putting rant, which was a far cry from the Nadeja that she had come to know, but the benefit of the doubt was granted. “Everyone has their day,” the friend thought.
Enough time had passed, and Nadeja, not wanting to overstay her welcome, parlayed with being now somewhat intoxicated, figured she would make her way back home.
“I suppose I must be going, my dear friend. Thank you for listening. Who knows? Maybe I shall bump into a worthy individual on my travels home. A rich man, even! One just passing by! One not from this wretched city, with its wretched inhabitants! Until next time…”
And Nadeja departed out into the cold, slowly vanishing into the dark night of Kezmarok.
The streets of Kezmarok, at this hour, were empty. Not a soul could be seen, nor a peep to be heard. Zigmund could only hear the whistling of the wind and his thoughts. Until, unexpectedly, Zigmund did hear something – the sound of frantic footsteps. It was a woman, but Zigmund could not make out who it was in the dark of the night. Nadeja was walking swiftly, head down, trying to get home and out of the cold as fast as possible. As the two of them came closer, about to walk past each other, Nadeja quickly lifted her head up to acknowledge whoever it might be that was out at this time, a sort of courteous gesture, but was unable to discern who the man was. Zigmund looked directly into the woman’s eyes as she uplifted her head, but could not recognize the woman, as her eyes, from slight inebriation and the cold of Kezmarok, were bloodshot red.
Zigmund and Nadeja walked right by one another, slowly vanishing into the dark night of Kezmarok, never to see each other again.
The Ocean-Blue’s of Nadeja.