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The Nightmare: Chapters 5, 6

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A few days before, Natasha was alone with her thoughts at a cafe, when a stranger walked up to her.
"Hello, what is your name?" he asked warmly. She couldn't help smiling.
"Mrs. Alexandrov."
His eye brows raised. "Are you the wife of the great Alexandrov?" he said that name with a little bit of a sneer.
He sat down across from her. He was very tall, with blond hair and blue eyes. He had on a dashingly fine suite, and hat on his head. But here he took it off.
"Well, nice to meet you," and bowed his head politely to her.
Natasha was a little confused. "Why have you come to talk to me?"
He turned his head to one side. "You looked like you need company. So I thought we could talk."
"What is your name?" Natasha asked.
"Sergei. Again, very pleased to meet you..."
So he began a conversation with her. At first, Natasha was still suspicious, but he was so nice that she was immediately drawn into discussion. First subject was the murder, no surprise.
"So, your husband is hard at work on the case, so I've heard."
"Yes. Very hard at work. He's doing so many things to try to catch this villain, who everyone says is just in his head, but he knows for sure. I really don't know much about it."
"Do you read the papers?"
There was a pause. "Well," Sergei began again, "the police have started checking all the men for their thumbprints, and they just started today."
"Are you getting yours?"
"Yes... eventually. But," he laughed softly,"You wouldn't think just anyone would do such at thing, right?"
Natasha smiled. "No, I doubt you would do it."
"By the way, the most intriguing thing I've heard yet (I've been following the papers carefully) is the story about the woman, Ana. Alexandrov thinks she murdered the husband now."
"Do you believe him?"
"I don't see any other possibility."
"But isn't that rather rash of a woman to do? I mean, murder takes a lot of anger, bitterness... he couldn't have been so mean to her."
Sergei frowned, and looked away. "Anything is possible."
They talked for a long time afterward, but Natasha finally had to leave.
"May I meet you again? I think we could be friends," Sergei smiled again, very warmly.
"Yes!" Natasha almost said without thinking. "We can meet tomorrow here again. At 3?"
As she walked away, she could feel him still watching her. She turned around to him, and he bowed to her in response.
"What a nice man!" she thought. She couldn't help being attracted to him. He had given her real attention, something she hadn't got from any man recently.
And so it did become a close friendship.


So for the next few days, Natasha and Sergei met at this cafe. They talked for hours about every subject. One of Natasha's favorite hobbies was reading Gothic novels, and to her surprise, Sergei was very knowledgeable about all her favorite stories. One of Natasha's favorite themes in those stories was how a woman would be haunted by some ghost or demon, and then be saved by her lover and live happily ever after. She didn't like the stories where it ended with tragedy though, and Sergei agreed too.
Sergei asked her to tell everything about herself, her tastes, likes/dislikes, and so forth, and she gladly did. But whenever she asked him about himself, he was more reclusive.
A few details he could get about him was that he studied Psychology, and knew how to give therapy. It must have been for this reason, so Natasha thought, that it was so easy to express her feeling to him, because he knew exactly what to ask. So, Natasha asked him a brave question.
"Can... I tell you about some personal things I've gone through lately?"
Sergei turned his head a little to one side, his habit. "If you wish that, I will listen. I may give you help."
So Natasha finally revealed her secret about feeling neglected for the first time. She was not afraid to talk about it in Sergei's presence. He looked particularly moved by what she described.
"That's so sad! He just leaves you early in the morning, and doesn't come back until night? That's like he's not even there!"
"Yes! I feel so alone. I... I know he must do his duty, but-"
"No, not entirely."
Natasha gave him a surprised look. "What do you mean?"
"A man ought to respect her wife. Moreover, love her. Apparently he has a new love that has replaced you."
Natasha gasped. "You don't mean that really!"
Sergei was serious. "I do. He is in love with work. 'Workaholism' is the term. I've seen it before. I've done a little marriage counseling."
"Then... will you talk to him to make him stop acting like that?"
That was the wrong thing to say. Although Sergei suppressed it immediately, Natasha saw a flame come into his eyes for one second. She didn't want to bother him with why.
He would say anything for a moment, he was deep in thought. Here was his reply.
"I doubt I could do anything. But really, I want to ask you this question: do you still love him despite everything he does to you?"
"Um... Yes, I still do."
Sergei's eyes had a shut off expression. Contempt. "All women are like that today. Doormats. They let their husbands walk all over them. You've succumbed to it," he bent closer to her, "You need to fight that instinct."
"No! compliancy."
"Is it really compliancy? What if it's mercy?"
Sergei was trying really hard now to not get angry, but it wasn't working. He simply put his head down on the table now.
"Please! I don't mean to refute you! I just... I'm sorry. Please, I believe you."
Sergei looked up, and sighed, but said nothing.
"You know, my wedding anniversary is tomorrow."
His eyes lit up. "Really? Well I wish you a good time!"
"Yes, if only he'd be with me."
Sergei turned his head to the side again. "Well, here, let me tell you something. Shall I walk you home?"
They got up, and he escorted her down the street, for it was now dark.
"I have a challenge for you, Natasha. Will you at least try to follow it?"
"Well, I want you to confront him tomorrow. Tell him what he's doing to you. Moreover, if he forgets the anniversary, which I would likely expect, give him a consequence."
"Like what?"
"Leave him."
Natasha stopped walking and looked at him in the eyes.
"You may be afraid," said Sergei, "but you know to do it, down in your heart."
"... Yes."
Sergei held both of her hands close to himself. "I don't like to see you in pain. I don't want to see you keep going through this. Now is the time to act."
They continued walking down the street, and finally came to Natasha's home.
"Where would I go?" she asked.
"To me. I live 3 blocks north from here. I'll keep you safe."
They stood by the door now. She would still have to go up some stairs to get to her level.
"Are you sure I should do it?"
"Positive. And... don't do it for me. Do it for yourself."
Sergei left her now. Natasha felt a hole in her heart. She knew she had fallen in love with him, but she wouldn't admit it to herself.
"It can't be!" she thought while walking up the stairs to the apartment. "It's adultery, isn't it? I can't love another man at the same time! But... it was Ivan that did it first, wasn't it? He left me first! He's just getting consequences!" anger grew in her.
It was no surprise to find him not at home. She went to bed early.
"If he forgets tomorrow, I know what to do now," she thought, and went to sleep.

Updated May-28-2011 at 03:20 by Huilunsoittaja

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