3. «Have we met before?» «I don’t care. Totally.»

September 4, 2006

«She doesn’t want to be liked,’  he thought, ‘to be beautiful, captivating. She despises this side of a woman’s nature, feeling guilty for being that pretty. And this proud hostility towards herself makes her ten times more irresistible…»

‘I’m in front of you.’

Milana looked up and saw a handsome black-haired guy.

New Russian1. Novikov.

‘Simple as two roubles2.

‘What’s two roubles?’ he asked, taking a seat next to her.

Lunch in the canteen. Smolenskaya, you were so naive to think this is a suitable place for serious reading. 

‘Milana, where are your manners?’ Arkadiy asked in mock surprise.

‘The same place where your brains are,’ she replied softly, returning to Pasternak.

‘What’re you reading?’ Arkadiy inquired.

She hid her face behind the book, showing him the cover.

Doctor Zhivago
Russian edition of «Doctor Zhivago» by Boris Pasternak


Stupid question, stupid talk.

‘This is a must-read for everyone,’ Milana explained drily. ‘For everyone intelligent, that is to say.’

‘I’ll sit with you then, okay?’

‘You’re already sitting,’ she turned a page. ‘I’ll continue reading, if you don’t mind.’

‘Have we met before?’ Arkadiy made another attempt at gaining her attention.

Doesn’t he read? Doesn’t he know what it’s like when your thoughts and feelings are completely captured by the book?

‘I don’t care. Totally,’ Milana answered flatly.

‘Speak Russian,’ Arkadiy flashed her a disarming smile.

‘You don’t understand Russian, so I use English.’

Read my mind and fuck off!

‘Arkadiy, there you are!’ Kamila aproached their table.

Puppy, there you are! Typical Kamila. She’s talking to Novikov the way she addresses her Russian Toy. You’re doomed, bro, totally.

Russian Toy
Russian Toy. Picture from American Kennel Club

‘Too bad for you,’ Milana said from behind «Doctor Zhivago».

Arkadiy looked at her, wondering.

What wrong have I done to her? And why «too bad»? Some weird doctor… Blond hair, distant emerald green eyes, indifferent tone, and a critical shortage of clarity. What’s all this about?

Most unhelpfully, Milana got to her feet and left the canteen without a backward glance.

Model walk. Mixture of Russian and English, attractive and annoying, cute and cold. Who does she think she is? …Come to think of it, who is she?

‘What’s her family business?’ Arkadiy asked Kamila, who had occupied Milana’s seat.

‘Construction,’ Volkova replied readily, ‘and my dad’s a banker, just like yours.’

‘I’ve had enough of my dad in Moscow, thanks,’ Arkadiy said grimly. ‘So, you two have been here since the first grade?’

‘I’ve been here since the third,’ Kamila answered slightly resentfully, ‘and Milana’s here from the start.’

Arkadiy nodded.

That explains the Russian-English mix. Bloody detonating mixture.


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Previous episode: 2. Long legs, model walk. Awesome, thanks dad!

Next episode: 4. They're so different. One's attractive, the other's annoying

Language commentary
1. New Russian (pun) — Noviy Russkiy (lit. «New Russian») is perceived as an arrogant nouveau riche with poor taste, modest education and social background. The term «New Russians» is used for describing the newly rich business class in post-Soviet Russia.

2. Simple as two roubles — Russian idiom meaning simpleton. Arkadiy jokes (or not) saying he does not know what two roubles are, and thus making it clear that he is unfamiliar with coins and small money.

Read the Russian version

Contents. Part 1