Find today’s 5044 story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/105.html
Chekhov starts off this story with a man remembering a day in his past when he let love slip through his fingers. We don’t know how much time has passed from the present to the memory. Typically there is a clue, but nothing is really given except that the time period is in August. Chekhov is not in a hurry to get to the crux of the story which is named after Vera Gavrilovna, a woman we don’t meet until almost a thousand words in. There is a lot to admire about Ognev, the scholar of statistics who is leaving the idyllic village for the Petersberg. I like what he finds attractive in Vera. “...the slight carelessness adds a special charm. When Ognev later on remembered her, he could not picture pretty Verotchka except in a full blouse which was crumpled in deep folds at the belt and yet did not touch her waist; without her hair done up high and a curl that had come loose from it on her forehead…” This story has many parallels to Talent, but unlike that story’s wannabe artist, Ognev is sincere in his academic/statical pursuit and does not want to hurt Vera as he battles with his own confusion and emotions. When Verotchka confesses her love, I liked the way Chekhov has Ognev, in panic, reassess the woman that he fawns over. “…now that by declaring her love for him she had cast off the aloofness which so adds to a woman’s charm, she seemed to him, as it were, shorter, plainer, more ordinary.” The rest of the story is about Ognev’s decision to not love her back and then enduring the consequences of that decision. Early on he mentions that he has focused on scholarly pursuits and realizes that he has had very little time for either friends or love. So “when Vera disappeared he felt as though he had lost something very precious, something very near and dear which he could never find again.“ I found this story very genuine, if a bit too long. I could also see a little of my younger self in Ognev when I entered college, determined not let women detract me from academics. Book smart, but emotionally stunted.