• Grace Choi

An Inevitable Meeting


The dark coat of the figure behind Miyo curled slowly into her peripheral vision as she hastily

turned another corner, disposable coffee cup long discarded in a bin as panic rose unsteadily in her chest.

If she’d been paying attention after she’d left the café, she would have noticed the

figure nonchalantly peel themselves off a bus stop seat and pocket the newspaper they had been holding in faux interest to slink after her.

But Miyo’s sixth sense had alerted her too late that she wasn’t alone.

The figure had clung to her heels incessantly even after she had pulled every trick they taught at self-defence classes: crossing the road, taking a detour, walking into public places. Every time she reluctantly half turned her head and strained her eyes as far round as they would go, she wished, unsuccessfully, that she would find herself alone.

Miyo’s keys formed a makeshift jagged knife in her fist, hidden deep in her bag.

The blood in her neck beat heavy and sharp, spiking up to her temples until her head ached.

The gnawing throb in her jaw burnt as she readied herself – and then she spun around, thankful that her voice wasn’t shaking as hard as her body.

‘Are you following me?’

The tails of a dark coat fluttered to a stop – and the relief Miyo felt was dizzying. A woman

stared back at her. Her hands were buried in her pockets, one of them holding a hastily folded newspaper.

They were similarly dressed and could even have been co-workers in their identical

business clothes: smart white shirt and carefully pressed black trousers. Miyo’s mind

scrambled to rationalise that it was entirely possible she and the woman worked in the same

area and were simply both headed to work on the same route.

That she wasn’t being followed at all and their paths had crossed by pure coincidence.

She could have rationalised everything if the woman hadn’t been looking at her like that. Like

they weren’t strangers at all.

She looked at her the way Miyo imagined pining friends would chance glances at each other when their backs were turned. Like they had settled into a domesticity reserved for married couples: cooking together in a too-small kitchen where their elbows couldn’t help but touch, coming home to each other’s quiet company, binging late-night films and falling asleep on the couch to wake up underneath a tenderly spread blanket. Until one day the realisation that they shared an intimacy deeper than friendship forced them to either come closer together, or drive them apart in unspoken tension.

The familiarity in the woman’s gaze unnerved her.

‘Do I know you?’ Miyo’s voice wavered.

The woman's smile was luminous. ‘We haven’t met before. I’m Shreya.’