Will I meet you at a party?
Sit next to you on a plane?
Maybe I already know you and loathe you,
But we’ll fall in love someday.
– Dear Soulmate by Laufey

The cool night air with hints of the day’s rain from a few hours ago lingered, damp grass and the soft crunch of sand under shoes which made their way to the front door. What followed after was a medley of shoes being taken off and messily arranged to what Evelyn equated to as an ocean of footwear.

Coming to this party was the last thing on Evelyn’s list. Even if she normally liked the food and company, her social battery was draining, fast. The day of dealing with assignments and poor time management (To be fair, she brought that upon herself) had done her mental state in.

However, she was somehow convinced to show up. Whether it was for the conversations and drinks (Ha, she opted not to drink this time round), Evelyn sighed before giving a few raps on the door.

“You’ve made it. I’m so glad.” Ashlyn pulled the door open for her, letting her inside.

Ashlyn Ng, a family friend. The pair had grown up together, having conversations over dinners where their parents chatted and drank. Despite attending different secondary and tertiary education, the two still forged an inseparable friendship.

“Thanks to you.”

The party, or a gathering specifically, was a frequent occurrence when Ashlyn would bring Evelyn along as an additional friend. It was mostly for some simple food and drinks, with engaging conversations of course. Social networking and free food, who wouldn’t want to come?

It was a fine place, with nicely painted walls and beautifully furnished living space. Lights hung from the ceiling, giving a slightly rustic feel and photo frames stood proudly on drawers. There were a lot of people already with paper cups and shot glasses lining the kitchen counter and dining table.

So much for just a few chats and drinks, she thought.

Scanning the room, dread began gnawing at her. Today was one of those where she barely knew most people, a social disaster for her nerves.

“Ayo, Evelyn,” A voice called out, and Evelyn let out a breath of relief. She didn’t have to turn around to know it was Ryan, a mutual thanks to Ashlyn. “How’s your week?”

“Busy.” She shrugged, taking a seat next to him at the kitchen island. “What about you?”

“You know the consultant work and everything,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders. “The usual.”

“You overwork yourself, Ryan.”

With a grin, he tilted his head in her direction. “Drink?”

“Sprite would be fine, thanks.”

“Not drinking tonight?” he asked, helping to pour her a cup of Sprite. Evelyn shook her head in response.

As she happily accepted her drink, he suggested, “To spice it up, you could add a tiny bit of gin.”

“Father Ryan is telling me how to savour alcohol,” she teased. Ryan was older than her by four years, the inside joke was that he cared for them like a bunch of ducklings. “How funny.”

A grin. “A little bit wouldn’t hurt, Ev.”

Just when she parted her mouth to retort, they were interrupted by Ming Jie, another mutual, cheering at the door. She couldn’t quite see who had arrived, but Ryan went over to greet the new guest.

Ming Jie laughed, reaching an arm over the person’s shoulders. “Josiah! Come here, you little—”

“I’m taller than you, Ming Jie.”

“Awww. Can’t take a joke Junjun?” A burst of laughter and a few jabs were thrown in. “Or should I say, Rosie Josie?”

The silly banter that unfolded was nothing unordinary, but the nickname rang in her head.

We call him Rosie Josie because he receives so many all the time!

There was only one person she knew who had that nickname.

Well, also the fact that his mum sells the best flowers in town.

When the person in question finally came into her full view, Evelyn’s eyes grew wide. No way in the world that Josiah Lee was standing right there in front of her.

Known for his charms and humour, Josiah was a golden boy of sorts. He was quite an accomplished student, talented in sports and dancing, amassing popularity. It was easy to guess now, but the nickname came from receiving roses each Valentine’s Day, as well as helping his mum out with her flower business. With their Methodist school’s strict rules of no romantic relationships, Josiah still received countless flowers from admirers.

“Get to know some people, yeah?” Ryan patted Josiah’s shoulder, a smug grin as he led him to the kitchen island. “I’ll get you a drink.”

“Thanks. Nothing alcoholic, please,” Josiah requested. With a nod, Ryan went off to fix a drink.

Taking this opportunity for a moment alone, she started, “You’re…”

His expression was pensive, but Evelyn knew that recognition was void.

“We went to school together,” she managed to muster more words, rubbing her fingers together. Meeting his eyes would be too intense to bear, or maybe more awkward. “Same class in Year 9.”

He paused. “You are?”

“Evelyn Chang.”

“9 Genesis. Praveena, our class monitor, was treasurer of the debate club.” The words were rushing out in an attempt to throw them all at once. Maybe if she said things quickly, he could mistake her for being tipsy. “And you were in the school’s volleyball team, co-captain with Amin.”

Josiah was still staring at her as if she was some meteor that threatened to crash on earth. Maybe she was dangerously circling in his orbit. Too bizarre to comprehend there was someone digging up the past.

“Don’t you remember a classmate who went on about—”

Evelyn shut her eyes due to the deep sense of embarrassment sinking into her bones. Why was it that she could remember all these things of people when they clearly had no recollection of her existence?

He was definitely thinking she was a creep now, seeing how he blinked at her. Evelyn couldn’t blame him, what else would you make of this random stranger telling you details of yourself from almost a decade ago?

“Ev! There you are.” A knight in shining armour, Ashlyn was asking her to come over from the other side of the space.

“Never mind,” she stammered out, face flushed from the heat rising within her. This was downright embarrassing. “I’m making this weird. My friend’s calling me.”

Without wasting another breath, Evelyn rushed to her friend. Ashlyn gave her a look, puzzled. “What’s up with you and Josiah?”

“Nothing,” she answered, too quickly. “Absolutely nothing.”

“All right. Come, I need to discuss with you.”

Deciding right then and there, Evelyn was adamant to not interact with Josiah for the rest of the night. Further shame and awkwardness could be spared by simply avoiding his presence. Luckily, it was easy because Josiah was taken from a friend group to another. Ming Jie was excited to have these friends meet him. You would have thought he was introducing sliced bread.

Lingering near the kitchen island, Evelyn took small sips of her Sprite, opting to watch the party unfold like a scene before her. Soon, she wasn’t alone as Ryan slid into the seat beside her. “Sorry for leaving you like that.” He knew she preferred to talk to familiar people, gaining a sense of control and calm. Gesturing his hand towards the group Josiah was with, he said, “I assume that you’ve never met these people before.”

Another sip of her drink and she let it slip. What harm could it bring? “I went to school with Josiah, actually.”

Ryan’s eyes went wide, a curious twinkle. “For real?”

“Yup. Classmates for just a year.”

“Was he always this tall, as a kid?”

She set her eyes on him, he was laughing with Ming Jie now. “In a way, yes. Taller than most.”

“Anything else about him that’s different? Or is he the same as before?”

Josiah was smiling, one that although many years had passed, was still the same. Perhaps some things hadn’t changed from then.

“You could say that, yeah.”

“Ash, hey. Don’t go dark on me.”

This was something Evelyn disliked at parties: her friends passing out because they drank too much, or they were an emotional wreck on the floor. Those were Ash’s words, the last part. Wanting to retire for the night, Evelyn was looking for her friend. Somehow or rather, it resulted in discovering her friend falling asleep next to the shoes.

If there was something worse than a drunk friend who could pass out at any moment, certainly a drunk friend who cried rivers would do the trick. To Evelyn’s dismay, it only took a full two minutes before Ashlyn burst into tears. Well, not the worst, but still an ordeal.

“Great,” she finally said, having given up on shaking her friend’s shoulders. “My ride home is sitting on the ground, drunk with tears.”

Some shuffling of shoes at the door, and Ryan appeared with Ming Jie. “You need a ride home?”

“We’ll manage. Thanks though.” Evelyn didn’t like to bother them, although of good intentions, she felt like they were going way out of their way to help.

“I’d offer to take you both back, but we’ve had a few drinks.”

Evelyn shook her head, observing Ashlyn’s sleepy state. The tears had run dry quite quickly. “We’ll take a Grab home, no problem.”

“At this hour? Absolutely not,” Ryan dismissed. “Not that Grabs aren’t safe, but I think it’d be better if someone sent you.”

There were a few beats of silence before Ming Jie piped up, “Hey, I think Josie didn’t drink. He can take you.”

“What?” She hoped it didn’t come out as a shriek. Feeling mortified over making a fool of herself earlier was already one thing. To have this incident haunt her? A thousand times worse. “No. It’s fine. I can—”

It was too late, Ming Jie called for what Evelyn coined as imminent doom. “Josiah, hey. You’re heading home?”

“Yeah, sure. What’s up?” She could hear Josiah’s voice clearly, he must have been leaning on the doorframe. Evelyn kept herself occupied with pulling Ashlyn stable to her feet, trying to tune out the discussion.

“The sky, Josie,” Ryan replied, getting straight to the point. “Evelyn and Ashlyn need a lift home. Can you take them?”

Evelyn desperately prayed that he refused, then she could wallow in her embarrassment alone.

“Yeah, sure. Of course I can.”

Turns out God really said no.

Josiah helped her support Ashlyn’s other side as they walked to his car. And making sure her friend was safely strapped in the backseat, Evelyn moved to open the passenger seat door, only to have Josiah do it first.

“After you,” he said, gesturing for her to get inside.

Mumbling a word of thanks, she fastened her seatbelt while he climbed into the driver’s seat. “Where to?”

Tapping Ashlyn’s address into his phone navigation app, she leaned back into the seat. Maybe if she sunk deeper, invisibility was possible.

“Had fun tonight?” He broke the silence first, initiating.

“It was fun, I enjoyed myself.” Keeping answers short and brief would be nice.

“That’s good,” he hummed, tapping his fingers on the wheel to some melody in his head. “About earlier…”

“It was intrusive for me to ask so much. I’m sorry.” The words came rushing out of her mouth. “I don’t do well with people sometimes.”

Josiah glanced at her, and it was brief, but she felt it was too perceptive.

“I was going to say that I don’t really remember those years,” he admitted. “But I remember you now, I just needed a moment to place it.”

“Well, I first couldn’t quite place a finger on you either.”

Josiah burst into laughter, successfully breaking the ice because even she smiled.

“How do you know Ryan?”

“Ash frequently brings me along. They’re friends from their internship.” Even if she was still recovering from this internal dread, curiosity still rose from within. “What about you?”

“He was my mentor in college. And then I reconnected with him around a year ago.”

As rocky as she thought the beginning was, the conversation flowed neatly. Nothing too extensive, but it was good.

“Thanks for getting us home.” Evelyn was holding onto Ashlyn, preventing her from falling face flat on the doorstep. “It’s greatly appreciated.”

“You’re welcome.” A slight pause to draw breath. “Have a good night, Evelyn.”

“Call me Ev,” she said suddenly. “Everyone else does.”

Josiah looked at her again, a small smile on his face. “Good night, Ev.”

Evelyn watched him drive into the night, his car fading until it merged into the shadows.

“Thanks for making sure I didn’t make a mess.”

“No worries, Ash. Just remember to not drink on an empty stomach again.”

Ashlyn groaned, head in her hands. “Don’t remind me. It’s already ingrained in my brain after Ryan lectured me about it.”

The morning was full of grogginess, and Ashlyn dealt with a pounding headache. Evelyn sighed, a glass of water in hand for her friend.

After downing water and painkillers, Ashlyn had an eager look. “So… I heard about you and Josiah.”

“Hmm? What about him?”

“You knew him in secondary school, classmates even.”

“Just a year. We were in completely different classes for upper secondary. In fact, I barely saw him after that.”

“Did he remember who you were?”

“Not at all,” came her flat reply. “And it doesn’t matter anyway. I won’t see him ever again.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“It’s all a pure coincidence, Ash. Just because he’s popped up in my life once, doesn’t mean it’ll happen again.”

“If you say so.”

If there was the epitome of perfect weather, it would have been the picturesque scene before Evelyn. The open space was filled with rows of tables and carts that displayed all sorts of trinkets and goodies. Food stalls served an array of tasty dishes, ranging from grilled organic tofu, nasi ambeng. There were even desserts, like sugar-glazed tanghulu and pandan layer cake.

Evelyn was asked by Ashlyn to help out for a day, manning a booth which sold handmade bracelets and jewellery, all made from sustainable and recyclable materials. Her friend had let her go on a short break, free time to stroll around the stalls and admire the crafts and products they displayed.

There were a few stalls dedicated to raising funds for various charities and NGOs. Ashlyn had gushed about one that sold handicrafts and woven baskets crafted by an indigenous community from Selangor. Woven baskets and bookmarks were popular, with traditional fish traps which could also serve as lampshades.

A lady was selling flowers, bright and blooming in various colours. She appeared to be alone, running the stall herself. Evelyn watched her move pots and slide money into a clear plastic box. But there was a moment where she accidentally knocked over a pot and the soil spilled onto the ground.

“Let me help you with that,” she said, kneeling on the ground to clean up the soil.

“Thank you. My hands are full.”

As Evelyn put soil back into the pot and dusted her jeans off, she asked, “Are you here alone?”

“My son said he would arrive late. Something about being stuck in traffic.”

“Oh. I’ll stay with you until he arrives then.”

Handing over a water bottle for her sign of gratitude, the woman asked,  “What about you? How are you here?”

“I’m here to help a friend with her booth,” she replied, pointing over in the direction of Ashlyn’s stall. “It’s just right over there.”

Evelyn stayed longer than she should have, talking and keeping the woman company. It was all fine and dandy until someone else entered the scene.

“Mum, there you are. So sorry I’m late.”

“Don’t worry, Jun. This nice girl was so kind to help me.”

“Thank you so much. I—” A pause when he took a good look at her. Disbelief written all over his face, and definitely hers too. “Ev.”

For some reason, the first words that came out when she came into full view of Josiah was, “It’s you again.”

His mum looked between the two of them, confusion settling on her face. “You know each other?”

“This is Evelyn. She’s the one—”

“Oh, you’re Evelyn!” His mum’s eyes lit up with joy. “My, my. You’ve grown up nicely.”

As Evelyn was still trying to keep her composure and be polite, the thought of being in Josiah’s circle again was overwhelming.

“He came home, asking to look at old class photos. I was wondering why this boy was suddenly so curious,” Mrs Lee explained. “He was telling me about meeting you—”

Evelyn saw a faint shade of pink dust across his cheeks. Was he blushing?

“Mum, you’re saying a lot.” A hesitant laugh and a hand came up to comb through his hair.

“My son has always been so shy about girls. Never have I once heard him talking until he met you—”

“Mum!” He was definitely blushing now, even the tip of his ears were red. “That’s enough about me. I just want to talk to Evelyn, privately.”

“Right, right.” She got up from her seat, taking a tote bag with her. “I’ll leave you both alone. I need to get a few things from the car anyway.”

With the two left alone, there was a moment of silence where each party had no idea what to say. Surely bumping into each other out of the blue would bring something.

“We’ve got to stop bumping into each other like this,” he said with a teasing glint.


A hesitant start to his sentence. “Umm, I’ve been meaning to ask for your number, but just haven’t contacted the right people.”

Evelyn shrugged, knowing how their mutuals were swamped with their own lives. “Ryan’s been too busy with his work to look at his messages, I assume.”

“Actually, he sent his phone for repairs. He accidentally dropped it and wouldn’t light up.”

“And Ming Jie?”

“Gave me the wrong number.” Well, that certainly sounded like their friend. She couldn’t wait to tease him about this when she next saw him.

Pulling out his phone, he nudged it to her. “Would you?”

“Sure.” A grin tugged at her lips as she tapped on his phone. “Of course.”

“Thanks.” Josiah slipped his phone into his pocket, and flashed a charming smile. “I’ll catch you around?”

“See you around, Josiah.”

“You too, Ev.”

Another party was thrown, this time, at Ryan’s house. A cosy apartment with sleek interior design choices, marble counters and spacious couches. As the host, he provided some good food and fun drink concoctions. Fried noodles, stir-fried vegetables and tofu glazed with a beautiful sauce,

It was a fun night, delicious food and some wonderful company. The moon hung in the sky and Evelyn decided it was time for her to go. Bidding goodbye to her friends and thanking Ryan for hosting, she put on her shoes and waited for the lift.

What she didn’t expect was Josiah following behind, closing the door shut to join her.

“What are you here for?

“Walking you down,” he replied, slipping his shoes on with his hands in his jacket pockets. “Come on.”

As he fell into step beside her, they hopped into the awaiting lift. “Under Ryan’s instructions?”

“Nope. My own free will.” Pushing the ground floor button, he wrapped his fingers around the key card. “I just told him I’m with you before swiping this.”

“Ah,” she finally said, a little shy, “how sweet of you.”

They rode the lift in silence, getting to the ground floor and he walked her out to the gate. Right before she got into the car, he shifted his weight on his feet. She could tell he had something to say.

“Hey, um,” Josiah started, briefly clearing his throat, “are you free sometime this weekend?”

“That depends,” she replied, there was this expectant look of hope in his eyes. “My schedule can be quite finicky to work with.”

“Saturday night? Let’s say 7.”

Evelyn nodded, and this warm feeling bubbled inside her.

“I’ll pick you up. 6:30?”

With her response, a smile bloomed across his face, shining brightly like the stars.

Splashes of orange, pink and blue brought dusk and the sun set beyond the horizon. The sky had looked like a watercolour painting, and now it was decorated with little stars that dotted the universe.

Backs against a picnic blanket on the soft grass, they stared into the vast expanse of sky that stretched into infinity. It was fortunate that it had not rained, especially in the unpredictable weather of the tropics, for the stars twinkled clearly without a care.

If she extended her hand ever so slightly, their fingers would touch. So close in distance, where she swore she could hear his heart rhythmically thudding.

Perhaps he was nervous now, heart thrumming wildly in his chest. She could tell from the way his fingers tapped in sequence upon the fabric.

He reached for her hand, lacing their fingers together.

Evelyn turned to him slightly, and Josiah smiled at her, the endearing one that made her heart flutter and nerves buzz around. He held it for a moment before shifting his gaze back to the dark canvas above them, fingers still intertwined.

She took this moment to shut her eyes, surrendering to this gentle night breeze that swept over them. The stars winked in the night sky, slowly preparing to fade when dawn finally broke. To hear his heartbeat so close, and thought how lovely it was for his heart to be hers.

Written by: Zhen Li

Edited by: Ashley

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *