Seaside Gothic

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The Asylum Seeker

The Asylum Seeker by Melissa Todd

We arrange to meet in a cafe in Folkestone. A small slender woman walks in soon after I arrive. Her huge expressive eyes dart nervously about the room, taking in every face, every exit. Is it my imagination, or does half the room stop talking to stare at her? Maybe the nerves are justified. How could it feel to constantly publicly advertise your difference from the natives you’ve come to live among? There’s a tabloid on a table, shouting about something Meghan Markle has or has not done, and I wince as she turns towards it. She wears an elaborate flowered navy skirt, a cream scarf over straight dark hair, and when she sees me and smiles I became acutely aware of what she must see: a greying middle-aged journalist, keen to exploit her woes. We may both be women but we exist on opposite sides of a wall.

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