Life was bittersweet for me at twelve Or maybe that was an understatement. I was an all-around honor student, pretty much had my future planned to the T, all on my own, without any backing from my family or friends whatsoever.
I lived in small-town called Grant Everglade with my mother, father, and little sister, Anelle, and attended a small, insignificant middle-school that contained a total of fifty-five students, shared with high schoolers. Our town’s population was a whopping six hundred and eighty-two and couldn’t have been any more boring even if you tried. My parents both worked doing hard labor; my father a carpenter, my mother a beekeeper, and on most occasions, the town’s most popular hairdresser.
Therefore, for two days out of the week, many groups of women from town appeared at our dwelling, sitting in a neat straight line, along the walls of our tiny hallway and against the creaky stair that everyone hated. We lived in a decent sized two-story house, that was off to the beginning of the woods, in the outskirts, far away from the rest of civilization. It made me question why anyone would want to commute so far to come to our home, but I guess there was no doubt that my mother was a talented woman. Though she was very good friends with the people of Grant along with my father, they had no choice but to live in desolate hell with their two children; one more specifically, who was degraded by the majority of the town and stamped as a curse. See the real reason we had to live in solitary was that, in addition to being small, Grant was highly religious and fearful.
Ten percent of the town contained blacks, the rest whites - whom might I add, not all that bright- and only one Asian family, the Nguyens. Growing up, I never saw myself as different from the other kids, however, everyone that I’ve encountered, went on to remind me otherwise. I was the only one in my family born with Heterochromia, where one of my eyes was of a different color than the other, prominently blue to be exact. At first, I was home-schooled and was never allowed to leave the house. My parents brought dozens of doctors to check me, receiving several different answers and the majority wanting to take me away to study me. I was an average looking dark-skin black girl, with a strange anomaly... one blue eye.
Every Tuesday and Saturday, my mother had clients over and when it came time to work, I would be placed under lockdown in my room for the entirety of the day. Once every so often my little sister, who was nine, would come up to tease me, as she was allowed to roam freely throughout the house and would receive praise and gifts from everyone, who blatantly deemed her the cuter and normal one of the two of us; emphasis on normal. As time went on, I grew accustomed to my isolation. I had one best friend, whom I revered more of a sister than my biological one, as we stuck together for as long as we were permitted.
Terri Nguyen and her family were also excluded from the normal circles of our town and were only allowed to stay due to her father being a top-notch surgeon. Her father and mother were also good friends with my parents and would come over for dinners, which meant time for Terri and me to hang. She was once one of the most popular students of Grant Middle School; declared the prettiest and gifted but was immediately exiled, once everyone caught wind that she was being too friendly with the school’s pariah. She never told her parents, as her frequent visitations to my house would be prematurely cut short if they were to find out. We did talk on the phone a lot and would message one another so often to the point that ironically, our parents suspected us of being lesbians. Therefore, the Nguyens kept their distance for a long time, even going as far as to change their number. Inevitably severing their ties with my family.
Eventually, they had me segregated from the rest of the crowd at school and everyone refused to acknowledge me in fear that the educational authorities would find out and punish them. I was assigned to be at least an eight-foot radius away from the student body and every once in a while, my parents were forced to keep me at home, with no reason to back.
Although my parents loved me the best way they could, I could still feel they held me at arm’s length when they were around me. The tinge of resentment I felt from my mother, the hate from my little sister, and the secret bond that I shared with my father. The one person who actually cared to love me openly around the rest of the family. He never gives a damn about what anyone thought, but also treaded lightly with folks of Grant, careful not to put our livelihood on the line. Then, there was little ol’ me. Who was simply neutral about everything. I didn’t completely love myself and mainly felt numb to it all. A reject to my hometown and a nuisance to my family. I was on a grey cloud nine... Drifting in-between seldom happiness and angst. Stuck in a never-ending round of humiliation and isolation; rarely ever speaking, unless I had to.
I had this paralyzing fear of water but loved the honey that my mother would bring home from work, which would make up for the agonizing bath times she gave to me. Those were one of the few memories of my childhood that resonated...
Then there was the day of my middle school graduation. The day she hit the ground, lying there motionless. The day, I’ve yet to process, never once shedding a tear or feeling any ounce of sadness.
Just neutral, as always!