Aliens In America
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I might as well have been an alien on my first day of school here.

I didn't look like one, though. My skin wasn't green and my eyes weren't black. I looked just like them. Curly hair, brown eyes. Maybe that's what made me seem even more extraterrestrial to them. Something so close to normal yet so foreign in nature they couldn't comprehend it.

I remember my mom dropped me off at the classroom. She spoke to me in a language only we could understand. She told me to do my best to blend in with the other kids. We both got stared at when we spoke. I didn't think much of it then, but I could feel their eyes burning into my back. Just as quickly as she had dropped me off, she left, leaving me surrounded by an ocean of kids, eager to meet the alien among them.

I opened my mouth to speak.

"☟︎♓︎📪︎ ❍︎⍓︎ ■︎♋︎❍︎♏︎ ♓︎⬧︎ ☠︎♓︎♍︎□︎📬︎" I said.

Confusion. Stares.

"wiː dəʊnt ˌʌndəˈstænd ju." they replied.

More confusion. More stares.

I felt my mouth dry up, my tongue becoming an awkward, dry lump inconveniently placed in the middle of my maw. I looked around for my mother, the only person who could understand me, but she was long gone. I tried again, desperate to make myself understood.

"💣︎⍓︎ ■︎♋︎❍︎♏︎ ♓︎⬧︎ ☠︎♓︎♍︎□︎📬︎ ✋︎ ♍︎□︎❍︎♏︎ ♐︎❒︎□︎❍︎ ☟︎♋︎❖︎♋︎■︎♋︎📬︎"

But no avail. I resigned myself to my new role, that of the unusual one. The one who did not fit in. The alien.

The teacher was no better.

"əʊpən jɔː bʊks tuː peɪʤ ˈθɜːti sɪks." she would say. The others would produce a book from their desks and open it at once. I tried my best to imitate their actions. The teacher would have to come over to my desk and correct my failure to match what the others did so easily. It embarrassed me. Made me feel less human.

Recess was no better.

All the kids would splinter into their friend groups, leaving me to wander the schoolyard by my solitary self. A teacher would approach me, ask me something in the tongue I did not understand, and when I could not answer, they would leave. It made me feel alone. It made me feel like I would never truly belong.

Lunch was no better.

Food is the universal language (so said my mother), but I still could not make a connection with my peers. They talked among themselves and watched me as I stared in awe at what was on my tray. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Bread with cheese and spices on it. They didn't have this where I was from; at least not for the common people. I was laughed at when I used the little plastic knife and fork to cut into it. Made me feel more alien.

I got out of the bus feeling crushed, calling to my mother in tears. I told her how I felt like an apple amongst oranges. Maybe not so eloquently, but I think she understood. She held me tight and told me she loved me. She told me she was proud of me for being so brave among all the other aliens who didn't understand me.

"Don't worry. Everything gets better with time," she told me.

And I believed her.

Not to say that I shouldn't have; she turned out to be right after all. Time passed and eventually, I came to understand some of what they were saying. I would eventually come to understand all of it with further practice. I would make friends among them. I would know what the food they ate was. But deep down, I knew I was still an alien. Though I was a part of them now, I would never truly fit in, due to a little nagging sensation in the back of my head.

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