It will be a very strange story.
Hi. My name is Alexandra. You can call me Alexa. And the strange one too. I won’t get offended. I’m used to it.
My life can’t be called bad. On the contrary, I’ve got lots of friends, and I’m successful and respected by others. People even find me beautiful. At least, when they look at my photos.
There are thousands of such strange people as me, especially in big cities. I don’t know whether there’s someone who dared to write about the strangeness following me since my childhood. If there isn’t, that’s not surprising: this person is maybe afraid of being laughed at. It can happen to me as well. But it’ll never scare me.
I’ve got my strangeness since the age of six. That time my relatives found it the gesture of surprise and wondered how I could get surprised so often. So they started saying that sometimes I looked a bit strange.
Anyway, that period was a white stripe of my life. Soon that stripe darkened. I went to school and communicated with more people. Every shout of a teacher, every heart-touching book, every quarrel with my friends – all that was noticeably reflected on my body. And on my face, especially on my eyes. My close relatives scolded me for my strange upward gazes and even stranger shoulder movements. But then I was taken to a doctor.
The black stripe was sown by tablets. Certainly, not by activated carbon tablets, though their colour suits it. I know this joke is strange, but it matches me.
When I was thirteen, my family moved in to another place. Students in my new school were really friendly. The white stripe again. Now I understand: it would still be black if something specific was absent in me. You’ll find it out what I mean a bit later. Yes, my classmates (sometimes even teachers) called me strange behind me. At first, they even shunned me. But then things went better. Of course, there were some awkward moments. Let me tell you about a funny occasion.
“Alexandra, were you prompting to Marya when she was answering?” my teacher asked strictly.
“No,” I answered honestly, nodding.
“Then why are you nodding?”
“Bulgarians do that,” one of my classmates laughed.
“Alexa, are you Bulgarian?” the teacher smiled.
I chuckled, and she added,
“OK, now we’ll only listen to you, not watch.”
But on the whole, that time was not bad.
Time was passing. The stripes were changing extremely fast, as well as the names of my sedatives. But I went on living. I entered the Department of Foreign Languages. Talking with me on the phone, my relatives were happy about my diligence in studying. But when they visited us, they immediately saw my strangeness and told me: “Don’t mind your studies.” Someone ‘caringly’ added: “The main thing is lucky marriage” which made me move excessively even more.
As for my parents, I felt bored with them. I could rarely share my success and failures with them. They listened to me, of course. But my mum and dad cared about my health and appearance more. They compelled me to go to doctors, called me a strange person and couldn’t guess to change the word ‘strange’ to the word ‘interesting’. Simply, they’d better look into my internal essence. Happily, my university friends did it. Only one day before an exam my friend, seeing me nodding, uttered:
“Alexa, don’t worry.”
“I can’t help worrying,” I said.
“Why? You’ve learnt everything well and have nothing to be afraid of. Let’s get distracted.”
“OK. Tell me: have you ever mixed my nods up with a gesture of consent?”
“I have,” my friend smiled. ‘At first, I thought you revered every word uttered by teachers.’
“Maybe that’s why they like me so much,” I chuckled.
Well, my life was strange but joyful. My studies were finished with excellence. The white stripe was finished too.
I was quickly hired as a schoolteacher of English in Moscow. Quickly, because during the job interview, I pulled myself together and resisted excessive movements. Sure, it wasn’t the only reason. Four years ago, I graduated from that school with excellence.
My salary was perfect. However, the stripe was black. Do you find me impudent? Well, you’ve got a right to judge. I’ll just say I stopped working there in a month and a half as I fell ill two times during that period: I was overloaded and stressed, some half-sick students came to school – all that was enough for me to catch a cold. Before my leaving my boss told me:
“It’s a pity you’re leaving. Kids loved you.”
“I feel pity too,” I sighed, resisting crying. ‘Anyway, I have nothing but do it. Health is above wealth.’
“I agree. By the way, you deal not only with colds, as far as I understand. I’m sorry to say you look strange. Is there anything wrong with your nervous system?”
“Show me that teacher who has healthy nerves,” I smiled a sad smile.
“You’re joking. You aren’t discouraged, I see,” my boss chuckled. ‘Good luck.’
I thanked him and wrote a letter of resignation. Leaving the school, I felt my heart pressed by incredible anguish. I imagined myself as a poor mother leaving her children. That’s strange, of course, but strangeness is typical to me. I came home, sat alone in my room and wept. Thinking a bit, lying in the dark, I messaged my friend. I told her what happened to me. I poured out my soul, actually.
“Sorry, I’m not empathic,” she replied. ‘But if you want, I can give you a piece of advice.’
“Which one?” I asked.
“Drink some wine to relax.”
“I mustn’t do it ‘cause I take medication. By the way, do you think I’m alcoholic?!” I shouted in my voice message and threw my smartphone angrily.
My nine-year-old sister knocked on my door.
“Come here, Alie!” I uttered, hearing her recognisable knocking rhythm.
“Don’t cry,” she said, entering my room. ‘I have some news. You’ll be happy.’
“Nothing can soothe me now,” I waved my hand. ‘You’re too young to understand me.’
“But I do. Mum said you’re upset because of your job.”
“Yes. I’ll miss my students.”
“But you can teach my classmate. His mum is looking for a tutor.”
“Yeah. Don’t worry, Alexa. Mum says God knows best. She also thinks being a tutor is more suitable for you.”
I sighed heavily. I’ll have only one student. Shall I eternally live off my parents?
Talk less, work more. I submitted job search ads. There were lots of offers, but I didn’t like the salaries, and it was inconvenient to get there. Finally, I found something interesting.
“What are you suggested to do?” mum asked.
“To be a secretary interpreter.”
“Where?” she asked, swallowing some tea.
“At a medical centre.”
My mum choked.
“Are you crazy? You’ve got tics.”
“You know, I’m composed during job interviews.”
“Well, let’s imagine you’re hired. What’s next? You won’t be able to resist so long.”
“But I’m conscientious.”
“Doctors will be there.”
“I know they will. Unlike you, doctors will know I’m adequate. I just have a peculiarity.”
“It’s a sickness, not a peculiarity! You’ll be perceived as a mad person!”
“But children perceive me well!”
“Do whatever you want!” mum said ironically.
“Stop demotivating me!” I shouted and entered my room, slamming the door. I wanted to go to the job interview no more and called the employer and said I had got another job.
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