Othering

Had a poignant dream last night, thought I’d share. Tales of Mu already told this story, but it’s my dream and my emotional resonance and I don’t care. You’re reading my blog for a reason, hang in for my wild ride.

So, college lab setting. We’re sitting down to day one, intro style labs, partners are assigned at random. The instructions are to fold the page in half long ways, print your name at the bottom, cut it in half and exchange halves with your partner for tracking all the generic details we’re going to share with each other.

A slow but familiar feeling of dread has building since I walked down the hallway to the classroom. As I hold the pencil in my hand (a pencil in a science lab, I know. That’s dreams for you *shrugs*), it feels awkward and unwieldy. I do not write in print often, and I never write out my name. Not this name.
My given name. I can see the letters. I can see that they are all there, but I keep writing them out of order. The first name comes out well enough, it’s not that far off from the name I go by. But the last name, my father’s name…
“Hey!” My lab partner snatches her half of the paper before I’ve sorted out fixing the spelling. I don’t look up. I don’t shout. I can’t react.

She waves the paper about with glee, squealing like she’s won some sort of lottery. Smooth, pale skin, pretty, well-behaved hair, tiny, feminine– she’s won a lottery all right. One she’s never appreciated or even noticed.

“Those are orcish characters– you’re a half orc!”

My stomach drops out. Orc. I am no orc. Just ask my uncles. I stare fixedly at the letters on my remaining paper, pencil starting to strain under the pressure of my grip. I can’t relax my fingers.
The teacher is restoring order in loud, clear tones. I had spoken to her in her office, well before lab. I speak to all of them, just in case. This always happens, sooner or later.

“That explains why you’re so tall! Do you wish you had tusks? Your brow ridges are so small though, you don’t look orcish at all! Must be on your father’s side then, or you’d be a lot thicker, wouldn’t you. Gosh, you’re so lucky! I wish I was tall–”

“You’re the kind of girl who tells goblins they’re such a pretty shade of green, aren’t you? Ask them if they wish they had more warts on their nose?”

I shouldn’t have spoken. It was quite, even toned, but it was still an outburst. Still going to be blown wildly out of proportion, as always. Everyone will be chittering about how I lashed out, totally lost it. Battle rage.

I stand as carefully as I can, move in slow measured steps to the door, down the hall, to the bathroom. I don’t think about which one I use. It’s not the one I’m allowed in, but it’s the one I feel comfortable in. It’s between classes anyways. I need a little comfort. I don’t look in the mirror.

I want to tuck my feet up on the seat, perch like I used to, hide. But my legs are too long now. My body too wide for my elbows to fit if I wrap my around myself. So I just sit, very still, hands on my knees, staring at the beige stall door. I do not cry. I cannot cry.

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