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Slinking into the Shadows

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Just this other day, I was walking from a class with an international classmate. I hesitate to call myself friends with her, as we are merely close acquaintances. I am reminded of this label every day that she walks me and one of her international friends. Phrases of Chinese Korean an exotic language are tossed around, and both students laugh and chuckle. The ignorant shield away and slink into the shadows.

I do not understand a word they say, so I decide to keep trudging on – breaking free of the group. I go to my next class alone; when she sees me again, she apologizes, “Sorry! It’s just that when I’m near him, it just comes out.”

...

What makes it worse is when, the next day, she jabbers in that foreign tongue. Not only that, but -

I am walking with her and her friend again, and we are crossing the street. I feel like balancing the soles of my Converse precariously on the curb, as she and he are walking on the sidewalk. She asks a question, and he replies in English; his tone is wary.

The whole conversation is stilted, obnoxious – it’s too much for me to bear. I feel my cheeks flaming red.

I want to tell him that I know it’s for my benefit; you don’t have to be this nice, it just reminds me that I can never be fully integrated into your circle. Just let me be.

I want to slink into the shadows again.

I guess there is something she seeks in the comforting rhythms of her language. Maybe no one else can empathize with this but her fellow peers.




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