Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Microstory 1857: Bad One

I moved to a new school for fifth grade. My family didn’t move homes, but the district built a brand new primary school, and the zones had to be redrawn, meaning kids were pulled from the surrounding areas who hadn’t been studying together until now. Looking back, I don’t know how my new teacher could not know about our situation ahead of time, but I remember sitting in that classroom—nervous as all hell—and becoming the center of attention without ever wanting to. I’ve never liked crowds, and I don’t like people to stare at me. I feel more comfortable with a small group of friends, so I was already feeling rather uncomfortable, because all of those friends were still at my old school. There I was in the back corner, looking around for any clue as to who might become my friend, when I heard my name being called. Estera Nowicki. I acknowledged my attendance at the same time as another girl. We each turned our head to look at the other. She kindly explained that hers was the name that was called, and I had to explain that that was my name. The teacher looked down at the sheet. There were two of us, which she had apparently assumed to be some kind of typographical error. That was a little funny, but the names weren’t exactly rare. We had a laugh, and then one classmate suggested that one of us go by our middle name, which I said was Aleksandra. The other Estera scoffed. That was her middle name too, I had to be lying. I don’t know how I could have known as much about her without social media to look it up, like some kind of private detective, but she was convinced. It took some questions to the main office to confirm that yes, there were two Estera Aleksandra Nowickis in the same class.

Something had to be done to avoid the confusion. I mean, some of the kids were already confused, and there was probably nothing we could do about that. One boy suggested that we were long lost sisters, which was obviously dumb, because that would mean that our shared parents gave their sororal twins the same exact first and middle names, and then gave one of us away to a couple with the same surname. It was a coincidence, but again, we couldn’t move on without making sure there wouldn’t be any further ambiguity. I would have been perfectly fine going as Aleksandra. Honestly, I always thought it was a bit prettier. Sure, it was hers too, but as long as only I actually used it as my main name, it should’ve been fine. She wasn’t okay with that. As soon as I expressed my idea, she decided that she wanted to use it instead. Annoying, but whatever, I could be the Estera. No, she didn’t like that either. No matter what I said, she just wanted to be difficult, and pretty soon, we all realized that we had spent almost the entire morning on this, and hadn’t learned a single thing yet. I even recommended I go by Dosia, after a famous scientist named Dosia Zajac who I came to admire after presenting a report on her the previous year. The other Estera claimed to like her too, so now she wanted to be known as Dosia. I’m certain that she hadn’t even heard of her until that day, this was getting to be so ridiculous. The teacher—bless her heart—found it impossible to keep control of the classroom. Lines were being drawn. Some favored me, while a few were on her side. But they eventually swayed over to me when they realized how insolent she was being. So the rest of the students came together, and decided that it was no longer our choice what either of us was going to be called. She was given a nickname that probably haunted her for the rest of the life, while I came to be forever known as Good Estera.

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