My name is Alisha Klein. My mom, Briella, liked having a unique name so she wanted something almost like that. She went with a different spelling of “Alicia”—in fact, it was almost Alysha, with a Y.
I’m a really smart girl, I have to admit. During my childhood, I was good with books and computers. School, which usually goes hand-in-hand with knowledge, didn’t come as naturally to me. I was a pretty weird kid. I talked to myself all the time. I was picked on frequently in school. I couldn’t describe it, but I always felt so “far away” from everybody else, definitely much like an outcast.
My only real friend ever was my little sister. Her name is Latisha. I know how very weird that is – Alisha and Latisha. Well, that’s how it goes. My mom was definitely… different.
She and I were two girls who acted as much like boys as you can get. We played like boys, fought like them, and dressed like them.
We called ourselves all kinds of nicknames! We were Lisha and Tisha! Lee and Tee! Sure, we fought literally all the time. But she was still my best friend. Her existence is also pretty hilarious. She’s the complete opposite person of any of us in the family. She’s a gross, messy slob. She drives my mom nuts!! And she doesn’t even really look like anyone. I can’t believe she’s related to us. I know I’m the stereotypical smart redhead. I don’t know what black hair stands for, but it sure isn’t smart, hah! Latisha is her own breed of human.
As we got older, I evolved slightly deviant from Latisha, becoming a bit more girly than I had been. I remember the first time caring about my looks. I was a preteen at the time.
“Yes stay just like that, Alisha,” Grandma stressed, for the fifth time. She was an artist. She told me she would paint me for my birthday.
“I want to see it, I want to see it!!” I screeched, bouncing up and down like a child, following after her.
“Not until it’s framed, Lisha!!” she snapped.
I waited in the empty dining room as she dressed the painting in the room next to me, with one of many in her frame collections. I didn’t care about the frame, either way.
She unveiled the painting hanging from the wall. I studied it. I analyzed it. Looked at it from many different angles. And in the end, I could only think up of one thing to say.
“Is this what I really look like?” Grandma just laughed.
In high school, you don’t know how many times I was told you’d be so pretty if you plucked your eyebrows!! All the girls told me that. I mean, they were trying to be nice. But it got obnoxious a bit. I didn’t really want to.
I was still one of the “smart girls” in my grade. My strongest subject was in writing and literature. I think I read so much, it was the reason I started needing to wear glasses (most of the time!). Anyway, I was constantly praised by my teachers. You have such a special mind!, they said. Well, my grades suffered a bit due to lack of interest. I still did good, just not “straight-A”. That drove my teachers crazy. They said I could do much better than I did.
Outside of school, while I still loved to read more so than anything, I started up a new hobby too. Now my dad Simon Klein, don’t forget, the personal trainer – he works out all the time at the gym, goes jogging frequently, and really stays in shape. We didn’t have our own gym room at the time (although now we do), but he offered to take me one day if I wanted to join him.
So I said sure. Besides, I thought, not that it’s something I’m obsessed with, but I could be a little thinner… why not?
From there, it really took off. My dedication to physical fitness continued. I lost so much weight in high school!
Times started to get rough. When my Grandma died*, it became difficult to make the means needed to live in our big house. My mom, who was always a stay-at-home-mom, had to get a full-time office job in order to help pay the bills. It was a 9-to-5 data entry position but I suppose it helped us out. She stressed out so much about it. She wasn’t used to working, and it noticeably caused her more anxiety. She changed. I felt a little guilty that my parents didn’t want me to Latisha to get jobs, because of school – that of which I could care less of anyway.
Because of that, I started writing in a journal. Every single day all throughout high school, I wrote in this journal. Even up until the very end, when high school was finally over.
Finally, the day I’ve been waiting for. I’m completely done with school. The teasing, the loneliness, the pressure to get good grades – it’s all over. Never again will I have to sit at a lunch table alone, or have guys joke with their friends about dating me. I won’t have to hear another teacher plead for me to get good grades, when I’m hurting so much I can’t even focus on school. I no longer have to tolerate shuffling through the monotony of school life. I’m even skipping graduation, it’s not even worth it, what’s the point? I’m done. Thank goodness, I’m finally free!!