The Year I Became Isabella Ande - Jessica Sorensen

Interior Design and Formatting by

Christine Borgford, Perfectly Publishable

I’VE ALWAYS ROCKED the weirdo gene, and I’ve mostly been okay with that. But life would be a tiny bit easier if my parents and sister marched to the beat of their own drum, too. Unfortunately, their style is more Leave it to Beaver with an edge. My mom is the epitome of a Stepford housewife on crack. She can bake a cake, clean the house, put together a fundraiser for our school, and make sure my sister and I are doing our homework, all while looking perfect.

To most, my dad is the perfect husband and father. He works in the city and is the vice president of a company. He makes a decent salary, like most people who work in the city do, holds a high status in the community, and gives my mother everything she asks for.

Then there’s my older sister, Hannah. Growing up, Hannah was the star prodigy of my parents. From preschool up until first grade, she starred in beauty pageants and won so many tiaras and trophies my parents made a special room for them, which basically meant she has two bedrooms. As she got older, she got into modeling and was even in her own commercial for some robotic gadget that was supposed to tease hair to its ‘fullest potential’. My parents were always bragging about her at work functions and community get-togethers.

High school is where Hannah really blossomed, according to everyone. She developed an obsession with makeup and fashion, and her confidence and beauty helped her rise to the top social status tier. She became student body president, head cheerleader, and Queen of Sunnyvale, the title handed to one lucky senior who receives a flashy crown, free dinner at the club for a year, the privilege of riding on the float in the Sunnyvale Sunny Days parade, and a scholarship.

Then there’s me, the baggy clothes wearing, manga loving, aspiring comic book artist, zombie enthusiast addition to our family. Being different would be fine—there has to be a weirdo in every family—except mine isn’t very accepting of people they can’t understand, including their own daughter. A junior in high school, my greatest accomplishment is having my own blog that is just a way for me to get all the clusterfuck of weirdness out of my head.

I once beat the entire neighborhood, including the guys, in a free shot competition. But when I do shit like that, it always earns the same reaction from my mother: “You’re such a tomboy. When are you going to act like a girl?”

I clock in a lot of time reading, dye my hair an array of colors—today it’s green stripes!—and doodle my own comics starring kickass female characters who aren’t afraid to be themselves, my attribute I try to live by. Sometimes it’s hard, though, trying to find people who ‘get me’ or whatever. I live in my own little shell as the outcast. Sometimes I feel like I can barely breathe, like the walls are closing in. My worst fear is that I’ll die in that damn shell, probably by asphyxiation.

“Why aren’t you breathing?” my mom asks me from across the lengthy dinner table.

I hold my breath another few seconds before releasing a deafening exhale. “I was just wondering how long it’d take to die from lack of air.” And if anyone would notice if I dropped dead at the kitchen table.

She stares at me, unimpressed, then shakes her head and looks over at my dad. “I really don’t get her sometimes.” She cuts into her chicken, sawing into the meat so violently the knife scrapes against the plate. “No, I take that back. I don’t understand her at all.”

Hannah snorts a laugh as her manicured nails tap buttons on her phone. “No one does. Just ask anyone at school.”

“Hey, some people get me,” I argue, stabbing my fork into my salad. “I swear they do.”

She glances up at me with her brows arched. “Name one person. And the janitor doesn’t count.”

“I’m not counting the janitor,” I say, chewing on a bite of salad. I’ve never understood why my sister seems to hate me so much, but ever since we were in grade school, she’s made it her mission to torment me as much as she can. “Although, Del’s pretty cool.”

“Oh, my God, you’re a freak,” she sneers. “And I know you don’t have friends, so don’t pretend like they exist.”

“Just because the people I hang out with aren’t cool enough for