By Jalene Davis
I tried to make some changes in my life. I thought I was helping my family out, turns out it was all a mistake. Mama always told me “Grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” I should have listened. It was the summer after my freshman year at Rosemary High School. That summer had mostly been spent with my dad, step mom, step brothers (Monte and Quez), and brother (Rashid); Long nights of games, jokes, and laughter. I was having the time of my life. I’d never been around them for long periods of time, usually spending most of my time with my mother and sister. My dad loved that I was around so much and that he could see his “jae boo” more than usual. In the past he often told me to consider living with him for a little while, but I never thought anything about it. I loved the area I was in, the school I attended, and the friends I made in my area. My dad lived on the other side of town, it was an inconvenience. Two o’clock in the morning, my brothers and I were comparing their school with mines. Arguing about which school was better. “Jae look at my school. It’s big huh?” Monte said as he showed me a picture of his school online. “Yeah, it’s nice,” I said. “Man that school is huge. I can’t wait to be going there next year,” Rashid inputted. “Jae you should go to Peachtree Ridge with us?” Going to Peachtree Ridge wasn’t even an option nor put into consideration. “Nah y’all I’m good where I’m at,” I replied. They started begging me like little dogs at their knees. Stating all the reasons why I should go to “The Ridge”: how there were cute boys, better education possibilities, more exciting things to do, and how the household would be so much settle and calm if I lived there. Then I started thinking. My mom was going through financial problems, maybe it would help if I moved out because she wouldn’t have to pay for things I wanted and needed. My mind was made. I was going to move in with my dad and attend Peachtree Ridge high school. The next day I told my dad that I wanted to go to school at Peachtree Ridge and the reasons why. He was so excited. Explaining to me all the wonderful things Peachtree could do for my education, how they were one of the top schools in the state, and how living with him would be great. The only thing I was worried about was breaking the news to my mom; I knew she would be a bit sad. So I just told her and she was a little broken-hearted. She stated that even though I thought moving with my dad was to help; in the end everything might not be all good. She also explained to me that if I was going to go to that school out in the area my dad lived in I needed to stay, because she wanted me to have stability throughout my high school career. So there it was, I was going to be starting my sophomore year at Peachtree Ridge high school and living with my dad, stepmom, and brothers. Everything was going good. Peachtree was an amazing school. Very diverse, which was something I wasn’t use to, delicious lunch, and there were amazing opportunities for the students who attended the school. At home, everything was at ease. The family was getting along, there were no problems, and we were enjoying each other. I was enjoying myself; life seemed to be going good. Then reality hit. My life went from being enjoyable and fun to depressing. There was a chore list created for us, the kids, to clean every day or we would be punished. They weren’t your average house chores like: clean the dishes, clean your room, or clean the bathroom, they were outrageous chores your child would not clean everyday: scrub the floors and walls, clean under the refrigerator, take all items out of the cabinets and restock them, anything you can think of was expected of us to do. I literally felt like a slave. We had to walk home from school almost every day, which took up to 3 to 4 exhausting hours. I was never able to do homework or anything in regards to my education and my dad and step mom did not care. It was ridiculous. I had become a zombie, to the point where I wouldn’t take a shower most nights. I would write in my journal every night writing how much I hated living there. It was torture. Then one night things went from ridiculous to absolutely outrageous. My dad and stepmom were at the top of the stairs arguing about me and my brother being “disrespectful and ungrateful.” I walked up the stairs trying to walk pass them and make my way to my room. Walking up the steps hoping and praying that nothing would be said to me before I got to my room, then just before I reached the top of the stairs my hair was pulled by my stepmom as she dragged me up the rest of the stairs. “You stupid ungrateful devil child,” she said as she yanked at my hair. Punching and slapping me in my face to, while my dad just stood there and watched. I felt so helpless, it was unbelievable. I cried so hard, asking god why this had to happen to me and what I had done wrong. I cried all night because I realized that what I thought was the best thing for me was the worst. I thought living with dad would be the best thing for me and to help my mom get financially stable, but it turned out I was better off were I was in the first place.