~Chapter One~

New Neighborhood, New House, New People, New Life

It was a crisp October afternoon when we pulled up in front of our new house. I had to admit, it was a hell of a lot better than our old house. I got out of the car to stretch just as the moving truck pulled up behind our minivan. I was remembering why'd we moved out here in Tinley Park in the first place. Oh, yeah! How can I ever forget?! My twin brother Brandon was murdered dreadfully on the mean streets of Chicago. By the way, my name's Brandi Jackson.

I mean it's hard losing any member of your family, especially one of your siblings, but it's really, really hard when it's your twin. When Brandon died, I felt like something died with him.

Even though me and Brandon were very different - I'm the nice, honor- roll, shy, sweet, little girl, and he was the mean, rude, hard-headed, good- for-nothing, daddy-didn't-want-his-daughter-dating, little nigger, we were still very close. But in reality I wasn't that sweet or nice. It was just an "act" I put on for the adults. But I am an honor roll student. I've done my share of bad things, but I ain't as wild and out of control as my best friend Lauren. He was out there, on the streets dealing and selling drugs with his motherfucking gang. And his gang out caught up in some shit in this other gang's business and sadly, Brandon got his brains blown out.

I mean, I loved him very much even though he did piss me off a lot, and I missed him dearly, but I think he brought that upon himself. I don't mean to be cruel or anything, but that's what I think. It still gives me chills just remembering the sight of his murdered body, his brains all over the ground, his blood splattered everywhere.

Daddy snapped me out of it when he said, "Here we are, Pumpkin, in a new neighborhood, in a new house, where we can meet new people, and start a new life."

"Yeah," I mumbled.

According to Daddy and I quote: "Chicago has become too violent to live and rise a family in."

I then noticed an old, white lady peering through her window at us. When she recognized I was staring back at her, she closed her blinds hastily.

My other, older, lazier, uglier, and dummier brother Kendall came out the minivan. He had his headphones on, which were plugged up to his portable CD player, listening to his Dr. Dre CD and acting like an idiot as usual. Then my baby sister Diamond, who is 3, came out the minivan. She was carrying her favorite stuffed-animal Winnie the Pooh. Nana, my mamma's mother, gave it to her before she died last year.

Now my parents didn't plan on having Diamond. It was one of those accident things. Because they were 40, and of course Mamma was 37 when she had Diamond. I didn't know that people could still have babies at that age. But according to them me and Kendall were unplanned also.

"Well, let's get unloading," Mamma replied when she got out of the car.

While Mamma, Daddy, Kendall, and the truck drivers unloaded the truck, I played outside with Diamond.

"Okay Pooh, throw me the ball!" (Pooh was the nickname my mamma's sister gave Diamond since she's a Pooh lover.)

"Okay!"

She threw the ball with all her strength. It hit my feet.

"That's alright! Good try!"

"Hi!" a friendly, perky voice greeted.

I turned around to see a white, blonde-haired, light green-eyed girl. She seemed about my age, 16. Her hair came to the beginning of her neck, and she had on corduroy overalls, with a white turtleneck, and black clogs. She was short too - only about 5 feet 2, 5 feet 3. Meanwhile, I stood 5 feet 8. Then she smiled. She had shiny, metal braces.

Me? I also wore overalls, but they were blue-jean. I had on my long- sleeve white shirt that said "Spoiled." I also had on my old, out-dated K- Swiss shoes, and I had my hair down, but with a blue bandana on it.

"Hi," I finally answered back. "I'm Brandi Jackson, and this is my sister Diamond Jackson."

"Hi!" Diamond said back in her sweet, baby voice while waving her tiny hand.

"Hi Brandi and Diamond! I'm Jennifer Smith, but you can call me Jenny."

"Okay, Jenny."

There was a long silence, and I twirled the ball in my hands until Jenny said, "So, how old are you and your sister, Brandi?"

"I'm 16, and she's 3."

"I'm 16 too! What grade are you in?"

"11th."

"Me Too! Do you know what school you're going to?"

"Chicago Christian." That was the name of the school even though it wasn't in Chicago.

"I go there too!" she exclaimed, jumping up and down.

I smiled, just to be nice. But really, in my head, I was thinking, God! This girl acts and talks so white! Wait a minute! She is white!

"Well, I have to be leaving. If you want, we can walk to the bus stop together tomorrow morning."

"Okay. That'll be super!" Super?! What the hell was I thinking?!

"Great! I'll be at your house about 8:00."

"Okay."

"Bye Brandi. Bye Diamond."

"Bye," we said together.

We watched as Jenny walked down the street about 5 houses and then disappeared into the front door.

~~~~~~~~~

"So, what do you think of the new house so far, Brandi?" Mamma asked me.

"It's alright."

We were having dinner. My parents didn't feel like cooking (like we had anything to cook anyway). So they went and got some Burger King. I dipped my chicken tender in the barbecue sauce. For some reason, I don't like Burger King's burgers especially their whoppers. So, I just get their chicken tenders.

"What about you, Kendall?" she asked him.

"It's too many damn white people around here!"

"Kendall! Watch your mouth boy!" Daddy threatened angrily.

"Anyway, what's wrong with white people?" I questioned him as I nibbled on a fry. He just stared at me like I was a dumb ass like him. "What?!"

"Nothing," he mumbled and got up from the table.

"Sit back down Kendall Wallace Jackson!" Mamma commanded.

"Whatever. I ain't gotta take this shit anymore," he said and left out the front door.

It seemed like ever since Brandon out shot up, his attitude has gotten worse and worse. I mean his attitude was already bad enough and he's pissing everyone off, especially me.

"That boy's gonna learn." Mamma muttered.

~~~~~~~~~~

I was in my room, painting my fingernails silver, when Diamond entered my room.

"Brandi. I'm scared. Can I sleep in here with you?"

At our old house, it was only three bedrooms. Mamma and Daddy shared one. Brandon and Kendall shared another, and Diamond and me shared the last one. But in this house, we all had out own rooms. (Of course, Mamma and Daddy still shared rooms.)

"I thought Mamma put a nightlight in your room."

"So! I'm still scared!" She was holding the Pooh bear tightly, and I could tell she was gonna cry.

"Okay, get in the bed." She hopped in the bed, Pooh bear close to her, and almost immediately fell asleep. I finished painting my mails and climbed into my bed next to her. I didn't fall asleep immediately like Pooh. I began thinking about Brandon, our new house, Jennifer, and what my first day at school would be like. But I eventually fell asleep.

~~~~~~~~~