“Falling from GRACE”….
Tells the story of Rita Anderson, a girl who grew up in the projects of Chicago’s Westside. Rita’s mom was a junkie who left Rita to care for her six year old sister. Rita had one positive person in her life and that was her Madea. While Madea was alive she taught Rita that if she kept God first everything would work out fine. Rita believed this in her heart. Prayer and being in church gave Rita faith that her mother would change. After Rita met Leonard, and Madea died her life would take a dramatic change in the wrong direction, a direction of drugs, prostitution and possibly the loss of her life. Who would keep Rita from “Falling from GRACE”….
The nights were full of trouble and the streets stayed busy. Liquor stores occupied damn near every corner. The neon rainbow of colors that flashed from the liquor store lights kept the streets brightly lit.
The days were loud, hot, sticky, and chaotic. It was Indian summer, August 1989. There was that delicious intoxicating smell of barbeque and marijuana in the air, but some how,(depending on what the wind was blowing), the stench of piss from the abandoned buildings would mix in. This was my side of town. I am Rita Anderson, and this is my story. I was born and raised in the windy city, Chicago, and very well accustomed to these days and nights. Ever since I can remember my eyes have seen their share of struggle, it’s all I know. The echo of gunfire, or the helicopter, most around here referred to as the “ghetto bird” circling the sky didn’t alarm me. I felt very safe in our run-down one bedroom apartment. It was a third floor walk up, a corner unit. It was pretty big for being only a one bedroom. I lived with my mom and two sisters’. It was ok till it was time for school or somethin’ then all hell would break loose as we would all fight for the bathroom. Our neighborhood was a low-income community on Chicago’s Westside. On this side of town it was mostly blacks, you’d see some Whites and Hispanics when you get closer to the downtown area. Me and my sisters’ have never really been outside of Chicago, hell, not even outside of the hood! But I’m a big dreamer and I plan to see the world one day.
I’ve been told I’m a good lookin’ girl, I’m not drop dead gorgeous but I would like to think I’m average looking. My skin is dark and smooth like a Hershey bar. I have big eyes that are so dark brown they almost look black under my long lashes. My lips are full and when I smile my straight white teeth are revealed. Mom used to say the angels kissed me on the cheek when I was born that’s why I have dimples. I rarely wear makeup I’m more of a natural girl. I have always had long jet black hair that I often straighten with a perm. We don't own much, often times I wear the same pair of jeans, the hand-me down’s from my sister. I’m what most would refer to as a very homey looking girl. I have small breasts and a big apple behind on my medium sized frame. I’d say I’m about 5’7, and weigh 140 pounds. Unfortunately, I never finished high school; I dropped out of school at the age of 14 just after spring break. I never finished my freshman year. I had many reasons why. I had to do what I had to do. Many of the reasons were my mom’s problems that became mine. She went off the deep end and I was left to pick up the pieces. Many times I wished I was still in high school. I’d see the girls in their cute outfits and fresh hair do’s walking to school talking about a school dance or a football game and I wished I was among them. I missed out on one of the most important time frames in my life, high school. I will never experience a school dance, a football game or a prep-rally.
I will never have a graduation or a prom. I dreamed about picking out a beautiful prom dress, being picked up in a limo and dancing the night away under beautiful lights and soft music with my prince charming. I know I ruined that for myself. I will never get the chance to go back to high school but lately I’ve been thinking about getting my G.E.D.
Having had little education I felt that this was the best that life would ever get for me. My self-esteem has always been low and this way of life, well I’ve become content with it, besides; where I’m from, it’s the norm, and hardly anyone finished high school. Since I dropped out of school most of my days are spent watching TV, taking care of my six year old sister Keisha, (who we often referred to as Pooh), and worrying about my mother. My mom is an irresponsible, neglecting mother that obviously forgot that she was the one who gave birth to Keisha. We can’t bring ourselves to call her mom anymore so we call her by her birth name. She likes that much better anyway. Getting high is all she cares about now. She would stay out for weeks at a time before coming home and when she does she’s reeking of cheap alcohol or weed. Her clothes are often torn and dirty, and her week-old makeup is running from her eyes. She’s been this way for the last three years now. I don’t know what caused her to go off the deep end. My mom’s birth name is...