(Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View
Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.)
(The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.
Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.)
“Poor old Mrs. Pauley. Like, what did she ever do to deserve, you know, getting evicted? I mean, I had to ask my mom what that means! I never even heard of it before! I guess she’s lived there for like 40 years or longer. Really, it should BE her very own house by this time. Like, she’s been paying rent for all those years–shouldn’t that be, like, a mortgage or something?
“Anyway, I guess today’s the day. From where I sit on my front steps, it looks like something you’d see on a CSI program, or Law and Order or something. I feel so bad for her. I mean, she’s always been–well, you know–not like overly friendly or anything, but nice. Like, she never yells if we lose a ball in her yard, and she’ll help us look for it. She never says anything if we play right in front of her house. Crabby old Mr. B across the street yells like a nut if there’s any noise on the street after 8 p.m. Really? Really? Like, we’re supposed to go to bed at 8 on a summer night? Seriously.
“So, this big fancy car just drove up, and this old guy in a baggy suit gets out of the back seat. He’s wearing this really old-school hat, just like the bad guys in the old black and white movies. I hope he doesn’t have a machine gun or something in his brief case! He’s walking up to the house, and he just stopped to look around at the yard and, I guess, the neighborhood. He’s got these squinty eyes and he needs to shave. It’s so NOT sexy for old guys to not shave. Yuk. Oh no! He just saw me, and he like winked at me! I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit! Gross! Now he’s waving, but I’m not waving back. Gross!
“And here comes another car, a police car. No lights or sirens or anything. A man gets out of the driver’s side. He’s got a big belly, and his belt is full of all his stuff. Looks like a nice guy. I bet he really hates having to do this stuff. I mean, kicking little old ladies out of their houses? Really stinks, you know?
“A lady cop just got out of the car. She’s wearing a belt with all that stuff on it too, and she looks really sad. She and the other cop are talking, and she keeps shaking her head. It’s like soo, soooooo sad, what they’re doing.
“What I really don’t get is that Mrs. P has like six sons, and none of them are here to help her. I mean, what’s WRONG with them? I’d help my mom! Seriously, I’d pay her rent or take her to live with me or something. It’s only been three months since old Mr. Pauley died. You’d think they could help her out until she finds a smaller place to live. I mean, she doesn’t need all those bedrooms any more, or that huge attic, and I guess there’s a cellar, too. Kind of creepy when you think about all the stuff that must be stored there. I wonder if she’ll get to take any of it with her I wonder where she’ll go. I wonder a lot of things, I guess.
“Oh, wait, here comes a big old police van. Yikes! I never saw that before in the neighborhood. Four big men in cop uniforms just got out, and they’re talking to Officer Big Belly. They all look pretty serious. I wonder what’s going on. . . .
“Wait! The lady cop just came out with Mrs. Pauley, and Mrs. Pauley is crying and shaking her head and saying NOOOOO! I’ve done nothing! It’s not true!” But the lady cop has her in handcuffs. Wow, I mean, this looks really serious! This is getting scary, like way scary! The lady cop is taking Mrs. P to the squad car, and she puts her in the back seat just like they do on TV, with her hand on top of Mrs. P’s head!
“While all that is going on, the four big guys from the van are going in and out of the house. They’re carrying boxes of stuff, I can’t tell what, and putting the boxes in the back of the van. Wait–something just fell out of a box–I think–oh man, what IS that? It looks like a doll cradle, but it’s kind of big–more like for a real baby!
“Then one of the van guys comes up the sidewalk to me and he says, ‘Young lady, you’d best go inside. You don’t need to see any more. Is your mom home?’
“I just stare at him, and I nod my head yes. My mom is home. And she’s not going to BELIEVE what I have to tell her. Like, seriously, she won’t believe me. Because what I saw in that cradle looked just like a real baby. . . only not moving. . .not crying. . . .just lying there. . .
“I stood up and turned to go inside when my mom came to the door. She didn’t look surprised to see everything that was happening at Mrs. P’s. She put her arm around me and pulled me inside and put me on the sofa. She sat down beside me, and put her arms around me. She took a big breath, and she said, ‘Honey, there’s something I have to tell you about Mrs. P. Something really bad. There’s a reason her sons won’t help her. . . .'”