Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View
Here is my hand a writing a bit of fiction. My assignment was: Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all.
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.
It’s been a long boring day. Summer time can sometimes get this way after you’ve worn out all of your wishing for summer. It’s like that all year long, just wishing for summer when you are in school. Problem is, I’m just not sure what to do. I’ve been waiting for Ben to pay me some attention and maybe come over.
It has been hard not seeing him everyday these past two weeks since school finished for the year. I like Ben, when he smiles I get all Jello-ee inside.
Siting here on this stoop has got me thinking about poor Mrs. Pauley across the street. I wonder if she misses Mr. Pauley the same way I miss Ben in not seeing him everyday. I’m sure she does. I’ve seen her crying in the flower bed. She’d just stop weeding, get a real faraway look and then she’d sniffle and finally start sobbing. The silent kind, not the deep breath heaves like my Mom did when my brother Sam found the primer paint in the garage and decided to “redo” the car. “Millie,” She’d said, “Get your brother into the house and into a bathtub.” I did, cause twelve-year olds like me are responsible. You could hear Mom crying from outside. Sam was only ten and didn’t have any sense.
Mrs. Pauley was really nice. She was a short lady and at 78 years old she was still able to garden and keep up with the little house. She wore glasses and always smiled at me as I walked by. She and Mr. Pauley always decorated for all the holidays. Mr. Pauley would make wooden cut out of Santa, The Easter Bunny or even little leprechauns in March. They had done it in the past for their own six boys. I was too young to remember them. They’d had long since grown and left home. I wonder why they don’t visit now. Every occasion bought the wooden cut outs to display. It seems so lonely now for Mrs. Pauley.
Mr. and Mrs. Pauley moved into this old house as newly weds before this house was old. Forty years are a long, long time.
Mid April was the spring thaw. I remember because this springtime brought the pot holes on the street up from their snowy grave and put Mr. Pauley in one.
“Heart attack!” is what the neighbor boys said. My Mom says he died of old age, “it sometimes happens.”
Mrs. Pauley sold her flowers on the curbside. Mom said she was trying to “make the rent.” Mr. Pauley always took care of those things with his construction business and home renovation consulting. Whatever all that meant. Now Mrs. Pauley had nothing.
This afternoon, I saw a small white Volkswagen pulling up in the front of Mrs. Pauley’s home. She was not outside when a lady, a man and Mrs. Pauley’s eldest son Craig stepped out of the car. I wasn’t sure what they were doing there, but I figured it out when I read the sign on the white VW: Sunny Brook Retirement Village.
You should have seen the shocked, and then tearful look Mrs. Pauley gave when the three explained their visit.
Mrs. Pauley began to sob uncontrollably when moments later a police car came with the landlord. Mr. Mason was our landlord too and Dad always paid him on time, so he treated us nice. Mr. Mason owned half of the houses on Cherry lane. Mom said we all paid for his Barbados vacation each year, but I wasn’t sure what she meant.
They had all been talking on the front step for a long time, “making arrangements.” Mrs. Pauley just sobbed. Finally the lady, man and Craig disappeared in the house. They all came out after a while with Mrs. Pauley clinging to Craig Pauley. She carried a small purse, and her green sweater. She held a framed family photo and a her wedding picture. The man carried a large old suitcase in what I imagined had all her clothes. Mrs Pauley continued to silently cry, while the lady had a hand on her shoulder. The lady kept saying, “There, there, Ella, it will be fine.” The policeman and Mr. Mason talked so hushed I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
This was really, really sad. I missed Ben now more than ever. Mrs. Pauley looked up at me, our eyes held and my lips mouthed a quiet good-bye. Those eyes, her eyes will always haunt me I’m sure. I’ll never forget Mrs. Pauley and the day she went away.