I am now so far behind that I am just writing working my way through the Challenges.
This is the Challenge for October 7.
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.
Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.
I was sitting on the stoop waiting for Charlie and Joe to turn up so that we could go fishing. As soon as we had finished our chores that our parents set for us, the three of us would get together and go out to our special fishing hole. As it was an overcast day I thought it would be good for fishing. I thought if the others didn’t turn up soon, I would just go off on my own. I really quite liked it when there was only me. I could think about all the things that were buzzing around in my head without having to explain them to the others.
There was no sign of the others and I was just deciding to go without them when I looked across the street and saw old Mrs Pauley standing on her stoop staring down the road. Maybe she was waiting for somebody to turn up too.
Then there was a screech of brakes and a large car drew up, followed by a police van. All the car and van doors opened. There must have been 10 or 12 men all together. I wondered why they were there.
A rather tall, fat man went over to Mrs Pawley and handed her a paper. Whatever he said to her made her cry. I could hear her saying “No please don’t” but the man only said “I’m sorry. It has to be done” and he turned his back and went to talk to the other men.
Then a strange thing happened. The men started to move all Mrs Pawley’s furniture out into the front yard. There was a table and some chairs, a couple of armchairs and a sofa and a bed. The men kept going in and out of the house while Mrs Pawley stood crying quietly on the stoop and watched them.
This coming and going seemed to go on forever. Charlie and Joe arrived and stood beside me as we watched what was going on across the street.
I knew Mrs Pawley. She had always lived across the street. I had heard my mother and father talking about her one day. About how her husband had died suddenly; how her six boys had all moved away and how she was finding it difficult to survive with no money coming in. They also wondered where her boys were and why they weren’t helping their mother at this time.
We didn’t have much ourselves but Mother and the other neighbours took her food when they had any extra. I had been with Mother one day to take over some bread she had baked the day before. Mrs Pawley was grateful but also embarrassed at having to take the offered bread.
The men continued to bring out Mrs Pawley’s things. They looked a poor collection sitting in the front yard. And then it began to rain. Charlie, Joe and me, we ran across the street to help her cover her things. She had some blankets but nothing that would keep the rain off. So we covered what we could with the blankets.
When the men finally had everything out of the house they nodded to Mrs Pawley and left her there standing on the stoop, still holding the paper that the tall fat man had given her and with all her possessions sitting in the rain in the front yard.
At that time, Mother came home from visiting her own mother. She saw what had happened across the street and ran over to Mrs Pawley. I don’t know what they said to each other – Mother spoke very quietly and Mrs Pawley continued to cry. Then Mother took Mrs Pawley gently by the arm and brought her over to our house. I am sure she would have made tea as that was Mother’s answer to everything. “A nice cup of tea will help us sort this out” she was always saying. Probably she said the same to Mrs Pawley.
But on her way into the house, she stopped and said “Off you go boys. Go fishing. See if you can bring something back for dinner.” She then closed the door into the house and we took off. We couldn’t stop talking about what had happened and why Mrs Pawley’s furniture was put out of the house. We also talked about what would happen now. Where would she live and what would happen to all that furniture.
It had been a good day for fishing and we had caught enough fish to be shared between the three families. By the time we came back with our catch, the furniture had been removed into a neighbour’s garage and Mrs Pawley was sitting in our kitchen talking quietly while Mother made dinner. Mrs Pawley stayed with us for a few days until one of her sons came to get her and take her to his home.
The last I saw of Mrs Pawley she was walking down the path towards a car with her son who had his arm around her. I did hear him say “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have come sooner and helped you sort out this mess.” And she said ……