Another truly challenging assignment for today, one that may take me some time to work out in my head. It involves writing from the perspective of a child, which is actually something I’ve never done since I was a child, so this should be interesting.
The challenge also begins with a prompt, so please keep in mind that the italicized bit at the beginning is the prompt, and what comes after is what I wrote.
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 the 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.
The neighborhood 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 on the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.
I always stick my tongue out when I’m concentrating. It looks dumb, I know, but I can’t help it. My dad does it too, and mom makes fun of both of us for it, but the joke’s on her; she wiggles her nose like a bunny when she’s concentrating.
I was sticking my tongue out this time because I was trying to paint my toenails with mom’s bright red polish while my baby brother pulled on my ponytail.
“Anna! Play!” he begged me.
“In a minute, Sam,” I told him for the hundredth time. Two-year-olds are cute, but annoying.
I was just finishing my last pinkie toe when two cars pulled up in front of Mrs Pauley’s hosue across the road. At first I didn’t even really notice because I was admiring my toes, but when Sam said, “Po-wease!” I looked up. Sure enough, the first car was a cop. The second car was the ugly green one that had been showing up at Mrs Pauley’s house a lot lately.
The man who drove the green car came out first. I’d seen him a couple of times in the past few weeks. He was a creepy-looking guy with more hair in his mustache than on his head, and his clothes looked like he never washed them. Whenever he showed up at Mrs Pauley’s he would bang on the door and shout a lot, and his face was always as red as my newly-painted toes. But today he was smiling. It actually made him look creepier.
The cop who stepped out of the police car looked a lot nicer, but he didn’t have a smile on his face. In fact, he didn’t look very happy at all, and that gave me a bad feeling in my stomach.
Mr Green Car smiled all the way up to Mrs Pauley’s front porch.
By this time I was curious, so I took Sam’s hand and led him across the lawn to the side of the street so I could hear better. He was looking very interested in the police car, so he didn’t complain.
Mr Green Car stood to the side with that creepy smile on his face while the police officer straightened his hat and knocked on the door three times. There was no answer, so after a few moments he cleared his throat, knocked again, and called, “Mrs Pauley, this is the police. Could you please come to the door.”
For a while I didn’t think she was going to answer, even though I was pretty sure she was home, but then all of a sudden the door opened a crack. The police man looked like he was going to say something, but before he got a chance Mr Green Car jumped in front of the door and pushed it open with a shout. I could see the white bun on the top of Mrs Pauley’s head as she stumbled back. I found myself crying out, but Sam was the only one who heard me.
“Your time is up!” Mr Green Car was shouting. “Thought you could just avoid me forever, eh? Well it’s the LAW, Janice, and the law is on MY side today!”
The police man looked very much like he wanted to punch Mr Green Car in the face, and I wished he would. Instead he nudged the shouting man out of the way and took off his hat before speaking to Mrs Pauley. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he told her in a quiet voice, “but he is correct. All the paperwork is in order and he is fully within his rights to evict you. Do you have anywhere else to stay?”
“Who cares?” Mr Green Car shouted. “It’s not my problem where she goes, just that she goes!”
Before I knew what I’d done I had Sam up in my arms and I was across the road. I pulled back one red-toed foot and slammed it into the back of Mr Green Car’s knee as hard as I could. He almost went right down to the ground, and the next thing I knew the police man was holding him back as he tried to lunge at me. “Why you little-!” he screamed.
“Now you listen here!” I shouted back, and suddenly all eyes were on me. “You’re a rotten, disgusting, pathetic piece of crap and you should be ashamed of yourself!”
Mr Green Car’s face turned a sickly kind of purple. The police man looked like he kinda wanted to laugh. “I understand how you feel, sweetie,” he told me, “but he does technically own the house, so it’s his right to evict Mrs Pauley if she hasn’t been paying her rent.”
I set my jaw. “That doesn’t make him any less of an ass.”
Now the police man did laugh out loud, and Mr Green Car was starting to look more pink than purple.
A hand touched my shoulder. I looked up to see Mrs Pauley’s wrinkled face looking down at me. Her eyes were wet. “Thank you, sweetie,” she whispered. “Thank you for caring.”
“She’s a very caring girl,” a voice said from behind.
I hadn’t noticed my mother come walking up behind me. She was still wearing her apron and hand a dish rag in her hand. I thought at first that she might be mad, but she had a strange smile on her face and she kissed me on the head before taking Sam out of my arms.
“Is this brat yours?” Mr Green Car growled, wriggling out of the police man’s arms.
I’d never seen my mother’s face go so red so quick. “This ‘little brat’,” she hissed, “has more human compassion in her little finger than you have in your entire body, you sniveling little monkey.” She raised a hand and pointed a finger right into Mr Green Car’s face. “I’ve been watching you, harassing this poor woman every week. What, you’ve never fallen on hard times before? You’ve never lost a loved one and had a hard time recovering?” And then my mom did something that I never in a million years would have expected her to do. She spit at Mr Green Car’s feet. Mr Green Car looked like his head was going to explode. He looked at the police man like he was expecting him to arrest her or something, but he just gave Mr Green Car a raised eyebrow. I think he agreed with my mom, even if he wasn’t really allowed to say so.
“Come on, Janice,” my mom said more gently. She extracted one arm from Sam – who was starting to squirm – and put it around Mrs Pauley’s shoulder. “I’ve got a beautiful pie baking in the oven and you’re going to come over and have some tea with us.”
Mrs Pauley was crying as they began to walk away, back across the street. I started to follow them, but I had to do one more thing first. I turned around, pushed past Mr Green Car and the police man, and pulled Mrs Pauley’s door shut, making sure that it was firmly locked. And then I stuck my tongue out at Mr Green Car and ran for my house with the police man laughing behind me as Mr Green Car’s face turned red again.