Writing 101, Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View
Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all.
They’re sending Mrs Pauley away. The police is there, with Mr Johns, dressed in his suit and tie like it’s a wedding. He’s the landlord. He owns a lot of the houses on this road, like ours too. So I know him. I know what he’s like when rent is late. He’s there on the step next day, no waiting, frown on and hand out. It’s not like the people here wants to cheat him, but mostly they works at the factory, and sometimes there’s trouble, and it closed for a few days, and then there’s no pay. And then rent is late. Like Mrs Pauley’s.
But Mrs Pauley, I don’t think she gonna be able to pay rent ever again. Mr Pauley, he was the one who worked at the factory, and he’s dead. Died from a heart attack three months back, just collapsed there at his machine. He’s just lucky he never fell into it, that’s all. That would have been a worse way to go than he did. And a worse corpse for his wife to bury. When I grow, I want to get out of this town; I don’t want to work in that place. There’s too many accidents, and one way I don’t want to die is in a machine, or later on, all mangled and crying out for the end.
But anyway, Mr Pauley went an easier way. It’s his wife it’s gonna drag on for. I don’t know where they’re sending her, for sending her is what it is. She don’t want to leave. She been in that house across the way from us with her family all my life, and much, much longer. All her boys was born there in that house and I hardly remember the older ones. Steve, the youngest, he only left last year for the city. He got away; all her boys did. I think she made sure they did, though it made her cry when they left. She can’t go to Steve; he don’t have a place of his own yet, she says. She says Robert’s wife doesn’t want her with them, only because there’s no room or money with all their own little ones too. Nobody can blame them, neither does Mrs Pauley. I guess she’ll go to one of the others, but she hasn’t heard from any of them yet.
Mrs Pauley is crying now as she brings her brown suitcase out to the car (black like the hearse that took her husband) that’s waiting to send her away; the tears run silent down her face and drop in big drops onto her chest. Her face is puffy and pink in the wrong places; no more cheerful smiles like she used to have on, when her kitchen smelled like a bakery and she’d have a biscuit for good kids who done her some favour, back when Mr Pauley would come whistling back from factory. I think I’ll always remember those biscuits of hers, better than me own mum’s, though I’ll never say. After Mr Pauley died, she stopped smiling, but she had no time for tears then. Then she had to work real hard, baking and baking, and trying to sell to the markets where they sells to the people who got money for treats. I guess baking makes a person smile less when you got to do so much of it. That and worry over rent. And after all the baking and selling and worrying, it still weren’t enough to pay Mr Johns. I don’t know why he need the money so bad, seems like he got enough, with his new clothes and his big car, shinier than the police one. He look like he got enough to eat too, and more than enough.
But Mrs Pauley been crying probably a week straight, since Mr Johns said she gotta go. Our neighbours is standing on their stoops and in the street, watching. They don’t say nothing, even the little ones like my sister Ginny, leaning into my folded legs; we all know there’s nothing to say. The police is there, and Mrs Pauley hasn’t paid her rent. It ain’t fair, and we all knows it, but we got no voice in this world. Voices are for people like Mr Johns, who owns their own places, and other people’s too. So we just watch. And Mrs Pauley cries, but she don’t say nothing either.