Writing 101: Hone Your Point of View

The assignment is to tell the story in a first person point of view, which is a 12-year-old sitting across the street.


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 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.

My arms cling to the stairway railing as I watch Mr. Phillip and a police officer climb the stairs to Mrs. Pauley’s place across the street. He turns around and gives me a quick glance, scoffs, and turns back to the door. I never liked him. No one in the neighborhood did. Mr. Phillip is a bully, that’s what he is.

On the first of every month, at precisely a quarter after noon, he’d come bang on our door. Mama would open the door and quietly surrender the check to Mr. Phillip. Then he would sniff and give the inside of the house a quick gander. “Get your kids to stop running up and down the street like maniacs.” He would snap. Of course my brothers and sisters weren’t the troublemaker that’s been running up and down the street. It’s Mrs. Stacey’s children who live two houses down.

Mrs. Pauley opens the door. She has been here longer than anyone, probably longer than Mr. Phillip. Today, her rapidly graying hair is wrapped in a checker-pattern cloth. It must be laundry day. Mrs. Pauley is old-fashion. She does her laundry with a wash board and hangs her clothes on a line to dry in the back of her apartment.

Poor Mrs. Pauley, getting bullied by Mr. Phillip. I wish I’m older so I can march across the street at this moment and get Mr. Phillip to leave poor old Mrs. Pauley alone and give him a piece of my mind for harassing mama about us. Mama is trying hard to raise five kids on her own and this poor old woman has been through enough.

Mr. Pauley had a heart attack three months ago. The ambulance came and took him. He was never seen again. We had spent the first of May parading the neighborhood while the Stevenson boys carried Mr. Pauley’s coffin high up in the back. It pissed off Mr. Phillip a ton but that was the whole intention. He had berate Mr. Pauley too much when Mr. Pauley was alive. We thought it was time to give him a piece of our minds.

As Mr. Phillip and the police descend down the stairs, I see a grin on Mr. Phillip’s face. He says something to the officer before stalking up the street. As he disappeared, I jog across the street to Mrs. Pauley’s door. I knock and she opens the door immediately, she seems slightly irritated at first, probably thinking I was Mr. Phillip coming back to bully her some more but at the sight of me, her look softens. “Abigail, what a nice surprise!”

“Mrs. Pauley?” I ask. “Are you okay? What did Mr. Phillip want?”

Mrs. Pauley sighs. “Why don’t you come in? Would you like some tea?”

“I’m okay. Thank you.” I settle myself at the kitchen table while Mrs. Pauley stands by the stove preparing her tea.

“How are you doing at school, Abigail? Making any new friends?” I nod. “That’s good. That’s good. How are your brothers and sisters?”

“They are good, Mrs. Pauley. What exactly happened?”

She sits down across from me, a cup of steaming tea between her hands. She sighs. “I am having some financial troubles. After Mr. Pauley passed away, most of his life insurance money had gone to the hospital bill. So that was Mr. Phillip coming to give me an eviction warning.”

I blink, struggle to comprehend. “You’re getting kicked out?” She nods sadly. “But you can’t leave. This is your home. He can’t take away your home.”

Mrs. Pauley chuckles, a few of her wrinkles pop from the corners of her eyes. “Oh dear Abigail, I’m afraid he can. My bank account’s been overdrawn and I’m behind on rent. I am surprised that he didn’t just drag me out on the street just now.”

“But where will you stay?” I ask quietly.

She smiles. “Don’t you worry, sweet Abigail. I will find a way. I always find a way.”

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