My own writing is going – but very slowly. I’m struggling these days with tiredness and low motivation; ‘Web’ is still something that’s burning in me to complete, but I’m really finding it hard to see my way around some of the issues I’m encountering with the story. So, because you’ve all heard me whining about how ‘writing is hard’ and ‘plotting is complicated’, I really didn’t want to write another blog post like that. Instead, I’m going to take part in WordPress’s Daily Prompts exercise, a Writing 101 designed to help you hone your point of view.
Here’s the story seed: 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. Write this scene from a 12-year-old observer’s point of view.
Mom’s just left for the store when I start to hear weird noises across the street. She gave me strict (and I’m talking strict, like no-TV-for-a-month strict) instructions not to leave the house – but if there’s going to be some sort of shakedown, like, just outside my front door, I want to know about it.
She also told me not to eat the last popsicle, but hey. She can’t have everything her own way, right?
So I slide out onto the front porch, and there’s a ton of cars out in the street. I see flashing lights and guys with uniforms, and in the middle of it my neighbour, old Mrs Pauley, looking like a tiny piece of crumpled paper. They’re surrounding her like she’s some sort of FBI Most Wanted, and I can see her shaking from here. I wonder where Jo-jo is: I wouldn’t like anyone treating my mom like this, and Jo-jo – well. He’s a big guy. I don’t think the police, if that’s what these guys are, would be too thrilled to see him.
Maybe that’s why they’re doing this now, in the middle of the day, I think. Jo-jo’s the only Pauley boy left in town, and he’s got to be at work now. His brothers are scattered all over. I don’t remember ‘em, besides as big shadows and booming voices. They left years ago, before I was able to control my own drool. I don’t even know their names any more.
The Pauley’s’ve lived here forever. Like, way longer than my mom and me.
I’m trying to figure out what’s happening – is her house on fire? Is she in some sort of danger, or what? I don’t see any smoke, or anything, and I’m pretty sure she’s not, like, some sort of criminal on the run or whatever. Maybe Mr Pauley was, though? Maybe since he died a few months back his shady underworld has started to crumble, or something, and it’s all falling on his poor innocent wife…
But that’s stupid. Mr P. was awesome. I miss the old guy; he liked to tell jokes so bad that they should’ve come with a federal health warning, but because he laughed so hard you couldn’t help but join in. Mom said he’d fought in some war, but she never told me the details. I wish I’d asked him about it, while I had the chance.
One of the cop-guys is taking Mrs P. out of her house. There’s another one handing her a bag. I hear some weird banging, and then I see some other guy’s hammered a huge padlock right across Mrs P.’s front door. He slaps up a piece of paper, which somehow sticks itself to the peeling old wood, and I squint real hard: Eviction, I can just about read.
Eviction. No way!
I can’t move fast enough. All I can do is get to the porch steps and shout, and Mrs P. looks up. She smiles, but I can see she’s crying, and she raises a skinny old arm to wave at me. I blink real hard (something’s in my eye, y’know, makes it hard to see).
I wish, not for the first time, that we’d had money to get me a proper ramp. It’d take too long for me to go out through the back – by the time I got around, Mrs. P would be long gone. So, I watch as they bundle her into the back of a cop car, and I shout that I’ll get her some help, and the cops yell at me to get inside and mind my own, and I have to struggle real hard not to shout right back.
And as soon as they’ve all gone, I turn and wheel myself inside. The phone is technically out of bounds to me, too, but I’m sure this time Mom will understand.
‘Hello. Hello? Could you connect me to Miller Automotive, please? I need to speak with Jo-jo… I mean, Joseph Pauley. He works there. Thank you.’
I hear a click, and a buzz, and then I’m through.