The Stranger Across the Street


Writing 101: Day 17 – Hone Your Point of View

Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.

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.


Hi everyone, my name is Pat and I am 12 years old. I live in a very vibrant neighborhood where everyone knows each other. I was sitting outside on the stoop in front of my house with Loni when it happened. Out of nowhere, 5-0 pulled up across the street and went into the mean old hag’s house. You should have seen her kicking and screaming and fighting the cop. I thought for sure he was going to tase her old butt. That old lady had terrorized me and Loni for years and we thought it was funny.

“Here comes the Po Po!” I yelled at Loni. We both got scared and almost started to run. ‘Girl, where are you going? You live here!” Loni cackled. Even though we were good kids, the sight of a cop scared us. They were notorious for harassing people in our neighborhood and kids were no exception. This time they picked a mean old lady whose husband just died. At first we thought, “Maybe she killed Mr. Pauley. I always thought he was too nice to be married to her” I said. “I bet she poisoned him” replied Loni. We watched as the man with the briefcase got out of his big Lincoln Town car and stood by as the police man drug Mrs. Pauley down her front stairs. He had a smug look on his face and acted as if he was enjoying the scene.

Just as Mrs. Pauley hit the bottom stair my mom burst out of our house and called out “What are you doing to that old lady? This is wrong. You’re hurting her!” Seeing my mom so concerned made me rethink the way I felt about Mrs. Pauley. I have always hated her because she was so mean to all the kids in the neighborhood, but maybe there was something more. I mean my mom would never befriend someone who is mean and nasty. The policeman dumped her on the street and padlocked the house. He then posted a big EVICTION notice on her front door and would not allow her to retrieve her belongings.

As I watched my mom standing there holding Mrs. Pauley and crying with her I somehow developed sympathy for her. No matter how mean she was to me, she did not deserve to be drug out of her home in front of her neighbors and humiliated like this. At that moment I decided I needed to do something. “Mom can Mrs. Pauley come stay with us until we can figure out a way to help her get back into her home?” I asked. My mom’s face light up with pride and she said, “Of course. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it first. Mrs. Pauley come on let’s get you off the street. You can call one of your sons and maybe they can help.” Seeing that she had no choice, Mrs. Pauley reluctantly agreed.

“Mrs. Pauley, what happened?” mom asked. “Well I have had some money troubles every since Mr. Pauley died. He didn’t have insurance so I used the money we had in savings to pay for his funeral. Once my boys found out there was no inheritance, they left and won’t take my calls. I can’t believe all six of my babies have deserted me like this. I’m too old to work and my Social Security check hasn’t been enough to pay the bills. I got behind in rent and now after 40 years of paying rent on time every month, I miss a couple of months and that man comes to put me out. I have never been so embarrassed in all my life. I didn’t even have a chance to get a picture of Mr. Pauley. What am I going to do?” she said with a shaky voice.

I wasn’t sure how to solve her problems, but I knew I could do something. I rounded up a bunch of the kids from the neighborhood and said, “I know Mrs. Pauley is a pain, but she’s one of our own. We need to do something to help her. Anyone have any ideas?” The kids agreed that we should help, but just didn’t know how. Then a light bulb went on, “Hey let’s get everyone on the block to help by throwing a block party” I called out. “Yea, we can charge admission and then the money from the door can pay her rent” Lina chimed in. “I can get my brother to DJ since he thinks he’s an MC,” Elyssa said. Everyone started coming up with ways to contribute. We made signs and then we presented the idea to my mom and Mrs. Pauley.

Mrs. Pauley was to prideful at first to accept our help. “No I couldn’t allow you all to help me. I will figure this out on my own.” “Well, Mrs. P I say if the kids want to help you should let them. Everyone already knows you’ve fallen on hard times. We are your family. You have been the matriarch of this block for over 40 years. How many cakes, pies and cookies have you baked for the ladies around here when they gave birth or had a birthday or got promoted at work? You have looked out for us when we needed you and now it’s time to return the kindness. We won’t take no for an answer.” My mom could be very persuasive and she always got her way.

Long story short, we had that block party and raised the money Mrs. Pauley needed to get back into her home. Then we came up with a plan for her to do what she loved and earn some money to supplement her income. She began selling those cakes, pies and cookies and instead of being mean to the kids she was now happy and loving. All of the kids bought her baked goods and she was able to pay her rent with the extra money. The kids and Mrs. Pauley learned that family is not always blood. Sometimes you can find family in the stranger across the street.


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