The Stranger Across the Street

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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.

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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.

Please Don’t Go…

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Writing 101: Day 16 – Your Personality on the Page
What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.

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In conjunction with Monday’s topic of lost and found, ironically today’s post is about the same topic; abandonment.

This is my confession:
Hi, my name is Lisa and I am afraid of being abandoned! I’ve probably touched on this in previous posts, but since this is one of my worst fears and I continue to suffer from it, I must bring it to light once again. DON’T LEAVE ME! That expression is on my mind a lot. Why can’t I just get over it and be happy? You know, that is my ultimate goal and I know it can happen. I ask myself, what will happen if I am no longer afraid of being left behind? Will I be that girl who gets comfortable with her relationship and then POW out of nowhere I get blindsided by my husband who leaves me?

OK, confession is over, back to the real world!

Lost and Found

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Writing 101: Day 15 – Third Time’s the Charm (Part 3 of 3)
Today, imagine you work in a place where you manage lost or forgotten items. What might you find in the pile? For those participating in out serial challenge reflect on the theme of “lost and found,” too.

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Imagine you are a child and you are lost in a big department store. It is one of the most terrifying feelings you have ever felt. Now imagine you’re taken there and left on purpose by your parents. When you realize that you are all alone you hide in the clothing department under a rack of clothes and wonder what will happen to you? No one is looking for you and no one wants to find you. You think your mom does not care that you are gone because you are one of seven children she is struggling to feed and clothe. You annoy you older sisters and brother so they are happy you are gone.

You fall asleep crying when your fear gets to be too much. In your dreams you are floating on clouds and eating marshmallows. There are puppies and kittens to play with and you are the happiest you have ever been. Angels come down from heaven to play games with you and everyone is laughing and having fun.

Suddenly you are jolted awake by a loud scream, I found her! You open your eyes to see a tall strange lady standing over you looking relieved. Then your mom rushes over and hugs you until you can’t breathe. She is crying and very upset. You realize your imagination was running rampant and your mom actually loves you and was looking all over the store for you. She is relieved and happy to hold you in her arms again.

***Note***
This was a real life scenario of something that happened to me as a child. I thought because my father left me, there was a good chance that my mom would too. I was never reassured that this could not happen and was too afraid to ask.

A child’s imagination is large and very active. If parents do not find time to communicate with their children, they will dream up their own reality to fill in the blanks. When a child asks you a question, please give them an honest answer so as not to breed fear and lies. When a child goes through a trauma like being abandoned, talk with the child and let her know she is loved and the other parent will never leave her.

Is The Truth Too Real?

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Blogging 101: Day 12 Truth Serum
You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) – and what questions would you ask?

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If I had the use of Wonder Woman’s golden lasso to interrogate one person I would ask my dad why he abandoned me. I’m sure I would have a few follow-up questions as well. No matter how hard he struggled he would have to give me the reason he never kept in contact with me after he left. I know the story behind why my mom made him leave because I witnessed it, but what I don’t understand is how he could leave and never look back. Sure I received a birthday card almost every year, but there was never any correspondence inside; just a simple “Love Dad”.

All I knew was he lived in the Bronx in New York near Yankee Stadium nothing else. If it had not been for my desire to see him again when I turned 21, I never would have seen him. I have always wondered if he forgot about me or if he simply replaced me. He has lived with a lady for well over 30 years and helped to raise her son and calls her grandchildren his grandchildren. Why did he give the love that was supposed to be mine to another woman’s child?

I wonder….do I really want the answers to these questions? Will it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Maybe the truth is too real.