Today’s prompt and twist: 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.
I could see Mihir running around the corner. I was about to go ask him if we could play but then I saw Sanjay with him. So, I didn’t go and ask him. Well, Sanjay was the one who’d snatched the last piece of the delicious sandwich from my lunchbox two days ago. Plus, he was generally unpleasant.
Miss Shende was my favourite teacher and she lived in the neighbourhood, too. She was Indian, as was most of the neighbourhood, including my family and myself. She passed by in her blue sedan and waved at me as she did so. She was the best.
Dad had got me a red car on my birthday. It worked on a remote and he taught me cool tricks with which I could make it drift and all. Sanjay had taken out the batteries from that remote once a few weeks ago and he hid them somewhere and told me that it was not working anymore. He was eviler than that snowman from Frozen. No, not Olaf. He was the best. The other one. I was playing with the car out on the porch where there was space.
I could hear police sirens in the distance. Or was it the sound of an ambulance? Is there anything different in the two? The sound got nearer every moment and then an ambulance swerved round the corner and onto our road and it screamed past my house and it took another turn and then it was gone.
I could also hear Mrs. Pauley shouting from her apartment across the street. It was an ancient little red brick building which was surprisingly modern-looking from the inside. I’d heard mom gossip to her friend about how Mrs. Pauley’s fourth son had come to stay with her for a while. She was probably shouting at him. Then I heard a loud bang that was probably her door and then a man’s voice say “Get out!”. Then Mrs. Pauley came out of the building with a small bag and her beige purse that she took everywhere and sat down on the pavement. The landlord came out behind her and he was looking furious. He always left a little stubble and always wore shorts. This time too. He started walking towards the turn from which the ambulance came earlier and told Mrs. Pauley to “Stay right there!”
Mrs. Pauley started sobbing. I didn’t think she saw me. She was a nice woman but mom always said that she was weird. I don’t know what she meant. If she meant the way she never opened her door on Halloween, she was probably right. I didn’t know much about her but that she had six boys. SIX! Dad said it was tough to handle me and the dog alone. Also, I heard her husband had died in the month after my birthday month. Its been three months since that. I have hardly seen her step out of the house after that.
It wasn’t long before the landlord guy came back. But this time he had two policemen with him. Policemen scared me and one of the two was very tall and very muscly. He was looking around as he was walking and he looked at me and made a faint smile. I smiled back, nervously.
The policemen went up to Mrs. Pauley with the landlord. The landlord told her, “You have to vacate now. You have no choice.”
“You’ll get your money, Dan. Just give me a week or two more. Why did you have to get a policeman?”
“Ma’am this is an offence and it is part of my job to deal with things like this. I am afraid you will have to either get him his money today, or face risk of eviction,” the non-muscly, kinda fat and stout policeman said.
This situation was interesting and scary at the same time. I wanted to call mom to watch but she wouldn’t like it if I woke her up from her afternoon ‘siesta’. But I had to ask somebody what eviction meant.
“I am pleading with you. I don’t have anywhere to go. I promise you I’ll get the money but just give me some more time!” Mrs. Pauley was completely breaking down.
“Ma’am please calm down. If that’s the problem, we can get you a place to spend the night. Or you can go to a more modest place to live until you have the kind of money to afford a place like this. I’m afraid that you can’t live here any longer without paying up. As Mr. Sparano here tells me, you are already overdue, is that right?” the same policeman said again.
“No no! I don’t want to live in one of your homeless shelters! I have lived here for forty years! This is my life!” she was hysterical.
“Ma’am you must calm down. You said you will be able to procure some money for the rent in a few days time. How is it you’re going to do that?” the muscly police piped in.
“What? Yes, my husband’s pension should be coming in in sometime. If not, I’ll ask one of my son’s or friends for some money. Dan doesn’t have to worry about that. I’ll get the money! Please, just don’t kick me out!”
“It’s your call, Mr. Sparano.” the fat policeman said to the landlord.
He took a few moments to think. He kept staring at the ground throughout that time.
He finally made a decision.
“No. I don’t want her here anymore. I have had enough of her. Mind you, sir, this is not the first time she’s overdue. Now, I have mouths to feed, myself, and I just have three flats in the building. I can’t afford to keep her any longer. Plus, who knows whether the pension’s really coming? It hasn’t come and its been three months. Who knows where else she might get the money from if her sons refuse? Its a risk I don’t wanna take. Take her. Pauley I want you out of here in two days.”
Mrs. Pauley couldn’t control her crying. I felt sad too.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Pauley,” said the muscly policeman, “but I’m afraid you will have to vacate. You both will have to come down to the station, together, before six tomorrow. Paperwork, I’m sure you understand. And, Mrs. Pauley, if you need any sort of help finding a new place, you can think it over by then.”
Dan Sparano acknowledged and said a hearty thank you and also shook both the policemen’s hands but there was no consoling Mrs. Pauley. She just sat there and kept crying. Many people passed by and looked at her but nobody went up to say anything. Sparano had gone back in but after a few minutes he came back out and stood at the top of the stair looking at Mrs. Pauley.
“Hey, Claire. I’m really sorry for doing this but you’ve gotta understand my side. I can help you relocate if you want. Now come on in.”
He held her gently by the shoulders and stood her up and took her back inside with her bag and purse.
I felt less sad for her and less angry for Mr. Sparano after that.
I’d completely forgotten about the red car waiting for me to send it for a spin. I knew mom would be extracting information from me about this situation. For her gossiping of course. But I would be thinking about this for some time.