Writing 101 : A story told by a twelve-year-old

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.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.



It was a cold day.  Thank God I wore triple layered.  I could not remembered when dad last washed my blue jumper which kept me warm for the whole of this winter.  I wore a singlet inside my blue jumper and outside I have a brown pullover knitwear.  It used to have  a string dangling out but Mrs Pauley tied and knotted it.  She said a stitch came loose and never to pull it or the jumper will fall apart.

Mrs Pauley was the lady that lived across the road.  She was kind to me.  One day many years ago when I was five years old, she chased away the bigger kids that punched me to the ground and calling me “nigger”.  She dressed my wounds and I asked her what was a “nigger”.  She said it was a word that nasty white people used on black people to tell them they were different.   She told me never to be ashamed of my color.  Since that incident, I learned that “nigger” is just a word.  I am a “nigga” and when I think of kind Mrs Pauley, a white lady with a wrinkled face I am not afraid of that “n” word.  It can no longer hurt me.

I saw a police car and two policemen and Mr Brown, her landlord went inside the house.  I sat there on the stoop across the street and watched.  I hoped they won’t hurt Mrs Pauley.  She had been very sad since Mr Pauley died and I knew she had no money because she spent all her money buying medicine for Mr Pauley.  She told me she has six sons but I have never seen any of them.  Maybe Mrs Pauley talked to me because I am the only boy living in this block and she never minded that I am a “nigga”.

Then all these people came out and Mrs Pauley too.  She wasn’t crying but she looked sad.  I wanted to go across but Mr Brown looked so fierce and those policemen were big men and I shivered.  Are they taking her away?  I plucked up my courage, stood up and walked closer .  Mrs Pauley smiled at me.  She got into the police car carrying a torn luggage.  She turned her head and looked back as the car moved and I waved goodbye.  I felt very sad.  Mrs Pauley did not cry so I too must not cry.  I did not know where they are bringing her but I will always remember good old Mrs Pauley who taught me never to fear the word “nigger”.  One day when I am old enough to work and earn money, I am going to the police and find Mrs Pauley and bring her back home.

“Dear Momma―Wherever you are, if ever you hear the word “nigger” again, remember they are advertising my book.”
Dick Gregory, Nigger

via Daily Prompt : Local color

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