“Mom!” I yell to her from the front stoop as usual, “The police have Mrs. Pauley! They’re taking her away!”
And as usual she responds, “I don’t believe you, Dear.” She sounds like the pretty bird around ugly ones, and wants them all to leave the trees for herself.
I miss Daddy. He wouldn’t let the police take Mrs. Pauley from her home. He’d bake her some apple pandowdy and scald milk for tea the way she likes it and bring her over to make conversation with me. I would ask Mrs. Pauley to tell me again about her childhood on the farm. I’d ask specifically about milking the goats and nursing the sad animal babies that were born too early. When Mrs. Landry would start talking about the good old days, Daddy would wink at me and sneak out of our kitchen and pack up all of Mrs. Landry’s things and move her in to the den downstairs so she could sing to the birds in the lilac bushes from her window, and be close to the bathroom. Daddy said older ladies need to be close to the bathroom. I believe him. Daddy was always right.
And then Daddy and I would wait for Mom’s angry fit, and sit on the front stoop after weathering the storm.
I miss Daddy so much.
Life always worked when Daddy was here. He assured me that it’s wonderful that I’m not like all the other girls when I complained that I never quite fit in at school. The girls are chasing boys, and my boy friends don’t want to be friends with girls anymore. He explained to the teachers that being a dreamer is a good thing. Daddy had to explain that to Mom too, and that I’m not ready for girl clothes or makeup, but she hates me. She always hated me. And I’m so ugly.
“You take after your father’s mother’s side, unfortunately,” she tells me. “It’s too bad.”
It’s too bad that Mrs. Pauley doesn’t have a home anymore, and Daddy’s not here to save her. Our house is so big, and we have plenty of food, always, for anybody. And I can cook, kind of. Daddy always helped. We liked the same things, like baked mac ‘n’ cheese with bread crumbs and deep dish pizza from scratch in a cast iron skillet. Mom doesn’t. Mom likes going out and ordering shrimp and wine. All the time. And she prefers it if I stay at home, and I do too, but she drags me along because she worries about what I’ll dream up next.
“You have to get that messy head of yours out of the clouds!” she tells me, pretty much every day. I just go outside and talk to the frogs or birds or whatever is outside that is not a judgmental adult human.
But now I’m watching the policeman stuff poor old Mrs. Pauley into a cop car like she’s some kind of criminal. I don’t know what to do. If only I were like Daddy. If only I were a smart, kind, handsome man who made everything right. I miss Daddy.
Assignment: 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.