Prose · Writing 101

Writing 101: Mrs Pauley

I couldn’t wait to see Rachel. Thirteen years had gone by since we had actually spent any quality time together. I still remember that day. I was just twelve years old when my family had been forced to move to a new town 150 miles away. Rachel and I had hugged and with tears streaming down our cheeks we made a promise to always stay in touch. A promise we both kept.

The doorbell on my flat rang and I raced towards it. As I pulled the door open I saw Rachel standing in front of me. She gave me a huge hug as soon as she saw me.

“I’m so excited to see you again,” Rachel spoke as she squeezed me tightly before pulling away. “Have you got the wine poured yet? I’ve brought something to show you and I can’t wait any longer.”

“What is it? in fact don’t tell me come in and get comfy while I grab the wine.” I closed the door behind her and twenty minutes later the wine was on living room table and we were both settled on the settee eager to catch up properly.

Just before picking up her glass of wine Rachel passed me some folded sheets of pale blue paper. I glanced at her before opening the top one and immediately recognising my own childish writing scrawled across the page.

“These are letters I sent you. Why have you brought these to show me?” I felt confused.

“Read them and you will find out. I found them whilst sorting through some of my things a couple of weeks ago and, well read them and you’ll understand why.”

So I started to read the first one.

Dear Rachel,

I hate living here. I have no friends and it's so boring. I hate my 
family for moving here, I want to come home. Wish I could live with 
you and your family.

I'm sat on the stoop outside our house hoping some other kids pass 
by and let me go and play with them. I'm going to write this and then 
go and listen to our favourite Wham song in my room, that always 
makes me happy. I hope you still play it lots too.

Something really strange just happened. I am just sitting here and 
some old lady shouted at me from across the road. I don't know 
who she is and I was too scared to go over. She seems weird. I think 
she might be a witch or something. I am going to go inside now. I will
write another letter soon.

Miss you lots and hope you write back soon.


The memory of that day came flooding back, the old lady had been weird and I was starting to understand why Rachel had decided to show me the letters. I quickly opened the next one and started reading.

Dear Rachel,

So much to tell you about. Remember the old lady I told you about 
who scared me well I decided to speak to her the other day. She 
is actally actually really nice her name is Mrs Pauley. She has 
lived in my street for 40 years and said that she has seen lots 
of different things happen and lots of new people. She told me 
where the children like to play and said I should just go down 
there, that's where her boys always played. Her children are all 
grown up now and have left home. She lives there on her own because 
her husband died not very long ago, it's really sad. She did tell 
me that she had a grandson who was about my age called Jack. I hope 
he comes to visit soon so I can meet him. Maybe he will come with 
me to find the other children from round here if we get on, it's 
scary going on my own. 

She is at her window waving at me again. I like sitting out on the 
stoop to write to you. I'm going to go over and chat to her again. 
I hope you are having a better summer than me.

Hope you write soon.

From Tabby.

I knew what was coming next the memories were clear but reading the words I had written when I was twelve transported me back to that time on the front stoop. I opened the third letter.

Dear Rachel,

I have lots to tell you and you won't believe what has been going on.

Mrs Pauley had gone, she has left the house. I had only talked to 
her the day before and she was so smiley and happy. She talked 
a lot about Jack she said that Jack would be coming to visit her 
soon and she had told him all about me and he is looking forward 
to meeting me when he visits. I don't think he'll be coming now 
Mrs Pauley has left. I'm so upset.

A few days ago the police turned up in our road and went to 
Mrs Pauley's house.They didn't even knock they just broke 
in I thought she must be so frightened. Mum said that the 
house had been rented but the rent hasn't been paid for 
months. I can't believe Mrs Pauley wouldn't have paid she 
is so lovely. Once the police went in the man who owns the 
house followed. I sat on the stoop and watched, then 
the man came out and shortly after an amblence ambulance 
arrived. I saw them take a trolley out of the house with 
someone on it but I couldn't make out who. I wanted to go 
over and try and see but Mum shouted at me to stay where 
I was. 

Then I saw Mrs Pauley at the window and she smiled at me and 
waved and then walked away. I haven't seen her again since. 
I asked my Mum if I could go over an knock on the door but she 
said no one lives there, I told her about Mrs Pauley and she 
said that I couldn't have seen her because she died weeks ago.
When I saw the ambulance that's when they found her, no one
had seen her. I know I saw her and spoke to her so does that 
mean it was a ghost? 

I can't believe she has gone. I wish you had been here and 
that you were here now I know that you will believe me.

Write soon,


I folded the letter carefully and looked up at Rachel.

“I remember Mrs Pauley, no one believed me when I said that I had been talking to her and they just thought I had seen a picture of her or something when I described her. Must have been her ghost, although it’s kind of creepy.”

“She was right though you did meet Jack in the end didn’t you? I wonder if she knew that her funeral would have been the reason that he would be coming back?” Rachel had always believed me, she was a great friend.

“Yes, I remember meeting Jack we became friends straight away but then he had to go back to Germany. However he wasn’t there long before he moved back the UK which was brilliant. I remember feeling so happy and things improved from then on. I still missed not having you around though to chat to face to face.”

“Ah but nothing will ever come between our friendship, we are destined to be best friends forever.” Rachel reached over for the wine bottle. “Just think though in five days you will be getting married to Jack… then we’ll have to call you Mrs Pauley.”


Prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.
The story prompt: 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.
Twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.



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