In a writing class that I was in last summer, I was presented with the challenge of writing a story using a different persona, or voice. I was to create a character for myself that spoke and thought in a entirely different way than I did. We were to indirectly inform the reader of what kind of person we were describing through our writing without actually listing their characteristics. This task helped me explore the different styles of writing. For the assignment, I chose to present my character as a grouchy old man with a tragic back story.
A Hole in My Window
Ah… It was finally the time of the day for reading my beloved Time magazine that only just came in the mail. A cup of the finest English tea accompanied by a small saucer of scones. I was sitting on my rocking chair by the window. It was a moment of upmost perfection.
I barely sat down after a tiresome morning of household chores when I was most rudely interrupted by a sound of squealing and giggling. The disgusting sound almost caused me to drop my cup of tea. What in the world are the Robinson twins up to now? How dare they intrude on my only moment of peace? Outrageous! Ignore them, Melvin. You are better than those filthy little beasts. They are selfish, corpulent brutes that do not care for others. Ignore them. I ignored the voice inside my head and squinted out the window to see what they were up to. Goofy, idiotic grins were spread across their nasty pudgy faces. They were playing some kind of game.
Baseball. Memories of the past flew back to me. A single tear fell from my almost blind eyes. My first and only son, Billy James Pruitt was the best first baseman on his team. I was his number one fan and taught him everything I knew about baseball. He was only nine years old when an ignorant drunk driver so brutishly killed him. So young, so innocent. Little Billy idolized me, thought me to be a hero. Raised by a single parent (my wife passed shortly after Billy was born), he was independent and strong-minded. I never did recover from this horrific incident. Watching my son die and being too late to save him was like a repeated stab to my heart. I was left with a cavity. Most of all, he left me alone. Alone in a world of hatred and corruption. Why must God take all the good things in life?
My train of thought broke, and I returned to Time for a distraction. Today, the stock market plummeted a record of––Crack! Tiny pieces of glass showered my body and bloodied my arm. A baseball flew past my head and landed on the antique rug with a thud. “What the…?” I leaped out of my seat and went to examine the broken window. An apple-sized hole was etched into the glass. I knew the source.
“ROBINSONS! What is the meaning of this hole?” I exclaimed, enraged. Teeth clenched and ready to explode, I ran outside to examine the damage of the exterior. Ugh. I have not been outside my cozy little house ever since I last picked up groceries, two weeks ago. I loathed the 100-degree sun that was so brusquely compelling me to perspire.
One boy, who was called Cody, stared back at me in wide-eyed terror, while the other, named Teddy, snickered and whispered something to his brother. “Hehe. Look at the veins in his neck pop out. He’s so crabby.” More giggles.
At this point, I was fuming. How dare they attempt to antagonize me even further? Those imprudent, disrespectful little brats! “You imbeciles! You filthy nincompoops! Do you realize that your infuriating spherical playing object has broken my window? Where are your mother and father?”
“Well, Mr. Grouch, umm…Mommy’s in heaven and Daddy’s at work,” replied Cody.
The boys greatly reminded me of my dearest Little Billy, innocent and sweet. On the verge of tears but still very much infuriated, I questioned them further. “Don’t call me Mr. Grouch. You shall call me Mr. Pruitt! Now answer, you half-wit simpletons, who is looking after you? I demand to speak with them.”
“We have a nanny that looks after us. You see, Mr. Grouch, Daddy’s almost never home, so he left us with a nanny, and she’s kind of mean and we don’t really like her, but we still have to live with her to make Daddy happy,” explained Teddy.
Still piqued about the Mr. Grouch comment, I tried to ignore their sob story as I went over to the Robinson house. The nanny, who I found asleep on the couch watching soap operas, told me to talk to Mr. Robinson when he got home the next evening. Displeased but left with no other options, I walked home. I took one last glance at the hole in the window, thinking that it very much resembled the hole in my heart.
The next day, the ring of my doorbell awakened me from my nightmares about Billy. Grumbling, I went to answer the door. “Morning, Mr. Grouch. So listen, we felt bad about your window, and you seem like a very lonely man, so we wanted to give you a present,” said Teddy.
“ Not you again. I have had enough of your foolishness. Now, what is your gift that you have decided to so rudely wake me up for? It’s not even light outside yet! Well, what is it?” I asked, admittedly a little curious.
“Right. I’m getting there, Mr. Grouch. You see, our gift to you is a sunrise.” Seeing the puzzled look on my face, Cody continued on. “Teddy and I get up every morning to watch the sunrise. We do it to feel our mom’s presence within us. Come on. ” Still in my robe and speechless, I was dragged to the top of a grassy hill. Before I knew it, I had witnessed a miracle. Never before had I ever seen such a beauty. I squinted at the little tangerine ball of wonder until the sun hurt my eyes. The orangey-pink hues of the sky filled me with wonder and awe. There was something that I could not explain. A feeling. The sunrise filled me with memories of warmth and happiness. As I watched, I thought of my wife and Billy. Oh, how I wish they were here to witness this miracle. Or maybe they were. Within me.
I glanced at the Robinson boys. They too carried a dreamy look on their face. I was taken aback and inspired by their gift to me. My life was given a whole new meaning. I spent all this time being grouchy and irritable when I could have been exploring the world. From now on, I would spend every morning watching the sunset from my broken window, which I decided to keep as a reminder. “Thank you. This is the best gift I have ever received,” I whispered.
“Why, you’re welcome, Mr. Pruitt.”
And without realizing, these two boys filled the hole in my window. They restored what I thought could never be healed, and amended the hole in my heart.
I challenge you to be (or write as) someone else for a day. Try using a different voice to tell a story. You might be surprised at what you create. I was.