Short Story – “An Open Window”


An Open Window

Some folks say they can see the past like it was yesterday. Well, it ain’t never been that way for me. My growing up days are just a blur mostly, but there is one day in partick’lar that sticks out like a bleeding thumb… and always will, I reckon.

I was about twelve years old back then, and went out to the front porch to rummage through my baseball cards. That’s when I heard the screamin’.

When I looked up, I saw Ol’ Mrs. Pauley thrashin’ and hollerin’ like a dog that just got shot by a BB gun. The cops were pulled up to her house, and it took two or three of ‘em to hold on to her as they yanked her out the front door. A couple other cops were bringing all her furniture and clothes and throwing it all out on the street.

Ol’ Mrs. Pauley was cryin’ something awful, and after they hauled her out she grabbed a fistful of clothes and clutched it to her chest. “Please don’t do this,” she just kept shoutin’ again and again, “this here house is all I have!”

The cops paid her no mind, but I knew it was the truth. All six of Mrs. Pauley’s boys were grown and gone, and though she never spoke of it, I’d seen the Army truck bring her a telegram or two so I knew that some of those boys were gone for good. Then, just three months before all this, my Momma had taken a cherry pie to the funeral after poor Mr. Pauley had died from a heart attack. Everybody in town was whispering about how Mrs. Pauley had no job, and how nobody knew how she was gonna make it.

I shook my head as I watched the poor old lady, hair blowin’ wild in the wind and falling all into her face as she screamed ‘til her voice got hoarse and scratchy. Up ‘til that time I had kinda thought everyone was just gossipin’ about the poor old lady, but now I figured they had been right all along.

The thing is, I liked Mrs. Pauley. She had taught me Sunday School when I was just a tiny thing, and I can still remember the way her eyes sparkled like diamonds when she told us, “Now remember, children, when God closes a door, He always opens a window.”

I felt a big ol’ knot in my throat as I watched Mrs. Pauley now. It might be hard for God to open a window when you lost your whole house altogether! But then a thought hit me like a sucker punch to the gut:

Maybe I was the window.

And so I did it. I walked across the street, a little sheepish, and started gathering up the clothes out of that dirty street. When she saw me, she just watched me with eyes big as silver dollars.

“Come on ‘cross the street, Mrs. Pauley,” I told her. “You can stay with us for a little while. My Momma won’t mind.”

She hugged me so tight I thought I’d burst, but I’ll never forget the look in her eyes as she whispered again and again, “Thank you.”

I just grinned like a fool. “Well, uh, it’s like you always said, Mrs. Pauley. When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

She stopped cryin’ the moment I’d said it, and then somethin’ really crazy happened.

That old lady actually smiled.


“As you wish for others to do to you, do so to them.” – Luke 6:31

“Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” – Matthew 25:40


Writing 101 Day 18 Challenge: Write the story below in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

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.


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