In English class we're reading TKaM, and this was our assignment: choose one of the scenes and write it as though their mother was still alive, as much in the style of Harper Lee as possible. This is my result, which I decided to post.

Reviews are very much appreciated!


After dinner Mama pulled me into the kitchen, frowning at me.

"Am I in trouble, ma'am?" I asked.

She nodded. "After all I've done to raise you, you go and make a caricature of Mr. Avery for all the street to see." Her frown deepened. "Jean Louise Finch, I thought I'd taught you better than that."

I looked down at my shoes and mumbled an apology.

"And speak up like a lady. When you were a girl you could romp and play with the boys, but now you're growing up." I opened my mouth to protest, but she cut me off. "And don't you go telling me there ain't no problem with it. You'll be a young woman soon, and you want to find a good man who cares for you so you can settle down and raise a family. You don't want to end up like poor Mrs. Calsbury over on Seslie Street, do you?"

I blanched. Mrs. Calsbury was a young and quite pretty woman who, for one reason or another, had ended up marrying a man who was possibly Maycomb's meanest old gent. She spent most of her days in the house with the curtains drawn, but when she came to church she was always bundled up tight, scarves and everything, even in the middle of summer. When her scarf fell low you could see dark smudges on her skin. I once asked Papa if she was sick, and he just looked at me for a moment, then said: "No, Scout. But old Mr. Calsbury don't treat her too well." I immediately stated that we should help her escape, but he gave me another long look and said that we shouldn't drag her from her prison cell into the shark-infested ocean, not when she hadn't learnt to swim. I didn't know what swimming had to do with it, but that was the end of the conversation.

"Jean Louise?" my mother said sharply, "You don't want to end up like her, do you?"

"Nome," I said politely.

"Right." She leaned against the polished counter. "I don't know what to do with you, Jean Louise," she sighed. "Your papa gave you an education before you started school, and now you think you know everything and can run around like a boy. Dear Lord, you even wear overalls. I'll have to make you a couple skirts you can wear to school."

I paled at the thought.

"Please, ma'am. I'll- I'll clean all the dishes tonight if I can keep wearing my overalls!" Mama's eyebrows furrowed together.

"You'll have to do better than that, Jean Louise," she said. "You can wear them ghastly things for the rest of the break, but when you start school again you'll wear proper lady's attire and that's that. Now go and get ready for bed. I'll see you in the morning."

I slouched my way out of the room. When I reached the door, I heard Mama behind me call:

"And stand up straight!"

I stiffened my body and soldier-marched through the door.

I was woken around one in he morning by Mama shaking me. I groaned.

"Get up and get dressed," she whispered fiercely. "And wake your brother. Then get outside as fast as you can."

"What's going on?" I asked groggily.

"Fire at Ms. Maudie's."

That got me awake. I slipped on the first thing that met my groping fingers- my Sunday prayer dress- and trotted over to Jem's bed. I shook him hard.

"What time is it?" he said sleepily.

"Don't know. Get up and get dressed, there's a fire next door."

He pulled on an old shirt and a pair of trousers. Together, we went downstairs. Everything was eerily quiet. Outside, a crowd had gathered to watch the blaze that was Ms. Maudie's house. About two dozen men had formed a bucket chain, Papa among them.

"There you are," said Mama, walking hurriedly over to us. "I had to help get Maudie out. Just come stand over here, away from the fire."

"Is Ms. Maudie all right?" I asked anxiously.

"Yes, Scout. We got her out in time. Now just stay here. I know it's chilly, but if the fire spreads to our house you'll be glad you're freezing out here than burning in there."

We stood and watched the blaze for a while. Clutching my arms around the thin prayer dress, I saw Ms. Maudie talking with my mother. Her voice carried over to where we were standing.

"Don't worry about it, Celia. I didn't like that old barn anyway. It's time it was burned down."

Poor Ms. Maudie. I wondered what it would be like to have our house burn down. My thoughts drifted away...

* * *
About a quarter of an hour later, they managed to put the fire out. What was left was a smoldering, smoking ruin. I looked up at Jem.

"Poor Ms. Maudie. She's lost everything. A woman's greatest pride is her home," he said dramatically.

I frowned.

"It ain't," I said. "I'm proud that I can beat Cecil Jacobs in the one hundred-meter sprint. And Mama's proud of helping those poor Negroes out by Carmy Way. She was saying just last month that she met a real nice Negro named Calpurnia over there. The lady had three kids and no husband and they were starving. But Mama said Calpurnia was an amazing cook and she wants to hire her. So you see, Jem, a home ain't a lady's pride. That's boy talk."

"Scout, I wasn't asking for a monologue." He paused, taking in my puzzled expression. "That's a negative statement," he said proudly.

"What is?"

"A monologue." He shivered. "It's cold. I should of thought to bring a blanket like you."

"I didn't bring a blanket. That's a monologue, right?"

"No, you did, and I know so on account of you having one wrapped around your shoulders all warm-like. That's a monologue. It's got to have... substance." He turned around, noticing I wasn't next to him anymore. "What's the matter, Scout?"

"Jem? I said, my voice rising. "I didn't bring this blanket out here!"

His eyes widened.

"The Radley Place!"

We spun around at the same time, looking across the street at the haunted house. It stared back at us.

"What do we do, Jem?" I shrieked.

"Get rid of it! Quick!"

"Get rid of what?" said Mama, coming up behind my brother.

"Nothing, Mama!" said Jem hurriedly. I tried to shove the offending bed sheet behind my back, but it was too late. The damage was done. Mama's eyes narrowed.

"Where'd you get that blanket, Jean Louise?" she said suspiciously.

I didn't know what Jem wanted me to say, so I stayed silent. Unfortunately, so did Jem.

"When I ask you a question, Jean Louise, you answer me. Understand?" Her eyes narrowed further.

"Yes'm," I mumbled.

"And you speak clearly."

"Yes, ma'am," I spoke up.

"So, where did you get that blanket?"

"I don't know, ma'am. We were standing in front of the Radley Place and I realized after the fire that I had it on." I looked up, panicking. "Do you think Boo put it there, ma'am? Do you think it's cursed? 'M I going to die, Mama?"

"Nonsense," Mama said brusquely. "Probably one of the neighbors noticed you were cold. And there ain't no such thing as curses." She threw her arms above her head and addressed the sky. "This is what comes of letting your husband raise your daughter for too long! Oh, Lord above, help me! Just fold it neatly and put it on our porch," she said, turning back to me."

I did as she said and the day after the blanket was gone. In its place was a smooth, perfect, fire-red pebble.