‘Maybe I —
Maybe you’re out.
I know you weren’t feeling —
If you’re there, I hope you’re alright.
And the girls, too.
You know where to find me.
Have a lovely day.’

She leaves. Eliza exhales shakily.

‘What happened?
What did she mean?
What did she want?’

‘It doesn’t —
It’s okay.
It doesn’t matter.’

‘She sounded nice.
She said she knew Mum?
Why couldn’t we talk to her?
She could’ve played with us.
She could’ve helped us find -’

‘Riley, just —
For a second.’

‘What’s wrong?’


‘You look —’

‘This isn’t —’


You know what?
It’s fine.
We’re good.
It’s great.
Hey, come here.’


You know why we had to be quiet?’

‘Cos you said so?’

‘Well, yeah but —
Like —
Did you notice anything about that lady?


‘I need you to think really hard, now.’

‘She seemed nice.’

‘Ah, her voice did, you’re right.
But I had a look through the peephole.
And I caught a glimpse of this —
Crone —
Withered skin with a greenish tinge —
Curled, gnarled fingernails tapping on the door —
Squinted eyes, beady and searching for a crack that she might be able to slip through.’

‘A witch?’



‘But she sounded —’

‘A shape-shifting witch —
Able to —
To —
Uh —’

‘She can sound nice and kind but actually —
Actually she’s —

‘Yes, right.
Evil Personified.
She sounds all nice and lovely —
But it’s ruse!’

‘She said she wanted to take us away!’

‘Right, exactly.
She comes round these parts often —
Seeking out potential prey.
She’ll squirrel small children away under her cloak.
She slinks out of the dark woods, bare feet crackling on dried leaves.
There’s a basket curled over her arm —
As spindly and gnarled as her curled fingers —
And you can’t quite see inside but it’s full of -’

‘Toadstools and and and —
Tadpoles —
Frogspawn and bird’s eyes and slugs.’



‘But she’s covered them up —
They’re just below the surface but on top is a layer of sweets.
All encrusted with thick sugar crystals.
As brightly coloured as jewels, all shining out of her basket.
And your mouth waters.’

‘They look good.’

‘They do, don’t they?
She spots you peeking out of her.
Her face begins to transform —
Her hair —
Knotted into a clump on the top of her head —
Thick with ivy and mud —
Now it falls in soft waves to her feet.
Her twisted smile clears into something fresh and welcoming, like the sun coming through clouds.’

‘She seems —’



And she holds the basket out to you.
An offering.’

‘For me?’

‘She nods.
She has such a beautiful smile.’

‘The sweets look so good.’

‘You reach out your hand —
Her smile grows wider.’

I know she’s a witch!’

‘And her smile snaps off her face —
And she glares at you.
Her face falls back into its twisted, greenish leer.
And she snarls at you like an animal.’

‘Get back!’

‘She advances on you —
Your door is open and she’s moving towards it —’


‘So you leap away —’

‘She’s gonna take us away!
She’ll put me in her basement and cook me in a cauldron!
She’ll —’



‘I didn’t mean to.’

‘Oh, Riley.
Look what you did.
You broke it.’

‘But I didn’t mean to!’

‘That’s her favourite vase.
And you broke it.’


‘I didn’t!’

‘Yes you did!’

‘But I -’

‘Just say sorry!’

‘I’m sorry! I said it already!’

‘You’re such a little liar.’

‘Am not.’

Eliza starts gathering the pieces.

‘Are we still playing?

Are we still playing’

‘I’m cleaning it up.’

‘I’m sorry.


Do we still need to find the maiden ?’

‘You can tell her about the vase once we find her.’

‘Do you think she’ll be angry?’

‘I dunno.

Don’t look like that.
It’s fine, okay?
Not the end of the world.’

‘I didn’t mean it.’

‘I know.
But you gotta be more careful.
Look where you’re going.
You’re a big girl now, right?’

What do we have to do next?
To save the maiden?’

‘Uh —
Right, yes.’


We need to —
Go to the travelling merchant.
We need to —
To traverse over the land —
It’s a long and difficult journey —
Filled with danger and adventure —
With wild beasts and and and —
Terrifying rapids —
Gaping ravines to cross over —
All to barter for the secret potion.’

That sounds scary.’

‘It is scary.
But it’s exciting too, right?’


‘You don’t sound very excited.
You don’t want to help save the maiden?’

‘Course I do!’

‘Then come on.
Get your shoes on.
Cut to the street. They’ve been walking for a while.’


‘How much further?’


‘Well —
We’ve got to cross the river —
And that’s very treacherous —
There’s a river nymph who lies under the surface there —
She reaches her hands out of the water and tries to pull unobservant crossers into her watery depths.
So we’ll have to be careful when -’

‘I’m bored of this one.’

‘I —
We can do another one.’


Uhh —
Hey —
We’re on a savannah —
Dry and arid —
An empty plain stretching as far as the eye can see.
The sky is split into two clean halves —
Scalding blue and dirty yellow.
It hurts your eyes.’

‘It’s hot.’

‘Not just hot!
It hurts to breathe —
The dust stings your lungs.
The sun is this glowing orb, hanging in the middle of a shining blue expanse.
The air shimmers lazily on the horizon.
These travellers are parched and starving.
They have scarves tied over their heads to protect from the sun’s rays —
As they walk, the younger one, the smaller one —
She shakes out the last few droplets of water from a gourd and wipes her cracked lips.’

‘How much further?’

‘She whines.’

‘I’m not whining.
We’ve been walking forever.’


‘Hey. Look!
Over there.’


Circling the local watering hole —
Around the patches of scrub —
With those glossy tan coats and long, elegant necks.
They’re clustered around their young protectively.’

‘Darling, don’t put that in your mouth. That’s horrid. No no.’

‘They’re a bit —’

‘They eye the travelling pair suspiciously.’

‘Off we go, come on.’

‘I dunno if I like them.’

‘They move on as a pack, graceful if a little aloof, and the duo hurry on.
What else do you see?
The savannah may seem empty —
But it’s actually teeming with life.’

‘There’s a rhino, there!’

‘Leave me alone.’


‘He’s a bit grumpy.
He has a weathered, battle-torn hide.
Trying to enjoy the sun on his scarred skin.’

‘I can hear you, you know.’

‘Best to leave him be.
What else?’

‘I dunno.’

‘Come on, who else can you see?’

‘Just some —
Old people —
Outside that cafe.’

Lounging about in the sun.’


‘Don’t you think?
Greying manes —
Yawning gently —
Clustered in a group together.’

‘I said yeah.’

‘Use your words, Riley.’

‘I dunno!


My feet hurt.’

‘It’s not far now.’

‘But my Feet Hurt.’

‘But we’re Nearly There.’

‘My Feet Hurt, Eliza!
I’m not going any further.
We’ve been walking for ages.’

‘Riley come on.
You’ve been so good so far.’

‘I’m tired.
She sits down on the floor.’

‘Riley, please get up.’


Get Up.’


‘Why do you have to be such a little brat?
Get up Now.
Or I’ll drag you.’

‘I’m not a brat.’

‘So stop acting like one.’

‘I wanna go home.’

‘We can’t go home, we need to get —
We’re going to the travelling merchant.

‘I don’t wanna go!’

‘Don’t shout.’

‘I’m not shouting!’

‘People are looking.’

‘I Wanna Go Home.’

You wanna stay here?
You don’t wanna move?’

‘I’m not going anywhere unless we go home.’

‘You’re a brat.
You’re being a spoiled little brat.
Come On.’


Eliza grabs Riley and tries to pull her.


‘Just come On!’

‘I’m not going, stop it!
You’re hurting me.’


‘I don’t care!

Okay, listen.
If we get to the shop.
I mean —
The merchant.
If we just get to the merchant and we get the potion.
Then we’ll save the maiden.

‘Do you promise?’

‘I —
Of course.’

‘I’m tired.
I want to go home.’

‘Just —
Just do this.
This one thing, and then we’ll go home.
I promise.
It’ll be an adventure, right?
It’s an adventure.
We were having fun, weren’t we?
Travelling across the savannah.
Fighting the dragon.

You have to come with me.
I can’t leave you on your own.
Do you understand?
Are you coming?’

Choose your path

45North Transparent white


Taking risks to challenge our ideas of self and the world in which we live.


Studio 44

Hackney Downs Studios
London E8 2BT
England, UK