‘Hi —
Is that —
Sorry, I don’t think I know your name.’

‘I’m Riley.’


‘Are you —
You’re the younger one?’

‘Yeah my sister is Eliza.
She’s fifteen.’


I’m eight.
It’s my birthday in December.’

‘Ah, well.
Happy birthday for December.’

‘Thanks, we’re going to have a party.’

‘Riley —’

‘I think I’ve seen you playing outside.
I live next door —
Moved in a few months ago.’


‘And so —
Where’s your sister?
Is she with you?’

‘Yeah she’s here.’

‘I thought I heard some shouting.’

‘Well, we were fighting a dragon.’

‘Ah, of course.’

‘So obviously it gets a bit loud.’

‘Of course.
Did you win?’

‘I don’t know yet.’

‘Sorry to take you away from that.
Sounds like important stuff.
Riley, listen —
Is your Mum around?
I knew she’d been feeling a bit —
Well —
I was just wondering if she was —’


‘I just wanted to check in.
She told me a few weeks back that she can get a bit -’

‘Why don’t you mind your own business?’

That must be —
Your sister.
Eliza, right?’

‘What’s it to you?’

‘I’m not sure what -’

‘Don’t talk about our mother.
What do you know?
You should keep your nose out of our business.
We didn’t ask for your help.’

‘Darling —’

‘We’re Not your darlings!’

I shouldn’t have called you that.
I just know that your mother -’

‘You don’t know anything about us.
About our family.
Why don’t —
Why don’t you just stay out of it?
Curtain twitching —
Meddlesome —
Old witch.’

I’m just next door.
If you need anything.’

‘Mind your own business.’



‘Why did you do that?’

‘Why did you answer?’

‘I didn’t —
I don’t —
She’s a grown up.’

‘So you’ll do anything grown ups tell you to do?
You’ll —
You’ll get in someone’s car if they tell you they know Mum?
Open the door to someone you don’t know?’

‘I don’t —
I’m sorry.

Was she going to —
Take us away?’


She wasn’t.
She was just being —

‘She could’ve helped us with the maiden.’

We’re the ones who handle that.
Not the adults.
The adults ruin everything.’



‘You shouldn’t have replied.
You should have done what I said.
I’m your big sister, right?
I know what I’m doing.

I didn’t mean to.’

‘I know.
But you know now.


‘No adults!
Just us.
They’re all shapeshifters.
Can’t be trusted.
The only thing we can rely on is each other.
Pinch me.’


‘You need to prove that I’m real, right?
Need to make sure there’s not a goblin wearing my skin.’

‘But I don’t wanna hurt you.’

‘You won’t.’

‘I can pinch pretty hard.’

‘Well, I’ve got tough skin.
Do your worst.’

‘Whatever you say.’

She pinches Eliza. Eliza yelps.


‘I told you!’

‘You’ve got pincers for fingers —
But see —
I’m real.’

‘Am I?’

Eliza pinches Riley.


‘Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’re real.’


‘You and me.


‘She was a witch, you know.’



‘You couldn’t tell?
See, that’s why you need me.
Me and my witch-o-vision.’

‘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.’

‘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 comes round these parts often —
Seeking out potential prey.

Cheer up.
Might never happen.’

‘What might?’

‘Never mind.
You have your grumpy guts face on.’

‘I’m not a grumpy guts.’

‘Look at those cheeks.
All droopy.’

‘Nothing, I said already.’

‘Look at that bottom lip.’

‘I’m Not a grumpy guts!’

‘So what’s wrong then?’


‘So then cheer up’

‘Don’t be mad at me.’

‘I’m not.’

‘Where is she?’


She’s —
For a bit.’

‘Where’s she gone?’

‘She’s —
She’ll be back.’

‘Is this like when she left you in the park?’

‘I —
I don’t —
She didn’t mean to do that.
How do you even know about that?

Hey, nosy.
How do you know about that?’


‘He told you that?’

‘I dunno.’

‘You don’t know or you just don’t wanna tell me?
Did he tell Sarah?’

‘I dunno.
Just overheard them once.’

‘He’s such a —
She didn’t mean it.

What did Sarah say?’

‘I dunno.’

‘Probably egged him on.’

‘No, she didn’t.’

‘Oh so you do know?’

Doesn’t matter.’

Back to it, yeah?
New game.
New story.
Who are we this time?




Sailing over the seas.
Searching out treasure.’

‘I’m hanging from the crow’s nest with one hand!

‘The best pirate in the world, that one.
We have to be careful —
It’s a choppy day —
The sky is bright and blue but the waves are high.’

‘Storm’s coming!
I can see it from here!
It’s dark on the horizon.’

‘Madam Underwell —
Who’s now a a a —
Your second in command —
She hikes the sails up on her own, strong as an ox.’

‘Storm’s a’coming, girls.’

‘Make sure the valuables are stowed inside!’

‘Will do, chief.’

‘And she goes inside, giving one of the more gormless cabin boys a clip around the ear as
she goes.’

‘What, never seen someone half human, half lizard?’

‘Come down!
Let’s check the treasure map.’


‘And the girl grabs the rope swinging by the top of the crow’s nest and she swings down,
easy as anything.’


‘Right, look here.
We need to sail to the deserted island —
I’ve heard there are stacks of jewels and gold there —
Piled up on top of each other in empty caves —
So much treasure that men have drowned in it before.’

‘The maiden’s there!’


‘But —
She’s Not a maiden anymore —
She’s transformed —
Into a terrible, terrifying sea creature —’

‘Uh —’


‘And she’s standing guard over the treasure —’

‘Right, uh —
Blue-green scales rippling, yellow eyes primed and sharp and ready.’

‘How will we defeat her?’

‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.’

All of a sudden, Madam Underwell bursts out of the cabin and fixes her gaze on you.


‘Might I remind you that there’s a storm coming?’

‘Oh yes!
It’s here!’

‘Batten down the hatches!’

‘What does that mean?’

‘I dunno.
Quick, it’s coming!
Massive streaks of lightning forking through the sky —
The clouds dark and broiling —
The waves are Huge!
Taller than the biggest building you’ve ever seen!
The rain lashes down and the waves rage and you forget what it means to be dry —
One of your sailors is thrown off the boat in the storm and he sinks below the surface
without a trace.’

It’s her, she’s sending the storm —’


‘The the the —
The sea creature!
She doesn’t want us to save her —
She knows if we get to the island we’ll turn her back into a maiden and then -’

That’s not -’

‘Hold on!
That’s the biggest wave yet!
Get down!’


‘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.


‘Are we still playing?

Are we still / playing’

‘I’m cleaning it up.

‘I’m sorry.

‘Why did you say that?
About the maiden.’

The sea creature.

‘I dunno.
Maybe she doesn’t want us to find her.
Maybe she’s making the journey harder.’

‘Why would that be the case?’

‘I dunno.’

Well, it’s not true.’


Her stomach rumbles.

You’re hungry?’

‘Yeah, I’m hungry!
I could eat —
A horse.
I could eat —
An elephant.’

‘Might be a bit tough.’

‘Or —
A giraffe.’

‘Could be stringy.
How about —
A piece of toast.’


‘A cheese sandwich.’

No no no.
I want —
The Best Meal Ever.
I want —
Hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles and whipped cream —
And stacks of pancakes —
With maple syrup and bacon —
And and and —’

‘What about —
A bowl of pasta.’

‘We’ve got to have something more exciting than that!’


‘That’s it?’

‘Hey, what do you mean “that’s it”?
Look at this —
Bevy of riches.’

‘Cheese —
Butter —
Broccoli, ugh —
Furry blueberries —
It’s all yuck.’

Would the warrior say that?
Is that the kind of attitude the pirate would have?’

Cos it’s all yucky and boring and I don’t want any of it.’

‘A real adventurer never balks in the face of adversity.’

‘I don’t know what any of those words mean.’

‘A Real Adventurer —
Would see this fridge as an Opportunity.
And she would take stock of all her resources —’

‘Do you remember when Dad made that shepherd’s pie?
And he put the potato in the blender and it came out all gluey.’

‘I —

‘And we had to eat it out of the blender with a spatula.’

‘Why doesn’t the girl heat up some soup?

‘I hate soup.’

‘No you don’t.
Tomato or chicken?’

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