The Butterfly Girl


MAGGIE: 6yo ghost: frilly pink & white dress, open top black shoes with white socks. Blonde piggy tails platted and held with bright coloured ribbons. MARCUS’S daughter.

MARCUS: 40 something medium build collar length bed hair, 5 o’clock shadow, chino’s, polo shirt, rykers sneakers. Rolly hanging out the edge of his mouth. Associate Lecturer Science, divorced. MAGGIE’S Father. Rather Introverted.

SUSANNA: Late 30s, self-employed, stylish. Business dress. MAGGIE’S Mother. Quite extroverted.


Maggie’s bedroom: federation style timber room painted pastel lemon with large sash windows (white architrave), lace curtains, polished timber floor (light). A dbl base single bed adorned with a thick white doona with a gumtree print pattern across one end is made neatly. Two big pillows rest against a white bed head with a large fluffy stuffed teddy bear in the middle. A white dressing table with a mirror hosts a ballerina music box, a brush and assorted clips – all neatly in their place. Glow in the dark butterfly stickers are stuck around the edges of the mirror. There is a similar desk, with shelves containing photos, fluffy toys, trinkets, pencils, paper. A hanging mobile with brightly decorated butterflies hangs above the bed. A large rug with cartoon butterflies lies in the middle of the room. A butterfly theme is evident in the room with decals on the walls, trinkets on the window sills and shelves. A small chest of drawers next to the bed has a butterfly lampshade on its light. A wind chime with small butterflies hangs in one corner of the window.


SUSANNA is selling the house after a bitter divorce where we find MARCUS who has come to collect some of his deceased daughter’s belongings. MAGGIE’S ghost is in the room.



                                    AT RISE:

(MARCUS stands in the room with a cardboard box. MAGGIE is sitting on the rug, making a large bright butterfly.)



MAGGIE: Do you like my butterfly Daddy?

(MARCUS surveys the room, thinking how he is going to fit what into the box HE has.)

 MAGGIE (cont’d): What do you think I should call her?

(SUSANNA storms into the room. SHE throws an empty box onto   the floor at MARCUS’S feet.)

SUSANNA: I found one. (MARCUS ignores HER.) That’s two. That should be enough.

MARCUS: (to himself) Enough ..

SUSANNA: (points to the ornaments on the desk and the windowsill) You can put everything in these, then get out. I have people coming to look at the house.

(MARCUS goes to the desk and starts to place MAGGIE’S trinkets into the box HE is holding. SUSANNA notices the cigarette hanging from HIS mouth.)

SUSANNA: What the hell is that?

MARCUS: (A beat. Continues to pack his daughters trinkets.)

SUSANNA: Don’t you Goddamn ignore me MARCUS. What are you smoking again? You think you’re the only one who’s suffering here?

MARCUS: We don’t see Phil or Barb anymore.

SUSANNA: I wonder why that is.

MARCUS: I didn’t mean ..


(MARCUS thumps the box onto the desk and lights up his cigarette. MAGGIE holds up her butterfly to the window and it catches light that shines throughout the room. Neither MARCUS nor SUSANNA notice, see or hear MAGGIE.)

MAGGIE: Pretty.

MARCUS: Of course, everything is my fault.

SUSANNA: Goddamned right it is. You and your work. No time for your son. You let your daughter go to the park by herself. She was 5 years old!

(MARCUS picks up a photograph of MAGGIE playing with butterflies in the back yard.)

MAGGIE: I think I’ll call her Lilly.

SUSANNA: Not that one. (Snatches it from HIM.) Maggie loved butterflies.

MARCUS: Lilly ..

MAGGIE: (giggles happily)

(SUSANNA goes back to the dresser and begins to unpack clothes from the drawers. MARCUS takes a long drag on his cigarette, then resumes slowly, packing MAGGIE’S things. MAGGIE gets up and starts skipping around the room. SHE takes her butterfly across to the window and opens it.)

SUSANNA: About time you learnt some manners.

MARCUS: Give it a rest.

SUSANNA: You’re smoking is not one bit offensive.

MARCUS: I’ll open the window. (Surprised it’s already open, MARCUS & SUSANNA exchange an awkward look. MARCUS looks to see if anyone else is in the room. A large white butterfly flies into the room. SUSANNA sees it and tries to kill it.)

MARCUS: Wait! Don’t kill it! (HE throws the cigarette out the window.)

SUSANNA: No more fairytales!

MARCUS: (grabs the butterfly tenderly in two hands.) White ones are special. They carry souls of dead children.

SUSANNA: You’re unbelievable!

(The phone rings, SUSANNA leaves STAGE RIGHT to answer it.)

MARCUS: To see you one last time, little Maggie .. (HE releases the butterfly out the window. A beat then goes to the wall and starts removing the wooden butterfly decals. MAGGIE is watching HIM. SHE starts humming the song from HER ballerina music box. For no reason, MARCUS starts to hum the same tune. A few beats, MAGGIE’S ballerina music box opens by itself and starts playing its song, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”.)

(MARCUS stops.)

SUSANNA: (off stage VOICEOVER on phone) Yes, the house is open for inspection today. I’ll just get your details, one minute.

MAGGIE: (Plonks onto the bed near the lamp and butterfly mobile.) Lilly wants to play.

(MARCUS approaches the dresser and picks up the music box. HE starts at MAGGIE’S reflection in the mirror. MAGGIE is sitting on the edge of her bed, swaying her legs and humming. Light from the window casts a gentle glow over her with reflected butterflies on the walls and ceiling. MARCUS turns. A beat. HE approaches MAGGIE. Gently, HE kneels in front of her.)  

MAGGIE: Hi Daddy.

MARCUS: Hi baby.

(SUSANNA returns, stops at the door. MARCUS is kneeling at MAGGIE’S bed and appears to be talking to someone.)

SUSANNA: What the hell are you doing? (SHE charges into the room, swipes up the box from the dresser and dumps the music box into it.) Time’s up. I have people coming to look at the house and I don’t want you here.

MARCUS: (Holding MAGGIE’S hands.) Susanna, can’t you see her?

SUSANNA: This isn’t funny Marcus.

MARCUS: She opened the window.

(SUSANNA stomps over to the bookshelf, hurriedly packing the remains into the cardboard box.)

MARCUS: I heard Maggie’s music box song in my head – the music box starts all by itself. Maggie turned it on –

SUSANNA: Goddamnit Marcus! Enough! Our daughter is dead! Dead!

MARCUS: The butterfly Susanna. It was white. I made a wish.

SUSANNA: Get out! (SHE approaches HIM and grabs his collar) Get out!

(THEY struggle, SUSANNA falls on the bed.)

MARCUS: She is here! Look! (MARCUS grabs SUSANNA’S hand and places it in MAGGIE’S.)

(MAGGIE’S presence gently appears to SUSANNA. Lights on MAGGIE; pure, soft and ethereal. SUSANNA, in shock, stumbles off the bed next to MARCUS on the floor.)

MAGGIE: (Smiles warmly at her parents) I don’t want to go .. but I have to. (A beat.) I just wanted to see you both ..

MARCUS: (tear in HIS eye) .. One last time ..

SUSANNA: One last time ..

MAGGIE: (Giggles happily) This is Lilly. She wants me to play in the garden upstairs. (SHE jumps off the bed into THEIR arms. THEY embrace. A few beats.) I have to go now ..

MARCUS: We love you baby girl.

SUSANNA: I love you angel .. (wipes tears from her eyes)

(SPOTLIGHT on MAGGIE with smoke effects and string orchestration suggestive of transcendence, redemption and hope. The set fills with light, MAGGIE disappears into this light. A few beats.)

(Lights down neutral on set, MARCUS & SUSANNA stand and regain their bearings.)

SUSANNA: (To MARCUS) What just happened?

(THEY sideways embrace. A few beats. FADE TO BLACK.)


The End

© Cath Piltz

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