Millie and Bird

In this play adapted from Avril Joy’s award-winning short story, teenage sisters Millie and Isa spend a hot summer afternoon in their garden. The play was created during our March 2020 Playing with Prose workshops, and was adapted by Anika Hossain, Lauren Waugh, Emma Anderson and Ivan Vlatkovic.

Scene 1

Summer time.

Millie, Isa and Bird are sitting on an old car rug, in the garden.

Millie is petting Bird.

Isa                   It looks bigger doesn’t it?

Millie               I guess, shall we get Mum/

Isa                    No, not just yet.

Isa checks her phone.

Millie               Is that him?

Isa                   Yeah.

Millie               You haven’t told me yet…


                        Go on, please

Isa                   He walked me home.

Millie               And?

Isa laughs

                        [Realisation] Oh my god he kissed you!

Isa smiles suggestively.

Millie               What was it like?

Isa                   Like… um, sucking chicken off a bone.

Millie               That’s gross!

Jonty, their neighbour, enters rolling a cigarette. He looks over the fence.

Jonty               All right girls?

                        Garden’s looking good, can actually see the grass now.

He lights up from his Zippo.

Millie               What’s it today?

Jonty takes off his jacket and displays his t-shirt, which says The World is Disappearing. Isa and Millie stand to read it.

                        The World is Disappearing.

Isa                   Do you really believe that?

Millie               It’s a fact Isa, the land is sinking/

Isa                   I liked the last one more/

Millie               The sea is rising, polar ice caps melting/

Isa                   Save you Drama for your Llama/

Mum enters drinking from a mug. Abruptly, they stop talking. Jonty looks from the girls to Mum.

Jonty               [Charming] You alright, Blondie?

                        Fancy a Barbie at mine? I’ve brought a few burgers from the freezer.

                        [To Millie] Veggie as well as meat.

Millie               Yeah? [looks to Mum]

Mum               Go on then.

Jonty               I’ll get it lit, before it decides to set away raining again.

Isa and Millie exit to get ketchup. Jonty starts the BBQ.

Mum               You never forget, do you, Jonty?

Jonty               How can I? You played Blondie non-stop when you moved in.

 Mum laughs. Isa and Millie return with plates and ketchup.

Jonty               And how’s Bird, Millie?

Millie               Good.

They are in a comfortable silence. Millie sits centre stage, smiling, holding Bird.

Mum               We should go away on holiday.

                        Get away from this sodding sandbag summer

                        Somewhere hot, Greece…

                        I went there once with your Dad.


                        Let’s drink to it!

Jonty               Aye, good idea, why don’t we make a pot of tea?

Mum               I’ll need to wash some mugs?

Jonty and Mum exit.

Isa realises Millie hasn’t followed them. She walks towards Millie

Isa                   Millie, what’s up?

Millie is silent.


Millie opens her hands to show Bird is crushed dead.

Millie… What? How!

Scene 2

Isa’s bedroom, the girls are sat on Isa’s bed, Bird is sat on Millie’s shoulder, she is painting the nails on one of Isa’s hands, while Isa hangs out of the window having a fag.

Millie               You going out tonight?

Isa                    At seven, Elaine’s first, we’re meeting there then going into town.

Millie               Can I come?

Isa                   Don’t be daft, you’re thirteen.

Millie               Well you’re only sixteen and one week!

Isa                   Next year maybe.

Anyway, I don’t think Bird would appreciate it, in Jelly’s, with all that noise and all those people.

Millie pets Bird.

                        Are you ever gonna name that bird?

Millie               I already have, you know that!

Isa                   Bird is not a name.

Millie               It’s for the best and naming leads to attachment

Isa                   Where the hell did you get that from!

Millie               I read it on the internet.

Isa                   Sure.


Millie               Other hand.

They switch.

Isa                   You could be a hairdresser or a beautician, if you weren’t so brainy

Millie smiles.

Suddenly we hear a stumbling outside the door, the girls freeze, Millie slowly puts the brush back in the bottle.

Isa                   So Jonty’s offered me a job/

The toilet flushes, we hear Mum stubble downstairs.

Bet she’s gone to sleep it off on the sofa, she’ll be snoring soon.

Millie looks scared.

Isa starts laughing

Isa                   Like an old bag lady.

They both start laughing, Isa holds her hand’s in the air.

Millie               Will he be there?

Isa                   Otis?

Millie               Obviously

Isa                   Maybe

Millie               Can I wait up for you?

Isa                   I’ll be late

Millie               I’ll get into your bed.

Isa                   Not with that bird you wont

Millie               I’ll leave Bird in his cage. Promise.

Isa                   Alright then.

Millie               And you’ll tell me all about it tomorrow.

Isa                   Yes… promise, and if you’re really good I’ll paint your nails purple.

Scene 3

Millie is in the kitchen, she turns on the tap, Mum stumbles in.

Mum               Where’s Isa

Millie               Out.

Mum goes to get a mug, Bird cheeps, mum stumbles.

Mum               Fucking bird.

Why the hell do you have to go around the house with that stupid bird on your shoulder, for Christs sake.

                        What girl your age does that?

Millie               What’s the harm?

Mum               When I was thirteen I had better things to think of, like school for one thing.

No time for pets.

No time to whisper sweet nothings at a stupid bloody bird.

Mum starts stumbling around the kitchen

Millie               Why don’t I make you a cup of tea Mum? See if there’s something on the radio, a concert or something, there might be a play on.

Mum finds her vodka stash.

Mum               Fuck the tea.

Waves the vodka bottle at Millie.

                        I’m good.

Takes an empty mug and drinks the vodka.

Silence. Birds cheeps.

Mum               I don’t like birds.

Millie               He’s just nervous.

Mum               I don’t like fucking birds.

Millie               What’s not to like?

He’s beautiful, feel him, he’s like silk and he smells of grass. His heart’s beating like crazy, feel it.

Millie holds out the bird towards Mum.

Mum               Don’t bring that thing near me. In fact, give that bloody bird back to Jonty or else, else I’ll get rid of it.

                        You hear me Millie.

Mum tops up the mug and sits down.

Millie is left standing in the kitchen holding Bird.

Scene 4

Jonty and Isa enter, it’s Summer time again.

Millie and Mum are as before.

They are in a tense silence.

Millie sat centre stage, smiling, holding Bird.

Mum               We should go away on holiday.

                        Get away from this sodding sandbag summer.

                        Somewhere hot, Greece…

                        I went there once with you Dad.


                        Let’s drink to it.

Jonty               Aye, good idea, why don’t we make a pot of tea?

Mum               I’ll need to wash some mugs?

Jonty and Mum going inside.

Isa realises Millie hasn’t followed them. She walks towards Millie.

Isa                   Millie what’s up?

Millie is silent.


Millie opens her hands to show Bird is crushed dead.

Millie… what? How!

Millie               I’m going to find something to wrap him in, then bury him.

Isa                   But Millie, what happened?

Millie               Some things are too hard to bear… somethings you just couldn’t bear.

Millie looks at Isa and there is a moment of recognition, Isa nods.

Isa                   We’ll bury him.

                        And after that, I’ll paint your nails purple.

Millie begins to bury Bird.

We suddenly hear Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” playing loudly from the house.

Millie               Are you praying?

Isa                   I am.


Avril Joy is a British author. In 2003 she won a Northern Promise award from New Writing North. Her short story Millie and Bird won the inaugural Costa Short Story Award in 2013 and appears in the collection Millie and Bird, Tales of Paradise, published by Iron Press and available from