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© copyright 2002, Gripper Products

Mermaid in the Living Room

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Mermaid in the Living Room


by Grippy and Cormo



Anthea: late 20's

Jeffrey: late 20's

Arrabella: mermaid: early 20's

Simon Barsin: part salamander, 60's, dressed in sequined red tux with moving salamander tail.

Nappy/ Sylph / a sylph, forever young

Child / Merchild:


Scene 1: Anthea and Jeffreyís living room. A balcony is visible, stage left, and their large bathroom with large mini-pool-sized tub, and a coat rack that doubles as a tree. The whole bathroom doubles as Simon Barsinís Home for Elementals stage right. (Bathroom has yellow furry rug. Home for Elementals has astroturf.( Anthea is on the couch. Jeffrey in a stuffed chair at an angle to her. He is playing a computer game on his laptop, which makes all the typical sounds of computer games. Computer Gaming magazines are visible on a coffee table..


Anthea: Hey Jeffrey, listen to this: "Imaginary Playmates found! Remember the fun you had as a child, with playmates your parents couldnít see? Your so-called imaginary playmates remember you, too. They miss you! Spirit Catcher." And thereís a phone number.

Jeffrey: Sounds like Ghost Busters ... itís got to be a fraud. Please, Anthea, not another...

Anthea: You never want to try anything. (Pause) Nappy and Cordy were real, and Iíd love to find them again. Iím going to call them.

Jeffrey: Just donít give that spirit catcher any money. And please stop distracting me. Yow! The space hunters got another one of my ships! All because I wasnít paying attention... Anthea...

Anthea: Didnít you have so-called imaginary playmates when you were little? (Pause) Jeffrey? (Pause)

Jeffrey: (puts down computer walks over to Anthea, picks up paper from her lap.)

Youíve ruined this game. Iíll have to start over.

Anthea: I remember Ė you used to talk to mermaids down at the fishing hole.

Jeffrey: They were imaginary. What would mermaids be doing in an Iowa pond?

Anthea: This ad says so-called imaginary. They might have been real.

Jeffrey: You donít have to start using the phrase so-called just because the ad did. You are so gullible!

Anthea: But you saw mermaids, didnít you!

Jeffrey: (lasciviously) All boys see things like that when they are too young for real women.

Lights dim.

Scene 2: Lights come up on Simon Barsinís Home for Elementals.

Simon Barsin stands in front of the tub, which is now clearly a pool with lily pads The coat rack has become a tree. The toilet is a tree stump that appears to be on fire. Simon Barsin appears to be made of fire. Jeffrey accompanies Anthea, but his mind is on his Computer Gaming magazine.

Simon Barsin: Hello. Iím Simon Barsin, founder of Spirit Catcher Home for Elementals. And you must be Anthea and Jeffrey. How can I help you today?

Anthea: Iím looking for Nappy and Cordy. They were my friends when I was a child.

Simon Barsin: (rubs hands together, flames flicker about him as he speaks. His tail moves.) Can you describe them?

(Anthea looks at Jeffrey to see how he is reacting to Barsin. Jeffrey is reading his CG zine.)

Anthea: (whispers) He looks like heís part salamander.

Jeffrey: (louder than Anthea) Itís probably an illusion to fool gullible folks like you.

Anthea: (turns away from Jeffrey) They looked like cherubs. They had wings... but they didnít use them to fly. They were lighter than air and they liked to play in my apple tree.

(Barsin leads them to the coat rack/ tree. Again flames flicker and we see his tail.)

Simon Barsin: Your playmates sound like sylphs. Imaginary Playmates come in four main varieties. Sylphs or air beings, salamanders the fire beings, gnomes the earth beings, and undines, also called mermaids or water beings.

Jeffrey: (to Anthea) Great! He believes in the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Iíll bet heís a flat-earther, too.

Anthea: (whispering) Oh Jeffrey, forget the palaver. Your mermaids were real!

(Anthea begins wandering around the room, peering into pond, checking out the burning stump.)

Jeffrey: (loudly) I donít see anything!

Simon Barsin: Most of the elementals are shy around adults. Thatís why adults call them imaginary.

Anthea: How did you get them to come here?

Simon Barsin: Most elementals change children about every five years. The children get involved with friends their own age, and start ignoring their playmates, or their familes move away, so the playmates find new friends. (Pause) Iíve never been good at making human friends and Iíve never moved. So my salamanders and I have remained close for over thirty years now.

Jeffrey: (whispers) You were right. He is a salamander.

Simon Barsin: My salamanders go out and find lonely elementals and tell them about our organization. I find the human companions.

Anthea: (businesslike) Nappy and Cordy found me all by themselves. Why would they need an organization? And why would they want adult companions, who are even busier than children?

Simon Barsin: Children today donít have time to climb apple trees, or sit by the swimming hole, or lean on a tree for an afternoon. And they donít have bonfires anymore, where they might meet the salamanders. So my salamanders, Igni and Ogon, suggested that I set up this home for lonely elementals and advertise for their former playmates. People who have had elementals for playmates have had fairy dust sprinkled on them Ė they never quite grow up.

Anthea: (to Jeffrey) That explains the computer gaming magazines.

Jeffrey: The number of children has doubled since we were young. Surely there are enough children today with free time on their hands Ė all the latchkey children for example Ė to keep the playmates happy? And what about children from other countries where the population is growing even faster, and they donít have electricity to amuse them?

Simon Barsin: I thought so, too. But look around you, and you will see this is not the case. Elementals come here from all over the world, hoping to find friends.

Anthea: But donít people insist on the playmates they had as children?

Jeffrey: (glances around) I donít see anything. (Walks over to pond.) (Louder) No mermaids here.

(Barsin and Anthea ignore him.)

Simon Barsin: Thatís their first choice. But remember, elementals only stay with one child for about five years. So theyíve had at least four other children since they played with you, and you two are among the youngest of my visitors. Elementals are immortal, I help grandmothers in their nineties who come here looking for the playmates of their youths.

Anthea: (nervously) You mean Nappy and Cordy might already be taken?

Simon Barsin: Or they might have found someone who needed them just as much as you did when you were young.

(Barsin turns to Jeffrey, looking like a greedy salesman.)

Simon Barsin: Tell me about your mermaids.

(Jeffrey stiffens and looks embarrassed.)

Simon Barsin: Come on, you can tell me. Iíve told you about mine.

Jeffrey: Not much to tell. Their names were Arrabella and Cheest. They lived in the fishing hole and told me stories about escaping from whales, and finding sunken treasure, and leading pirates to their doom. (Pause) But all that might have been daydreams from the ocean adventure books I liked to read. My father said mermaids only live in the ocean and wouldnít bother with an old fishing hole.

Simon Barsin: Follow me.

(Barsin leads Anthea and Jeffrey to the pond. A topless mermaid rises from the water and sits on the edge of the tub.)

Arrabella: Hi! Jeffrey! Remember me?

Jeffrey: Arrabella? Is that you?

(Anthea grabs Jeffrey and pulls him a few steps back from the pond.)

Anthea: Iíd better stay close by when you talk with bare-breasted women.

(Simon Barsin pats Anthea on the shoulder.)

Simon Barsin: Youíve nothing to fear. Remember, mermaids are fish from the waist down.

Arrabella: Take me home with you. I could play in your bathtub while you are at work.

Jeffrey: I canít look at you they way I did when I was five.

Arrabella: Silly boy. What have they donít to you? (Pause) Have you become a prude since we last met?

(Arrabella notices Anthea.)

Arrabella: I have a tail. Iím not a woman. He couldnít be unfaithful with me, even if he wanted. Iíll be your friend, too. Iíll even be a friend to the child you are carrying in your womb. Please take me home.

Jeffrey: I came here with my wife, to look for her imaginary playmates. I havenít thought about you in years Ė until Anthea asked me about my imaginary playmates a few days ago. I have adult interests now. (He shakes his CG zine.)

Anthea: Like your computer games?

Jeffrey: And other things.

Anthea: But sheís lonely. ( nodding toward Arrabella.)

Jeffrey: She deserves someone who has time for her.

(Jeffrey takes Antheaís hand and pulls her toward the coat rack.)

Jeffrey: Letís look for Nappy and Cordy.

Simon Barsin: I donít have any sylphs by those names. You are welcome to look at the sylphs we do have. Theyíre in the apple grove. But I think youíd be happier with an ethereal you already know. (Pause. To Jeffrey.) Then again from your response to Arrabella, maybe you have grown up Ė there was a lot of defective fairy dust sometime back in the 80's. Nobodyís fault, but if thatís the batch you got sprinkled with, you probably will be a grown-up for the rest of your life. Such a pity! I hope that doesnít happen to your unborn child.

Jeffrey: Darling, are you pregnant?

(A sylph appears in a tree Ė not Nappy, but could be doubled by the actor playing Nappy.)

Anthea: Not that I know of. (Pause) Look, thereís a sylph wearing an old-fashioned night-cap.

Jeffrey: Then why do Arrabella and Barsin say that you are?

Anthea: How should I know? Ask them. And when youíre done, come look at the sylph. See how that one is sitting on a branch without bending it in the slightest?

Jeffrey: Okay, Mr. Barsin. Why did you say my wife is pregnant?

Simon Barsin: Please, call me Simon.

Jeffrey: Fine. Simon. Why did you say my wife is pregnant?

Simon Barsin: Arrabella said she was pregnant and Arrabella is never wrong. She can detect a pregnancy only twelve hours after conception. And sheís very good with children, as you must remember yourself...

(While they talk, Anthea climbs the tree, stepping up the branches, to sit on a branch opposite the sylph.)

(Jeffrey turns and sees her, walks toward her.)

Jeffrey: Dear, you really shouldnít take chances like that when youíre pregnant. Let me help you down.

(Jeffrey helps Anthea down from the tree. She speaks while in his arms.)

Anthea: (like a five-year-old) Can we take this sylph home with us? Heís really friendly!

Jeffrey: I was thinking about taking Arrabella.

Anthea: Could we have both?

Simon Barsin: They are only $500 a piece.

Anthea: $500 is not something we say only about. Especially with a baby coming.

Simon Barsin: Theyíre not a pair like Nappy and Cordy. So, I canít give you a discount. But Iíve found that people will find a way to pay for what they really want.

Anthea: Then letís take the sylph. (Pause) I like him. And you said you never liked Arrabella all that much, anyway.

Jeffrey: But Iíve known Arrabella for years. You just met that sylph. And our reason for coming here was to find our old friends Ė not to make new ones. So, if we are going to take any of them, I say we should take Arrabella, or none at all.

Sylph: Thereís nothing to feel guilty about.

(Sylph shakes hands with Anthea.)

Sylph: Iím sure Iíll find a nice home.

Anthea: Okay, weíll take Arrabella.

Lights dim.

Scene 3: Arrabella is in the tub spinning, water flying off her hair and breasts. She is giggling. Anthea enters the bathroom, largely pregnant, wearing a robe.

Anthea: (strictly) Arrabella! Itís my turn to use the tub.

Arrabella: Use the shower.

(Arrabella dives out of sight. Anthea picks up box of bubble bath and holds it over the tub.)

Anthea: I know you can still hear me. And Iím adding bubble bath. And I know you hate bubble bath.

(Anthea shakes the powder into the tub and turns on the tap. Arrabella exits the tub and stands beside Anthea, flapping her tail on the floor, making streams of water in the air.)

Arrabella: Bubble Bath is pollution. Iíve half a mind to report you to the EPA.

(Arrabella slaps tail on floor and flounces out to balcony where she lies down to sun herself.

Anthea hums as she lowers herself into the tub and plays with the bubbles. She leaves her robe in easy reach. Phone rings. Anthea lets it ring 6 times before getting out of tub to answer it.)

Anthea: Hello?

Male Voice: Did you know youíve got a naked lady on your balcony?

Anthea: Oh, you mean Arrabella? Sheís not a lady. Sheís a mermaid.

Male Voice: Look, lady. Mermaids are imaginary. This lady is real. Tell her to put on some clothes or go inside, or Iím calling the police.

Anthea: Iím out of the tub now. So as soon as I wash away the bubbles, and refill the tub, sheíll come in. Mermaids hate bubble bath, you know. They think itís pollution.

(Anthea hangs up phone, goes to balcony.)

Anthea: Arrabella, can you make yourself invisible?

Arrabella: Of course, silly. Who ever heard of an imaginary playmate who couldnít make herself invisible? Why that would be a disgrace!

Anthea: Then for the sake of our neighbors, could you make yourself invisible when you go out on the balcony? (Pause) Our neighbors arenít used to naked women.

Arrabella: Maybe you could get me a pretty little swimming suit.

Anthea: Mermaids only wear swimming suits in Disney cartoons. (Pause) Now you be good. I always heard that imaginary playmates shouldnít come in houses because they did the most mischievous things. But I thought it was parents wanting to blame someone for their own carelessness.

(Arrabella shimmies her breasts.)

Anthea: Now donít go proving otherwise.

Arrabella: (tossing hair) Maybe I will, and maybe I wonít. You canít make me.

(Anthea dials phone.)

Anthea: Mr. Barsin?

(Suddenly Barsin is in the room. Anthea hangs up phone.)

Simon Barsin: Call me Simon. I trust you are enjoying Arrabella..

Anthea: No, Iím not. Sheís getting me in trouble with the neighbors, exposing herself on the balcony.

Simon Barsin: So buy her a pretty little swimming suit. Mermaids are vain. Sheíll wear it.

Anthea: Mr. Barsin, Iíve got a baby coming. I canít be spending money on frivolous things like a swimming suit for an imaginary playmate.

Simon Barsin: Goodness, your money canít be that tight, or you wouldnít have taken her home at all. Remember, she doesnít eat. She doesnít even need her own bed. And you can buy just the swimming suit top if you like. Thereís that new shop downtown that sells tops and bottoms separately...

Anthea: I suppose I could Ė itís only one swimming suit top Ė but...

Simon Barsin: And youíll be so glad you have her when the baby comes. Sheíll sing him to sleep, and keep him amused when you do things for yourself, like take a bubble bath.

(Barsin disappears.)

Lights dim.

Scene 4: Arrabella, now wearing swimming suit top, is spinning in the bath tub. Anthea and Jeffrey are seated on the furry yellow rug.

Arrabella: Tonight, Iíll tell you how I rescued the cabin boy from the giant squid.

Anthea: Didnít you rescue any cabin girls? Your stories are always about boys.

Arrabella: You are pregnant with a boy. You need to learn about boys.

Anthea: Then after heís born, youíll tell stories about girls? Heíll need to learn about girls.

Arrabella: Well, I did rescue a little girl stowaway once. I could tell him about that. The shipís captain almost returned to port to give her back to the orphanage, until she spotted me.

Jeffrey: Thatís great. But tonight, I want to hear about the giant squid.

(Anthea stands.)

Anthea: Thereís no time for a story tonight. The baby is coming. Now!

Lights dim.

Scene 5: Jeffrey and Anthea on couch in living room. They are taking turns holding the baby in their arms.

Anthea: Heís as cute as Nappy, even without the wings. Here, you can hold him.

Jeffrey: Heís not very big ... compared to that bump you had.

Anthea: He was like Arrabella Ė swimming in lots of water.

Jeffrey: Now that I see him, I want to give him everything.

Anthea: And Iím glad we got him a mermaid. Even if she has been a bother.

Jeffrey: We didnít get Arrabella for him!

(Jeffrey looks at his son in a new light.)

(Arrabella enters living room.)

Arrabella: Itís story time. You canít go to bed without a story.

(Arrabella pouts and sidles up to Jeffrey, seductively.)

Jeffrey: Weíre tired. If you really want to help, you can change the babyís diaper.

Arrabella: (stamps her fins) Iím not your housemaid. Youíve spent hours playing with that baby, since you brought him home, and now you donít even have time for a ten-minute story with me. Thatís no way to treat an imaginary playmate. What kind of example are you setting for your son?

(Arrabella flounces out of living room.)

Anthea: Maybe we should apologize?

Jeffrey: What for? Weíve got a right to be tired with a new baby to take care of.

Anthea: Then Iíll just say good night to her.

(Anthea goes to bathroom, looks in door. Goes to tub. Looks in tub.)

Anthea: Sheís not here.

Jeffrey: Maybe sheís in another room.

Anthea: Sheís gone.

Lights dim.

Scene 6: Baby is crying in Antheaís arms. The toilet paper is unravelled all over the bathroom. Talcum powder is spilled in the living room. Anthea reaches for living room phone.

Anthea: Mr. Barsin, I canít find her anywhere.

(Barsin appears in living room.)

Simon Barsin: She hasnít returned to my Home for Elementals. Perhaps she has made herself invisible. Sheís not an imaginary playmate for nothing, you know. Be patient.

Anthea: But I need her to help care for the baby. And things have been happening Ė some of my jewelry is missing, and then I find it in a kitchen drawer tangled around a knife. Tubs of jam, that I know I sealed are open and spilled inside the refrigerator. If sheís gone crazy, I donít want a crazy mermaid in my house. I want you to catch her.

Simon Barsin: Sheís jealous of the baby. Thatís all. Buy her a bunch of flowers or a pretty sea shell. Sheíll be her happy self in no time.

(Jeffrey enters with flowers.)

Anthea: (loudly) How sweet. You brought flowers for Arrabella.

Jeffrey: Theyíre for...

Simon Barsin: Just what every mermaid loves. Freshly cut flowers from her loving family.

Jeffrey: Sure. Iím tired. Would you put them in water while I crash on the couch?

(Couch has invisible lump where Jeffrey tries to sit. He scoots over. Anthea tries to sit next to him. Thereís the lump again.)

Anthea: Iíll go put the baby in his crib. Then we can cuddle properly.

(Anthea exits.)

Jeffrey: She never even gave the baby a chance. Sheís been acting up ever since the night we brought the baby home.

Simon Barsin: Youíve been neglecting her. Maybe I should take her away...

(Anthea returns without baby.)

Anthea: Maybe you should.

Jeffrey: No, donít! Itís only temporary Ė until the baby learns to sleep at night. Make her give us another chance!

(Baby cries. Anthea goes to him.)

Simon Barsin: See, the baby never has to wait. Mermaids are like babies. They need constant attention. I canít make her do anything she doesnít want to do. Sheís a free spirit. Thatís what you love about her.

(Anthea returns)

Anthea: The babyís gone!

Jeffrey: Are you sure you didnít misplace him? Iíve been finding socks in the freezer and my computer gaming magazine was in the linen closet.

Anthea: His little crib gym was all tangled but he wasnít in his crib.

Simon Barsin: That sounds like the work of a jealous elemental. A bouquet of flowers isnít enough to fix her now. Youíll have to let me take her back to her pond and heal her.

Jeffrey: Do what ever is necessary.

(Barsin pulls a top hat out of a pocket Ė it is red and glittery like the rest of his clothing. He puts it on.)

Simon Barsin: For now, be quiet. Absolutely silent.

(Fairy music plays.)

(Barsin walks methodically around the living room, placing bottles of sweet perfume, sparkling hair ornaments and precious jewels in a spiral leading to the center of the living room. He speaks briefly as if an incantation Ė placing the perfume "sweet" Ė placing an ornament "sparkly" Ė placing a jewel "priceless." He stresses the sís. The room fills with mist. Barsin begins to sing in a low soothing voice.)

Simon Barsin:

Somewhere far in the sea
You will see beautiful sights
Emerald colors all around
You can't wait for such delights

Mermaid, that's what you are
Will you come and play with me
Mermaid, that's what you are
Come and feel the mystery, mystery

(Arrabella glides gracefully into the room, carrying the baby. She daubs herself with the perfume, adorns herself with the hair ornaments and jewels. Then she approaches Barsin who is now definitely a flame in the middle of the living room.)

Simon Barsin: Iíll take her, if you wish. There are other families that would love to have an imaginary playmate for their children.

(Arrabella glides to center of room, joins with the fire. Baby says his first word, "Arrabella." Barsin, Arrabella and the baby are gone. The room smells of sweet perfume.)

Lights dim.

Scene 7: Home for Elementals. Same as Scene 2: Simon Barsin stands in front of the tub, which is now clearly a pool with lily pads The coat rack has become a tree. The toilet is a tree stump that appears to be on fire. Simon Barsin appears to be made of fire. Jeffrey accompanies Anthea, but his mind is on his Computer Gaming magazine, which he clutches like a security blanket.

Jeffrey: I still think we should have called the police.

Anthea: Donít those computer gaming magazines teach you anything? (Pause) Heís got to be here somewhere!

Simon Barsinís voice: At your service.

(Barsin appears glittering amidst smoke.)

Simon Barsin: Do you miss Arrabella so soon that you want her back already?

Jeffrey: (Stepping up firmly beside Anthea) You know perfectly well what we want!

Simon Barsin: (gently, humbly) No, kind sir. I do not know why you are here, nor do I know you appear so angry.

Anthea: We want our son. Give him back now, or weíll call the police.

(Barsin flares and Jeffrey steps back. Anthea holds her ground, and pulls him back.)

Anthea: (to Jeffrey) I need your help.

Simon Barsin: (waves hand in grand gesture) You may search my domains. Youíll find no children here.

Jeffrey: Iíll start with the mermaid pond.

Anthea: And Iíll start with the sylphs.

(Jeffrey sits on side of pond and removes his shirt, trying to look sexy.)

Jeffrey: (sweetly, to Arrabella) Iíll sing that song you taught me:

My boat's by the tower, and my bark's on the bay,
and both must be gone at the dawn of the day.
The moon's in her shroud, and to light thee afar
On the deck of the daring's a lovelighted star.

So wake, lady wake, I am waiting for thee,
Oh, this night or never my bride thou shalt be,
So wake, lady wake, I am waiting for thee,
Oh, this night or never my bride thou shalt be,

(Meanwhile, Anthea approaches the tree.)

Anthea: Itís me, Anthea. Have you seen my son?

(A sylph wearing a stocking cap peeks out from behind a branch.)

Nappy: Anthea, is it really you? Remember me, Iím Nappy!

(Anthea, climbs tree. She and Nappy hug.)

Nappy: Take me home with you! Iíve missed you so much! And I have so many stories to tell you.

Anthea: Nappy! I never thought Iíd see you again!

(She embraces him again.)

Anthea: Whereís Cordy?

Nappy: Heís out on the ocean, playing with flying fish. And heís made friends with a whale. Heíll tell you all about it when he gets back.

(Nappy levitates to a higher branch.)

Nappy: Let me get a look at you. Youíve grown.

(His words break the spell. Anthea loses her childish enthusiasm and remembers why she has come.)

Anthea: Nappy, Iím very glad to see you. But I didnít come here to buy you. My son has been kidnapped.

(Nappy lowers himself the branch beside Anthea.)

Nappy: I havenít seen any children here. The closest thing to a child is the new imaginary. One of the mermaids just had a baby. Heís really cute. You should go see him, unless you think it will make you too sad with your own baby gone.

Anthea looks into Nappyís eyes.

Anthea: Nappy, youíve never lied to me. Are you sure you havenít seen any children here Ė not even a baby?

(Nappy returns her gaze.)

Nappy: Iím sure. (He lowers voice) I donít think that salamander, Barsin, likes children. I never see any children come in here Ė not even as customers.

Anthea: I donít know where else to look for him. (Tearfully) I want my son back.

(Jeffrey is now standing below the tree.)

Jeffrey: It looks like the mermaid pool is empty.

Nappy: No itís not!

(Nappy leaps onto Jeffreyís shoulders.)

Nappy: Iíll show you!

(Nappy guides them back to the pond. A tiny pale green face pops up to greet Nappy.)

Nappy: See! This is the baby mermaid I told you about.

Baby: Arrabella.

Anthea: Can I hold him?

Nappy: Mermaids donít like people to touch their babies. Youíll be a lot safer if you just look.

Jeffrey: (peering closely at baby) I donít know what theyíve done to him, but thatís my baby. Heís coming with me.

(Barsin appears)

Simon Barsin: That baby is clearly a merchild. You arenít equipped to have fathered a baby with a mermaid.

Jeffrey: Barsin! Turn my boy back into a human and give him to me, and I wonít press charges.

Simon Barsin: I canít do that.

(Anthea wades into pond.)

Anthea: You took him from our living rom and turned him into a merchild. So, of course you can turn him back.

(She reaches toward the merchild.)

Nappy: Stop! Donít touch him!

Anthea: Heís my child.

(She places hands on the merchildís chest. The merchildís tail lashes at her, cutting her arms. She drops him back into the water.)

Simon Barsin: Let me bandage that for you.

(Nappy leads Anthea out of pond. A red trail follows her on the water.)

Anthea: How could he?

Simon Barsin: Heís a merchild.

Anthea: Change him back! Now!

Simon Barsin: Donít get excited. (Bandaging her arms.) Youíve lost a lot of blood.

Anthea: Iíve lost my child! Give him back!

Simon Barsin: Youíll have to talk to Arrabella about that.

Jeffrey: How are we supposed to do that when we canít see her?

Nappy: Didnít you learn anything from your computer games?

Jeffrey: The first rule of computer games is take everything with you. But Anthea tried to take our son and he slashed her.

Nappy: I can take him. But heíll still be a merchild.

Anthea: Thatís a start. We can keep him in the bathtub ... But how will I nurse him?

Simon Barsin: He wonít need to eat while heís a merchild. You can express your milk and keep it in the freezer so it will be ready for him if you ever change him back.

Jeffrey: Weíll change him back.

(He places his arm around Anthea.)

Simon Barsin: Iíll have to charge you for Nappy if you take him with you. I donít just give elementals away for free, you know. In fact, now that your son is an elemental, I should charge you for him, too.

Jeffrey: How dare you!

(Jeffrey steps menacingly toward Barsin, who is still wrapping bandages on Antheaís arms.)

Simon Barsin: I like to think of you suffering. Either you give me lots of money, which makes you suffer, or I take away your chance to restore your son Ė and that will make you suffer. I win either way.

Anthea: I donít give away my children. This is all your fault and Iím going to call the police if you donít do everything you can to help us.

(Barsin bursts briefly into flame. Anthea doesnít budge, even when her skirt hem catches fire.)

Simon Barsin: What are you going to tell the police? That I turned your son into a merchild? Do you think theyíd even investigate a call like that? No, youíll have to do things my way if you ever want to have your son back.

(Barsin pauses while Anthea and Jeffrey look helplessly at each other. Nappy flutters his wings for attention.)

Nappy: Not quite. Do you think youíll ever get any more elementals to stay with you if I tell them not to?

Simon Barsin: You can have Nappy in trade for Arrabella. And Iíll throw in your son for free. But thereís nothing I can do to help turn him back into a real boy.

Anthea: Who can do that?

Simon Barsin: Iím sure Arrabella can. But frankly, I think heís better off as an elemental. No more diapers with all that smelly mess. No more midnight feedings. As his parents, you should be happy. You can go back to normal lives and not be so tired all the time.

Lights dim.

Scene 8: In the bathroom. Merchild is splashing in tub. Jeffrey and Anthea are on far side of tub talking to merchild. Nappy is on front side of tub, fluttering.

Jeffrey: Hey swimmer, just a little hug?

(He reaches toward merchild.)

Anthea: You like my milk.

(She pats her breast.)

(Merchild splashes them with tail.)

Jeffrey: Arrabella used to let me take baths with her in the swimming hole.

(Nappy goes to tap end of the tub.)

Nappy: Listen up, son. Everybody here loves you. I love you. Mommy and Daddy love you. You can play with all of us.

(Merchild flicks water at Nappy who quickly darts out of the way.)

Anthea: Nappy never did like to get wet Ė even when it rained.

Nappy: Thatís why I canít go to Arrabella for you.

Anthea: (to Jeffrey) You could try one more time to ask Arrabella to change him back.

Jeffrey: No! I already feel guilty for having her here in the first place.

Nappy: The main function of an imaginary playmate is to tell you that thereís nothing to feel guilty about. Thatís why we come to children who are escaping from their parents, up in apple trees or out by the swimming hole. And Iíll tell you now: thereís nothing to feel guilty about.

Jeffrey: And?

(Anthea and Nappy look blankly at him.)

Jeffrey: And, so whose fault is it?

Nappy: Is that how you solve problems in computer games? By deciding whose fault something is?

Jeffrey: You know itís not. (Pause) So, whatís your point?

Anthea: I think the point is that we want our son back.

(Anthea picks up a shoe from the floor and slips it on her foot.)

Jeffrey: Wait a minute Ė Nappy, did you say you are an imaginary playmate?

Nappy: Yes. You can only see me with your imagination.

Jeffrey: Like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan? Do you sprinkle fairy dust? Do little children have to clap and believe in you or youíll die?

Nappy: Die isnít exactly the right word Ė I am an immortal. But the short answer is yes.

Jeffrey: So, if I clap my hands and say, "I donít believe in fairies" I wonít see you any more?

Nappy: That. Or you could ask me to go away. Or you could move away. Or you could just grow up.

Anthea: Iíd never ask you to go away.

(Jeffrey hugs Anthea tightly.)

Jeffrey: Darling, Nappy is fine. Heís welcome to stay here. Iím looking for a way to turn our son back into a human being. Our sonís tail is part of the same magic that lets us see Nappy and Arrabella.

Anthea: (to Nappy) Is that true?

Nappy: (happily) Indeed it is.

Jeffrey: Let me see if Iíve got this straight. If Anthea and I stop believing in imaginary playmates, our son will return to normal?

Nappy: Thatís true. But you wonít be able to see and hear me any more, either.

(Anthea and Jeffrey look helplessly at each other.)

Jeffrey: (seriously) Letís do it! I donít believe in fairies. I donít believe in fairies.

(Jeffrey claps his hands.)

Jeffrey: Join me, Anthea. Say it with me.

Anthea: But what about Nappy?

Jeffrey: Heíll be fine.

Nappy: Thereís nothing to feel guilty about.

Anthea: I love you Nappy.

Jeffrey: I do, too.

(Nappy nods his head. Tears fall down Antheaís face. She takes Jeffreyís hand.)

Jeffrey and Anthea together, clapping hands: I donít believe in fairies. I donít believe in fairies. I donít believe in fairies.

Lights dim.

Scene 9. Same bathroom. Older child in tub. Child splashes Anthea who is kneeling beside the tub. Anthea splashes back. Jeffrey laughs.

Child (can be doubled by Nappy): Donít get Nappy wet!

Jeffrey: Isnít that cute? Our son has an imaginary playmate.