Maggie and Danny ©

Written by: AzadehN

Maggie was preparing the material scheduled for the coming week’s episode when the head of the station called her to his office. He leaned back in his chair and beamed. “Well, Maggie,  how would you like a promotion to host and be programmer for the youth section?”

While the promotion excited her she nervously wondered how she could possibly connect with teenagers. She was thirty years old and struggled to recall her own troubled teenage years. Experience taught her that writing useful programs for those viewers was extremely demanding. Their fragility had to be subtly and sensitively depicted. She needed to show she understood teenagers’ complicated tastes and that was not going to be easy.

She realized she had to put herself in their place and to recall what she liked when she was a teenager. Those were anecdotes, songs, toys and board games. As a lover of animation characters, she created a sidekick named “Jiggy Bo,” a hand puppet with inquisitive eyes and gentle manner. She based him on Mr. Pricklepants from the adorable Toy Story series. 

As the show received many positive reviews, schools, charity events and teenage rehab centers invited her to perform.

One day she was due at one of these centers. She had watched documentaries and seen how tough life was inside them and this worried her. Her anxiety heightened when the nurse searched her for illegal drugs.

To calm down she left her team setting up and took a walk down the echoing hallway. She came upon a young person who shyly smiled at her. He was playing with his long hair and looked cutely androgynous. 

He started to greet her when the nurse interrupted. “Danny, get back to the room and take a seat,” she barked. 

The smile immediately disappeared from Danny’s face and a scowl replaced it. He spun on his booted feet and disappeared with a flick of tartan skirt. The nurse followed Maggie’s gaze, then rolled her eyes, “She,” the nurse rolled her eyes… “He, is only fourteen but such a troublemaker. We are all absolutely sick of him.”

Troubled by this, Maggie returned to the room where the crew was setting up. It buzzed with the sound of chattering, giggling teenagers. She settled Jiggy Bo on the table next to her and began to read some poems. She continued with a play and ended with a small quiz. The nurse told her not to make the show longer than one hour, and Maggie made sure to finish just before dinner time. As she performed, her eyes kept returning to Danny who sat away from the rest of the group, legs and arms tightly crossed.

Afterwards, instead of rushing from the room as the others did, Danny stayed and drifted about. She began playing with Jiggy Bo's arms, twisting the arms around his floppy body. Danny cautiously looked around then said through his wild brownish hair and pleading eyes, “Can you adopt me? I’m really scared of this place.” 

Azadeh Nafissi (France)


Azadeh, this is a wonderful piece of work about subject matter that is difficult to write about unless you have been personally involved or have studied it. Human behavior, particularly in teenagers, is complex. I love the way you introduce the subject, Danny, and give us an initial insight into a troubled mind. Maggie looks as though she is getting a little concerned for him and maybe the maternal instinct comes to the fore - who knows but the next writers to follow you. All in all this is what I would call a mature work that will appeal to those who read it. My one small criticism is to me, the overuse of the word 'she.' There are several ways to overcome this but that aside, I really rate this 5 stars. It deserves for you to carry on and extend this into a short story of your own. I look forward to reading more from your pen.
Hi Azadeh
I echo Ray's comments. It is a courageous departure to explore the challenging realities of those who are marginalised. You have set up their relationship in such a way we know there is more to come and how that evolves will be interesting to follow. I look forward to seeing how the writers take the story and their relationship on.
Excellent read! Tv and engaging with talent is difficult. Great preface.