Picton Girl Guides Has Been Infilterated, Picton, New Zealand 2003 © Tanya Clarke

Picton Girl Guides Has Been Infilterated, Picton, New Zealand 2003 © Tanya Clarke

Writing Prompt No. 48

“Harley. Here. Move it over here.”

Madison’s words come out in a sharp hiss. Harley is dragging a step-ladder over the flower bed, a small rucksack strapped to her back. “Here. You can reach above the door from here. I’ll hold it for you.”

Madison drops her bag and grasps the other side of the ladder helping Harley set it down just in front of the door.

“Did you bring a brush?” Harley says, smoothing back her hair.

“In here. Hang on.” Madison looks around for her bag. Finding it she reaches in and rummages around amongst pens, spray paints, two chocolate bars and a large packet of crisps for the brush she’d nicked from her Dad’s garage. Her fingers feel for the fluffy brush head in the darkness. “Got it,” she says standing up. “Do you want to do it or shall I?”

Harley is opening up the ladder trying to rest it sideways against the wall.

“Give us a hand,” she says, “I’ve already cut myself.”

“Where?” says Madison her eyebrows rising with concern.

“It’s nothing. Just hold here.”

Madison holds one side while Harley pulls the other until the ladder is standing out in the shape of a tall triangle.

“Where did you find this?”

“What?” says Harley.

“The ladder.”

“Just round there. Round the side. “ Harley points to the side of the building. “It had a padlock on it but I nicked the key from Caroline’s jacket pocket.”

Madison smiled. She loved Harley. Loved her more than she thought was right.

“I’ll do it,” says Madison, “Where’s the paint?”

Harley shrugs off her backpack, opens it up and pulls out a small tin of black paint. She prises off the lid with the edge of a penny.

“Here,” she says, “I’ll hold it while you go up.”

Madison dips the brush into the paint and climbs the ladder. She paints the words HAS BEEN underneath the building sign Picton Girl Guides.

“I need more.” She climbs back down a couple of steps and reaches down to dip the brush in the paint.

“Careful,” says Harley steadying the ladder. The ground is uneven where the legs of the ladder are resting. Madison climbs back to the top to paint the final word.

“Done,” she says climbing back down again. They both look up at Madison’s handiwork. The clouds have moved away from the moon allowing it to shine full and bright.

“In…fil…ter…ated?” says Harley.

Madison stares up at the hut wall. For a moment she says nothing. Then she puts her hand to her mouth and starts to giggle. Harley snorts through her nose as she starts to laugh. They both hold their sides as they lose control in their fits of not so silent laughter. Tears roll down their faces. Madison takes a deep breath as she tries to speak.

“Mum…she…she…always says I…can’t…spell!” She kicks over the tin of paint as she staggers back still laughing, her new trainer turning sticky with black paint.


The sudden loud voice stops both girls in their tracks. They turn to see Caroline the Guide Leader brandishing a large gun.

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