There were nine girls sitting on the rocks at Big Bend on the river. We like walking along the river, the three of us. Amy says that there is a rip in reality along the river, what ever that means. The policewoman likes the quiet; and me, I dunno, I just like it.
When we came back an hour later, the girls were still there, looking as clueless as before. Amy knew something that I didn't. She asked the girls how they were doing.
“We're just sitting here.” “We don't know what we going to do.” “No, no idea.” All nine of them answered, one after another, each as clueless as each other. Amy asked where they had come from.
“Where from?” “We've always been here.” “Where to?” More cluelessness.
Amy stared at them heavily. “I understand. You have come from nowhere. You do not know what to do next. You have no ideas.” I must say that I did not understand and the nine girls didn't either.
Amy had a good think. “You need ideas, good ideas, to fill your empty brains. And definitely no bad ideas. You all need to stand up, walk to Jimmie's cottage and discover some good ideas.”
I did not understand much of that, except that we were going home, probably with the nine girls. Maybe life with nine more girls would also be fun.
It was no great surprise to discover that the girls had no idea what standing up meant or how to do it. Amy, the policewoman and me helped them to their feet – they didn't all fall over. The walking bit was harder. Demonstrating walking was new to me, I must say.
We joined hands and stumbled home. I had a good look at the girls, they were young women, each wore a white T‑shirt, short white shorts and white plimsolls, each of them looked clueless. However by the time that we reached the cottage they had all learnt to walk successfully.
“Hold it and don't drop it!” Amy gave each girl an apple. “Watch me! I hold the apple up to my mouth, bite it, chew it, swallow it and repeat that until only the hard core is left.”
They tried it. “Apple?” “Why are we doing this?” “I've dropped the apple.” “This is good.” “I like this.” And so on.
Amy explained that eating and drinking were a necessary part of life. I had an idea, I grabbed a bag of plastic cups I use for picnics and filled them with cold water. The policewoman put them onto a tray and Amy explained drinking. Several cups fell on the floor, the policewoman said that I was clever to use the plastic cups.
Later on we would have to explain the use of the bathroom, we had a lot to explain, a childhood in two weeks perhaps, they were fast learners. I turned on the radio,
She lived in a boathouse down by the river, Everyone called her Pretty Belinda, Went to the boathouse down by the river, Just for a look at Pretty Belinda.
They liked that. “Very good.” “Can we do that?” “Is it difficult?” “We are going to try.” And try they did. It sounded awful. I turned off the radio and turned on the TV with the volume set high. “Watch the kiddies programs.” They liked that, especially the singing and the dancing.
All I want for Christmas Is my two front teeth My two front teeth Just my two front teeth Gee, if I could only have My two front teeth Then I could wish you Merry Christmas
I made supper for twelve people, salad and jugs of cider. Luckily I had been to the farmers' market in the village that morning. I played a Carpenters' CD and we finished a week's supply of cider.
They liked everything, especially the singing and the dancing. Time to explain sleeping. Amy and three girls slept in the bedroom, the policewoman and three girls in the guest room. I slept with three girls on a mattress I borrowed from a neighbour on the living room floor.
Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
Amy said that she had been thinking. The nine girls had obviously been born at the age of eighteen at Big Bend on the river. I asked how come that they could speak. “Good question Jimmie.” And she kissed me. “We need to teach them a lot. They like singing and the dancing. We'll get Trace to teach them singing and dancing. But first, NAMES.”
I cut the cardboard into rectangles, the policewoman punched two holes in each rectangle and threaded a loop of string to each rectangle. Amy wrote MARY using a big black marker pen on a rectangle and hung it around the neck of one of the girls.
“Your name is Mary. What is your name?”
“Er, is it Mary?”
“Almost right – try again.”
“You've got it. I think she's got it. The rain in Spain falls mainly on...”
MARY MAGARET MO JENNY JOLLY JO ELOISE ENRICA ENDA
Trace walked into the room as a half-sized Margaret Thatcher wearing a dress with many, many sequins. “But before we start with the singing and the dancing we are doing an hour of 'reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic, OK?”