Julie is a bit different, but she makes my Dad happy, and he hasn’t been happy since my Mother moved on eighty years ago. It’s tough on the grandparents when one of them has to make space for a child. He would have preferred to move on himself, but it wasn’t to be, and we lost Mum. Of course, many of her characteristics live on in young Bobby, but I guess it’s hard to see the things that were special in the woman you loved when they are packed into the body of a young boy. Anyway, whatever people have to say about their relationship, Julie is good for my Dad.
They met through his charity work. He was always a great champion of earthlings, and he campaigned vigorously in favour of immigration. To be honest, at the time, I was less keen. I couldn’t understand why if Earth was full to bursting, they didn’t just implement the one in, one out policy that worked for every other planet. Julie has explained to me now that this concept does not sit well with the human culture. So, as long as they don’t try any of that unmanaged breeding here, then I think we should be tolerant.
The first time I met Julie she put her arms around my body. I was frozen to the spot with fear, but the longer her arms were there, the less frightened I became. She calls this a hug, and it’s actually kind of nice. I do it to her now each time we meet. I even tried it on my husband Dave, but he wasn’t keen. Julie doesn’t try to cover up her humanity. She actually wears her hair short which accentuates her big, goofy human ears. She has five long fingers on each hand, and although this looks kind of freaky, she can do incredibly intricate tasks with them. Honestly, her hands are almost as good as feet.
Dad and Julie visit a lot, and she is just like one of the family now. Everyone loves her, and I know this makes Dad proud. One day she was telling us this story about her Mother, and she mentioned that she’d been a famous singer. I wasn’t sure what a singer was, but I didn’t want to seem ignorant or insensitive, so I didn’t ask. Luckily, at the age of eighty, Bobby is too young to care about cultural sensitivities, so he just asked straight out. “Julie, what’s a singer?”
I find it hard to explain what happened next. Julie spoke some words in a human language, but the sound was different from ordinary speech. Her voice went up and down in tone, and there was a kind of rhythm. It was beautiful, and it made me both happy and sad at the same time. When she finished there was silence, and we all stared at her in wonder.
“That’s singing,” she said, evidently pleased with our reaction. “You should have heard my Mum sing. She was way better than me.”
Bobby asked her to sing it again in our language. It was even better when you could understand the words. They didn’t make total sense, but somehow the image of sharing an umbrella with the person you loved was quite powerful. I was surprised when I noticed that my Dad had tears in his eyes, and it occurred to me that perhaps Julie held his umbrella.
The song went through my mind during the next week until eventually, in the shower, I found myself singing about my umbrella. I don’t think it sounded as good as when Julie sang it, but it felt even better.