Going up

There is no doubt Billie is a dreamer. Even so, at six years of age she discovered she could write - really write. She finds it out at school. The class is asked to write in their exercise books, the pages have rows of parallel lines to structure the letters just right. The mantra of 'going up you go lightly, going down you go hard with your pencil'. Billie likes the words as she copies them from the blackboard, and, well, as objects they appear beautiful to her. Billie did not know that at the time.

Also in her sixth year Billie gets lost. Not a little bit lost, seriously lost. She has been allowed to go to her friend's place after school, for the first time, on condition she meet up with older brother Jimmy; no later than five o'clock, at Halliday Park, near the railway station. They miss each other and when the sun begins to go down, Billie, now cold and scared, runs back to her friend's place. It is quite a long way and by the time she arrives there, it is dark.

On the first time Billie has been away from home, her friend's Mum and Dad are immigrants from another country and cannot speak English; they talk funny. Despite this, Billie is sat at the table with her little school friend and they are both given an evening meal. Later, Billie is sent out into the dark to find her way home again.

She wanders along on the bush path, humming to herself to quiet her fear; she does not notice the full moon. Up ahead she can see an orange glow which makes her feel better and heads toward it. The track meanders into a clearing where a large campfire and a lot of people sit around it...they are black people. Billie stands there long enough to notice the children. Curious glistening eyes all turn to look at the intruder. She takes fright and runs all the way back to her friend's house once more.

This time the mother holds Billie's hand and leads her to daughter's room. She speaks to the little girl in foreign words and leaves the room, only to return again with hot chocolate and biscuits. Sometime after, both little girls are bathed and dressed in pajamas and put to bed inside clean wonderful smelling sheets.

The next morning when the two girls arrive at the school, it is surrounded by police. Straight away they want to know 'which one is Billie"' One of the policemen scoops her up, put her on his motor bike, another policeman hops on the back behind her. Sandwiched between the two, they take Billie home.'

Billie did not really want to go home. The only time she was really, really scared was when she walked into the black mans' camp. It was a great big fire and a lot of black faces stared back at her; the flames of the fire reflected and danced in their eyes.....She has seen glinting piercing eyes in her father's eyes, especially when he is cross with brother Jimmy or sister Lilly. Billie's Dad has bashed up all his kids. He's like that since he came home from the war.....no; Billie did not really want to go home.'