Morning came with a bit of a surprise. There was a light knock on the door, which then swung slowly opened, and in walked a woman. She was the first woman he had seen since his arrival on the planet. Her look and dress gave the impression of intelligence. Her facial expression and body language showed enthusiasm and confidence. Tom also couldn’t help but notice that she was young and quite pretty. She carried a few books, and placed them on the small table along the far wall of the room. She then walked up to Tom and shook his hand. She smiled at him very pleasantly and said a few words slowly and clearly. Tom had no idea what she said but listened closely. She pointed to herself and said ‘Lyda’. She paused for a while and said ‘Lyda’ again.
Lyda showed him the books that she had brought. These were books that might belong in an elementary school. Lots of pictures, and few words. For about an hour Tom learned basic colors, shapes, verbs, and numbers. Lyda would help him say very simple sentences, and Tom would practice. The lesson was going very well. It was difficult with no base language that they had in common. Lyda showed him a picture of a person eating, and had him say the word for it, which Tom did. She then said what Tom assumed to be something like ‘Tom hungry’. He repeated it just like she said it. She said ‘Tom hungry’ again, and Tom repeated it. A couple more times. Tom thought he might be pronouncing something wrong and tried a few more times. Lyda laughed, and then Tom finally got it. Then Tom laughed and pointed to his stomach and said ‘Tom hungry!’
Lyda stood up and offered Tom her hand. Tom took it and she lead him to the door. She opened it, and down the hall they went. Tom with his poor fitting white jumpsuit, no underwear and bare feet, walking down the hall still holding the hand of his beautiful and competent teacher. He felt a little silly, but for the first time on this planet he felt more like a guest than a hostage.
The strange pair entered what was obviously a small cafeteria. There were a few people there talking and eating, but everyone stopped as Lyda and Tom entered the room. Everyone stared at them. Tom felt a little embarrassed, but Lyda walked on with the same confidence and optimism she had shown all morning.
They got their food and found a place to sit down. Lyda had Tom say the name of the foods he ate. The food was different from what Tom was used to, but he was hungry enough to eat about anything. Lyda taught him how to say just about everything that there was in the cafeteria, and Tom soaked it all in.
After they were done eating they returned to Tom’s room. They cracked open the books and worked on the new language all afternoon. The long day of intense language training reminded him a bit of his training prior to leaving for his mission to China. Eventually Lyda got up and said something that Tom thought meant, ‘Good-bye, I will see you tomorrow.’ And Tom said something which he hoped was along the lines of ‘Tom will be happy’. He probably said it wrong or awkwardly, but was rewarded by Lyda’s pleasant laugh again. When she left Tom admitted to himself that this was the best date he had had in years. At least to him it was.
Tom turned back to the books. He knew that the sooner he learned the basics of the language the sooner he could seek some cooperation to complete the purposes of his mission, and he was eager to learn all he could about this planet. And besides, he had a teacher to impress.