The first comes to me late at night. She perches on my shoulder, adjusts her shiny black feathers and says, "You need to keep moving."
The second is long-legged shadow teased out by the afternoon sun. She whispers in my ear and brings me spiders' nests. She cradles them in the palms of her hands. When they hatch she dangles the baby spiders from her fingers before tossing them to the wind.
The third is an anatomist's dummy. Her head tilts to one side and she twitches and stumbles. She tells me to open her up and take what I need.
The fourth never gets too close. She hisses and spits and has silver coins fastened over her eyes.
The fifth is cold and hard, but exceptionally beautiful. Her beauty is cruel and relentless and almost impossible to capture. She is very particular about her confidants. It does not pay to try her patience.
The sixth speaks only the truth. Her teeth are jagged and her tongue knife-edged. Every word lacerates. She revels in this. She tells me that there is meaning in every nick, cut and abrasion.
The seventh is striking, with silky dark hair and strange red dresses. She observes everything but is easily confused. She can be meticulous to the point of obsession, but only if you can keep her attention. If I ask her a question she will never give me the same answer twice.
The eighth rarely speaks. She creeps up behind me and covers my mouth with a long fingered hand.
The ninth has eyes that are red with tears and rimmed with blood. She is always close by because she knows...