The place was big, so big, I’d seen big places before but this was much bigger than
all of those together. “You own this place?” I asked the Doctor.
“It’s a home away from home. I have
one on every planet, although this is one of the nicer ones.”
I nodded. “Somewhere to be near other people?” I had grown up in a small rural village; I knew what it was like to depend on everyone
else. The Doctor did not seem to me like the kind of person to depend on anyone
else. Maybe it was some sort of deep, dark pain that she wasn’t allowed
to tell anyone about? I knew that she’d lost a man she cared about recently,
well ok she’d sort of killed him but it was weird, she’d talked about trying to save him but death had already
claimed him. I thought it was best to leave that explanation as some sort of
fevered delusion. “So, which is my room?” After spending a couple of weeks in someone else’s bed I was quite keen to have a proper one of my
“Second door on the left over there.”
I went over it, these carpet things were very weird I have to tell you. I was used to straw and wooden floorboards, this deep shag pile was a pleasant, if confusing, surprise
in comfort. I opened the door and saw a room full of weird toy animals, all covered
in a thin layer of dust. “Hey, what’s this? This is a kid’s room.” I waited in the doorway,
not wanting to enter the room, that would make it mine and I didn’t really want this at all. “Doctor?”
“It was Peri’s room.”
“Who’s Peri?” I asked, not
really caring for an answer. “Don’t I get anything of my own?” I didn’t want hand me downs; I’d had enough of wearing my older cousin’s
hand me down dresses when I was growing up.
“Fine, you can decorate it however you want to.”
I smiled. “Great. Well all this will have to go.” I wondered how long
it would take to find a skilled carpenter who could make me a bed to my liking. I
threw all the soft toy animals into a pile on the floor. That was when I found
the book. It was a book of drawings, thoughts made into images. They were terrifying. Pictures of eyes in the dark, some sort
of plastic thing with a finger pressed on it, like the switches that controlled the lights.
“Kind of dark imagery.”
“Peri had a troubled childhood. I’ll
“Whatever.” I sighed as I began to
strip the bright pink bedcovers. I prayed for something bright and cheerful,
with yellow flowers. Pink was apparently a human colour associated with females,
however on my world we preferred yellow, it was bright and feminine and radiant. It
was such a girly colour, pink was the colour of uncooked meat and no one liked that at all.
“I’ll be in the kitchen.”
Food! I tried to put off the growing hunger pains
for now. The TARDIS may have been fully stocked but the food was bland, no taste
or texture at all. How can a meal have all the qualities of water and yet still
be considered nutritious? I was used to real food, proper country fare, meats
and preserves and bread and a thousand other flavours and impressions. I’d
always liked a good meal, although food never really liked me as I wanted to be thin and elfin, while all the other women
in the village were well-fed and so what might charitably be called fertile-looking.
I didn’t want kids straight away; I may have said that before. Sure
we’d discussed it but I wanted to go to the big city and learn about stuff and things.
I didn’t want to be some dowdy housewife with no thought in her head except the chores of the day. Now here I was in some alien big city and suddenly I felt more alone than I had in the TARDIS with the
Doctor. In there it was almost like a dream, a safe place away from the horrors
of the world. In there we were protected, isolated, it was our own little refuge
from what really was. Unable to resist my hunger pangs any longer I left ‘my’
room and went to see where the food was kept. “Do you have any of that
raspberry jam and onion bread here?” I found the Doctor in the kitchen
looking in cupboards and drawers for something. “Have you lost something?”
“I don’t have any coffee in here at all.
It’s just bags and bags of tea, tea and fruity tea.”
“Can’t you just get some from the TARDIS?”
I tried to direct her in the direction of the most obvious solution. She
was quite grumpy when she didn’t have a cup of coffee in her hand and I didn’t want her taking her frustrations
out on me again. I didn’t like my voice when I had to yell at her to calm
“It’s a Refusian blend. I fancy something
a little more local.”
The Doctor smiled at me, one of those infectious smiles, but I fought the urge to grin and
I just say won. “What are you going to do?”
“Go out and buy some, of course. You’ll
like Doria, Erin. It’s a great little world. The people are a generous lot if you give them time and patience.
You might want to wear something a little less tarty though. Why don’t
you wear that dress I said I liked.”
“The one that says ‘here are my legs, please look at them’ do you really
want me to wear that dress, in public, where people with eyes can see it?”
“You’ll be fine; it comes down to your knees, almost.”
“Girls only wear dresses showing their knees when they’re out on a date with a
guy and you want to…you know…with him.”
“Oh, well Dorian men think that no matter what you wear.”
This really shocked me. What sort of planet was
this? Was a woman like me safe alone on the streets? No wonder we had to go to public loos in groups of three or more.
I took a step back and collided with the door. “Can’t we go
to another planet?”
“We’ve only just arrived here. The
ship’s computer needs at least an hour to recharge itself. Luckily I installed
that temporal dynamo, it used to take two hours.”
I left the kitchen, went to my room that wasn’t really mine and hid under the blankets,
hoping that everything would all just go away. This was just a bad dream, I’d
wake up in a minute, I was just having a nightmare, time to wake up, please let me wake up.
Don’t let this be real, I don’t want this, I want my world back, with a family who loved me, a cute boyfriend
and dozens of friends to share gossip with and generally spend the day with talking about all the tiny little things that
life was all about. Who could I talk to about the future if I didn’t have
one? I was alone, all alone. No
one here cared for me and one only kept me around out of some sense of obligation. I
wish I’d died with my world; I’d rather be dead than here. I don’t
want this, but I can’t get back what I had. I’ll never go home again,
never fall in love again, and never grow old in a house full of kids and grandkids.
Everything I planned for, hoped for was gone, taken away. I had nothing
now that was mine. It was like I was walking on snow and not leaving any footprints. There was no sign of where I’d come from or where I was going. No sign that I was here, that I exist. This world was wrong,
all wrong. It had a blue sky! What
kind of alien planet, that had a blue sky, could ever resemble my own world? I
felt the weight lifted off me for a second, a bright light shone through my eyelids.
It was as if I were a seed emerging into sunlight, except it was just the Doctor, pulling the duvet back.
“Are you alright, Erin?”
“Just a little homesick.” I said
to her. How could I explain what it felt like to her? She’d made a big speech about how she was a wanderer and an explorer.
I was everything that she was not. I needed to feel connected to friends
and family, it was part of who I was, and they were all gone now. A part of me
had died; the pain was still raw and fresh. The loss was unmourned as I hadn’t
come to terms with it, may never come to terms with it. “It kind of just
snuck up on me.” This earned me an immediate hug, which kind of jarred
my spine a bit, but it felt reassuring none the less.
“We should get out of here, get some fresh air.
It’ll do us both the power of good.”
So that was it I guess, she was not only forcing me to live her lifestyle, but she wasn’t
even going to let me have an opinion on anything. “Whatever.” I sighed and got up off the bed, making sure to pull the fabric of my skirt down off
my hips where it had bunched up.
“You’ll be fine, eventually. Maybe
not tomorrow or the day after or the day after that. It’s not easy losing
everything you’ve ever known.”
“I don’t ever want to forget.” I
said sharply. “I don’t ever want to forget them, their names, their
faces, the way my friends and I laughed when we were kids or the old tree I climbed and had to be rescued from by my father. I don’t ever want to forget a single second of it.”
“You won’t. The memories may settle
down into the back of your mind but when you remember them they’ll float back into the front unspoiled and just as if
you experienced them yesterday.”
I wanted to say more, but the look on her eyes was like looking in a mirror, I knew she was
just as upset as I was. She was hurting too, deep inside where love really bites. Maybe she knew how to deal with grief because she’d experienced it so many times? In a way it was nice to see that she hadn’t become dead inside to the pain of
loss and grief that you couldn’t get used to it. Somehow I got a twisted
sort of contentment knowing that I wasn’t going to be dead inside, that I could go on and still live a normal life,
pain was a necessary opposite of joy, without feeling both I’d never really experience things they way they are, which
is simply the way they are. I could put a positive spin on them or a negative
spin; it was up to me to deal with them in my own way. I was fed up of feeling
sorry for myself, being the victim of my own tragedy. “Let’s go for
a walk then.”
The air was fresh but there was a smell, an unnatural cloying smell that caught the back of
my throat and made me cough. The Doctor explained that it was something called
pollution, from the burning of things called hydrocarbons to power the inefficient machines of metal called cars. They were very dangerous however, they moved much faster than even the swiftest horse and buggy and the
noise they made was terrible, a constant din of metal sounds and blaring horns. It
was like the city itself had a plague of some kind, an infection that no-one wanted to cure.
I said as much to the Doctor and she just laughed and nodded her head. I
guess this meant that she agreed with me, at least she didn’t seem to disagree with me, which was progress.