A Teaspoon And An Open Mind: A Doctor Who Fan Fiction Archive
Multi-Era
A Kinder Cartography by Noldo [Reviews - 14] Printer


They are etched onto the map that is his life and his memory, traversing uncharted continents and deep waters; some of them are coastlines and some of them are cities inked into a delicately-positioned dot and some of them are --


-- here is the island that was Susan, and here are Ian and Barbara side-by-side, and then over here things are all out of order, so here is the little islet that would be Zoe (all science but not the slightest taste for people) and here is the desert of Leela (full of thorns), and here the coastline of Romana, neat and straight and marked out very clearly beginning-and-end with a little notch in the middle (he would draw a little image of her leaving, all colourful sashay into the distant grey, but there is no room and in any case that is hardly the sort of thing that belongs on a map) though perhaps she should be Romana-the-ocean --




(He goes to their funerals; sometimes. Occasionally he's a hundred years too late, or ten light-years off, but: if you see the little man in the fur coat in the corner, or the Byronic one with curls and frock-coat and languid smile, or the ginger one all crooked teeth and angularities, or the one in the pin-striped suit who won't sit still and won't pay attention and practically has to be hustled away from the mourners to prevent them from leaving in outrage, but who's probably defused two bombs and stopped three alien invasions by the time he's allowed back in; well. It doesn't matter where it happens, whether it's at the little cemetery in the sleepy English village, or at the long-gone battlefield on the Scottish highlands, or somewhere out among the stars, a planet you'll never understand, or six million years ago where the dinosaurs died -- that's him. It's always him. He's good at rememberances when he remembers them.)



-- Sarah-Jane: she has a section to herself here, all crooked outlines and parameters crossing almost into words. And to the right is the speck which is a town which is Adric-who-died and on the left there is a little archipelago in the middle of which is an active volcano which might possibly be Ace, and here is the city with sprawling suburbs that is probably Rose Tyler. He has no compass for this map, no north-south-east-west or directions of any kind, because it represents nothing but the untramelled continents of his existence; here are the blank ones, where he was alone. And the other ones, wavery and indistinct, might-have-beens all (he never left Gallifrey. He never found his way to Earth. Earth was destroyed. Gallifrey wasn't. He took the wrong exit at the Cambridge roundabout. It's easy enough.), and then--





(Sometimes there are lists on the side, bullet-pointed chronicles of worries and needs: 'must fix dimensional stabiliser.' 'planet vapourised.' 'toaster!'. And so if one were to attempt to list:

1. It is an enormous map, spanning lifetimes and galaxies, and so it goes: on and on and on, fantastical.
2. If it were real, which it is not, it would be watermarked and etched with a blue box which would also be stylised in the corner and a recurring ornamentation and hovering at the back of his mind like a caress. Of course. It couldn't possibly be any other way.
4. Sometimes when he's not paying attention he gets the numbering on his lists wrong. And he has terrible trouble paying attention.

and then:)



-- range of mountains. Savannah. Small landlocked nation hemmed in by sand and lack of imagination --




Here is an extended metaphor which doesn't always work, because sometimes they aren't right for a map or they can't really be drawn out and started-and-finished in ink: so here is Sarah who is probably some sort of book or maybe a verse collection, and here is Susan who is like one of the beloved trinkets one stows away for safekeeping close to one's heart whether it is tawdry or brilliant, and here is Rose who is a slipping tourniquet (there is something dark and disquieting underneath the perfect knot) falling away to uncover --

The pen is resting, the inkwell dry. Here is Martha waiting, poised, ready to be written into being. And there will be others after her, and they'll come alive, slowly, on a map which may or may not exist, but which defines them as this: both very small and very large.
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