The letter came on a rainy Trecundian morning. The skies were filled with dark violet clouds, and Jenny had decided to stay in her shuttle and listen to the sound the rain made when it hit the metal hull. It was a dull sort of a clanging, over and over: deeper than metal on metal but not as twangy as she'd expected.
She was trying to think of a word to describe the way the hull vibrated softly, but strong enough to move from the outside in, until her bunk thrummed with the sound. The word had almost come, resting on the tip of her tongue (a phrase she had learned six weeks ago), when she heard a knocking at her door.
That was odd. Who would think to knock at Jenny's door? She had landed in a rather remote area of the planet, at least a hundred klicks from any settlement. Tensed and ready (you never know!), she opened the door.
"Hello, Western Union!"
"What?" The man at the door was wearing a uniform and had a satchel on one shoulder. On his cap was a small yellow label that flashed the words "western" and "union" in hundreds of languages. "West of what?"
The man's face fell. "Beg your pardon?"
Jenny shrugged. "Western bit of what union?"
He scratched his chin thoughtfully. "You know something, lady, I don't really know. Never thought to ask. All I know is I get paid to deliver letters."
"Letters. See, back in the time before everything went digital, people wrote letters. Some still do. Anyway, Western Union bought up all the letters a few hundred years ago and its CEO decided that the purpose of the company would be to deliver every letter ever written to either its recipient or the closest descendant." He peered at her as he pulled a letter from his satchel. "You're the first actual recipient we found."
Jenny snatched the letter and looked at it, turning it over and over in her hands before looking back at the delivery man. "You know all that but you don't know which union you're the western part of?"
The delivery man laughed and tipped his cap. "'Fraid that's not part of orientation. Enjoy your letter!"
And then he left.
Jenny realized that she hadn't asked him how he knew she was the recipient, but when she looked down at the letter again, she saw that it very clearly said her name (Jenny) on it. And there could have been billions of Jennys in the universe, but after her name it had another name (three names hyphenated together, really: Smith-Song-Noble) that could really only be her.
The funny part was she hadn't really thought of a surname yet, or which one would be appropriate. She'd been bouncing between three options, and there they all were.
So obviously it was her letter.
She opened it delicately, though she was unsure why. After all, it was only some old paper. But it was very old, and it was special and for her, and she thought maybe that meant it deserved some delicacy. She read it once, very quickly, and then she sat down. She'd become a bit lightheaded, and as she stared at the signed name (a name she didn't recognize, but that she knew), she read the letter again.
You most likely do not know who I am, and that is nothing less to be expected. In knowing your father I also know your father. I anticipate that I have become part of the ever-burgeoning world of That Which is Not to be Spoken Of. He will not have told you of me, and thus the task must fall to my own shoulders.
Jenny stared at the letter. This woman knows - knew - her father. She pictured her, this Reinette of the florid signature, sitting straight-backed at a small table, dressed in finery (though she couldn't quite picture what finery was, exactly) as she delicately ran her writing implement across the sheet of parchment Jenny now held. It felt strange to have such a vivid picture of something so far gone, and a woman she'd never met, as though she were peering through a cloudy window and really watching the events unfold.
She imagined that the woman bit her lip, perhaps tapped her writing tool against her chin, as she decided how to describe herself. Clockwork Men, she wrote, and kings and fireplaces. Jenny ran her eyes across the words as if she could tease out meaning, but none came beyond simply: this woman knew my dad.
But how did she know Jenny?
Our minds touched, Jenny. When he sought entry into my own I seized the opportunity to explore his is return. There are no words to recount what I witnessed. My own face, in his memories. Then too the faces of hundreds of others. A grand gallery, brought to color. To life. A beautiful blue ship that made each memory, good and bad, possible. I witnessed emotions so think that they manifested into something physical. The ever-pressing loneliness. The loss.
Then too, I saw whispers of his future as well.
I saw his daughter. Jenny, I saw you.
"Me," Jenny whispered. "How is that possible?" But the letter wasn't like her computer; it didn't interact with her and respond to all her queries. It told her a story, like the music she listened to did, and she had to follow it to the end.
Your father, my Angel. I was no more than a child, really. But through our interactions I learned that there was not only more to the sky and the earth, the future and the past? I learned there was more to myself. Do you not recognize the story? Perhaps I did exceed the boundaries of my time, but is it not obvious that is because through him ceased to see many boundaries altogether?
Only let this letter serve as proof. That I should feel such a strong kinship with you Jenny, someone I have never met. That most likely I will not. And yet still, somehow, I imagine us friends. How remarkable.
"Remarkable," Jenny repeated out loud.
She couldn't picture her dad as an angel. He must be a great and terrible angel, she thought, if he were to be an angel at all. But he had been this woman's angel, and she wrote of him in ways that made Jenny's hearts ache.
But most of all it made her miss her dad more than she had since she'd last seen him. It made her want to know him the way this woman did, and to know that she could keep him around forever, if she chose (but of course she wouldn't choose to do that to him).
At the end of the letter, Reinette said one thing, simply, and it made the ache subside, and a small smile spread across Jenny's face.
Take care Jenny, you will see him again.
Jenny folded the letter up neatly and slid it back into its envelope. She stood and walked to the rear of the shuttle, where her small proto-TARDIS rested. It was a part of her dad, so it only seemed right that this letter from a woman who would call him her Angel should rest along side it.
"There," she murmured, "you can be together. Sort of."
It was enough, though. She pictured Reinette at her small table, turning to look at her, a smile on her face. It was more than enough.
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