Dodo isn't yet out of hearing range, walking down the road to the bus stop, when Sir Charles's wife says in a hushed tone, "That poor girl. Such a strange one. I can't imagine she'll ever manage on her own."
"Hm," Sir Charles says. They stand on the terrace of their nice country house, seeing her off.
"It's like she's sleepwalking. That girl needs a man to take care of her."
Dodo's bag is light because she doesn't own anything, and the sun shines on her face. She starts to whistle, until she can't hear them. It's your last chance of nothing, at the last chance saloon….
Half of her can remember, but half of her has forgotten. Half of her is just dandy, just fine, and half of her wakes crying at night and turns on all the lights, but it doesn't help, because in some parts of her mind, the lights always stay switched off. She goes through jobs, boyfriends, flats, and things slip out of her grasp faster and faster.
In nineteen sixty-seven, she gets a call from a girl called Polly. "I'm sorry," Dodo apologises. "I don't think I remember you."
"Oh," Polly says, "you must have forgotten that whole distressing event. We met when you travelled with the Doctor. You do remember him, don't you?"
"Of course," Dodo says. The telephone line crackles with white noise. She laughs, the white noise seems to fracture the sound. Half of her remembers, half of her forgets. Some days she knows what happened to her, but doesn't remember. Some days she remembers but doesn't know what it means. "How could I forget?"
"We should meet some time," Polly suggests. "It'll be good to talk to someone who knows what it's like settling down after travelling with him. How about the Inferno on Saturday?"
"That would be great," Dodo says. She looks forward to it, even though she doesn't know this Polly, and thinking of the Doctor makes the parts of her mind where the lights are out tingle uncomfortably. It doesn't matter, she likes dancing and she likes going out.
But on Saturday, she can't go dancing, because she's in a hospital. "I'm so tired," she says. "I wanted to go dancing."
A doctor tells her, "Miss Chaplet, you're feeling sleepy now because of your medicamentation. We had to calm you down, do you remember? But you'll be just fine, all you need is some rest. You've had a difficult time, young lady, but with the right medicamentation, you can live a normal life."
Dodo frowns. "My name is Dodo Chaplet," she tries to say, but her lips are chapped and her mouth is dry. The words press outwards with terrible force. Someone has put them into her mind. "I resist all attempts to change me into somebody else."
In nineteen sixty-nine, Dodo lives a normal life. She's out of the hospital. She has a job as waitress in a little café, where they didn't ask about her resume. She gets up at eight in the morning, and goes to bed at nine p.m. after cleaning the dishes from her dinner. The pills she takes make her tired all the time, but she's better now. She doesn't think much about the past or the future. Time passes from day to day.
The radio plays Daydream Believer, and Dodo hums along as she makes coffee while Martha wipes the bar. Dodo likes Martha, which is good, because they're the odd ones out, the ones none of the other waitresses feels quite comfortable around. Their shift is nearly over. "You look as tired as I feel," Martha jokes.
"I'm Sleepy Jean," Dodo says.
"It's nineteen sixty-nine, and all we do is work and sleep," Martha sighs. "Life isn't fair."
Dodo looks at the coffee. She forgets things all the time. Maybe tomorrow she'll forget to take her pills. "I could show you around London," she tells Martha. "You aren't from around here, aren't you?"
"No, I'm —" Martha hesitates, then shakes her head. "I'm not."
"Me neither," Dodo says.
But they never go out together, because Martha's boyfriend doesn't work, and she has another job on the weekend, and after a year, Martha just fails to show up at her shift one night. Dodo goes on getting up at eight and going to bed at nine until the day the shop windows break and the mannequins walk on the streets, shooting people.
That night, Dodo goes dancing. The morning after, she's in a hospital.
"We can help you, Miss Chaplet," the doctors say. "But you have to want to get better."
She doesn't have many visitors over the years. Actually, there's just the one. Jack, who takes her to a walk in the garden and says, "I have amnesia, too. Two whole years, just gone."
"I'm not like other people," Dodo explains, because the doctors must have told Jack that she forgets, but she doesn't really. "I try to be, but it doesn't work."
"We're not like other people," Jack says seriously, and then he smiles at her. He has very nice teeth. "That's why I'm here. I'm looking for people like us. A girl named Polly told me about you."
"Do you like dancing?" Dodo asks, still looking at his smile. "I know a song."
"I love dancing," Jack grins, and they dance by the goldfish pond and Dodo sings.
When she's out of breath, and they take a break on the bench under the weeping willow, Dodo asks, "Can I tell you a secret?"
He puts a hand over his heart. "I'm a secret agent. I can keep them. Especially when such a fine dancer asks me to."
Dodo leans close. "I'm not a real girl."
"You look pretty real to me." He leans in and kisses her on the cheek. She feels hot and cold all over. "Feel pretty real, too."
"I'm a miracle," Dodo says. "There was this girl, you know, who survived when nobody else did. She survived even though the Doctor didn't save her. She was French. Steven once told me that the Doctor picked me up to prove something. Because I'm the descendant of that girl who didn't die and they met me, of all people. But I think that's not what happened. I think the Doctor made me exist."
Jack looks at her in surprise, then leans back. She can see him mulling it through. "You mean he changed the timeline? You weren't supposed to live?"
Dodo shrugs. But she goes on talking, like a sleep-walker. She has to tell him. "He didn't save her. The French girl. If she had gone with Steven and the Doctor, I would never have been born. And all my life I was just waiting for them to come and pick me up. I was their happy ending."
For a long moment, Jack just looks at her. The he draws her into a tight embrace. She lays her head on his shoulder and feels safe. "So you do remember the Doctor," Jack says, still holding her. "Polly said you didn't want to come back."
Dodo shakes her head. "No. I was sad, and he wanted me to forget. So I forgot."
Jack wants her to leave the hospital, and come to work for him. He says he needs talented people. Dodo tells him that she isn't talented. She says she feels safe where she is. Every time she tried to be like other humans, it went wrong. Dodo doesn't expect him to come back after that, but from time to time, perhaps once in a year, he does. And someone keeps sending her money. She saves it, because there isn't anything to spend it on. Records have gone out of fashion, and cassettes will do, too.
It's the twenty-first century, and she's an old woman. She's also fifty-eight, which isn't all that old, but her hair is all grey when Harold Saxon runs for Prime Minister. She takes one look at him on the TV screen in her hospital room and words spill out of her, like stones that have sat in her belly for decades. "My name is Dodo Chaplet. I resist all attempts to change me into somebody else." She has headaches for some days, but it goes away whenever she says those words. Each time, she feels a little stronger, a little more awake.
She's still allowed to vote, even though she's not a normal person. Dodo never cared about politics. This time, though, she does. She votes for the other one, because Harold Saxon is wrong. She resists like she was told to, years ago, but no one else does.
Her vote is just one small protest in a sea of normal people voting for Saxon. The day the sky tears open and the Toclafane come, she sits in her room, waiting to die. But they don't come for her. The screams die down after some hours, and she ventures outside, into the hallway. Other patients have survived, too. The Toclafane love to kill the young, the pretty, the healthy, the sane. Not the sick ones. On the steps that lead out back into the garden, she finds a nurse lying in a pool of blood. Her dead eyes stare accusingly at Dodo.
Dodo is an old woman. She doesn't have children or friends. She's just a sick person. She knows she doesn't deserve to be one of the survivors. But it's her only reason for living, to be the one that got away. She puts on a jacket and climbs over the fence.
The day after, the streets are terribly silent, and there is blood everywhere. Dodo looks at it, but only half of her sees it. The other half forgets. She wanders the streets and lives. She hides from the Toclafane. She takes care of a few children who don't have parents anymore, and teaches them the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon. They whisper it in the dark, because singing out loud is dangerous. It's your last chance of living, and the last place to die…
One day, one of her children tells her that a woman has come to town who tells stories in the dark, so Dodo goes to listen to her. It's Martha Jones, who's not from around here and works on the weekends. When Martha has to go, Dodo gets up and tells the people in the small, cramped room, who sit there so silent, so hopeful, "I have a story about the Doctor, too."
Her story doesn't have a happy ending, but that doesn't matter. Martha Jones didn't tell true stories, either. She told it like it could have been, if it had been nineteen sixty-nine and they had gone dancing while her boyfriend worked on the weekend. So Dodo makes up her own story with a happy end. She makes it like the Doctor made her: a miracle girl, the one who didn't die.
After a while, everyone has a story. They half remember things that never happened to them. Now Dodo is one of the normal people.
The year gets undone, and everyone forgets. Except for Dodo. As she chants his name, gives him all her daydreams, all her happy endings, something gives. Somewhere in her head, someone throws a switch, and the lights go back on.
On the day after Harold Saxon gets elected and vanishes, Dodo realises that while everyone else has been hypnotised for eighteen months, she has been hypnotised for forty-one years. Ever since the Doctor told her to forget, to rest, to be happy, to be normal. But something happened to break the spell, to draw the circle to its close. She realises that she doesn't really need the hospital.
"I'm better," she tells the doctors, and what she means is, I'm feeling better than everyone else right now.
London is so different. The music that plays isn't the same. And anyways, Dodo is too old to go dancing, or looking for jobs as a waitress. Everything moves so fast. She fell asleep and woke up in the future. Dodo just wanders through London, amazed at everything. One day, some time after the Daleks stole the Earth, a woman who moves through the world like she's sleepwalking bumps into Dodo and nearly knocks her over. She apologises profusely, asking if Dodo is all right, if she's hurt, as if Dodo was some frail little old woman.
"No, I'm all right," Dodo says. "And you?"
The woman has gorgeous red hair, which she brushes out of her face, looking confused. "I'm fine," she says, her voice wavering. "Just fine. And I really can't help you?"
"We could go some place and have a coffee," Dodo smiles, "but you're probably too busy."
The redhead looks bewildered, because this isn't what normal people do. But then she shrugs. "Actually, I just lost my job. Or quit it. I'm not quite sure. That's silly, isn't it? Forgetting something like that. I'm Donna, by the way."
They shake hands. "I'm Dodo," she says. "And it gets better."
One day, Jack stands in front of Dodo's flat, dressed in a tuxedo and a brilliant smile. "There's a wedding, Miss Chaplet, and I'm allowed to bring guests."
"I don't have a dress," Dodo says.
He winks at her. "I brought a dress."
She dresses self-consciously in her bedroom, and is glad that her hair is still cut short. This way, there isn't much she can do about it.
Jack won't tell her whose wedding it is, but that's not a problem. Dodo sits in his car as he drives through London, and chats with the young Welsh people he picks up at a corner. Everything is good. She doesn't know where she's going and she's meeting new people.
Martha looks gorgeous in her wedding dress, and from across the dance floor, Dodo sees Martha's eyes widen when she talks to Jack. They keep glancing at her, looking in turns amazed and sorry for her. Dodo turns away, and whistles a song that isn't in tune with what's playing right then. She sees a young man in a pin-stripe suit standing awkwardly close to the door, as if he only just arrived and thinks he might not be welcome. Dodo remembers him. He's Martha's boyfriend, the one who didn't work, who sometimes picked her up from the café but never noticed Dodo.
"Look," he says to her when she approaches, holding a glass between them like a shield. She looks at his fingers. He isn't wearing a ring like he did when he hypnotized her. Now he is young and she is old, her hair is nearly white and his is dark, everything in reverse. But he looks just as lost as he did the day she ran into his TARDIS and asked where his phone was.
"They've got little umbrellas. Isn't that great?"
"And I've got dancing shoes," she replies.