The Problem with Boxing Day.

by elisi [Reviews - 2]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • All Ages
  • None
  • Alternate Universe, Character Study, General, Introspection, Series

Author's Notes:
Just in case someone's not familiar with this 'verse: Alex was born during The Year That Never Was, and after time rewound the Master agreed to be imprisoned because of his son.

Alexander Saxon hated Boxing Day almost as much as he loved Christmas.

Not that this - or any of his other peculiarities - was immediately evident from looking at him: in appearance he was a perfectly ordinary little boy.

He had blonde hair (like his mum) and brown eyes (like his dad) - but when grownups saw him they inevitably said: “My goodness, doesn’t he look like his father!”

Then they remembered that his father had murdered the whole Cabinet and the American President (and was now languishing in an undisclosed high security facility), became embarrassed, and swiftly changed the subject - usually by asking him how old he was.

To this question they only ever wanted to know the simplest answer (6 years), not anything interesting - like how many seconds (two hundred and ten million, six hundred and eight thousand, five hundred and ninety seven and counting...)

Sometimes he converted the seconds into rels for fun, but his Uncle told him that humankind didn’t know any of the universal standards yet, and that, as a matter of fact, they would never give up their odd and impractical way of measuring time - so he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that he could count time in rels...

On the whole Alex wasn’t too impressed with the apparent intelligence of the average adult human.

Thankfully most days grownups were easy enough to ignore or avoid - except today was Boxing Day...

Boxing Day meant a whole day spent with Mum’s family, and Mum’s family was full of people who were either embarrassed or rude - sometimes both. They always covered up both sentiments with unwavering politeness, and it drove him mad that they expected him not to see through it, just because he was little.

He could hear the lies in the shades of their voices, see their true feelings parade across their faces as clearly as if they’d broadcast them on a large plasma screens, and it was agony to try to be ‘well-behaved’. His mother was of course always impeccable, meeting the concealed sneers with a facade so courteously impenetrable that not even Alex could work out what went on in her head.

He didn’t know how she did it, and to be honest he didn’t care. He just wanted not to go.

But every year Uncle and Mum said he had to go - in voices that he knew he couldn’t argue with - so he sullenly let his mother dress him in his ‘best’ clothes, which were uncomfortable and annoying.

“But why?” he asked for the umpteenth time as she led him downstairs, and Uncle looked up from the TV magazine he was reading and automatically said: “Because they’re the only family you’ve got!”

Alex shot him a grumpy look. It wasn’t fair. Sure he knew that Dad and Uncle had lost all of their family (their whole world!), but even so...

Particularly unfair was the fact that he knew that his Uncle (and Dad, if he behaved) would spend the whole day embedded in front of the TV catching up on all the programmes they’d missed.

Of course Uncle probably needed the rest...

He’d walked through the door rather late the day before - much too late for Christmas dinner - eyes stormy and dark, his suit crisped and burnt around the edges, and his steps so heavy that Alex wondered if he’d put something really enormous in his pockets-that-were-bigger-on-the-inside. Alex’s mum had not said a word, just pressed her lips together and filled up a plate with food and heated it in the microwave. Even Dad had only taken a swift look at him and muttered something unintelligible about Christmas, before grabbing a bottle of whiskey and removing himself to the conservatory, silently watching the falling snow.

Alex had waited five minutes precisely, then walked up with a cracker. Because he knew that no one could be sad with a colourful paper crown on their head - and he’d been right. The shadows had run away from Uncle’s eyes, and then there had been lots of fun and silliness and presents, and an incredible box with actual real tiny little living people in it, acting out a wonderful story. His Uncle said that it was called a Miniscope, and that he was going to get the people out and take them back to their different home worlds - but that he thought Alex might enjoy seeing it first.

Alex enjoyed it very much indeed - not just the thing itself, but all the questions it threw up. Like how had the people been miniaturised? Dad just smiled smugly and Alex was sure he knew, but Uncle shook his head, and that was the end of that. Alex dearly, dearly wished he could have kept the box, but obviously it wasn’t nice to keep people locked up.

Right now though, he’d happily have swapped with them. As his mother brushed his hair, his dad emerged from the kitchen, eyes lighting up and a bright smile on his face. (One of the reasons Alex loved Christmas was that Dad was home for days and days and days.)

“Alexander, my Great One, good morning! Getting ready to face the dragons?”

Alex shrugged, feeling even more miserable.

Really, going to see The Family wasn’t entirely unlike being stuck in a Miniscope... OK, so everyone was the right size, but they were all stuck in one place, and everyone went through the same rituals as every year just as if they were hypnotised puppets.

The only upside was that if he was good he’d get to go to Josh’s house tomorrow. Josh was Jewish, and Alex knew that they still had Hanukkah decorations up, and wouldn’t mind telling him all about their traditions and history (again), and might even teach him how to cook some of their special food. Josh had no family, except his mum and his grandma - who was a fantastic cook - and Alex thought that Josh was very lucky.

Once he’d asked Josh’s mum about where Josh’s dad was, and her eyes had flashed and she’d said that he ‘wasn’t in the picture’. Alex had frowned and said that he wasn’t in any of the pictures, pointing to the photo gallery on the mantelpiece, and then she’d laughed and called him too precious for words, before hugging him tightly and giving him a kiss. He liked to replay that moment in his mind - not just because Josh’s mum was the most physically beautiful human he knew, but because she was also friendly and warm and when she said she liked you, you knew it was true.

The exact opposite of his own human relatives...

As usual Uncle dropped him and Mum off at the train station closest to the family seat (if anyone asked, they’d come by train). Standing outside the station, feeling the TARDIS fade into the vortex and waiting for the chauffeur driven car to pick them up, Alex fervently wished that his mother was not the sister of Lord Cole; that they didn’t have obligations, and rules to follow; and had no relatives he had to pretend to like.

The day loomed ahead, long and grey and endless, and the seconds ticked by in his mind, not hurrying up the tiniest bit no matter how hard he wished.

Boxing Day was The Worst Day Ever.