It's Christmas Eve night on the Planet Earth, and the year is 2175. London seems so still, so quiet. It is as if the city is frozen in time, like the figurine in the snow globe David found amidst the rubble of an old school. The silent serenity is strange, but not unpleasant. During the day, it is loud and boisterous, and we are all working. David and I and many other citizens are pushing for the reconstruction of our city, in a desperate drive to return to normality. I think of London as my city now. Far be it from the citadel of the Time Lords, the temples of the Aztecs, and even the infinite transcendentalism of the TARDIS, London is my home. These are my people, and I care about them more than I care about myself. We work long and hard, but I think it's good work. Work I can be proud of.
David and I share a small flat with other refugees and aid workers. It's crowded, but comforting, in a way. There is never any shortage of company. Unfortunately, there leaves much to be desired in terms of writing space! I am composing this letter on my front step, watching the night thicken around a London which is, like the phoenix, slowly but surely rising from the ashes. The air is biting and cold, and the merest hints of snowflakes pirouette on the breeze like figure skaters. I think, this year, the snow is real. At least, I hope it's real. For too long now, our snows have been little more than freak dust storms or frosty ash raining down from the sky, the aftermath of whatever poor city still remains under Dalek occupation. The Earth resistance forces have all but driven them to the brink, but they are stubborn. We of all people know that. So I hope, this time, the snow is real. The people of this planet deserve a proper Christmas.
There is a small library in Picadilly. It contains the last books in London, perhaps in all of England. They were saved by David and his fighters before the Daleks could destroy them. I was browsing them the other evening, and I found a fascinating history book about the Crusades. The detail was incredible; I was transported to a different time, a different place, where I rode alongside knights and kings into a sunset signifying better days to come, and dreams to be fulfilled. History came alive; Gods and heroes were given voice and life and I felt as though I could raise my voice and speak to King Richard the Lionhearted himself.
The book was written by a Professor Barbara Chesterton.
Time is a funny thing, Grandfather. You know that better than most. I experience days where I have overwhelming urges to visit Ian or Barbara or my old friends from Coal Hill, just to check in and see how they're coming along. Have a cup of tea, catch up on old times. But then I remember that I cannot. I never can. Everything I know and everyone I care about has been dead for hundreds of years. Barbara wrote that book at Cambridge University in the year 2008. Ian was a Professor of Chemistry at the time, and they were married. Happily married at last! It makes me so very joyous, and so incredibly sad, because I know I can never share in their happiness. It was rumored that Ian and Barbara didn't age since they left you, back in the 1960s. Was that your doing, Grandfather? But, now . . . whatever immortal destiny they were fated to live was washed aside by pomp and circumstance. Their lives are no longer. Perhaps they died in the Dalek Invasion of Earth. Perhaps they died of very, very old age. Or perhaps they simply faded from history, melting into the shadows of time. Lost to this Earth. And lost to me.
Sometimes, we do not cherish what we have have until it is gone. Sometimes, we take those we love for granted, and then they leave without us having said everything we needed to say. Not everyone has a time machine to go back and try again. Not all mistakes can be undone, and not all wishes can be fulfilled with a touch of a fast return switch. Linear time forces us to take each day in its stride, and to live for the future rather than dwell on the past. When you cannot exist in any time, in any place, your own time and place becomes so important, and so precious. I am trying to rebuild my own future, to establish roots of my own, and that gives me purpose. It gives me peace, and with David, it gives me happiness.
I know Ian and Barbara have long-since left you, Grandfather. I fear you are alone. Nobody should be alone. Especially you. Because if I exist in one time, yet am left trying to combat the stifling nature of linear time, and the loneliness it brings, then how lonely must you yourself be, all on your own, with all of time and space as your backyard but with none to share it with?
Christmas is a time to take comfort in the company of friends and family. I have David, who loves me and cares about me far more than I deserve. Who do you have, Grandfather? With whom are you spending this Christmas? This should be a happy time, a time of joyous reunion that becomes all the more significant now that we are rising above a planet-wide devastation. But Christmas always seemed to make you so sad, even when we traveled together aboard the TARDIS. You would put a brave face on it for my sake, but I could see beneath your veneer of celebration: the far-away light in your eyes, and the silvery glimmer of tears that refused to fall, like snowflakes on your eyelashes.
I think I now know why Christmas always made you cry. Linear time, traveling the slow path, tends to give one a unique perspective on these sorts of things, and I think I can finally begin to understand. You feared a Christmas to come, a Christmas where you would have nobody to share it with. You feared that everyone you care about, everyone you love, would leave before too long, that you would outlive all of us and come to the day where Christmas would be spent alone. And all the while, you hoped beyond hope that that Christmas would never come.
Then I left. Then Barbara and Ian left. I do not know where, or when, you are, and now I fear you truly are alone, and that possibility makes me so very, very sad.
I leave these letters where I last saw the TARDIS, in that abandoned lot on the East Side. There are flowers there now, beautiful purple larkspurs growing where I lay my TARDIS key to rest. They grow even in the winter, even in the polluted, freezing air. They are magical. I suspect it is the Old Girl's final gift to me, her final farewell. I place the letters in the folds of the flower stems, away from the public eye so nobody will inadvertently take them. And yet, every time I leave a letter, the previous one is gone. I make of that what I will. I can only live in hope, and leave the same message I always do . . .
You said that one day, you would come back. And until then, you promised there would be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. And I have gone forward in all my beliefs, but now it is time to prove to me that you are not mistaken in yours.
Come visit me, Grandfather. Please. I love you, and I miss you. You do not deserve to spend this Christmas alone.
Until we meet again