Title: Save Yourselves
Summary: ‘Mummy and Daddy had an argument last night.’ The end (and beginning) of a certain someone’s world, as seen through the eyes of a child.
Mummy and Daddy had an argument last night and it was scary but it’s the only one they’re ever gonna have. Dad told me that when he found me hiding behind the curtains, he said mummy and daddy were just disagreeing, alright? We’re sorry we scared you. We won’t do it again. And Mummy bought me chocolate, a whole box of Toblerone, and let me have them all to myself. She said she was so sorry she’d shouted. And Daddy sat next to her and said to me it was just things from the past kept getting brought up and Mummy didn’t like it. And then he said if you ever see a blue box, if you see it at school or out of the window or something, tell us straightaway. And I asked why (‘cos you’re supposed to ask why, Mummy always says it’s good to ask why) and Daddy said because a blue box appearing means trouble.
There’s a weird lady who lives on the estate and…she’s just weird. She just looks out of her window all the time. I dunno how long she’s been here but I don’t think she was here when I was little. Some of the mean kids throw eggs at her window because they think she’s crazy and won’t chase them. I HATE those kids. Once I was out shopping with Mummy and we saw the lady, picking things up in a shop, and she looked at Mummy as if she knew her. Mummy looked back at her and said “Are you…feeling better? Do you remember me now? I lived on the estate with you…” but the lady just backed away and ran off.
I asked Mummy then what was the matter with her, and Mummy just said she lost the man she loved in horrible circumstances, but I didn’t know what circumstances were. So Mummy had to explain it, and then I asked her did she know the lady, and she said everyone on the estate did, the lady had always lived there, but she wasn’t always crazy and she hadn’t been there all the time.
Jim, who is my best schoolfriend, he says he met the lady once and she talked to him and said to never touch the dalek. I asked him if she said what a dalek was and he said no. But I thought the name was funny, so when we played space heroes in the playground I called myself Dalek and told Jim he had to be the bad guy. Then Jim ruined it by falling off a swing and grazing his knee. There was blood on it and I don’t like blood.
In assembly, ‘cos no-one notices if you talk in assembly, one of the girls whose name was Nat told us that her mummy had told her to stay away from the crazy lady and not talk to her. I started making a list of things I had to keep away from, ‘cos then Nat started saying how her mum and dad also said she shouldn’t talk to anyone who said that Sycorax Day was a hoax. Me and Jim didn’t think it was a hoax (hoax is a lie, isn’t it?) so we were all right, but one boy in our class says it was a hoax from the government. He said it in class and said his mum and dad told him to say it, so we decided we would keep away from him.
One day we were in the playground and I was being Dalek again when the crazy lady walked past the school gates. I looked at her and I thought if you didn’t know she was crazy you’d think she was just normal. She was blonde and had weird eyes and dirty hair and was about as old as Mummy was. But she didn’t have any children or anything. Nat says all her family died and that’s why she’s crazy.
“Barcelona,” she said, looking at us. “I never did get to go to Barcelona.”
Jim ran off then, so I ran after him. When I looked behind me the crazy woman was walking off. When Mummy picked me up from school I told her about that, and she shook her head and said, “I wish she wouldn’t do that. She worries me.”
I dunno why but I thought of something then. I asked if she was why Mummy and Daddy fought that one time.
She looked at me weirdly and said. “Listen, sweetheart, we were just wondering if we should move away from here…strange things happen here, you see. But you’re happy here, that’s the thing…”
I said I didn’t want to move away and she nodded and said not to forget about the blue box. Then I asked if we could go to McDonalds and she said no, it’ll make you fat. We talked about school and things and then when we got home she reminded me again about the box but I just said I knew and she didn’t have to keep reminding me ‘cos I was grown up enough to remember things.
I asked Mummy why she said strange things happened here.
“Lots of people moved away from the estate after Sycorax Day,” she said, “because…people started to notice how a lot of unexplained things kept popping up. Things that happened before you were born.”
I asked if the unexplained stuff was magic.
“Yes, magic. Or aliens. Or magical aliens.”
Then Mummy and Daddy had another argument. They said it wasn’t an argument but they were almost shouting, and I was angry because they’d promised and they’d broken their promise so they lied. They were talking about someone called Rose and then they started talking about living plastic and the government and aliens and a doctor. And then Mummy looked out of a window and said, “It was her mother’s death that did it, wasn’t it?” and I thought Daddy was going to shout, although maybe not at her. I dunno but I was scared.
I told Nat and Jim about that when I went to school next day, the thing Mummy had said about it was her mother’s death that did it, and Nat gave me this annoying look and said everyone knows she started being crazy when her mum died and then her boyfriend died and she got really crazy and made no sense. I said I didn’t know and she said that’s ‘cos you pay no attention and she went off with the other girls.
Jim said he didn’t know why I cared anyway, girls were stupid and so were adults, and I said mum and dad argued about the crazy lady and said we should move and they sort of knew her. Jim said everyone knew her, she used to live here after all, she and her mum and her boyfriend and then she went off with another boyfriend and then another and Jim said his mum told him most of her boyfriends died, or that’s what she said herself, and her mum and she had nothing left. I asked how come that happened anyway but he didn’t know. I don’t think anyone knows.
I saw the crazy lady out of my bedroom window when it was nearly Sycorax Day. She was just staring at a spot on the ground and she had something she was turning over in her hands. I think it was a key. Then she looked up and saw me and started walking towards the flat and I panicked and I hid ‘cos Mummy and Daddy weren’t there, only the babysitter was and she was asleep on the sofa ‘cos she’s lazy. The crazy woman came right up to the door and she knocked, but she knocked quietly so only I heard. Even though I was so scared I went to the door in case she said anything, because I wanted to tell Jim and Nat that she said something to me. But I didn’t open the door. She talked to me through the cat flap.
“I want to talk to your parents,” she whispered.
I said they weren’t here, so she started talking again. She said the doctor had taken her back to earth for a holiday and earth was paranoid (I dunno what that means) and they were questioning him about Sycorax Day and stuff and bad things happened. She said he was dead and she didn’t know if he ever changed again because they dragged her out and told her to go back to her boyfriend but her boyfriend had moved on.
Then the babysitter woke up and saw what was going on and told her to go away and never come back.
The babysitter told Mummy and Daddy about that and they started getting all worried again. Then it was Sycorax Day and they went normal again and they gave me presents but didn’t let me watch TV. I got video games and stuff and I loved them but eventually it was time for school again. I told Jim and Nat about what happened but they didn’t believe me and I was really mad.
I didn’t see the crazy lady again for a while until one day when she walked past the gates again and Nat said she thought she was called Rose. I remembered Mummy or Daddy talked about Rose once so I knew she was right. Anyway I thought that was weird because Rose was a nice name and crazy people didn’t have nice names. I asked how she knew and she said her parents were talking to their friends about her and she listened. They said they thought Rose was a witch. But that was silly because witches didn’t exist, and if they did they’d cast spells or something and not just go around looking all sad.
One day I went shopping with Daddy and there was these scary people there. They were holding up signs but I didn’t read them and one of the men was shouting and he was saying ALIENS ARE THE NEW GOD. I didn’t know what was happening but Daddy went up to them and I was scared in case they hurt him, but he couldn’t get them to go away.
When it was nearly Easter Rose walked past the school gate again and Nat and Jim and the others who were with us got all silly and started yelling witch! witch! and running away. But Rose started talking to me and she said “I know who you are, by the way. I used to go to this school, to Jericho Street. It was nice. Do they still have the gymnastics competition?” I said I didn’t know and I thought it was weird because she was being normal, and so I asked her if her name was Rose.
“Yeah. Rose Tyler. I thought you would know that. Everyone here knows me. ‘Specially you, it seems.”
I was really worried by that because I didn’t really know her and I didn’t want to, cos who wants to be friends with a crazy person? And then I said “Rose, do you want to tell me anything?” and she looked confused for a second and she said slowly, “My mum died and I wasn’t there, and then my best friend in the universe died, and the only other person I could turn to, he’d moved on with his life and gotten married to someone else. I was all alone. I still am all alone. Don’t ever do anything that’ll lead to being left alone, alright?”
I was really confused and I really wished I’d just shut up so I just said OK. And she gave me this look and walked off and I ran away and Jim said “See, she cast a spell on you, she is a witch. Or maybe she’s a alien. The alien lady!”
Then after Easter she was in my house. I dunno how it happened, but I woke up and went to the kitchen and she was sitting at the table and Dad had his arm around her and she was crying.
Mum came to me and said, “Don’t be scared, Mark. She’s just…she’s been through a lot, and today is hard for her. Come on, I’ll take you to school.” I was confused. I didn’t tell anyone at school she was there ‘cos they’d be scared of me. Or something. Then I got home and she was still there and Mum said very quietly, “It’s the anniversary of the day someone close to her was killed. We know her. She has to stay here, because she’ll be safe here, okay?” But at night I woke up and heard her shouting from the living room, shouting stuff like “NO, YOU CAN’T, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” and “No, Doctor, you can’t let them, come on, we have to run!” and then, “Oh my God, Mickey, you married her.”
Mummy and Daddy calmed her down and they told me to go back to bed. I went to bed and I heard someone crying later. I thought it would be Rose but it was Mum.
Mummy and Daddy had another argument. I didn’t really hear it because I was hiding but I think it was about Rose. Daddy was yelling about never being able to make up for all the mistakes he’d made. I dunno what was going on. I was scared. The next day I brought Rose breakfast and I don’t know why. I think it was just because I was holding the box of corn flakes and she was just looking at it. So I gave her a bowl.
“You’re a good boy, Mark,” she told me. “You’re a bit like your dad, I think, but you have your mother’s eyes.” I thought she’d stolen that from the Harry Potter books but I didn’t say that. I thought she was just making it up, anyway. I asked her how she knew my parents and she just said, “Have your parents ever told you about a blue box?” When I said yeah she nodded and said “I lived in that blue box.” That sounded very weird to me. I decided all the others at school were right and she was a witch. A witch in a blue box.
She stayed at our house and I thought she was never going to go away. Mum sort of started to stay away from her, and whenever Rose screamed Dad went to her instead. I decided I felt really sorry for her. Rose, that was, but I felt sorry for Mum as well because she was pretty sad too.
I saw them talking once though. Mum was saying to her “I’m sorry, Rose. I’m sorry…for humans, I guess. But we have a life now, and we have a son. I don’t know what to do.”
“Everything has it’s time and everything dies,” Rose said.
“That’s what I’m scared of,” said Mum. And later I heard her saying, “You were gone for a long time, Rose. You left everyone behind. And…sometimes I wonder if you forgot how humans act.”
“You don’t know me,” Rose answered, “You can’t say that. And I do know how humans act, they act stupidly.” And then she started singing some stupid song about love and Mum went away.
After a few weeks of Rose in the house someone important got shot. Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me watch it on TV, but I was scared because it seemed a bit like everything was different. All the normal stuff. So I cried about the TV and Dad got angry and told me to go to my room. Then at night time I went to get a drink of water and Rose slept in the living room and she was still awake and she said, “Jones was shot. I met her, you know. A long time ago, before you were born.” I asked how and she said “Siltheen.” But I didn’t know what that meant.
“Ask your father,” she said. “The world is changing. I can’t save the world on my own and nor can you.”
In the school playground at breaktime I didn’t want to play Dalek anymore, so Jim invented a silly game about pushing people over and I didn’t join in so I just sat in a corner. I started thinking about Rose and I tried to put everything together but some bits I forgot. So I started getting worried then and wondered if she was a witch and she had my parents under a spell and I’d have to save them.
When Mum took me home Dad wasn’t there and neither was Rose and Mum just sighed and said “They’ve gone out. To talk.” When they got back Dad looked all serious and sent me out of the room and I was really annoyed and said I would leave home and Mum said “Don’t you ever say that!” and she looked really angry.
So I watched through the door and it was dark and they were all blurry and Mum was almost crying and Dad was all angry and Rose just wasn’t doing anything. And Dad was saying, “You can’t just do this, you’ve always done this, you’re making me have to always look out for you, always keep an eye on you, always be with you, and that’s not fair to my family, is it?” and Rose was about to say something and she opened her mouth and there was this weird noise like loads of spaceships falling. Dad went straight to the window and Mum did too and then Rose ran through the door and past me and I realised the noise was coming from outside. So Mum and Dad ran after her and I ran to and Dad didn’t tell me to go back but he did grab my hand.
So we got outside and the blue box was there and Dad swore and I told him off. It all went sort of quiet. Rose was staring at the box (it looked a bit like a telephone box but I’d never seen one like that) and then the door opened and this bloke in a black jacket came out.
“Doctor,” Rose said in a very quiet voice. “How…?”
The man looked at Rose and then at us and then smiled and said. “You said no at first- the first time I ever asked you. I went away. I came here.”
Rose ran to him and she was crying a lot. She hugged the man and the hug lasted for ages. Then she turned around and dried her eyes and said. “Okay…I’m gonna do it right this time. Thanks so much, to all of you. For looking after me. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry I went to pieces.”
The man just grinned and looked at Dad and said, “Ah, Mickey Smith. Hey there! And Mrs Smith…and the little one over there. Well, good to see that.” Dad said something like, “Yeah. These ones are mine, Doctor, and you can’t have them,” and he looked at Rose and she looked just sort of weird, but not really crazy, and then the door closed and light flashed everywhere all over the night and they went away.
And that was it.
Mum went over to me and held my arm and said to Dad in a really shaky voice, “So, now what? What happens now? What happens when they come back?”
“They aren’t coming back,” Dad said. “Not to here, anyway.”
“And what about the world?” Mum said angrily. “What about us? You gave her years of your life, and this is how she repays you?”
“Maybe they’re saving the world somewhere else. Going back and changing it,” Dad said tiredly.
“How? This doesn’t even make sense to me. He was dead, wasn’t he? He was dead, and he looked different…god, the world’s going to hell.”
“Yeah,” Dad said. “Yeah…looks like he’s left us to save ourselves.”
“How could he do that? Not to mention taking her away, saving her! Only her! Why is she more important than anyone else? More important than, say, my son?”
Dad shivered even though it wasn’t all that cold and said “I don’t know, love. I don’t know how it all works. All I know is…that’s it.”
“Is it.” Mum said, and then we all went back home.
Mum and Dad didn’t exactly argue anymore but they sort of acted like there were loads of things they weren’t saying. I think they were all right though. No-one really asked about Rose or where she went. I just went to school and came back from school and then lots of people stopped going to school and Mum and Dad took the TV away. I didn’t know what was going on and I wished someone would come help us. I listened to people behind closed doors and I found out people got arrested and kept locked up for stuff they didn’t do. I heard Mum saying that Dad needed to take down a website or he’d get arrested, and he refused and she shouted and then he did.
I heard that people were trying to escape to other places, the other side of the planet, and sometime they even left their family behind. I got really scared and asked Dad if he was going to move away from London, and I don’t think he got it because I didn’t want him to know what I really meant, that I was scared he would leave one day, but eventually one day he got it.
“Listen, Mark,” he said very seriously. “I’m staying here with you and your mother. You understand that? I’m not going anywhere.”