Thought I’d share a story from my forthcoming free anthology e-book “Chess With An Ostritch & Other Thraham Prompts”, a collection of Doctor/Graham stories that I was requested to write from a fellow author and fan of mine on Archive of Our Own called ‘Vgault’. Expect it to drop sometime this weekend or next week.
Yaz stepped out of the Taxi as delicately as she could, the baby bump doing its utmost to keep her pressed down on the seat, Ryan hoisting her out holding both her hands. She tipped the driver his money and the cab hastily sped off.
Yaz and Ryan made their way towards Graham’s house and looked at one another. There was love present between the two, but also a lingering sense of uncertainty.
They had faced many hardships together in the years that led them through their gradual courtship, but now as the reality of their new life loomed, nested in a physical cocoon ready to break free any day now, the question of how to best go forward compelled them to process their options.
This was not a safe world. Not any longer.
They knocked on the door, and Graham answered, a toothbrush lodged in his mouth.
“What are you doing Granddad?” asked Ryan.
“I’m taking my temperature” said Graham
“With a toothbrush?” asked a bemused Yaz.
“Yeah, it was the Doc’s idea”
“We’d like to see The Doctor if you don’t mind” said Yaz.
“She doesn’t want visitors. She thinks something’s after her. It’s got her proper spooked”
“So why did you open the door then?” Ryan asked.
“Because I don’t agree with her”
Yaz called out for The Doctor.
“Doctor? It’s us, if you don’t want us in, I can understand, social distancing and all that, but we’ve been through the worst of it you know…the toll’s gone down since Easter, that’s what they’ve said”
The silence from the interior of the house was deafening, and gave Yaz a shudder as the disquiet only worsened her existing apprehensions.
“Doctor…we wanted to talk to you just a bit, it’s our baby, will it be safe? Do you know something you’re not telling us?”
Graham walked into the house, handing Yaz the moist toothbrush. He climbed up the stairs and into his bedroom, where he spotted The Doctor, hung over the edge of the bed, her boots off, clutching a stuffed teddy bear. A photograph of a strangely alluring and quizzical young lady with a short haircut distinct to the 1960s. The photograph looked like it had been taken in a junkyard, and it was in black and white.
The Doctor grabbed the photo and tenderly stroked the features of the girl with the tips of her fingers, she bit her lip anxiously.
She spoke to the photograph, even though she was aware of her living audience of one beside her, as Graham sat himself down to comfort The Doctor.
“They’ve still got all you’re going through yet to come, how do I prepare them for that? For all I know, this is what sets it off now, what weakens humanity, what readies them for the days where they lose everything, the days I left in your care” she said.
“Who are you talking to the Doc?” asked Graham.
“The past I left in your future” The Doctor spoke, wanting to apologize for the riddle but was sure Graham wouldn’t mind a bit of bamboozlement.
“Doctor?” Yaz called again.
“You’ve got to answer her sometime Doc” Graham said.
The Doctor put the photograph down and curled up in his arms, wrapping her right arm warmly around his head.
“We’re living through an uncertain time Graham, one I can’t spoil, in case you lot try to rewrite every line. This is one time I’m going to have to heed my wife’s warnings….and take my first selves’ advice. Oh why do our minds wander so far from how they were in our youth?”
“When we’re young we look at it all very unclearly, we’re lost in the arrogance of it all, the audacity of it, it’s only when we’re older that we look at life a bit clearer, or when we’re faced with something that makes us take it less for granted. Strangely enough, those of us that see it all too clearly are still on some level afraid we’ll be amongst those who vanish”
“I’ve been a lifetime of older people Graham, and all those lives are among the vanished, footprints in the sand on a warm beach, just like that, we’re gone”
“As long as we’ve got today, we’ve got each other, we’re family, and it’s about to get even bigger once the baby comes calling”
“She wants me to be its godmother, but what kind of God would I be exactly?”
“I don’t think you should take it so literally Doc”
“I’ve played God for so long Graham, and it still doesn’t keep anyone together. They vanish, they all vanish, and I linger on. I can speak baby, but what else can I say to them other than try to not get themselves killed by an invisible killer?”
“Tell them there’s a visible hand holding theirs, tell them to trust in a healer that will do their best to make them feel better, tell them to be brave, tell them to trust you”
“You know how socially awkward I am”
“I know you can learn Doc, I know from how much you talk about your wife that you learned to love, and, hey, you fancy me a little don’t you?”
The Doctor giggled.
“More than a little you big lolly” she said.
Graham kissed The Doctor on the forehead.
“This kid has a whole world of love waiting for him Doc, don’t deny him it, don’t count him among those who’ll vanish tomorrow, remind him how special he is today, and for every tomorrow, because every tomorrow becomes today”
The Doctor grinned, pressing her lips against Grahams’, she then quietly pricked his nose with her finger got up, put on her boots, and dashed down the stairs to give Yaz the best possible advice she could.
She would reassure Ryan and Yaz that their baby would be safe as long as they worked hard to keep him so.
Because every day is a struggle, regardless of how sick the earth makes us, the perseverance against the illness, the will to survive, is what makes the human race ultimately win each tomorrow as it comes.
Sometimes she lets that slip her mind as she walks through eternity, sometimes she forgets. It’s up to the blessings in her life, the Rivers, the Susan’s, the O’Brien’s, the fam, to remind her that those still privileged to dare tomorrow should never be made to feel as if they count amongst those who vanished yesterday.