State of Play
Self Prompt: Graham gets the results of his Covid-19 test.
The Doctor couldn’t resist any longer.
Resistance was useless in a situation such as this.
All those eras she had lived through, ruthless pirate captains, horned nimons , manipulative space/time traps, all of it paled to the persistent conundrum of the very irritable human presence in front of her as she sat rather impatiently within the waiting rooms of the local medical clinic.
A young human girl, approximately five years of age, playing with a large red beach ball, repeatedly bouncing it across the edge of the wall and back to her. Five seconds worth of peace and quiet between each shot.
The Doctor could read a room like it was the history of everything you could ever find, she could gauge reaction and emotion just from seeing the faces of all those around her. Some burying their heads in an old magazine, forcing themselves to focus on the text, staring blankly at the celebrity snaps. Some twitching, some coughing loudly as if hoping it would put the young girl off the activity or allow her parents to ‘get the message’ and directly intervene.
But perhaps the most tragic and telling of the reactions was a teenage lad forming a small pistol with his right hand and taking ‘aim’ at the girl and mimicking gunfire noises. Unfiltered, as loud as he could.
The Doctor realised this was taking it too far. Why couldn’t any of them just talk to the girl?
This menace had form, but not yet, to her knowledge, a name.
She would ask her of it.
“Hi, young lady, don’t mind me asking, what’s your name?” she said.
“Annabelle” the girl replied.
“You seem a little distracted, well, a lot, where are you parents?”
Annabelle pointed over to a corner of the room where her mother was occupied with chatter on the phone.
“Oh, got noone to play with but the wall then?” said The Doctor.
Annabelle persisted with knocking the ball against said wall, the Doctor could tell she was indulging more aggressive in the activity.
“Those people around us, they’re getting to you aren’t they?” she said.
“They’re scared. Scared of what I can do”
“Really? And what exactly can you do?” The Doctor asked quizzically.
“I can anger them” Annabelle said.
“Oh that’s smashing, because between you and me, humans are very easy to anger, it takes the tiniest bit of pressure, but they thrive on it. This kind of anger you’re producing? It feeds on their morality, their very right to be angry, because they don’t know how to best express it to an innocent”
“So I do have power? Over them?” Annabelle said, excited to think she had such an influence.
“Nonsense, you’re an innocent, and power isn’t innocent, power puts fear into others. None of those surrounding us would dare use their power to hurt a child directly, with what they’re capable of with their own two hands, or their words, no, they’ll let the fear do all of that for them. A gesture, a glance, a telling smile, they’ll communicate that way. You’re picking up on that fear aren’t you? That’s why your state of play is more aggressive, you’re trying to make them fear what they could do if it continues. Do they have the right to lash out? What kind of monster would they become in the eyes of others as well as themselves as they did? It’s best not to wield any such power around them; they’re terrified enough as it is”
“Are they scared?” Annabelle asked.
“They’re already scared, they’re all here because something’s wrong with them, you’re here because something’s wrong with you, and you’re scared”
“Are you scared?”
“I’m scared for someone I care about, he’s been feeling a bit unwell, we’ve been up here twice already, once to take the test, and this is to find out the results”
“I hope he gets better”
“Me too” The Doctor replied
An older man with kind but exhausted eyes strolled into the waiting room, his hands in his pockets, glancing up at the bright lights before glancing in the Doctor’s direction; she immediately got up and dashed over to him.
“How’d it go?” The Doctor asked.
“Negative, the results, they came back negative” Graham O’Brien said, sighing with relief.
“You’re shaking” an observant Doctor nodded, holding his hand steady, checking his temperature with her eagerly warm free hand.
“The fear is still there” Graham replied, his eyes watering
“You’re also inflating” The Doctor replied.
Graham chuckled; he knew the Doctor was referring to his tears
“Oh, these waterworks? Don’t worry Doc, its just relief”
“Bit strange to cry when it’s nothing but good news” The Doctor replied.
“Yeah, well, you were a bit strange when I brought up my cancer anxiety to you”
“Are you ever going to let that go?” The Doctor said.
“So long as you never let go of me” he said, and planted a small tender kiss on her lips that held for what seemed like a blissful eternity
The Doctor, still locked in the kiss, gave Annabelle thumbs up. Annabelle nodded in approval.
This right there was a power she wanted to share with someone one day.
Annabelle’s mother finally got off the phone, her daughter sat besides her watching the Doctor depart with Graham, arm in arm.
“Who were you talking to dear?”