The Queen Lived

by Jacob Clifton August 1, 2008
Doctor Who Season 4

Dear Donna:

The world is wrong.

If you could see yourself the way I see you, it would be like nothing so much as a collection of stories. An infinite collection of stories, like a book. Like an infinite library: End one and go to the next, and on like that forever. That's what you deserve. But if you could see yourself the way I see you, we'd all be in trouble. Instead, you see your life as all one story. Commonplace, nothing special. That's how it works: we see our stories, for themselves; we live them. We don't see all the stories around them, moving through time, twining around each other. It's beautiful, but we can't ever see it. That's one of the differences between them and us. It's one of the things wrong with the world: we see the little things, not the big picture. Sometimes we miss the small things, too.

You'll get up tomorrow and you'll go to work at whatever unhappy place you've settled for, and you'll paste on a smile and try to avoid the wrath and the wandering hands of the workplace; you'll dress up tomorrow night and you'll go drink at whatever unhappy place you've settled for, and you'll paste on a smile and wait for someone to tell you you're not alone. And the next day, and the next. And you'll be so tired, and you'll ask yourself why there's nobody there to catch you, or take you out of this place. Your mother will call, and make you feel terrible; your grandfather is getting old. There's a sadness in his eyes, just next to his faith in you. He knows, too. He knows the world is wrong.

There are things that words can't do. That they're not designed to do. Our brains can't operate them properly. It would sound like gibberish, like the nattering of the sibylline oracles, or worse. There are truths: emotional, even cosmological, that can't survive being squished down into our petty words. And the people that can hear them, they're crazy: like survivors of a war, like people who got conned out of sanity, people for whom time and space stopped making sense. In the place where words don't go, time and space don't matter. So instead of driving each other mad, we use images, and metaphors.

I want to tell you a story, about how the world went wrong. I will tell you stories, so you don't go mad, and so I can tell you a thing that is where the words don't go.

After the double-glazier place let you go, you got a job at a place called HC Clements. You were a temp. You liked it that way. You were only ever a temp because you were drifting; you're still drifting. You were worth better than what you were getting, so you refused to commit to them. But you never reached higher than that. "Clemency" means a lessening of the penalty, without forgiveness of the crime. That's what you were doing to yourself.

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