Songs Your Mother Never Sang You
Sometimes you dream in black and white. You never used to, before, but now soft grays color your mother's face, and sometimes she will sing songs that you have never heard before, but you will feel like you should have remembered them somehow. Her voice crackles with warmth, and it feels safe.
You will wake up, your head still spinning like an old film reel, and blink slowly against the dim light that glows in the corners of your room. False sunlight shines through a false window, casting intricate patterns against your skin, and the deep color of your duvet.
Last night, he had said that a storm was approaching.
There is a place in Ursa Minor where the stars line up with such imperfect symmetry that the light filters through in unimaginable ways, bending into new layers of color, impossible to see without a curved glass found in galaxies far, far away.
Neither of you are very good at accepting impossible, and the spectrum you are confronted with fills you with such awed silence that he will wonder if he has done something wrong, and his hands will tremble with a sudden idleness. You stare so long that the afterimage is burned into your eyes for days, a hazy kaleidoscope which glances at the edges of your vision, making the corners of things vibrate in interesting ways.
Weeks later, thumbing through an old box in the wardrobe, you will find a small bouquet of straw, and an oiling can. But there, near the bottom, nestled under an old painting, you will find a pair of silver shoes. They shine impossibly in the gold glow of the ship, and you stare at the roaring lion on the canvas as you slip your feet into them.
They are a perfect fit. Your smile is wide, and hair falls across your vision as you stand and look down at them, and you spin in place. You wonder if he will take you dancing.
You are sinking into a field of brilliant reds. He has taken you to a planet full of meadows, where all the flowers look like they've caught fire as the sun melts into the horizon. Your laugh is soft, breathy, because you are staring up into an alien sky where magentas roll brightly into violets, and he has lain down beside you, and taken your hand. You can feel your chest rising and falling, and the tall stalks of the flowers sway above you, and he is laughing too. He says something about the Medusa Cascade, and is carefully quiet after, but you don't quite know what it means, or if he even meant to say anything.
The sky is still roiling and swirling with color, but you roll onto your side, and smile down at him, your hands still entwined between your bodies. He looks at you, looks like he wants to say something to you, but you press your lips onto his instead. After an unsure pause, he responds, opens his mouth and allows you entrance. He tastes somewhat like bruised plums, sweet and earthy, and after a long moment your lips feel electric, and your heart feels free. It's dark, but his hands are soft and warm, and the walk back to your home is slow and unhurried.
Later, while making tea and casting glances at each other, you will ask him why all those flowers seemed so familiar, why the smell of them made your head tingle so delightfully. He will say something intelligent and funny and your laughter will sing through the kitchen.
Poppies, you will write with slants and curves, are really quite wonderful.
And then you will tuck your journal away, and climb back into his bed.
There is a world with towering cliffs, reaching toward the sky with ambition, and you walk with him through twisting archways of rock, under mountains and above rivers. He tells you that once, this place held the seasons so powerfully that spring would coat the ground with a rich green grass, that it would be uninterrupted for miles and miles. But now it was winter, he tells you, but oh if you could see the spring! It was like, it was— it was like an emerald city, he laughs. You laugh too, and glance upwards toward the native bird population. They look like dragons, you say lightly, to see if he will deny it. But he says something else instead.
How long are you going to stay with me?
Sometimes, in your darkest moments, you will wonder if closing the breach was really worth it.
But then, the sun will rise, and the poppies on the sill of the kitchen window will burn with the light it brings. Outside, light falls on the driveway when you get the morning paper, and walking back to the front door you admire how yellow the pavement looks, and a thought, unbidden, of a lion's mane, will pass silently through your mind.
You don't exactly burn the coffee, but somehow it seems more bitter than usual.
The beach is cold, and it bites through your coat; invades the joints in your hands and your calm exterior. He appears, and your hope is guarded, your joy is patient.
If it's my last chance to say it, he says.
Rose Tyler, he says.
And then he says nothing. And then he is nothing.
And then your hope, and your joy, and your patience and distance, is nothing. Color seeps away from your vision, sobs clouding white against the air, and you are sinking into grays, the wet sand gleaming sadly beneath your feet, and waves lap in a somber ocean, and ancient clouds hang in an ashen sky.
Your hair is white in the dying light, and your lips are white from the cold, and black smears down your cheeks like you're crying oil instead of tears.
But your eyes are gold.