Author's note: I've written a lot of things, but I have yet to stray into the "Doctor Who" genre of Fanfiction. Probably because my impetus for writing Fanfiction is I feel the canon is lacking in some way, and by trying to fix it, I can attain mental peace. Rather arrogant on my part, but hey, I can own that. It's not beta-ed, but that's because I'm confident enough in my own skills and spell-check on my computer not to need a beta.
Title: Fish Sticks and Bat Vomit
Rating: PG-13. For an overall depressing mood.
Summary: It tastes worse than she had imagined, and she nearly gags. But now she knows why Amelia ate it—it helped her cling to the memories of the friend she had left behind.
"Who is he?"
The young girl looks up. She can't be more than ten, but she narrows her eyes in a way that scares Jesslyn more than her mother when she forgot to do her homework. Or got a 'B' on her test. And Jesslyn's mother is very scary when Jesslyn brings home anything other than perfects marks.
"He's my Raggedy Doctor, and I'm Amelia Pond."
She looks Amelia Pond over: short, skinny, fiery red hair, lips pouting, magnificent green eyes still glaring as if daring Jesslyn to defy her.
"Amelia Pond," she says, trying the name out on her tongue. "It's a beautiful name. It's a fairytale name."
Amelia visibly deflates in front of her, and Jesslyn wants to ask what's wrong, but bites her tongue, angry at herself for her own shyness. She is afraid she cannot do anything right. She wants more than anything just to fit in; after all, that's what on the mind of most ten-year-old girls when they've moved, when they're the new kid at school, when they live alone with their controlling mother and no friends but their books. Jesslyn wanted a real friend, and this Amelia with her fairytale name seemed to be a possibility.
"D'ya bring lunch? Oi, I'm talking to you!"
She turns back to Amelia, blushing. "My mother gave me money," she stutters. "The cafeteria here—"
"Will try to poison you," Amelia snorted. Jesslyn envied her confidence. "Here, I've got sandwiches, fish sticks—Aunt Sharon might be hopeless, but she does pack enough lunch for an army. Oh, and custard. D'you like custard?"
Jesslyn shakes her head quickly. She's never tried it, but usually stays away from strange-sounding foods. Like custard. It looks weird, too, like bat-vomit. Jesslyn knows she would never be able to eat it without picturing monster bats chucking their cookies, and really, that would kill her appetite quite well.
"So you stock up on desserts from the cafeteria, and we'll split my lunch?" Amelia's smile is contagious, and Jesslyn is nodding before she realizes what she's doing. Her mother would be upset, but this new feeling, this feeling of comradery, of friendship, is so exhilarating that for a moment she forgets.
It's only afterwards, as the bell rings and they both trot off to their separate classes, that Jesslyn realizes that Amelia Pond never told her who the Raggedy Doctor was.
Jesslyn's next class is science (one of her favorites, maths and science—you can just memorize facts and be done with it. Not like literature, where you're expected to analyze. She pours hours into painstaking analyses on her book reports. No, she prefers straight facts). The teacher introduces her to the class, then points her to an empty seat in one of the desk pairings. The girl sitting next to her smiles and shakes her hand. Heather, she is called.
Heather starts talking as soon as the teacher lets them begin their group work, her mouth running faster than a cheetah, which is the fastest land mammal. Jesslyn smiles, meticulously filling out the worksheet they've been given and nodding in the right places. This is friendship, too, and she basks in it. Heather seems to know everything about everybody, and loves having someone to talk to. Then, when she notices Jesslyn has finished the worksheet, her grin grows even wider. She's not that good at science, and who doesn't appreciate a smart lab partner?
When you're ten years old, it's very easy to make friends.
She sits with Amelia at lunchtime, arms loaded with chocolate, cakes, cookies, and anything else she could get her hands on. It was probably one of the scariest moments in her life, when she stepped up to the cashier, only holding desserts, but the lunch lady didn't even look at her, only her money. So Jesslyn is grinning from ear to ear, even though she knows she didn't do much of anything, she feels like a heroine in those books that were her friends the long years of her childhood.
Amelia's already sitting down, dipping the fish stick in the bat vomit—um, custard. She has a strange expression on her face, like she feels sort of sick but refuses to give up eating the strange combination. Her face splits into a huge smile when she sees Jesslyn.
"So you didn't ditch me! And you brought the goods! Brilliant!"
Jesslyn is to busy staring at the disgusting, half-eaten concoction in Amelia's hand to notice.
"Fish sticks in custard. Most magnificent food ever."
But Jesslyn notices her grimace, and the way she sounds like she's trying to convince herself. She shrugs. "Each to her own," she says, then reaches over Amelia's shoulder to grab half a sandwich. It's corned beef. She takes a bite. It's rather good corned beef. She wouldn't mind if Aunt Sharon made lunch for her.
Amelia takes another bite of the fish stick, dips it in the…bat vomit…again, then finishes it off. She looks relatively pleased with herself, and reaches for a chocolate bar. Jesslyn smiles again. She is completely fascinated by this strange, passionate girl with her drawing of the Raggedy Doctor and her fiery temper. She even admires her, a little bit. This is the girl who would be the true heroine. Jesslyn knows that she would wait on the sidelines, until it was too late.
But right now, sitting on the sidelines, watching magnificent Amelia Pond and her culinary experiments, sharing giggles like two normal friends—it's enough.
Of course, being new at school doesn't mean you can avoid the gossip for too long. And sitting with Amelia Pond—mad, insane, seeing-a-shrink Amelia Pond—will cause looks the first time, whispers the second time, and confrontation a few more times after that. It's Heather who talks to her, after they've finished their work with a quarter of an hour to spare before the next class.
"Why do you sit next to her? Don't you know she's crazy? People are beginning to talk."
Jesslyn thinks back to the fish sticks and bat vomit. It will always be bat vomit to her now—yesterday, Amelia had nearly convinced her of trying it. The salty, greasy smell of the fish sticks mingling with the overly-sugary smell of the custard had nearly made her vomit. So she had decided her original dubbing of it as "bat vomit" had to be correct.
"She does eat rather strange food…" Jesslyn trails off.
"You mean the fish sticks and custard? You think that's strange. Oh, I keep forgetting you're new, you don't know anything that's been going on here!" Heather's eyes light up, and Jesslyn can tell she's relishing the opportunity to tell another story.
So she sits and patiently listens as Heather describes how Amelia Pond was a foreigner, and when they tried to be friendly she sort of ignored them. How everyone felt so bad for her that her parents were dead. That they could understand.
"Then…she…" Heather's voice dropped to a whisper. "She went off the deep end."
Heather describes how she got sick, and was out of school for a week, and how Jared had heard from Emma that it was because she had sat out in the cold, all night, on a suitcase. Then, when she came back, she was always rambling on, and drawing these pictures—
"About a Raggedy Doctor?" Jesslyn interrupts, too caught up in the story to bother worrying about being rude.
"Yeah. And a time machine. And every time we tell her to stop pretending, she says one day, her Doctor will come back because he promised and we're going to be the ones upset."
"Oh." Jesslyn shrugs, feeling a lot less confident now that the story is over and she's returned to her normal body. "Well, she does share her lunch with me. And she's rather nice, I suppose."
Heather grins. "Well, you're braver than the rest of us, and really kind. I would be scared to go anywhere near a crazy person. Do you know she's seeing a shrink?"
The bell rings, saving Jesslyn from any more startling revelations about her new friend.
She sits with Amelia Pond at lunch that day, and the day after. But she's a bit more tense around her, as if the fire she sensed that first day has been confirmed. Jesslyn's eyes are more wary. Still, Amelia doesn't seem to notice; she's to caught up in having a new friend. Jesslyn quickly discovers she's the only one willing to talk to her, let alone sit with her every lunch.
But the next week, the school band invites her to eat with them (she joined, to her mother's great pleasure), and she does, one day. She misses Amelia's strange conversations (do you believe time travel would be possible? why do adults always break promises? is it possible for food—say, apples, or toast—to be evil?), her corned beef sandwiches, even watching the girl choke down her fish sticks and custard. But she also wants to make friends with the band, and she's too shy to say, "no", so she sits with them one day.
The next day, she goes to Amelia's lonely table again, and Amelia grins and tosses her the sandwich half like nothing happened. And they both forget it.
But the next month, Amelia is suspended for biting the school psychiatrist's hand—"physical assault"—and Jesslyn sits with Heather for a week. Listens to the rumors for a week. And when Amelia comes back, she's more distant than ever.
And slowly, the two grow apart. They still sit together every day, but Jesslyn finds she doesn't really want to talk and Amelia seems to come to school in a darker mood every day. Jesslyn doesn't ask why, but she thinks it's because her Doctor hasn't come back yet.
"They're all liars."
Jesslyn sits there, listening like a petrified rabbit. It's lunchtime again, but Amelia hasn't touched her food. She's too busy drawing another picture of her Raggedy Doctor. Jesslyn wants to get away, but is to afraid of incurring the full wrath of this fiery Scottish girl.
"They're all liars, and mean ones at that. The Doctor never hurt them! But it's not enough! They want me to say he's not real! They're all so stupid! I'll show them, when I get to go in his magical spaceship! It has a swimming pool in the library and it's bigger on the inside and it can teleport and disappear! And I'll show them all when I'm flying around the universe with the Raggedy Doctor and I've left all of them behind!"
Amelia's eyes are wild, and her breathing is ragged. She almost seems like she's holding back tears.
"You believe me, right? You know I'm not crazy? You know he's real, right?"
Jesslyn nods, but she hesitates first, and both of them see it. Amelia winces, crumpling up the picture she had been working so fanatically on, then throwing it across the room, where it lands next to the garbage bin.
"I don't know why you bother sitting with me anymore. Go and be with your real friends," she says in a low voice.
Jesslyn scampers, unsure of how she got out of that situation unscathed, or unbitten, then guilty for thinking such against her friend.
When she looks across the room, she notices Amelia Pond morosely dipping her fish sticks into the bat vomit.
Her mother is reassigned to a new base, which means Jesslyn gets to finish up the school year then leave for a new home. It doesn't surprise her; she's done this many times. She smiles and waves and nods to all the "keep in touch"s that are shouted towards her. Amelia Pond just meets her eye and nods. Somehow, this touches her heart more than any of the other farewells. She feels like she's been forgiven, like she's been released.
When she reaches her new home, though, it hits her. How much it hurts to lose a true friend. The first true friend she ever had, and she ruined it all, and now she was gone before they could properly make up.
She wanders to the kitchen. The new house seems big and emptier than usual and almost a bit menacing. Her mother is out running errands—and there are a lot to run after relocating—so she's painfully aware of how alone she is.
Without realizing it, she's grabbed a plate of leftover fish sticks from last night. They don't have any custard—not real custard—but she finds an old little can of coconut pudding in the bottom of the refrigerator, and decides it's good enough. She opens it, grimacing. It looks enough like bat vomit, so it will do.
Pinching her nose, she gingerly dips the fish stick into the container, swirling it around and stirring the off-white mush, then scooping it up so a generous serving of the bat vomit remains on the fish. Quickly, before she could lose her courage, she shoves the whole thing in her mouth.
It tastes worse than she had imagined, and she nearly gags. But now she knows why Amelia ate it—it helped her cling to the memories of the friend she had left behind. So she swallows, she smiles, and she reaches for another.
I appreciate any comment that will help me improve my writing. I do know that there are some grammatical errors, namely fragmented sentences. I do not need a beta; they were on purpose. Otherwise, anything you say that can help me become a better writer is much appreciated.