The Hungry Woman

Ambrose Northover did her best, she really did.

She would have put all her energy into raising Elliot if not for the fact that he was already raised, and he never looked at her properly again, and stayed close to his father and excluded her. He grew into a teenager, did not rebel in the slightest, and went to study History at Oxford. Before he drove away she told him she loved him, but he did not answer back. She watched the car as it went down the road and felt crushed and sad and hungry, starved for affection, longing for it. For love had been lacking, ever since that day.

She discovered later that he had taken a picture of his grandfather from the living room, and that night she cried, as she had cried so often before. Mo made little attempt to comfort her, just squeezed her hand, did not hug her.

Mo did not stick around for long after Elliot had left: now that they had sucessfully raised a child he needed nothing else from her, there was no love in his eyes. They both agreed to a quiet divorce, and Mo moved out, taking a flat in Cardiff and getting a job down there. The look on his face as he left with his bags and suitcases, the look on Elliot's face as he went to his car, they both said You failed. We don't want you anymore. Some days she hated herself for her actions, for she had nearly killed them all, and somedays she wanted to kneel and scream for the unfairness of the world.

She was not bad, she was not the worst. She had cared for her mother, she had loved her son and husband, she had held her sister-in-law after her fourth miscarriage. She had volunteered for charities, she had given to the homeless, she had tortured someone to death but she hadn't wanted to.

Sometimes she searched the Internet for news of The Doctor, but there was rarely anything. She stumbled across an old website which seemed to imply he'd been around for a long time, and others which hinted he'd had a hand in preventing so much horror: the Earth moving in 2009, the monsters that roamed and marched down the street in 2007, countless storms and fires and explosions in the sky.

Oh, she had tried. The sky had turned black before and the televisions had stopped working, she had run to help Elliot when he and Mo had climbed to the roof on that long dark Christmas. And when it had been over they had cried and hugged her. And now all that was over, and her family had left.

She spent long days working as a copywriter and watching the television, keeping to the news channels and waiting for monsters. Whenever she walked through the fields she imagined the things beneath her feet, sleeping, ready to wake and take over when she and Mo and Elliot were long dead.

The dreams she had were haunted. The name Alaya never left her head, the name of the woman or the monster she'd killed. And her sister, that noise she made, the look on her face when she saw the body. What had her sister even been called? She couldn't remember.

She never entered the church again, that was another thing, even though she'd previously had a little faith and sometimes gone in there just for the quiet and the calm and the feeling of peace. But now, not now, not when she'd been told to wait in the church and be the best of humanity, and been so far from that instead. The two of them (or had there been three? She was always fuzzy on the details) had been tested and she had been the only one to truly fail.

Once or twice she fell into the beginning of a relationship, but they never lasted, it was as if everyone around her could sense she was broken. She remained in contact with Elliot, just about, but Mo soon disappeared from the picture. And as time went by she grew more bitter, and would turn on the television to hear of mass murders and tyrants and torture, and she would think or scream I'm not that bad, I'm no monster, I'm not the worst of humanity, I'm not even close. But there would come no answer from the sky.

Elliot came down one Christmas and almost flinched at the sight of her sunken face and miserable eyes, giving her an almost warm hug and telling her about his new girlfriend and his life.

"About the Doctor..." he said, towards the end of the day.

"Yes?"

He didn't say any of the many words she longed for, he just said, "I wish he'd come back to see us, him and Amy and Rory."

"Who?"

"Amy, Rory, those people he had with him. They were ordinary people, I think, but they were his friends."

"Oh yes, I forgot." She wondered what Amy and Rory had done, what had been so right about them and so wrong about her.

Elliot gave her a long look. "Mum..." he said, but he didn't say anything after that. He did take a picture from his backpack, though, and replaced it on the living room table. "I took this with me, Dad said I could," he said. "But I think it's yours."

"Thank you," Ambrose said.

Elliot nodded, quite sadly, and not long after that he left. Ambrose stood outside the car.

"I love you," she said.

Elliot just nodded, although he did sort of lean out of the car window and hug her a little. "You did okay, Mum," he finally said, and drove off.

That should have given her closure of some kind but it didn't. She remained hungry for love, for the people she loved who had rejected her, for a child she had carried and raised and seemed to now be not good enough for. All through the evening and the evenings to come she watched television, dreamed of bigger and darker things than herself, and looked at the picture of her father. She had said she loved him before he left her forever, but he had not said the words back. And now he waited beneath the Earth, but when he returned she would be dead.

She grew older and Elliot sent Christmas cards and Mo married again, and more things appeared in and vanished from the sky, and she wondered if all of history was rewritten around her, around all of them, and if it was the Doctor who held the pen.

She became an old woman and nothing rose from beneath the earth to claim revenge. She was kind to her neighbours, kind to everyone, she gave to charity and stopped to help those who fell over in the street, whose cars broke down on the deserted roads, anyone in need. No-one who met her had a bad word to say about her, and she was not the worst of humanity, not at all. But she lived a lonely life and died a lonely death, because after what she had done no-one said 'I love you' to her ever again.