. . .
The Girl Who Forgot
The First Life of River Song
. . .
The first time she lived, she did not truly live at all. It was a half-life. A nightmare accompanied by just a hint of amnesia. Pain had no memories, but fear had many. Memories that terrorized and stilled hearts and threatened the world she, or maybe he, had created long after the fact.
The first life of Melody Pond was not a happy one.
But in the end, the very end, she recalled very little of it anyway. She let those memories slip away first, let them go undocumented in the story of her life, and did not think any more of them once she had escaped the nightmares they had brought. What she chose to remember were the times after that first life and sometimes, she forgot that total existence entirely. It added up to nothing in the end, the very end. It had no weight compared to the rest of the time she had been given. None at all.
And those were not even the worst, the most dreadful, times in her life. As dark as her first breaths of life had been, there were times far more painful that she could recall with so much clarity. They should have been the worst. A child swallowed by an astronaut. It should have been the very worst. But it couldn't compare to the pain she felt in the end, not in death, but before it. The stare that meant nothing. The distrust. The slow rewind. Watching him slowly forget her, until he didn't know her at all. That was the very worst.
No, there were far worse times after her first lifetime. Far better and far worse.
But why it was this lifetime so assuredly forgotten was unapparent. It could have been explained by the amnesia imparted on her, it could have been explained by the silence of that life. It would have made the most sense that she couldn't remember because so much of it was spent in darkness, in silence. But she knew the truth. That lifetime was cloaked in her memory by its absences not of mind, but of soul.
It was because, in that lifetime, she never knew him.
. . .
She could recall some. Bits and pieces of remembrance. Emotions, fear. Images, like photos of strangers. It was not much. Enough for nightmares, always, but not enough to leave a lasting sting on her hearts.
She had few whole memories.
But there were some.
. . .
A little girl, her eyes shut tight as she tried desperately to cling to the unfamiliar, distant warmth that spread through her veins while she slept. But when she was awake there was silence and cold. No matter how hard she tried, eyes shut, knees hugged to her chest – she couldn't quite keep it from slipping away from her. It was some off feeling, something she didn't understand but still longed for. Warmth, warmth. Like when the radiator worked in the winter or when the rain outside stopped and she would press her palm to the sunny window. Like a sweater. It felt like that. But not.
That temperate sensation she clung to was all senses, encompassed all things. Like a feeling. It surrounded. Like the loneliness did.
It always left her when the dreams faded away. And then there was just peeling wallpaper. A locked door. Voices, then no voices. A cold night where the stars didn't shine and she could not sleep out of fear of something, nothing, anything.
. . .
Spacesuit, spaceman, astronaut, spaceman, astronaut, spacesuit. Walking closer, no one inside.
And she knew it was going to eat her.
. . .
And before the wallpaper were the white, sterile rooms. Burgundy lips telling her awful things, horrible things. The woman who held her. Her dark lips, burgundy lips, and her stories. Those awful stories. She didn't understand them, she never would, but she knew the name of those awful stories. The woman never let her forget. They were named Doctor. And every cold metal shot, every strike of the hand, every time she went to bed hungry. They were all Doctor.
The lady with burgundy lips and one eye was never unkind, but she always knew what was cruel.
. . .
Stories, tales, horrible legends whispered through thin lips. A man who would tear down worlds and brought demons and death and destruction and the end. A man who would rip holes in the universe and shatter time itself, bending space to his will. A man who answered to no god, a man who had to be stopped. A man at war.
A man who, they told her, she was going to kill. Had to kill. Would kill. Must kill.
A man who, they said, was come for her. And that was terribly frightening, in an indistinct way, to the child. And thrilling. She knew nothing of his crimes, she was never told anything implicit that the man had done, just told horror stories of sinister death brought on, always, always, by him.
He was going to take her away, they said. Why? When? How? And never an answer. Always, the horror, then the threat. Never an answer.
Secretly, she hoped he was on his way.
Frankly, she didn't believe he existed.
. . .
The funny man who made no sense. Get out. Leave now. Broken toys. Get out. Leave now.
. . .
Most of her childhood was a dark expanse in her memory. Just a vague recall of the nightmare realm she had once dwelt in. An absence, the loneliness. The emotions and feelings of that little girl were recalled best, years later, when she was too far away in space and time to still fear the monsters in her memory. Even then they were recalled only in wicked ambiguity. Monsters with burgundy lips and monsters she could not see or hear or commit to memory. She remembered the numbness the cold draft in her bedroom brought, the spaceman. The cool plastic of the gun she was made to hold. The terrible tales that were all she was allowed to know.
. . .
The cry for help, over and over. A bullet, aimed at her. The red-head. The man. And escaping, running. Though she didn't know what from. Running, running, running. Help me, please.
And a little girl, going up in a golden combustion of blazing light.