Doctor Who Internet Adventure #24 - "Remiel"

"Epilogue 2 — Visitations"
by Keith Murray


She lived every day as though it would be her last.

       At least, that's what she told herself. In practice, it would be more accurate to say that she lived each day as though the next would be her last. She found herself thinking of ideas for things to do, clever last words to utter, and scrabbling for pieces of paper to write them on. Every day would be full of great new ideas. Every day, the pile of papers would grow larger, as the memories that made her who she was faded away. Admittedly, some days were better than others; some days she would forget who she was altogether, while others she would almost be her old self, back when she ran the Guild of Poetic Justice. She was always surrounded by those who loved her, though.

       There was always someone with her, someone who cared enough to refresh her memory. Usually, that was enough. There had been one time that she had wandered off on her own, but eventually they found her, sitting by the side of the street, talking to a young girl about the differences between buttercups and daisies. She didn't know what all the fuss was about at first, and then gradually she pieced things back together again. And then she cried. She was forty-five years old, and although she was in perfect health, she knew that she was going to die.

       She lived in a small cottage at the end of her brother's garden. Her brother and his family lived in a large house a few miles out of the city, with a huge garden that he claimed was great for kids. For the last five years, she had lived with them, yet slightly apart; near to them but still far enough away to keep her independence. The cottage itself was a small building, built of concrete and glass, designed to remind her of places that she'd been in other times. A path led down from the main house, winding into the trees, and in a moment of sudden stillness in the garden, her cottage both distracted from the natural beauty, and accentuated it. She grew roses, when she remembered, and her windows were always open. The cottage was simple; a large sitting room with doors at both ends, and a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom leading from the main room — not that she ever used the kitchen.

       The walls were whitewashed, although a large map of the Earth dominated one wall. Sometimes she liked to look at the map, to try to remember the names that were both familiar and strange.

       "Auntie K'rena?"

       She looked up from her copy of Anna Karenina, as Layra ran in to the cottage.

       The girl had scraped her knee again — probably climbing the apple tree, despite the number of times she'd been told that the fruit would not yet be ripe. She was always getting herself in to trouble, always finding some new scar. Her hands were filthy, and there was a tear in the sleeve of her tee shirt. Her hair had fallen out of its usual pony tail, and a mess of dark blond curls fell around her face.

       "Auntie K'rena? Want to play?"

       She laughed softly. "I don't know, love. Maybe not today."

       "Why not?"

       Kirena Morok smiled. She knew this game. She herself had taught it to the girl, almost four years ago. "Because I say so. Now, run and get your father. I have things to discuss with him."

       Layra ran up to her and kissed her, just a peck on the cheek. "Love you, Auntie K'rena."

       "Love you too."

* * *

Jadi hardly saw his sister these days. He couldn't bear to look at her, to see how little of the woman who had been like a mother to him remained.

       She needed almost constant care, and he found it too hard. It fell to the women of the household — to Angela, to Menha, even to young Layra — to make sure that Kirena was cared for properly. While he was sure that nobody doubted his devotion to his sister, Jadi couldn't feel as sure of himself.

       Angela told him that most of the time Kirena didn't even remember that she had a brother, and if he was being honest with himself then he thought that it was probably for the best. He was incredibly nervous as he walked the path that led from his house to her cottage, wishing that Angela was there to give him advice. Still, Kirena had asked for him explicitly, and that had to mean something, didn't it?

       Her cottage looked smaller than he remembered it, and the doors were open wide.


       She emerged from the building smiling. She was wearing a long cotton skirt and a white silk blouse. Round her neck hung a small key on a leather string.

       Her hair was tied back, the way it had been for most of her thirties. She was smiling, and she looked well — better than he had seen her in years.

       "I thought that I asked you never to call me that again."

       "I thought that you had forgotten about that."

       "I had. I remember now. I remember everything."

       And then she threw her arms around him, and hugged him so hard that he thought that she might burst him open.

       "I think," she said as she held him, her voice little more than a whisper, "that it will probably be today."

       "What do you want me to do?" he asked.

       "Stay with me, here in my home. Sit with me today. I've not seen you for four months — you must have stories to tell me."

       And so he did. They sat on the back porch, jutting out over the river that ran along the bottom of the garden. And he told her about the business deals that he'd been pushing, about the changes that he'd been helping Menha push through the Guild Council, and about how he himself had assassinated not only the Utarg of Targ, but also three Ugraks and a Fnord.

       She seemed to be almost her old self again — better than ever in fact. Because she remembered everything that had ever happened to her, as though it had been seconds ago. She could — and did — recite every word of his school reports, could tell him about his catalogue of childhood scars, and laugh at how similar his daughter was to him. They discussed what she wanted to happen to her things after she had gone. They ate chocolate cake for lunch, drank tea laced with red wine in the afternoon, and watched the sun go down over the distant towers of Kapone City together. Layra came to join them from time to time, wandering off again when they started reminiscing about their childhood. Grown-ups weren't meant to have been children ever.

* * *

Late in the evening, Jadi went back up to the main house to read Layra a bed time story. Kirena was tired, too, but said that it was all right for Jadi to leave. His place was with his family. They left each other with the words "see you tomorrow," although they both knew that they wouldn't.

       After that, Kirena had more visitors.

* * *

Menha Narranov only stayed a few moments. Kirena had moved inside against the chill of the evening, and sat on the sofa by the fireside. The cottage was lit by candles now, and in their warmth she looked healthy again.

       "Menha. Thank you for coming."

       Menha cried then, for the first time that Kirena could remember. She wrapped her arms around Kirena and hugged her, until eventually she stopped sobbing and pulled away, her eyes still red.

       "I love you," she said, kissing Kirena on the cheek before she left.

* * *

Next came the Doctor, two of him. The one that Kirena had travelled with, and the one after that.

* * *

Finally, her husband arrived, with their son asleep in his cot. He was exhausted after the rush back from Earth, but the smile of recognition that greeted him made it all worthwhile. He gathered Kirena up in his arms and held her until the fire went out and the last candle had flickered and died.

       They fell asleep in each others arms, their two hearts beating as one.

       And in the morning, when he awoke, he was alone.

* * *

And after she was gone?

       After she was gone, nobody wrote books about her, or sang songs about her exploits. The guild that she had founded grew from strength to strength, but her role in founding it was not commemorated, except by a plaque that bore her name and nothing else. Nobody named planets after her, or stars.

       But her family remembered her, and did so with love.

       And that is all that she ever truly wanted to achieve.


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