She used to orbit around someone like that once too. She used to look around with wide eyed wonder at time and worlds beyond her comprehension. Now she’s here in Barcelona without him, the sun beating down against fragile skin and loneliness beating against her heart like a stone. 573
Fingers, knees and knuckles scraped
All of the rubbish heaped
A piece of cardboard taped
Up where the bedroom windowpane used to be
From here you can almost
From here you can almost see the sea
They’re in sunny Spain for a family holiday – Tony’s first ever out of the country and he is a bundle of nerves and excitement. He has created a somewhat wobbly orbit around his family, flinging his small personage about, careening in small circles to observe his surroundings only to veer back and crash into his parents when it all becomes too overwhelming for him.
He is still young after all.
As she watches him Rose is reminded of her own first travels – out of England, into space, off world, into the next galaxy...
Tony Tyler is a planet, new and still forming. He brims with something as potent and beautiful as molten rocks – life. Bubbling up within him and bursting forth with neither care nor thought to how it will affect those around him.
His family is the sun, the centre of his world.
She used to orbit around someone like that once too. She used to look around with wide eyed wonder at time and worlds beyond her comprehension.
Now she’s here in Barcelona without him, the sun beating down against fragile skin and loneliness beating against her heart like a stone.
He tried to explain to her once (and she never actually understood until she ended up here) how you could be in a crowd and still be alone, completely disconnected.
She’s suddenly light headed in the heat and she finds herself alone – her family having moved on without her. She turns, hand inexplicably reaching for comfort that isn’t there and when someone bumps into her she takes fright. Takes flight.
Like some startled bird, yellow plumed and white feathered she runs. Feet pound and arms pump, legs push and muscles contract-release.
It’s a wonder her bones don’t shatter where she stands.
Somewhere along the way she loses her sandals cries with the pain, the rip and tear of skin. She keeps on running. She trips and stumbles, grazing her knees and jolting her wrists. Her palms sting with the scrape of concrete and as she pushes herself up she is barely even aware of where she’s going, knocks into a brick wall and feels the scrape of skin as it detaches from the third knuckle on her right hand.
The sting, the scrape. The ache. The lonely, lonely, lonely...
She moves on again – passes doorways, walls, a window boarded up with cardboard. She smells the salt air long before the beach appears and when it does she stops still and forgets to breathe.
Overhead the gulls scream.
Rose Tyler walks out, takes a deep breath and plunges in.
It is heart-stoppingly cold.
They find her standing in the surf at sundown, shallow waves laughing about her ankles and her hands limp by her side. Her eyes are vacant and unresponsive to all words but when Jackie takes her by the shoulder her right hand twitches, still searching, wanting, needing someone to hold onto. Her dress is dripping and she is cold.
It is only when she is out of the water that she begins to realise she is shivering.
The iodine stings her cuts and scrapes like all hell and leaves her skin yellow, orange, red. Tony climbs into her lap for a cuddle, worried sick and she manages a smile and drops a kiss onto his hair.
Her hand is still empty but for the first time in what feels like forever she is the tiniest bit alive.