la chanson de la tristesse

Ah, when to the heart of man Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
          Robert Frost (1874-1963) 

No response.

‘Oi, Doctor!’

Rose Tyler called from across the TARDIS console, valiantly holding on to the padded railing that separated the control deck from a rather precipitous drop to the floor below. She found it odd that the Doctor never seemed to be too concerned with pitching over the side; then again, if he were actually 900 plus years old, as he seemed to imply, she assumed he was just used to the violent shuddering of his ship in flight.

‘A little busy now…hold on!’ he yelled. He had to yell, actually…the ship was making some decidedly strange noises as it shuddered to and fro as it made its way through the Time Vortex. That was what the Doctor called it…the Time Vortex. She almost hadn’t wanted to believe him, but after seeing shop mannequins come to life, followed by a trip to the year five billion, and then a side excursion to Cardiff in 1869 (the Doctor had promised her Naples and 1860, but meeting Charles Dickens, she thought, was a fair enough exchange for that little mishap)…well, she was willing to cut him a little slack.

The TARDIS finally seemed to settle down, and the Doctor slumped back in a seat across from his usual position at the controls. ‘So, what’s on your mind, Rose Tyler?’

Rose smiled as she walked around the console nearer where she stood. She noticed how his leather jacked bunched up and crinkled as he slouched in his seat. ‘You know, sitting like that’s bad for your posture.’

The Doctor scoffed. ‘You should see how you sit! Half the time I’m certain you’re going to slide right out of your seat!’

Rose tried to scowl at him, but failed miserably. ‘OK, fair point.’ She paused for a second, biting her lip. ‘So, anyway…where are we off to now?’

The Doctor smiled. ‘Where do you want to go? We’ve seen the past, we’ve seen the future…the whole universe is at my fingertips. Just say the word and we’ll be there.’

Rose looked at him, still not quite believing.


The Doctor nodded. ‘Anywhere.’

Rose tapped her cheek, deep in thought. ‘So if I said I wanted to go to a planet where dogs walked on two feet and talked…’

The Doctor waved his hand dismissively. ‘Too many of those. It gets boring after the first five minutes. Trust me. Think bigger.’

Rose smiled. ‘Ok, then…how about we go see the Great Pyramid getting built?’

'You got twenty years?’

Rose’s eyes grew wide. ‘What?’

This time it was the Doctor’s turn to smile. ‘What, you actually thought it just happened overnight?’

‘But I thought…people said…’

‘Aliens?’ The Doctor scoffed. ‘Really, Rose…aliens have far better things to do than build pyramids out in the middle of a desert.’

Rose slumped against the railing, her arms crossed around her, her face petulant, but perhaps not wrongly so.

‘Alright then, mister know-it-all. Since none of my ideas seem to meet your exacting requirements, how about you decide where we go.’

The Doctor pouted…at least as much as he was capable of doing. ‘Oh come on, Rose…you’ve got all of time and space…everything that has ever happened or will happen. All I’m trying to do is get you to think bigger.’

He turned to the console, spun a few wheels, and flipped a lever or two.

‘But if you insist, I know just the place.’

Rose’s ears perked up. ‘An alien planet?’

She could see the Doctor smile as he concentrated at the controls. ‘You might say that. It may well be alien to you, at least.’

‘Where? Tell me!’

The Doctor looked up. ‘Not until we get there!’

‘Spoilsport.’ Rose slumped back against the railing yet again.

‘Every day…until it stops being fun,’ the Doctor replied cheekily.

‘At least give me a clue, Doctor.’

The Doctor looked up from the console, thought for a moment, and then smiled. ‘OK, Rose Tyler…I’m taking you to a concert.’

Rose’s face lit up as she smiled. ‘No way! Who?’

The Doctor waved his hand dismissively. ‘No, not The Who. Too loud.’

‘I didn’t mean The Who! I meant who are we going to see?’


Rose thought for a moment. ‘Umm…Justin Timberlake?’

The Doctor shook his head in the negative, while the look on his eyes asked the unvoiced question ‘Did you really suggest Justin Timberlake?’



‘Muse.’ Rose’s eyes opened wide as she clapped her hands. ‘ Oh my god, you’re taking me to see Muse.’

The Doctor laughed. ‘Maybe in a couple years. Wait till they release The Resistance…such an amazing album, even to an old guy like me. But no, not Muse.’

Rose pouted. ‘Tell me then. Please.’ She dragged out the ‘please’ as long as possible, hoping to play on the Doctor’s sympathy to get an answer.

The response was, unfortunately, just as she expected.

‘It’s a surprise.’ Followed by a trademark Doctor smile.

Rose watched as the central column of the TARDIS control shifted up and down. Even with as short a time as she had been traveling with the Doctor, she’d grown used to that rhythmic ebb and flow. She’d found herself accustomed to the pulsing, almost heartbeat like thrum of the ship as it sat at rest. There were times she almost thought the TARDIS seemed alive…and there were most certainly times she felt the Doctor treated it as such. Subconsciously she grabbed onto the thick padding wrapped around the bare metal railing. She wondered how much protection it would actually offer if the TARDIS hit some real turbulence that would cause her to go flying, but she pushed that thought out of her mind. The Doctor had said that traveling with him was dangerous, but surely he was just exaggerating…trying to dissuade her from joining him. But really…a life of chips and Henriks…not that she had a job there, not after the Doctor blew the place up after something called a Nestene Consciousness caused all the shop window dummies to come to life and attack the city…or this?

She’d pick this.

Every day of the week.

So she stood there, watching this stranger (for really, he was still pretty much a stranger, even after fixing up her cell so she could call her mum from anywhere) in a leather jacket, jumper and black jeans somehow controlling a ship that defied all rules of logic. She waited to find out just what amazing place he had planned for them to explore. Maybe it’d be some alien jungle where the trees spoke, or a vast planet with mountains of crystal and grass that smelled of rare and exotic fruits. He said the possibilities were endless, and she tried to imagine how endless they could possibly be.