Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: Joan Redfern, OC
Genre: Character Study
Word Count: 494
Summary: An opened heart closes again, at least for now.
This was written for LiteraryFanFiction for the 1/23/2015 Flash Fan Fiction Friday contest (prompt is "Secondary Character Narration", though this really feels more like a tertiary character narration) and the "Vast" drabble prompt for the who_contest community on LiveJournal.
Requires familiarity with "Human Nature" / "Family of Blood", to the point where this story won't make any sense if you're not familiar with that episode pair.
The second-to-the-last time I saw her was late the next day. We were all exhausted, after rounding all the boys back up, delivering them to their frightened parents, explaining to all of them what had happened the night before when we weren't even sure ourselves. The school finally empty of panicked families, she was standing alone in the cavernous entrance hallway, seemingly dazed. The rest of the staff had gone home, so it was just her and me.
"There's nothing left to do today," I called to her. "You should go home."
"Yes, thank you, Thomas," she murmured. "I believe I shall." She didn't look at me. Instead, she gazed about the chamber. "I never realised how echoing and empty it is, when everyone is taken from it. So silent, when the voices you've grown accustomed to are gone."
Stepping to her, I squeezed her shoulder. "Don't despair, Joan. Strange things have happened here, and we've suffered terrible losses, but thankfully, none of the boys were injured. Rocastle, Philips, and Smith gave their lives to defend them, and we should think them all heroes. The school will reopen, next year maybe, and these halls will be filled again. We’ll need you."
"Perhaps. I never thought..." She turned away, and I had the distinct impression she hadn't been talking about the school. "Do you think...?"
"Yes?" I tried to coax her question as gently as I could, and she peered back at me.
"Does God understand us at all?" The question took me aback, and she continued when I wasn’t inclined to respond. "If He were to walk amongst us, what must He see? I cannot think that He feels as we do. He is so vast, so far above us, could He comprehend all our little concerns, our loves, our tragedies? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but can He really know what the gift and the loss mean to us? I cannot think that He understands why we love when we do."
I admit, I had no answer and gaped like a goldfish. She smiled. "Ah, I am being silly. Don't mind me, Thomas. I am so very tired, I don’t know what I’m saying. I shall see you tomorrow. I've the infirmary to clean up." She nodded to me and let herself out of the tall front doors.
I saw her for the last time a month later, in the church graveyard, from a distance, She had a book clutched to her breast, and I saw her place a large red flower in front of John's gravestone. She spoke, but I could not hear what she said to him. Then she left, and I am given to understand that she caught the post to Norwich that day, and then a train to some distant place. As I approached his marker, I saw that she hadn't left a flower. It was a cricket ball. I suppose I shall always wonder why.