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Title: A Teacher and a Housemaid: "Looking to the Future"
Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: Martha Jones
Pairing(s): None
Rating: G
Genre: General
Word Count: 761

Summary: Martha gets a very brief respite from her work.

Notes: Written for who_contest's one-shot prompt, "Anachronism".


Master Post





Stumbling into the tiny room she shared with Jenny, Martha collapsed on her cot and tried her hardest to keep from bursting into tears. The stripes on her back, hidden by her maid’s uniform, stung and burned, and would only get worse as she worked through the evening, serving dinner to the scores of snobby boys and cleaning the kitchen afterward, then attending Mr. Smith until he retired. She had only this brief moment of respite to collect herself, to regain her resolve.

The beating hadn’t even been fair. It hadn’t been her fault that the bucket had overturned, spilling dirty suds all across the west wing corridor and blocking passage during class change. That boy, Master Palmer - Little Tommy, she liked to think of him, as she felt that few of the boys deserved the honorific she was required to give them - had kicked the bucket as he was passing. She suspected he’d only meant to splash her with the filthy water, to give his schoolmates something to laugh at, but his kick had gone wide. By the time authority had arrived, in this case in the form of Mr. Andrews, the maths teacher, all of the boys in the corridor were parroting the story that she’d tossed the bucket in Palmer’s path. It didn’t take long to get dragged down below stairs for punishment - after cleaning up the mess, of course.

The only thing about this encounter she could be proud of was that she’d refrained from yelling in protest when the bucket had gone flying. The boys were experts at torturing the lower wait staff with impunity, and they’d learnt to target her because she hadn’t yet reined in her tongue. Her first instinct was to defend herself, but it never helped - and, in fact, got her even deeper into trouble, as a woman of her skin colour dared to talk back to a white boy - and she’d finally learnt to suppress it. It had only taken her two weeks of toiling away, serving these malicious, arrogant lads to learn to defend herself with silence.

Hugging herself against the throbbing of her back, Martha resisted the urge to lie down to relax for a few minutes; she’d be taken to task again if a single hair was out of place. Instead, she stared at her shoes and tried to remember why she was here, doing menial labour in 1913, in the first place. She didn’t know why but sometimes, it was so difficult to remember. I’ve seen so many wonderful, beautiful things, travelling with the Doctor, and it only stands to reason there’ll be hard times, too. But is this worth it? What about Mum? Is all the wonder worth falling out with her?

Pushing herself to her feet, she dropped to her knees by her small trunk and, pulling her key from her pocket, opened the lock. She threw the lid back and dug under the very few possessions she had for the most valuable and dangerous thing she owned: her mobile. Punching the “on” button, she threw a nervous glance at the door as she waited for it to power up. Every time she touched it, she wondered what would happen if she were found, here in 1913, with a piece of 2008 technology. Would this tiny object be enough to throw a twentieth-century English town back to the days of witch hunts? But it was worth the risk, because it was her only connection to home and family.

As soon as the home screen appeared, she opened her photos, her fingers now so accustomed to the keypresses required to pull them up that she no longer needed to read the menus. A soft, tender smile blossomed, illuminating her eyes, her very skin. There’s Leo’s party. Tish and Mum. Dad and… Annalise. She sneered at that image, though with a touch of fondness. Oh, and the mixer at school. Oliver and Julia. And, oh, Mum and Leo and the baby. Somehow, the pain on her back seemed duller, less distracting. I’m sorry, Mum. I’ll tell you all about it, when I finally come home, I promise. I love you all, but I have to do this. Yeah, I’m doing this for the Doctor, but it’s really for myself. I can’t pass this up. And it’s all worth it.

Powering down the mobile, she tucked it back in the trunk and locked it up tight. Climbing to her feet, she straightened her dress, checked herself over, and strode out of the room to get back to work.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dtstrainers
Mar. 8th, 2016 09:49 am (UTC)
Whoa! You've packed quite a bit into this short piece- very economical, yet very evocative. I'd forgotten Martha would have had her mobile at hand. Using it as people might have used a photo album in the past was a masterstroke.

Well done!
shivver13
Mar. 10th, 2016 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I don't know what made me think of the phone. I just figured that Martha would have something with her to keep her grounded. The show made it clear that she didn't return to the TARDIS all that often.
bas_math_girl
Mar. 8th, 2016 02:13 pm (UTC)
The programme glossed over how awful a time Martha would have had as a housemaid. You've described some of them wonderfully. Poor Martha facing such prejudice. She really did deserve a medal for all the things she put up.
shivver13
Mar. 10th, 2016 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, it did, though I am glad that it put in as much as it did. Actually, this was discussed at a panel in Gallifrey One, and one of the audience members piped up and said that he didn't remember Martha being treated badly at all, because of either her race or status. They had to point out to him Hutchinson's hand remark.

Interestingly, no one mentioned the other two insults - Joan's remark that a skivvie of "your colour" couldn't become a doctor and John's "Cultural differences!" reason for why Martha couldn't possibly understand. I wonder if the audience glosses over those simply because they were uttered by "hero" characters?

But yes, Martha really deserved tons of medals for everything she did. With this episode, Blink, and then the Year That Never Was all in a row, she shouldered far more than any companion ever, and without complaint. (And to think Clara spent a year trying to be the Doctor, when Martha just did it naturally.)
a_phoenixdragon
Mar. 13th, 2016 07:44 pm (UTC)
Gahhh!! Poor Martha...*cuddles her gently*

Well done, honey. Horrid circumstance, but well done. Thank you.

*HUGS*
alumfelga
Mar. 14th, 2016 01:42 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I think Martha had the worst luck for the bad stuff while traveling with the Doctor. Sure, it wasn't a picnic for any companion but Martha was stuck in 1913, then in 1969 when she had to work while the Doctor worked only on the timey-wimey detector, and then she had to walk the Earth alone. Other companions had the Doctor with them for most of the time.

Your story was realistic and I enjoyed it. It's comforting to think she at least had photos of her family to loot at.
dancingdragon3
Mar. 20th, 2016 02:09 am (UTC)
I agree with someone else who said you packed a lot in a short space. That was great! And I'm another who's never been too fond of Martha, but again, that made her very sympathetic and relateable.

And kudos for the social justice angle, and for giving us a reason she would put up with that. Just really awesome story!
romanajo123
May. 8th, 2018 01:32 am (UTC)
Why am I just now finding this? ... Anyway this is pretty sad. I feel bad for Martha. She went through a lot in that story. Love her looking at the photos of her family
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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