15 minutes

In the darkness of an hour past midnight, a tall figure stumbled out of a bright blue police box. The past events of the day were taking their toll on him. One could see it in his slow, lethargic movements. “Sorry I’m a bit late. There was a slight delay and-”

The raggedy man stopped mid-sentence, almost relieved to find the little ginger haired girl he had left behind sitting atop a suitcase in her garden still there. Otherwise, she would have waited ten years. Ten long years of believing he would return.

He moved closer and found she was asleep. Her head resting uncomfortably between her palms and her elbows propped on her knees. He shifted a piece of silky orange hair covering her eyes. “Hello, Amelia.”

The eleven year old girl mumbled and shifted in her heavy slumber. The man moved closer still, his old eyes wide and filled with wonder, marveling at how young she was – at how much she has yet to see – at the days that are coming that she will never forget.

“Fifteen minutes,” she said suddenly and the disheveled man abruptly tripped over his own feet and fell backwards. “I’ve been waiting for fifteen minutes, exactly and I don’t need a watch to know that.”

“Of course you don’t,” he said from his position on the damp ground. His lips upturned slightly from a lifetime of fond memories. “In fact, I planned to be here in fifteen minutes. Not a second more than that,” he lied, more for his own sake than hers.

The girl finally offered a small soft hand in his direction. “Good. I really appreciate that. Where did you go?” To all time and space. To watch life run from your eyes. The man seemed somewhat surprised at how she seemed to transform in just minutes from the shy, quiet girl he had met before to a person that seemed to know him for the most part of his long life. He took her hand nevertheless and squeezed it.

“To sort out some things,” he said. “What sort of things? What do you do? What happens when you go into that box?” she pointed at the blue time traveling police box parked a few feet behind him. The man shook his head and sighed. He had hoped the trees would conceal it. He rubbed a hand over his face and he realized that it was dry and sticky and thoroughly uncomfortable to feel. He suppressed a groan. Perhaps this is how you feel when you travel alone.

“Well, I suppose you do have the right to ask me all these questions. After all, you were patient enough to wait fifteen whole minutes for me, according to you.” he allowed. “But first,” he said holding up a finger. “Spare me a little of your time to tell you a story.”

“Really? What kind of story?”

The man smiled cheekily, however his eyes did not share the youthful joy of his demeanor. He was trying so hard to forget that every muscle in his body seemed to slacken from all the force. Every time he looked at her, he just seemed to remember more. But he knew that tonight, everything will be about her and he will not ruin it by wallowing in his own misery. “You’ll have to listen to find out. But I will let let one thing slip – the story is in fact about you.”

The girl’s previous excitement seemed to disappear and she appeared to disappointed. She sighed and shook her head. “About me? Well,that would be bori-”

And with lighting speed, the young man in front of her slapped his palms on his thighs, as if relinquishing the word she was about to say. “Nonsense! No such word will ever exist in your dictionary!” he exclaimed dramatically. The sadness he had experienced before was suddenly forgotten and he was on his feet, bowing to her in flourish. “You, my dear Amelia Pond will live the greatest story ever told.” His smile widened as her cheeks pinked in excitement. And then he told her everything. He was taking her by the hand, weaving tales of adventure and friendship. His fingers dancing through the air, drawing out scenes from the Milky Way to the choppy seas of the Pacific Ocean. “You will fight pirates,” he said, brandishing an imaginary sword and slicing an invisible swashbuckler. Amelia laughed as he pretended to brave shark infested waters in a distant planet which was submerged underwater. Her eyes were filled with wonder and her senses burned with the salty smell of sea. “You’ll save a flying whale in outer space,” he continued.

A flying whale?’ She mouthed in awe.

Yes!’ He mouthed back. “You’re a hero, Amelia Pond, a lion-heart,” he said finally.

He dropped to the ground in front of her, thoroughly exhausted. She was still standing, looking at the endless blanket of stars hovering above her. He noticed her eyebrows knotted and the way she bit her lips. She was nervous. “That’s a very nice story. It is also very big! It’s as if there are too many all at once that it seems almost impossible.”

The man smiled and brushed another silky lock of her red mane behind her ear. “Impossible is just a scary word people say when they don’t believe. All you have to be is very brave.” And when here realized she wasn’t going to respond to that, he said,” I know it is a lot to ask from a little girl. But you have the rest of life to be that person. You will be amazing. Because, really, courage doesn’t come from this,” he pressed her arms, “or even this,” he touched a spot in her chest where her heart lay beating slow, peaceful thumps. “Courage is everywhere. You just have to use it wisely. You have to believe strongly and stand for what you believe in with all the strength you have in your little bones. You have to be courageous for good things and use it to protect and love the people who care and who are close to you.”

He took a breath and looked into her little green eyes – they were so new and so young. “With that courage, Amy. You will be brave.”

The girl thought about it for a while as she seated herself on the patch of damp grass next to him. He could feel the adrenaline radiating from her.”Will I fight monsters?” she asked excitedly. Suddenly he felt proud of her, at how she believed him. The man smirked. “Indeed, you will. You will slaughter creatures from the deepest darkest parts of the universe. Mercilessly.”

The two of them were silent for a while lost in their respective thoughts, until, a memory occurred to the man. “Have you heard of the Last Centurion?”

The girl shook her head. The man ran his fingers through his floppy hair. Perhaps it was all right to let her know the important parts of that story. After all, she would have the rest of her life to discover it. “Rorificus Centurificus – the soldier of love and loyalty. He waited ten thousand years for the woman he loved guarding the box in which she was trapped in. He waited, with a sword at ready until the faithful day in which she will be released.”

Amy was bewildered. “Ten thousand years?! You’ve got to be joking.” The man with the bow tie shook his head. “Nope. It is very real and he was very brave. He protected that box with his life,” he sighed and then looked over to find Amelia frozen in a temporal state. He wondered how she even had the capacity to believe everything he had told her thus far. Maybe that was why she was so special. “I was just trying to tell you that there are people who really love you and are willing to lay down their lives for your safety and happiness,” he explained, his eyes twinkling with amusement. “Do you mean that I’m that woman?” she asked curiously.

Yes.

“I didn’t say you were. It was a… figure of speech,” he said instead. Quickly catching the slight disappointment on her face – a sign of dampened curiosity, he laughed and hinted, “Say, your friend, with the,” he pointed to his nose. Amelia Pond’s face blanched and her face twisted in utter mortification. “BLECH! Rory?!” The man doubled over with laughter and chose to say no more. Recent memories suddenly flooding into his mind. Amy and Rory. Completely inseparable. The girl who waited and the Last Centurion. I had known you for so long and no matter how hard I try I can seem to get away from the both of you. And then I find myself running – not in the face of danger but I am always running. I’m running towards you and Rory before you flare and fade forever.

His happiness was suddenly and very quickly extinguished. He sat up and cleared his throat. “Wait,” said Amy after wiping her own tears of joy and embarrassment from her eyes. “Are you leaving soon?” she asked sensing his rigid posture. He looked at her and said honestly “Yes, I am,” and then he held her by her small, skinny shoulders and touched his forehead against hers.“And I am never coming back.” Amelia knew that he could not stay but she didn’t expect that this would be the last time she would seeing him. She barely even knew whom he was and yet he knew so much about her. Like a magician or a fortune teller … but he spoke like a scientist! Either way, he had instantly become a friend whether or not his tales were true. He had changed something within her – suddenly, she felt like she could do the impossible. She felt brave.

“What? Why not? I know you aren’t normal and all. I know you may not even be real-” she stammered. She saw him close his eyes like he was so tired or like he was trying to push away a heavy, bothersome thought. She was surprised when the man gripped her shoulders tighter. “I am real and you shouldn’t believe otherwise,” he said fiercely but his eyes were gentle. “But you aren’t so normal either,” he smiled. “Man crash lands in little girl’s back yard in a flying machine at midnight. Little girl invites man in her house. Little girl serves man fish fingers and custard. Man eats fish custard. Little girl does not wash up.” Amelia giggled. The man smiled fondly at her. He would never ever get tired of that infectious smile. “You are Amelia Pond. The girl whose name belonged in a fairy tale!” he said. “You’re an adventurer, a believer, everything all packaged in one! You are so special, Amy. And don’t ever forget that.”

Sometimes I wish I had said that to you more often.

“I don’t think I could do all those things without you,” she began hesitantly. “Yes, you can. And you must always believe you can. After all, this is only the beginning – the first chapter to your big wonderful story. And I am so thrilled and honoured to be a part of it.”

You were my first face, you know. The first face this face saw. Right after I regenerated from my last incarnation to my current one. And I will miss you so much.

Amelia smiled and her lips wobbled ferociously when she did but she willed herself not to cry. She did not reach out to hug him – to cling to his old tweed jacket that looked so out of place on his young lanky form – to hide from the dangers of the world and run away with him in his magical flying box. To never grow old and suddenly take a fancy to men in bow ties. It was a life that felt so far away. It was a dream world so high that she felt her feet would never find the ground. She would always be running and flying away from her past and her future that would chase her until the end of her days.

But Amelia Pond stood strong for what she believed in. She simply smiled and let her eyes reach out and drown in the memories that haunted his. Memories of his best friend, Amy Pond who knew no boundary of sacrifice. And as she stood there freezing cold in her nighty in her garden, she told him with all the courage she could muster, “I don’t know how you know so much about me. But what I do know is that you were one of those people who loved and cared for me. So thank you.” The raggedy man’s lips turned into a crooked smile. This is it. This is the end. And yet he was proud of her – at how she evolved to become the person she was. She had the bravery that he never had.

“You know, memories, they can be saved if you remember them. The people you love, they never really go away when you think their gone forever. Their always with you no matter what. As long as you remember.” he said.

“I will never forget you,”she said to him when she saw the tears that gathered in his eyes.

Neither will I. Never.

“I promise,”she insisted as if repeating her oath would make him stay longer. To make him come back for her.

“That’s a lot to promise to a stranger you just met, little girl,” he noted quietly – all he wanted was to remember her voice. Don’t go, Amelia. Come along, Pond. Please. He was on his feet by now, and he stood towering above her. She looked up at him and said, “You don’t seem like a stranger anymore. You came back so you must be a good person to stick to your word. I only had to wait for fifteen minutes. It was worth it.” she said as she sat back down on her suitcase. She saw him walking away.

“Goodbye raggedy man.” she called.

The man did not reply for he disliked endings. He really despised them. And the part in which he hated the most was that he already knew her ending. And when he discovered he had one last chance to see her, he did.

His little Amelia Pond.

Was she brave?

Indeed she was,

Until the very end.

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