The Counsellor for beginners
The child sat cross-legged on the bench staring morosely into the fishpond. She absently poured a handful of glass marbles from one hand to the other, and then back again, feeling the cool glass as soothing as the hypnotic trance before the water. A loud bang came from beyond the Cloister, then shouting.
It had started.
She placed the marbles in the ruffled purple silk of her lap and counted them slowly into their leather pouch. One. Two. Three. Four… It was no use! Numbers didn’t take away the churning feeling in the pit of her stomach. It was like the butterflies you got before a test, the tummy ache when you ate too many jelly babies, only a hundred times worse, a thousand times worse, a million times!
Jumping up to her feet she ran around the Cloister three times and then climbed the ivy trellis. This time she would fly!
The air filled her skirts, slowing her descent, but descend she did, landing cat like on to her feet. Splash! Into the fishpond, unhurt and unheard. She hadn’t flown.
Screwing up her face she tried to make herself cry as she sat in the pond. Finally, hyperventilating but not crying she climbed out.
Still the shouting. Should she leave the Cloister?
A bad word. A yell. The sound of fist connecting with flesh. Another scream.
Another bad word. The sound of footsteps running and a door banging.
Silence as deep as the Vortex.
Slowly she crept to the west exist of the Cloister, away from the heart of the home into the private domain of bedrooms, studies and libraries. She paused in a corridor as a furious flurry of black silk passed her. She shrank behind a huge vase three times her size. It was called Ming and came from somewhere, somewhen called Earth. What did that matter? She wanted to climb inside but hadn’t found a way of scaling the shining pottery.
He didn’t see her, thank Rassilon. She mostly loved him dearly, but not when he was angry. His anger covered the apartments like a black thundercloud. She had seen thunder on the plains of Lungbarrow and on the mountains of Jumnpa. Well, heard the thunder, and seen the lightening. Huge displays as the local electron-magnetic weather reacted with the pink transduction barrier sending purple, blue, red and gold flashes across the sky while the thunder rumbled like Abapata in an angry mood. Thunder felt black. Abapa felt black. Best hide.
Abapa banged on the door of Amapa’s study and screamed apologies. Although the words begged forgiveness the tone re-declared war. Amapa shouted very bad words through the door. Amapa felt blue and red. And black. It was not nice. Amapa wasn’t allowed to be blue and red, he was supposed to be green and white.
Frightened, the child tried to creep back to the Cloister without being seen. She took a tentative step back, her hands brushing against something cold and smooth.
Abapata’s head snapped round, his dark eyes boring into her wide, wild-staring green ones. She tried to run but found she couldn’t move. Never had the black mood been directed at her.
Her voice seemed not to work properly, it sounded strangled.
“I’m sorry Abapata,” she whispered hoarsely.
He didn’t say anything. Instead he took two great strides toward her.
Everything seemed to slow down, every second a minute, an hour. A very long time. She couldn’t move, even to flinch as he raised his arm to strike, never letting go of her with his eyes. He made a fist then seemed to check himself and open his palm to slap. As he did so another hand closed around his wrist. Then suddenly her Amapata was standing in front of Abapa.
She could move! She could move again! She was never, ever going to look in those menacing, hooded blue eyes as long as she lived, which unfortunately was going to be a very, very long time indeed. She was, after all, a Time Lord.
Turning to flee she tripped over some broken china and fell over, sprawled on her face. Then the tears came. Great big noisy sobs of anger and frustration. It was then she had her first temper tantrum.
Kicking and screaming, thumping the floor and yelling, “Stop it!” over and over, slapping her own face until she was violently sick.
And her parents stopped their fight.