Many a boy like me wished someone put a hand on his shoulder and said, I know. You’re not alone.
There’s a place I miss. I have never been there, and yet I remember it well: the sunny garden with apple trees so ancient they hardly yield any more of the delightful golden fruit; the old house that’s made of history as much as it’s made of wood and brick; the joy of being comforted and loved.
I miss all the people I’ve never known. I miss the elderly hardworking painter with a twinkle in his eye.
It is a promised land which comes to me in my dreams; I can walk through its golden emptiness, hear the laughter of a small boy playing in the garden. The sound of my voice doesn’t reach the ghosts inhabiting the house: and my flesh is as immaterial to them as they are to me. But I can look. And I can long for that which I have never had.
I rarely use his name. To me, he’s simply the Doctor - a man of mystery; a man who walks with death - a thing from which dreams are not so far removed.
The streetlamps cast soft diffused light upon him, and he smiles at me broadly, as is his custom. I have the strangest feeling that he’s come from that place - that he’s one of the people I’ve never known and yet love with all my heart.
I hope he doesn’t notice how desperately I squeeze his hand when answering his greetings.
“Doctor,” I say, “I’m glad to see you.”
I know, I read in his expression.