“It is a box. But not just any box.”
“Is it a magic box?”
“Ah. Kind of. It is a micro temporal multidimensional recorder.”
“It’s an absolute camera!”
“Well, yes, except no. It’s a rubbish name. Why would you call it that?”
“Because it is, exactly. The complete camera; records for the five senses and more… What could you possibly box in there?”
“Wait and see. The box will open on time, several times, not before, not after. Don’t try to hack into it.”
“I won’t. It’s a gorgeous present.”
He got Pablo Neruda to say his verses about spring and love and cherry trees. Those verses – you know. In the full spring of his gardens on Isla Negra. And he boxed it.
He got the first drop of blood shed for Helen of Troy.
He got a sunset on Naples bay, wind wild and salt stinking. Clouds ebbing and flowing, sun white as a scar. Colours flooding. The city was crushed. And he boxed it.
He got all the poems Aragon never wrote for Elsa.
He got the smell and dryness of the Alexandria Library. Its darkness between the fires. Its whispers and blistering draughts. As if reading in the breath of long gone writers. And boxed it.
He got a fond glance from Gould to his piano and the melodies.
He got dusts from the last star to ever exist, the age and the weight of atoms burning and hovering for millennia hanging on its pale flares. Their fabric lace by then. The vastness and void around him causing him to shake and shiver. He boxed it. Down to the very suspension that seized the TARDIS as she opened her doors to the dying Universe.
And did the same with the first.
And wrapped it in fudge.
He got Amy’s first laugh. And boxed it.
Rory’s first eye roll at meeting Mels. And boxed it.
Brian’s moist hug as he gathered River in his arms. And boxed it.
Melody’s medical wristband from Demon’s Run, saved from the pounding of military boots. And boxed it.
He got Amy’s first laugh.
He got puzzles and maps, enigmas and riddles, dead-ends and high cliffs. He boxed some of their most memorable love-makings, because they are the same; questions asked and answered; treasure hunts and baffling reliefs; his body against her; adrenaline and gut feeling; brain teaser and death; River and the Doctor; all the same.
As great chess games or difficult climbing paths are aptly recorded, he boxed it.
Though, he doubts she forgets any of those.
Who knows what she puts in that diary of hers.
He got time also, lots of it. Just time, not the memories attached, yet the way it flows. Stretching, white time from the afternoons they are idle and they just revel in each other’s presence. Soaring, electric time when they are locked up in each other’s body. Breathing, static time when they catch their breath after a predicament. Dripping, infinite time when they talk.
He knows she will have fun with all the kisses and taps and pokes and tickles he boxed. On the nose, behind her left ear, between her hearts, long her pelvis, in the dip of her waist, the elbow, the hair, the nipple, the toe, the navel. He is immensely proud of one of his finds, a tricky nimble tickling - his greatest achievement, he wants a triumphal arc with the details of the advances-, mapped out along her spine and loins, following her last rib and then spiraling down… Well, spoilers of course.
He boxed dreams also, of Gallifrey, people sauntering through the blazing streets, bickering about trifle, alive, and of Ponds, together, laughing in the backyard of their house, and little springs; missing teeth and cuddly toys -real, soft, pink, fluffy toys that are not River-, little fingers playing with River’s hair and chubby arms holding on for dear life to his legs because ‘No Mummy’s just going to kill a monster on Alfava Metraxis, she’ll be back in a jiffy. Do you want fish fingers and custard ?’. Of Susan and Jenny and Romana, with River, with him; because she would have loved them so much he would have been jealous. Among the laughter and mock cat-fights, while the wits would be battling and fantastically at that, he would have moped. And his ridiculous, childish, unsurprisingly ineffectual reaction he boxed as well, because River would have laughed and given him a dramatic, loud, wet kiss afterwards.
He would have boxed himself, but a prisoner he will not become, even for her.
He got books. A lot. He always feels a bit ridiculous –and suffocated a lot- when he goes to her and asks if she read such and such author. She travels light – a library she cannot bring along –unlike him. So he boxed. The works he wants her to feel and smell, rather than read. He picked maimed books, rescued from perfumed baths, salvaged from marmalade jars, sprinkled with rain and soil. He picked that book, printed on that paper with that ink bound that way and it was a mistake and such a book will never be again. He picked the rarest editions, in the margins illuminated with annotations by the greatest, brightest minds. And he knows she will welcome them as old friends within her own thoughts, under the pregnant silence of a Persian verse or the placing of a comma. Typos mocked, space crammed, debate launched. The best of company.
He boxed signs and words that never existed but could have, in so many different languages. Like ‘fezzneck’ –which he likes, a lot- or ‘prysper’ or ‘timède’ or ‘fxlm-cch’ - which would have been pronounced /plunk/ in low Abain- or ‘tearlicaotoophante’. His favourite is a Vespasian word that would have managed to describe perfectly -and mathematically- the curve of her arse, while still referring to the delicateness an archaeologist or surgeon must grant an artefact or wound.
He got traces. He doesn’t know why. Maybe a way to exorcise his fear of finding her traces – the ones he erased. The imprint of her hand on the blurred bathroom mirror; his slippers deformed at the big toes because she bought them just his size –which isn’t enough; a chip of glass from the TARDIS’s floor where she stampeded in her combat high-heels; the faded paint of a spot on the console he kept, regeneration after regeneration, without reason – now, he knows it reminds him of her irises; her lipstick on the glass of wine they shared on their first night together; his nails all the times she bled on him; the warm, creased, dug in spot she left on the bed.
There’s a pair of jeans belonging to her, with a half detached left back pocket because his hand would keep sneaking into it. He boxed it.
There is a planet on which life never developed because River was not stranded down there for two days when her Tula space ship broke down. And boxed it.
There is a small community in the Gamma forests that believes the word ‘river’ originated from River Song, because she could nurture and take life. Like the river. And boxed it.
He got the time he managed to draw on her with inks, refine and exotic. The blues were ecstatic, the reds plum, the greens mad, and gold her skin. With all the colours on her naked body, she was, nearly, the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. And boxed it.
After Lake Silencio, the second time, he travelled the Universe to find the pieces of River and him scattered across time. The searings and shimmerings that light glass or water, though are not diffraction. Mad braids a ship that cuts water weaves in the hem of the foam… The smells so strong, so reminiscent of a place long gone that they prompt you to halt. The images in the shape of foliage and clouds…. Those are little fissures in the fabric of the Universe, scars from the day River Song broke time and mended it with a kiss.
He boxed them.
He just hopes she will have enough of it, time, to see, hear, feel them all, little nothings he put great dedication into, when he could not trap words in a box. Not his words. He would not. Even for her.
But his rubbishness at River, his inability to her would not prevent him from saving, for her. If there is one thing he has, it is times, it is memories, it is universes. So he boxed it. The songs, the kisses, the sights, the worlds. Leafing through it, she would, perchance, extract from the muddled layers what he hid in there without leaving it - a trace. His hearts.
When he can’t be with, when she can’t be with, she’ll have this. The box. Multidimensional recorder. Well, absolute camera. But that’s a rubbish name.
“What if I lose it?”
“Could I re-feel the images already unlocked. How do I open it?”
“How did you open me?”