the pearl

Over Tea

She comes back home a third time, and she brings with her a guy who has the same stupid jokes but looks completely different.

Rose sends him out for chips, and sits at the kitchen table with her mother, her hands wrapped around a chipped mug of tea.

Jackie looks at her, watching her daughter closely for a few seconds before quietly sighing. "You were right, y'know..." she finally says, her voice soft.

Rose frowns. "Right about what?"

Jackie stands, resting her hands on her table as she slowly rises. "Last time..." she says. "You said you were there when..." Her voice trails off as she moves to the counter, flipping through a small stack of papers. A few loose envelopes scatter to the floor and she ignores them, still flipping. "When your father died," she finally finishes, holding up a single photo. She hands it to Rose, then turns away, fussing with another cup of tea.

Jackie hears Rose's sharp intake of breath and her shoulders slump. "I found that right after you left," Jackie says, looking down. She bends down to pick up the envelopes. "The photographer at the wedding must've taken it, I suppose..." She stands up and looks back at her daughter. "That's you there, innit?" she says. "And him..."

Rose looks up at her, her eyes filled with tears. "Mum?" she said, her voice low. "Tell me about him."

Jackie pauses, looking down at the envelopes in her hands, and then, slowly, sets them on the counter. "Your dad..." She pauses again, trying to find the right thing to say, picking up her mug of tea. "We..." She sits down across from Rose, the mug still in her hand, and begins.


Your dad and I met while I was still in school. I was 14, and he was 20, and don't look at me like that, I'm still your mum and I had every right to be angry at you. I went to school with your Uncle Phil, and your dad worked in the chippie down the road from our house.

Obviously, your nan wouldn't be too pleased about me seeing someone six years older than me, so rather than have him come to the house, I'd take the dog out for a walk every night and stop off at the chippie. He was always nice and gave Joe sausages while he'd serve out chips and talk to me.

Unfortunately, after a few months of that, they sacked him for giving Joe sausages and ignoring customers. So we had to figure out a new way to see each other without your nan finding out, so we decided that we'd say I was seeing Phil.

I see that look — lucky for me Mickey never had a brother, right? But that's what we did — Phil'd meet me at home, we'd walk a few blocks, just talking about school, and then Pete'd come along and we'd take Phil home. It worked out all right — we even had Phil call me up every once in awhile. We'd talk, just long enough to talk about school and the like, in case Mum was listening in, and then he'd put Pete on and we'd talk about other things. It was working just fine.

And then your nan caught me and your dad in the pub, and...

I would've rather caught you in the pub, y'know. Finding you in my bedroom! What were you thinking?

No, no, it's fine... Mickey's turned out to be a good lad. And so was your dad. Your nan came around in the end, and Phil finally got a chance to date other girls, so it all worked out all right.


When I finished school, your dad was working at a pub and trying to be a DJ, because he thought he'd really make it doing that. I went to college — your dad's idea, because he wanted to prove to your nan that he wasn't ruining my future or something like that — and we were properly dating too, all fancy dinners and nights out. Right before I finished my course, your dad got a gig at this new club that opened up just down the road. He was all excited, so we all had to go — me, Phil, everyone from the old neighbourhood, sitting around this club waiting for him to go on.

He gets up there, reaches for a record, and just like that — pow! — the power goes out. All over the neighbourhood. I heard that place always had faulty wiring, and it was just sheer luck that he didn't get electrocuted. So we were sitting there, in the dark, waiting for the lights to come back on, and he starts speaking like he was actually spinning records.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said. "I want to play something for a very special lady, in the hopes that, after hearing it, she answers this very important question — Jackie, will you marry me?"

I was gobsmacked, of course. Making a scene like that! And it was dead silent in the club, with the power still out and everyone looking at me, and what was I supposed to say?

So, finally, I just said "If you quit acting like such a fool, then I'll marry you."

Everyone in the club cheered after that, and then, when the power came back on, he played "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", which was our song, and we all danced and had a wonderful time.

Yeah, your dad could be quite the romantic sometimes...


We didn't have much money, but I still wanted the whole fairytale wedding, so we sort of made do for a few years while we saved up. I was working at your Aunt Betty's salon, and your dad was selling stereos by now. He was doing all right, but he had to keep on spending money for suits and haircuts and such, and I had to keep everything looking right, because, y'know, when you go into a salon, you expect the people cutting your hair to look respectable, right?

So it took us a couple of years to save up, and even then it wasn't exactly Charles and Princess Di, y'know? It was really nice, which you know, 'cause you've seen the pictures, but, honestly, we very nearly didn't have it at all.

Everyone had known this wedding was going to happen for years, so everyone wanted to make sure that his stag do and my hen night were going to be as wild as possible.

Oh sure, you think when I have half a bottle of Malibu and start dancing around to your old Spice Girls CDs, you think that's as wild as I get, but this — no, this was beyond that. You couldn't even imagine. It was a good thing it was a month before the wedding, because it took me at least that long to get over the hangover.

But while me and the girls were in Leicester Square, having the time of our lives, going to see a show and hit the pubs...

Pete's mates took him to Soho!

Oh yeah, you laugh now, but you weren't there! Soho wasn't like it is now, it was filthy! All these clubs where girls would take their clothes off and theatres showing nothing but dirty movies and cheap tarts on every corner...

So we had been drinking quite heavily, and my mate Helen started making noises about seeing a dirty movie, being that it was my last night of freedom and all, and we started walking down there and I saw him and his mates coming out of one of those clubs!

Oh no you don't, Rose. It was not funny!

Well, all right, it is now, but, then, I was furious! And maybe it was all the babycham — stop laughing! — but I just went right up there and started yelling at him! I called him all sorts of names, and told him how I couldn't marry him if he was going to treat me so badly, throwing my engagement ring on the ground, and it was so loud and all these strangers were watching, but I couldn't help it. I was just so angry at him.

I went home right after that. How could you not, y'know?


We got married, obviously.

Don't roll your eyes at me — it wasn't like I took him back that night.

It took a good two weeks. Two weeks of everyone worrying if there'd be a wedding, two weeks of your nan worrying about the catering and the room at the local, two weeks of your dad trying to call every five minutes and trying to apologise...

I kept hanging up. Most of the time, I just left it off the hook too.

But after two weeks of that, I don't know.

He came over with a huge bunch of roses — red ones, real expensive, and he begged me to take him back. know how I am, Rose. Remember when you wanted that bike when you were eight and how I didn't have enough money for it, but you kept on asking and asking and begging me over and over, and even though I had to sell off my nan's pearl necklace, I still got you that bike?

You got that from your dad.

And we had a beautiful wedding.


Rose looks up from her cup of tea, her eyes shining with tears. "Oh, Mum..." she says, her voice breaking.

Jackie sniffles, loudly, and shrugs. "It's all right, love," she whispers. "It's been twenty years... It's not like I haven't had all that time to have a good cry or two..." She pauses, sniffling again. "Still..."

Rose stands, moving to the other side of the table, wrapping her arms around her mother. Jackie grasps her daughter's hands in hers and holds them tightly.

The front door opens, and they can hear him whistling as he walks into the flat. "Hello?" he says. "I've brought chips!"

Jackie pulls away and wipes her eyes. "Can't be seen like this," she says. "God knows what he'd make of me."

Rose chuckles, softly, and wipes her eyes too. "Probably just the same as he did before..."

He walks in, carrying a large bag, and looks at both of them. "What's going on?"

Rose smiles. "Just...reminiscing," she says, looking down at the photo on the table.

"Oh?" the Doctor says, smiling widely. He sets the bag down on the table, and looks down at the photo. "Oh..." He picks up the photo, traces a finger over the tall man dressed in black, then looks up at both of the women. "So...when do we get out the baby photos?"

This Doctor Who story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at