Marion was enjoying a day in Liverpool with Rodan. The little girl had been registered to travel in the Portal with her, and she could bring her to Earth whenever she wanted.

She resisted the urge to come too often. After all, Gallifrey was her home. It was Rodan’s home, too. In a very short time now – six months, maybe a little more – her grandfather would be home and she would be going to live with him. It was better, Kristoph said, if she got used to being a Gallifreyan child, without too many distractions.

But now and again Marion had to come to Liverpool, to shops she knew, to the accents she had grown up among. She had to look at the Earth sky. She had to shop at Mothercare and Tescos.

She had to take a trip on the ferry across the Mersey to her home. Rodan enjoyed that experience, anyway. It was a warm day, and on the leeward side of the ferry it was pleasant enough to sit on the open deck with the child on her knee, looking at the landmarks that had once been so familiar to her. Rodan seemed to be taking it all in as the boat drew away from Pier Head. The official commentary from the onboard tour guide was difficult to hear because of the engines, but she didn’t need it anyway. There wasn’t an inch of the Liverpool waterfront she didn’t know intimately and she named all of the prominent buildings to the child, along with their history. If anyone thought it odd that she was explaining it all in such detail to a toddler she didn’t care.

The ferry boat took nearly half an hour to reach Seacombe, the first landing point on the Wirral side of the river. Marion stayed in her seat and watched as some passengers got off and some got on. She wasn't old enough to remember when the ferry was the daily transport for hundreds of workers travelling to the docks and the refineries and factories on the Wirral from the old terraced streets of Liverpool. She only really knew it as a tourist attraction that reminded people about the old days before the decline in those industries.

In the 1960s, she would not have been taking a pleasure trip on the ferry, and certainly not with a youngster with eyes round and excited as she took in all the exciting new sights around her.

Rodan enjoyed the ferry so much she didn’t want to get off. She protested when Marion fastened her back into her pushchair ready to get off at the Woodside Terminal another ten minutes later.

“We’re coming back to the boat, later,” she promised. “There’s lots more to see, yet.”

She pressed a sweet into the little girl’s hand, one of her own childhood favourites, a Swizzels Matlow double lolly. Rodan conceded that getting off the ferry with sweets was acceptable.

Besides, there were other compensations. Marion brought her first to Birkenhead Park, in through the grand entrance, past the bowling greens. They walked slowly around the irregularly shaped Lower Lake where Rodan enjoyed the sight of ducks, moorhens and a pair of graceful, if slightly fierce, swans who defended their cygnets against all comers. She was also delighted by the sight of two grey squirrels who hopped across the path in front of her. Gallifrey had wildlife, too. Much of it far more wonderful than swans or squirrels, but Rodan chuckled happily to see these Earth creatures with her own two eyes.

One thing Gallifrey didn’t have, Marion noted, was children’s playgrounds. At least she had never seen one. She lifted Rodan from her pushchair and put her into a swing. She pushed her gently and she laughed with the simple pleasure, demanding, in her baby voice, to go faster. Marion pushed a little harder, remembering how she had loved the swings in the park when she was little. Not these exact same swings. The park had undergone a few refurbishments since. But she did have some memories of her mother bringing her here when she was very young. They were some of her happiest memories of her childhood, before it all went wrong. She pushed away the sad thoughts of the day she was brought home from school by the headmaster, to find her grandmother crying and her grandfather pale with shock. Her mother was dead, knocked down by a car that came too fast over the Duke Street Bridge, not more than a few hundred yards from their home.

She pushed that thought away and remembered, instead, happy days on Birkenhead Park when she was young enough to be pushed on the swing. She looked around to see other people’s children playing. There were a few squabbles as there always were when children played, but mostly they were content on this pleasant summer day when the sky was mostly blue. Other parents brought their toddlers to the safety swings. Marion chatted with them. As always, she didn’t tell them that Rodan wasn’t her own little girl. When one of them mentioned her deep brown eyes, unlike her own grey ones, she said that came from her father’s side. That was true, but she was thinking at the time of Kristoph’s strong brown eyes.

“Oh,” she said in answer to a question. “No, I don’t live around here. Not any more, anyway. We’re just visiting. We… live in Greece. Near Athens.”

“Oh, no wonder your accent is so unusual,” the woman pushing her own child on the swings replied. “I thought you must have been away. Still a little bit in there, though. You can take the girl out of the Wirral, but you can’t take the Wirral out of the girl.”

Marion wasn’t sure what to say about that. She was aware that her accent was different, now. Several people in shops over in Liverpool had asked her where she was from. She had made up the bit about Greece very quickly. She was thinking of Athenica, on the southern Continent of Gallifrey, of course.

“It sounds like a lovely place to live,” said the woman next to her. “I can’t imagine why you’d want to come back here.”

“I miss English tea,” she answered truthfully. She always stocked up when she visited Earth. “And it’s nice to come home now and again. It’s… nice to speak English for a while.”

And that was true, too. She was fully used, now, to speaking in Gallifreyan. In fact, at the first shop she went into this morning she had spoken in Low Gallifreyan. The shop assistant had understood because she had travelled in Kristoph’s TARDIS so often that her words were automatically translated. But she must have had a strange accent and when she spoke again she carefully made sure she used English words.

Rodan enjoyed the swings and Marion enjoyed talking to ordinary women from Birkenhead. She wondered if her life would have been like theirs if she had stayed on Earth, if she had never met Kristoph. Perhaps she would have met an ordinary man and have children and a mortgage. Or perhaps she would still be single. She would have been a teacher, at least, living an ordinary, Human life.

She wondered what the women she was talking to would think if she told them that she didn’t live in Greece, but Gallifrey, on the other side of the Galaxy, and that she spent at least part of her life attending diplomatic functions on other planets. She wondered what they would think if they knew her little girl was actually an alien with very different anatomy to anyone on planet Earth.

Of course, she never would say that. She knew perfectly well that on planets where there was no official First Contact with other worlds she could not tell anyone who she really was or where she lived. She found it a little strange. She really WAS an alien on this planet, now. Even in familiar places that she knew when she was growing up.

After a little while, she put Rodan in her pushchair and set off out of the park. She walked slowly up Duke Street, where she had lived for the first twelve years of her life. When she was born, it was a long line of terraced houses with front doors that led straight out into the street. Now only one short piece of those old houses was left. On one side there were the gable ends of several streets of council houses with their grey-cream rendered walls and little front and back gardens. The house she had lived in had been demolished to make room for some of those houses. She couldn’t even completely work out where it had been, now. Not that it really mattered. She was neither happy nor sorry that it wasn’t there. It was a part of her life that was over long before she met Kristoph.

Duke Street was both familiar and unfamiliar. Flashes of memories came back to her, but then she saw things that were different and unfamiliar.

One thing was the same. She smiled as she saw the old Bridge Café at the end of the street, just before the bascule bridge that led to the old Birkenhead docks. It was not a very pretty café. This wasn’t an especially pretty place, anyway, with the remnants of past industry rusting away. But she suddenly remembered eating bacon sandwiches there when she was young. She couldn’t remember the last time she had actually eaten bacon.

It wasn’t something she especially missed when she was living on Gallifrey, but the idea of going into the café and ordering a mug of tea and a bacon sandwich appealed to her.

She turned to cross the road. Later, she realised she had made a mistake. The bridge was down and traffic was flowing in both directions. She thought the road was clear when she started to cross. The car that came across the bridge started to brake, but it was going just a little too fast.

She managed to push Rodan out of the way. As she fell in front of the car, her ribs hurting painfully, she heard the little girl screaming in fright, but not from pain or physical hurt. She heard the car door open and shut and somebody shouting about fetching an ambulance. Then everything went mercifully black.