Donna was having a good time - the sort of good time that made her so glad she had taken that one in a million chance and gone travelling with The Doctor. They were on a planet called Ux-Pa-Ly. It had a sky that looked like blue and white marble – not cloudy, just naturally that way. The only city was entirely built of opaque crystal glass and populated by people with green and orange marbled skin and no hair, whether male or female.

For the past couple of hours she had been wandering around an open air market in a huge marble-flagged square overlooked by glittering glass buildings. The stalls all had glass roofs, too and they sold everything from shining exotic fruits of all colours and shapes, to an array of mouth watering cheeses, dresses made from amazingly beautiful cloth, shoes, hand made costume jewellery to die for, everything she loved to buy when she had money to spare.

And The Doctor had made sure she had money. He had given her a cloth bag full of various sizes of thin silver discs that were the local currency and told her to go mad with it while he checked out the nearby library where there was a rare book collection he was interested in.

Donna wasn’t a total shopaholic, but being let loose with what she soon found out was quite a lot of spending money, she was in her element. She picked out two dresses she just couldn’t walk away from, and a belt, handbag, shoes, earrings to go with them. She found a perfume stall with fragrances so powerful they almost physically knocked her down. A very small bottle would last her a year. She bought a whole basket of the exotic fruits and a bag full of the cheeses. She had a sudden moment of doubt when she wondered if The Doctor liked cheese. For all she knew, cheese could be a deadly poison to Time Lords. If so, she’d be eating it herself for a month. But it just all looked so good.

She went a bit mad in among the jewellery stalls, too. She liked fashion jewellery, bright, bold things like dangly earrings and necklaces, sparkly bracelets and all of that. The craftpeople here were able to do amazingly creative things with coloured crystals and some bits of silver and gold for fastenings. She could have bought a whole stall full if there wasn’t a limit to the currency the bag could hold.

She remembered The Doctor, too. She bought him a present of a pair of cufflinks and a tie pin with deep blue rectangular shaped costume jewels that reminded her of the TARDIS. She had never seen him wear cufflinks and the only tie pin he ever wore was an old pink girl’s hairslide that looked like it had seen better days, but maybe they could go somewhere posh sometime and he would wear them.

Then, when the money bag was really feeling light and her shopping bags quite heavy, she spotted the necklace. It was hanging from a frame on a stall full of glittering, pretty things, but it stood out because it wasn’t just pretty, but really beautiful. The chain was twisted silver links, nothing showy, but the pendant was quite unusual. It was a single crystal, long and thin, tapering like a carrot or… what were the ones that hung down from cave roofs… stalactites. It caught the light and refracted it into a spectrum of twenty different colours, some of which Donna had no name for.

“Oh…” she whispered as she touched the jewel and searched for the little price label on the chain. “Oh, I wish I had a hundred uxits left to buy that.”

Then she felt something heavy in her pocket and found it was a hundred uxit coin. She was sure she only had a few of the smaller uxis left. But…

She handed over the coin and the stall holder put the pendant into a paper bag. She held it in one hand and her other bags of shopping in the other and manoeuvred her way through the crowds to a wooden bench on the edge of the market, next to a children’s play area where youngsters with marbled skin and no hair were behaving just like every child she had ever seen in a playground.

She unwrapped the pendant and put it on.

“Oh,” she said to herself. “This old blouse looks so dull. I wish I could change into the blue dress I bought. It would look so good.

She blinked. She was wearing the blue dress, and the belt and shoes that went with it. And it looked sensational. She briefly wondered how come she had instantly changed her clothes in broad daylight, outside, without anyone pointing fingers at the interim point where she was in her underwear but dismissed it as irrelevant. The important thing was that she looked and felt fantastic.

She heard somebody sobbing. She looked around and there was a woman standing there, looking distraught. She was trying to explain to somebody on the other end of a communicator shaped like a seashell that she had lost her money. The whole one hundred uxit coin must have slipped out of her bag. She couldn’t buy any food for the week.

Donna felt a bit guilty about having spent so much on a necklace when, in the local economy, that was a week’s food.

“I wish I had some money left,” she whispered. Then she looked into the cloth bag. It didn’t have a hundred uxit coin, but there were a lot more of the small ones left than she thought.

“Excuse me,” she said, and pressed the bag into the crying woman’s hand. “Please… take this. Don’t cry…and…look, I know it’s charity and I’m probably offending your dignity and all that kind of thing, but if you need to buy food…”

The woman looked into the bag and managed a watery smile. She took the money and thanked her for her kindness before heading towards a cheese stall. Donna felt she had done her good deed for the day.

She went to sit down again and was aware of a noise in the playground that had nothing to do with play. A tall girl who was probably too big to be using the swings anyway, had pushed a smaller one off and taken her place. The small girl was crying. Donna’s sense of natural justice stirred. She hated bullies, especially playground ones. Some things about the universe never changed.

“I wish you’d get a taste of your own medicine,” she said.

Then she, and the children in the playground, all stared as the bully began to scream and cry and beg somebody to stop kicking her. She held up her hands as if to ward of blows and ran from the playground. The others watched her run away into the press of people in the market and then went back to their play.

“Well, that was odd,” Donna thought. “Did I… no… I couldn’t have… could I?”

She put her hand on the pendant thoughtfully. Then she looked at the bench she was sitting on.

“I wish this was a garden swing seat with a tasselled canopy over it,” she said.

“Wow!” She looked up at the canopy and swung the seat experimentally. “Wow. I wonder…”

She thought of a few more frivolous uses she could have put this sudden gift to, but then decided against it. Maybe there was a limit on the wishes and she didn’t want to waste them. She could do better than that.

She thought of some big wishes. A million pounds in the bank. No, that was just greedy. And end to world hunger, no more wars? Then again, which world? If there were people on this planet who went hungry for losing the price of a fashion necklace, then all these sparkling glass edifices hid an uncomfortable reality. And how could a wish just end a war? What if the war was necessary to get rid of a tyrant who tortured and hurt people?

The big wishes were good. But she wasn’t sure she was ready for them. Maybe she should get in some practice first with smaller things.

She spotted The Doctor coming from the library. He looked pleased with himself. He was probably going to go on for hours about some dull old manuscript he had seen until she might as well not even be there. She could sit a Donna clockwork doll beside him and have it make interested noises every so often.

She wasn’t criticising him. But sometimes, it would be nice if he would be a bit less of a Doctor, and a bit more of a man. She wished he would come up to her now, when she looked and felt fabulous and tell her that she looked fabulous.

“Oh,” she murmured. “That was a wish, wasn’t it. I wonder…”

“Donna!” The Doctor smiled brightly. “That is an absolutely fabulous dress. You look sensational. Did you get it in the market? Nice shoes, too.”

“Thanks,” she relied with a smile.

“Strange kind of park bench,” he added. “You didn’t buy that, too, did you? I’m not sure it will fit through the TARDIS doors.”

“No, I didn’t buy the seat,” she answered. “I got loads of cheese, though. You do like cheese, I hope?”

“Love it,” he replied. “Shall I help you carry some of those bags? We’ll leave the cheese in the TARDIS fridge and go and have tea in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Ux-Pa-Ly sky tower.”


The revolving restaurant gave all round views of the crystal city and of the plain that surrounded it. Donna found that fascinating as she ate. It was like looking out at a city floating on an ocean, because the plain wasn’t grass. It was, as The Doctor explained, covered in crystal formations, most no more than grains, so that it was like a blue sandy desert. Others growing like geometrical trees, some actually big enough to be marked on maps as a hazard to navigation or a tourist attraction. There were some pictures on the restaurant walls of some of the more famous of them.

“We can go see it all later,” The Doctor said. “I can put the TARDIS in hover mode and we’ll skim across it. We’ll head south, towards the setting sun. It’s very spectacular at sunset.”

“Yeah, that would be nice,” Donna replied. “We see a lot of sunsets, don’t we? I think I’ve seen about fifty sunsets on alien planets with you. All of them fantastic.”

“You’re not…” The Doctor looked doubtful. “You’re not saying you’re bored with sunsets are you? I mean… we don’t have to do that if you’d rather not…”

“No, not at all. It’s a great idea. I was just… commenting… that we see a lot of sunsets.”

“It’s me. I like looking at them. Because… because… most planets with oxygen-rich atmospheres have blue skies. It’s a physics thing. My home, Gallifrey… you remember the yellow-orange sky. When I look at a blue sky turning red and orange at sunset… it reminds me of home… in a good way.”

“Doesn’t seem good. The look on your face right now,” Donna said. “I’m sorry. I… oh… I wish I’d never said anything about it at all.”

Donna blinked. She looked at The Doctor.

“Sorry… I was miles away. What did you just say?”

“I said that the crystal plain is spectacular at sunset. The sun… reflects off the sky and off the land, too. The blue sky, the blue land, both turn wonderful shades of red. It’s really beautiful.”

“Wonderful,” Donna said enthusiastically. “You always think of the best things to show me. I am having a wonderful time as your secretary. You’ll have to give me some typing to do some time, so I can earn my keep.”

The Doctor laughed. They both knew he didn’t need a secretary. But in a million years she would not have accepted if he’d said ‘come and be my travelling companion’. Secretary made it respectable, made her more than a hitchhiker.

The sunset on the Crystal Plain was spectacular. They both enjoyed it, standing outside the TARDIS in the shadow of one of the really big crystal outcrops called ‘the long man’ for reasons that would have made some of Donna’s friends in Chiswick giggle and her mum get very prim and proper. But they weren’t looking at him, or any of his dimensions. They were watching the sky and the land turn golden as the sun dropped lower.

As it slid fully below the horizon, Donna heard The Doctor sigh a little sadly. If she hadn’t heard him talk about Gallifrey earlier, she probably wouldn’t even have noticed. As it was, she looked at him and thought his eyes seemed deeper and darker than usual.

“I wish he would let me comfort him,” she thought before she remembered she had used the words ‘I wish’ again. A moment later she was too busy hugging The Doctor as he turned to her and put his head on her shoulder, crying softly. It was the sort of moment that Hollywood moguls called a money shot, the spectacular sunset and a man with the universe on his shoulders unburdening himself to her.

But it was wrong. The Doctor wasn’t like that. He bore his burdens quietly and without tears and drama. And maybe that was wrong. Maybe he ought to book himself into a good therapist and get some post-traumatic stress relief. But it was how he chose to deal with his problems and this wasn’t right.

“Ok, I wish we could roll things back a bit here,” she said. “To just before the sunset.

It didn’t ‘roll back’ as such. It was more like a jump back. They were watching the sun disappear and The Doctor sighed once again, but Donna ignored it. And a moment later he turned and grinned at her and suggested cocoa and biscuits before bed.

“Tomorrow, let’s make it a literary day,” he added as they went back to the TARDIS. “How about… I don’t know, breakfast with W.B. Yeats, lunch with Agatha Christie, tea with Tolkein, supper with HG Wells. Herbert is always glad to see me. I inspired some of his best work.”

“Do you mean all of that or do I pick?” Donna asked.

“All of them. That’s what being a time traveller is for. Watch out for Yeats. He’s a bit of a ladies man. Keep his hands where you can see them.”

“He’ll get a slapping from me if he tries anything,” Donna answered. The Doctor laughed and went to set their co-ordinates and make the cocoa. Donna sat down on the sofa in the console room and thought about what had happened in the past few hours.

“I can make things come true just by wishing! Even if I can’t do the world hunger thing, I can still wish some good stuff for myself. A nice house, a car, a man… a future husband. Need one of those.”

At least she always thought she did. Every office she stepped into as a temp she had hoped that somebody with prospects would smile at her and maybe ask her if she was doing anything Saturday night, and she would be on her way to domestic bliss.

It never happened.

But funnily enough, right now, she didn’t need that. She had everything she wanted right now. She had travel in time and space, sunsets on fifty different worlds – fifty-one now. She had The Doctor. She didn’t want to marry him. She didn’t see him as the man she kept house for in the leafy suburbia of her dreams. But he was the best friend she had ever had and he could take her to places beyond her imagination.

“Ok,” she thought. “But one day I’ll have to move on. I can’t stay with him forever. Maybe I can use the wishes as a sort of short cut to meeting the man of my dreams and him realising I’m the woman of his dreams. They’re my fall back, for after this is over.”

The Doctor brought the cocoa and they sat together drinking and talking quietly as the TARDIS slid through the time and space vortex. Presently Donna said she would go to bed.

“Goodnight, Donna,” The Doctor told her. “Sleep well.” As she disappeared through the inner door, he watched thoughtfully. “Take care, please, Donna,” he said in a quiet voice. Don’t let the power go to your head. Control it, and it will be all right.”


In the morning, the TARDIS had landed in Dublin in 1910. They had breakfast in a café called Bewleys that made very aromatic coffee and excellent food with the poet and writer, William Butler Yeats. Donna might have heard of him if she had paid attention to English literature instead of Colin Fisher, the boy who sat two seats away in class. He and The Doctor talked enthusiastically about books and poetry and the news in the day’s papers. Donna ate her breakfast, noting that cholesterol and calories didn’t seem to something people worried about in 1910 and wished she could eat what she wanted without putting on weight. Then she felt the belt on her dress slacken suddenly and noticed that she was a good inch thinner than she was before.

“Ok, that’s good,” she thought. “I mean, I didn’t wish to look like a supermodel, just to be able to eat a fried breakfast without feeling guilty. I mean, it’s ok, isn’t it?”

She certainly hoped it was ok. Because she seemed to find herself eating nearly all day. Breakfast in Dublin took until ten o’clock, with several rounds of fresh toast and gallons of coffee. And then they travelled to London in 1937, where they attended a literary luncheon in Mayfair to celebrate the publication of Agatha Christie’s latest novel, Death on the Nile. Donna found it hard to remember they were talking about a new book, and not the latest TV adaptation of it and concentrated on the food instead of talking to people.

Tea with Tolkein was in a country pub that he claimed inspired the one where the Hobbits stayed the night in Lord of the Rings. Donna was happy to believe that. It looked a bit like the one in the film, only quieter.

Finally, they had a huge home made supper in the little lodge by a Scottish loch where Herbert George Wells greeted The Doctor as an old and trusted friend and was thoroughly charming and gentlemanly to Donna. She was pretty sure the wish was working, though. She didn’t have to adjust her belt after the fourth big meal of the day.

“And just where do you put it all?” she asked The Doctor as they finally got a bit of exercise, waking along the loch in the dying hours of the day. “You’re as skinny as a rake, but you eat just as much as anyone else.”

“Makes no difference to me,” he answered. “This isn’t the body I was born with. What I look like is completely coincidental to anything I do with it. I could eat like a pig and never put on a pound. The only way I could get fat is to regenerate into a fat person.”

Herbert George Wells took that idea philosophically. As far as Donna knew, he had never incorporated it into one of his stories, but obviously the Time Machine and War of The Worlds owed a lot to evenings by the fire chatting to The Doctor.

“That’s not something I ever want to see,” Donna said. “I mean… not you regenerating as a fattie, but… but you regenerating at all. It’s just too much. I can’t imagine seeing you as… somebody else… but… still you… only not you…”

That made absolutely no sense, but The Doctor smiled and assured her that he would not regenerate while she was travelling with him.

“I wish I had that in writing,” she said, without thinking. The Doctor looked at her oddly and then reached into his apparently endless pocket for a notepad and pen. He proceeded to write in very small, neat handwriting what must have qualified as the world’s tiniest legal document. He signed it and got Wells to countersign it. He passed the page to Donna. She read it.

“I promise, unreservedly, not to go through bodily regeneration while Donna Noble of Chiswick is travelling with me.


The Doctor. Inverness, 1899.


Herbert George Wells, Inverness, 1899.

“Ok,” Donna said, folding the sheet of paper and putting it in her pocket. “That’s sorted. Now… Inverness? We’re in Inverness?”

“Well, just outside it,” Herbert corrected her. “By the Loch….”

“You mean… Loch Ness!” The scenery took on a new meaning as she looked around at on of only two Scottish Loch she had heard of – the other being Loch Lomond, which there was a song about. “Wow. Herbert… have you ever seen the monster?”

“Well, as a matter of fact…” Herbert began, missing the frantic signals to change the subject that The Doctor was making behind her back. “Yes, I have.”

“Oh, that is so amazing. I’d love to see it. I wish I could see the Loch Ness Monster.”

“Oh dear,” The Doctor groaned. “We’re in trouble now. He knew what was coming next. “All right. But don’t make too much noise. You’ll scare the poor beast.”

He brought her by the hand down to the loch side. She watched as the still, mirror-like water was disturbed by sudden ripples before a large reptilian head rose up, followed by a long neck. She had the impression of an even bigger body still beneath the surface, but when the creature turned its head and an eye the size of a soup plate looked directly at her that was more than enough. She didn’t know whether to be glad or sorry when it dived back down into the deep water and the ripples slowly dissipated.

“Me… scare… that…” Donna stammered. “I mean… wow. That was…”

“That was the Loch Ness Monster,” The Doctor said. “Now, let’s go and leave it in peace. It doesn’t usually do command performances. Besides, we really should be off now. Herbert, it’s been a marvellous evening. Good to see you again.”

Donna thought he was a bit abrupt about their leaving. Herbert didn’t seem to mind. He walked with them to the TARDIS and said goodbye effusively.

“He’s nice,” Donna said as she watched him waving to them on the TARDIS viewscreen. “Really nice.”

“He’s another ladies man,” The Doctor pointed out. “But… yes, nice is a good description of him. I’ve always found him ‘nice’.” She watched him set the TARDIS into orbit above planet Earth, and then went to sit down on the sofa. He didn’t ask Donna to join him, but she had the feeling she was supposed to.

“Tell me what happened in the market, yesterday,” he said. “Every little detail.”

Donna told him. He listened. He didn’t say anything for a long time. Then he spoke very quietly and softly.

“I'm a scientist,” he said. “I believe in rationality, order, in things happening for a reason – cause and effect. I don’t believe in magic, in spells and charms, magic rings and other occult jewellery. I don’t believe in crystals that can grant wishes.”

“Then what is it?”

“It’s not magic. It’s… it’s a kind of technology. It’s science. The crystal has certain properties that influence reality. It changes reality, according to the desire of the person it has bonded with. Hence the wishes.”

“Well… Ok. I mean… I don’t really care if it’s magic or not. I like it. It worked. I wasn’t going to do anything bad with it. Nothing… nothing greedy.

“I know that,” The Doctor assured her. “And I suppose you’ve thought it through by now and realised that trying to feed the world or curing all diseases in the universe are impossible.”

“I thought they might be.”

“Too much reality to change at once.”

“Are you mad at me? For… buying the pendant… for using it.”

“Why should I be mad? It’s not your fault. Did it have a sign on it saying ‘Legendary Pendant of Princess Massaria, grants wishes. Warning, persistent use could seriously damage your health?”

“No, it didn’t,” she answered.

“There you are, then. Not your fault.”

“What do you mean, ‘could seriously damage my health’?”

“Every wish you make, it has consequences. You might not notice. The consequences might be very small. And some of them might not affect you. They might affect other people. People you don’t even know…”

“What people…”

“The one hundred uxit coin…. You found ne… that lady had lost one. I’m not saying it was… I mean it could be coincidence. But there are only so many one hundred uxit coins in circulation. You didn’t make it appear out of nothing. So maybe it came from somebody else’s purse… someone it meant much more to than you….”

“Oh!” Donna was horrified. “Oh, Doctor. I mean… I never…Oh, I am so sorry. I… I didn’t… Oh, God, it feels like I picked her pocket.”

“You, yourself, would never knowingly take somebody’s food money. I know that. YOU gave the poor woman the money you had left. You tried to help. That’s my Donna. The one who does the right thing. But do you see what I mean? Consequences. Some of the other wishes… the consequence of wishing to see the Loch Ness Monster… a bad time for sports anglers after the lake was disturbed and all the fish hopped it. As for some of the other things you wished for… compassion isn’t a finite resource, unlike money. All those little rewinds you wished for, because you thought you’d hurt my feelings….” He smiled and looked at her face. “I’m a Time Lord. It’s not just a phrase we made up. We have mastery over time. I know when it’s being interfered with. I feel it in my bones.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I… was touched by your reasons. You wanted to save me from unnecessary heartsache. That’s what I mean about compassion. For what it’s worth… it’s ok. I’ve lived with my grief for a long time now. When I get a bit sad watching a sunset… it’s not a bad thing. It’s a reminder that I am alive and I do have feelings. I need that now and again. And maybe I need a shoulder to cry on sometimes, too. And I think you’re a good candidate. But… let me decide when I need it in future, won’t you?”

“What about the pendant? Are you going to take it away from me?”

“There wouldn’t be much point. You see… it doesn’t just work when you’re wearing it. it linked with you psychically the first time you touched it… or possibly the first time you made a wish while touching it. But now, even if you take it off, it will still work. You’re connected now.”

“Really? Seriously?”

“Put it down and go across the room. try wishing something completely trivial and harmless but obviously not a coincidence.”

Donna took off the pendant and left it on the sofa before walking to the inner console room door. She made a wish and turned to see if it had worked.

The Doctor looked extremely disconcerted.

“I’m glad Captain Jack can’t see me now,” he said. “You actually wished to see me in a sequined ball gown? You actually think these arms are made for spaghetti straps?”

Donna giggled.

“It seemed like something totally trivial and harmless. I mean… unless you get to like the look… I mean there can’t be any consequences of that, surely?”

“If the dress came from the wardrobe, we’re all right,” he said. “But if Shirley Bassey stepped out on stage in front of a thousand adoring fans wearing a crumpled brown pin stripe suit….”

“Should I wish this one back?”

“Please, do.”

“How far away do you think it would work?” she asked once The Doctor was dressed in his more familiar attire. “I mean, what if we leave it somewhere and go…”

“Even if you left it on a number nine bus to Hammersmith and made a wish on Assinta Minor, it would still work. Anyway, just leaving it somewhere is too dangerous. It might just decide to fix on some other poor innocent. That’s probably how it got in the market in the first place. Looking for a soul to latch onto.”

“You make it sound evil,” Donna said. “It isn’t? Is it? I mean… if it is…”

“No, it’s not evil. It’s not sentient enough for that. It’s…”

“Where does it come from? You said something about a legendary Pendant of Princess Missie….”


“Yeah, her…. So…. Were you making that up or….”

“It’s a very sad and tragic story. And I’d rather not scare you with it,” The Doctor answered. “But what we’re going to do… you’re going to hold onto it. You’re going to try very hard not to use it anywhere that other people could get hurt by it, or I could end up wearing women’s clothes. Did you have to include the underwear, by the way? basques and suspenders are not me.”

“I didn’t wish for the underwear,” she answered. “Maybe that was YOUR idea.”

“I don’t think so,” he replied, laughing with her at the absurdity of the whole thing. “Let’s call it a night. You’ve had a long day. Cocoa and bed. And tomorrow, first thing, we’ll test your pendant out in a place where it can’t have any consequences at all. I want to measure the energy it uses to change reality and see if it is finite after all.”

They were still in orbit around Earth the next morning when she woke. The Doctor made breakfast and afterwards he brought her to a room in the TARDIS she had never seen before. When they walked in, it was just a big empty room with a light fitting in the middle of the ceiling and one plain looking chair directly underneath it.

“This is the ‘in potentia’ room, he said. “It’s…” He struggled for a second or two to find a way to explain it. “Star Trek… you’ve seen Star Trek, haven’t you. The holodecks…”


“This is a bit like that. Only… different. It’s a room that can be whatever you want it to be. If you’re quarantined on board the TARDIS with the measles and want some fresh air it can be a riverside walk on grass that feels as real as grass has a right to feel. If you want a 1970s disco – though why anyone would – then it can be one. It responds to your desires. And everything that is created, comes from the TARDISes energy generators. It will take nothing away from the outside universe. If you ask for food, it won’t leave somebody else hungry. If you ask for clothes, nobody else will be suddenly naked. This is a safe, self-contained place to try out those wishes. And while you’re doing it, I’m going to be using this…”

He held up something that looked like a transistor radio with its insides on the outside. It had the hand made look of something a six year old would bring proudly home from school to show his mum. The Doctor looked quite proud of it. His inner six year old was grinning maniacally and obviously waiting for her to ask what it was.

She asked. She felt he would be disappointed if she didn’t.

“I call it a reality slide rule. It will tell me how much reality is being altered when you do your stuff. So…go on… do your… stuff.”

“I can just… wish for what I want?”

“As long as it’s not George Clooney naked - or any other film or television personality in any state of undress for that matter. The in potentia room only does things, not people.”

“I wasn’t thinking on those lines,” she assured him quickly. Then she looked at the chair he was sitting on. “Let’s start with a wider seat so I can sit down, too. And she wished for an old fashioned park bench with wrought iron legs and arm rests and varnished wooden seat. She sat down next to The Doctor and carefully envisaged the rest of the park. A fountain, for a start. She wished for a big old fashioned one, with mermaids and fish spouting water into a pool.

She smiled widely as the parkn took shape around her. The fountain, lawns and flower beds, paths between them, more benches for people to sit, playing fields further away, a children’s playground, a long avenue of trees and a river beyond that marking the boundary of the park. There was an old fashioned bandstand. Music came from it even though there were no bandsmen.

“If I invented an ice cream van…”

“It would be self service. But the ice cream would be very nice. Synthesising food is easy enough for the TARDIS. You want ice cream?”

“Yeah. I mean… ice cream in the park. It’s what it’s all about.”

The van looked as if it had always been there. The Doctor opened the side door and went inside while Donna stood by the hatch. She watched as he expertly scooped a double cone of vanilla and put a long piece of chocolate flake into it and a sprinkle of nuts before passing it to her. He did a second cone for himself and joined her in a walk along the river bank enjoying the park Donna had wished into being.

“It’s too quiet, though,” she said after a while. “What use is a park without people in? There should be kids riding their bikes along the paths, people walking their dogs, emo teens with their skateboards around the fountain, old fogeys moaning at them, lads playing football. Even a fight or two.”

“Not quite so charming, but much more realistic,” The Doctor agreed. “Sorry. But that has always been the limit of the in potentia room. No people.”

“I wish we could be in a real park then,” she said. “With people.”

“Oh!” The Doctor groaned as he looked around at the public park, quite obviously somewhere on planet Earth, most likely England, maybe March or April, with daffodils on the grass verges.

It was not unlike Donna’s vision in many ways. But the fountain was in desperate need of a clean up. There were wasps buzzing around overfull waste bins and the grass was littered with the rubbish people hadn’t even bothered to bin. There was a noisy argument between the skateboarding ‘emo kids’ and the dirt bikers and the bandstand hadn’t heard a note of music for thirty years. But there were people walking their dogs and pushing prams and pushchairs. There were children running and playing. There were ad hoc games of football. It was still exactly what either of them expected a park to be.

“Ohhh. I’m sorry, Doctor,” Donna said as she realised one thing was missing. “The TARDIS.”

“It’s ok,” he assured her. “The TARDIS has a built in fail safe. If we’re zapped out of it for some reason and it’s adrift, it will land on the nearest source of gravity – in this case, Earth. I’ll just… let her know where we are. Don’t want her landing in Zambia. Too far to walk.” He reached into his pocket for the sonic screwdriver and aimed it into the sky for a minute or so. “That’s it. She’s got the signal. She’ll be here in a half hour or so. Meanwhile, it’s not a bad looking place. Is that a mobile café up there? A couple of Styrofoam cups of well stewed tea could be good right now.”

He started off up the path, but Donna wasn’t following him. He looked around. She was looking at her mobile phone.

“A load of text messages from mum. She’s annoyed because I didn’t remember the anniversary of my dad’s death. She said I could have sent something from Interflora even if I’m in Mauritius or wherever. She thinks I’m… too busy gallivanting to care.”

“I thought she wanted you to get a job and make something of your life,” The Doctor commended. “Can’t win with your mum.”

“Yeah… well… maybe she’s right. I should have remembered.”

“You didn’t forget. In your personal timeline, it’s still January. You wanted a park full of people so you wished it on a sunny spring day a couple of months after your dad’s anniversary. Once we get the TARDIS back… we… can…”

He stopped talking. There was nobody listening. Donna didn’t need the TARDIS when she had the pendant to wish her there. She was gone already.

“Oh, Donna,” he groaned. “Just be careful, please. Don’t do anything you’ll regret before I can catch up with you.”


Donna looked around and sighed. A cemetery on a cold, grey February was a stark contrast to the sunny park. And the sad memory this one invoked for her made it seem even colder.

Her mum and granddad were coming up the path towards her. She waited for them.

“Hello, love,” her granddad said. “Glad you could come.”

“So, you turned up then,” her mum said coldly. “Managed to remember you’re a part of this family.”

“Mum…” she began.

“Couldn’t be bothered to bring flowers, though,” Sylvia Noble continued. “You’re supposed to be making good money from this new job of yours. But you couldn’t be bothered to…”

Donna wished. A big funeral bouquet appeared in her hands. There was a card on it that said ‘Remembering mum, with love,” for a few seconds before it changed to ‘Remembering dad, with love.”

“I’ll make this right, later,” Donna promised. “For whoever these really belong to.”

Her mum wasn’t moaning, at least. But they walked to the grave in stony silence. Donna put her flowers down. Mrs Noble laid down the wreath she had brought. Wilf Mott bowed his head respectfully then reached out his hand to his granddaughter. His daughter just stood there by the graveside, expressionless.

“It wasn’t so bad before dad died,” Donna thought. “Mum didn’t nag as much. He would stop her. I wish he was alive.”

It wasn’t the first time she had made that wish. But it was the first time it was granted. Donna looked at the hand held in hers and at her father’s tired but resigned face, and her mum, still standing by the graveside.

“Well… then… who…” she looked down at the memorial stone. “Oh, no. Not granddad.”

“Consequences,” The Doctor had said. Everything had consequences. She got her dad back but her granddad was dead.

“Its not fair,” she said out loud. “It’s just not fair.”

“It’s all right, love,” her father said. “I know you miss him. But it was a relief after his illness.”

“Granddad wasn’t ill,” she answered him. “He was… he was full of life. He was fitter than men half his age. He was…”

“What would you know?” her mother snapped. “You haven’t been here all year. That mysterious job of yours. Off all over the world. Never even a postcard. He worried about you, to the end.”

“No, he didn’t,” Donna snapped back. “It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t. Oh, it’s not fair. Why did it have to be him? Why… why couldn’t it be you? I wish you were dead instead of him.”

“Donna, love,” Her grandfather put his arm around her shoulders she broke down in tears at the graveside. “It’s all right, love. I’m here. So is your dad. It’s all right. I know you and your mum had some problems. You said things you wish you hadn’t. And then she died and you didn’t have the chance to say sorry. But it’s all right. She knows you’re sorry. It’s all forgiven now. It’s all right.”

“Oh, gramps,” she sobbed. “Oh, it’s not. If only you knew… Dad…” She turned to her father and he, too, reached out to hold her, perplexed by the sudden tears.

“Donna…” Another man’s voice called out to her. She looked around as The Doctor came forward. She saw the TARDIS parked by the bins where the old flowers were discarded. She ran to him. He opened his arms to her and hugged her gently.

“You need you own quiet time,” The Doctor said to Geoff and Wilf. I’m just going to take Donna for a little walk until she feels better.”

The two men nodded gratefully. They both knew The Doctor could be trusted to look after Donna when she was in one of her funny moods.

He walked with her down a quiet path between rows of graves until they came to a rather nice little memorial garden for people without graves for various reasons. He sat her down on a bench with a plaque dedicated to someone who had died on that sad September day The Doctor had often wished he could have done something about. Donna cried until she ran out of tears then looked at him, hiccupping now and again and blowing her nose on the handkerchief he quietly handed her.

“I’ve done a terrible thing,” she said.

“Yes, you have,” he answered. “You’re not the first. That story I said was too harrowing to tell… Princess Massaria… She was a very beautiful if spoilt young woman. She was the only child of a king who loved her dearly and gave her everything her heart desired. One day he gave her a pendant that had been specially made to bend reality and grant her wishes instantly. I suppose it saved on transport costs. The princess loved being able to wish into existence all the gold and jewels and beautiful clothes she wanted, and the finest foods, sweet meats and treats whenever she wanted. Of course, the things didn’t come into existence instantly. The king spent half his time placating goldsmiths and fashion designers and cake makers whose wares suddenly vanished from their shops. But he continued to indulge her every whim.”

“Then one day – nobody knows why – the king and the princess had an argument. It was probably some small thing just like any family argues about. Something that started as nothing and blew out of proportion.” Donna nodded. She knew all about that. “Anyway, it got really bitter, and then the princess said something utterly horrible and unforgivable. She said to her father ‘I wish you were dead.’.”



“But she could have wished him alive again, couldn’t she? She could have made it right?”

“She could. But she didn’t. She saw her father lying there, dead. And she said something that made it impossible for her to take it all back. She said “I hate my life. I wish I had never been born.”


“And of course, she wasn’t. The servants found the king dead and a strange pendant lying on the floor beside him. The people mourned their king and the fact that there was no direct heir to the throne. He had died childless. And then, even before the official mourning period was over, two rival claimants to the throne emerged. The next thing, civil war, millions dead, a civilisation destroyed.”

“That really is a consequence,” Donna said. “That’s how come the pendant was there… on that stall?”

“It got passed around and caused a whole heap of trouble for other people first. All sorts of time anomalies, people dying or not dying when they should. We… my people… when they existed… we sent agents out all the time to clean up the mess and put the time lines right. But they couldn’t trace the pendant.”

“So… when I got it… you knew all about it. You didn’t stop me.”

“I thought… maybe… with my supervision… it could be controlled. I thought it could be neutralised eventually. I thought… if you had it, at least I knew where it was. And you could be trusted… not to do the kind of terrible things the princess did. I was wrong. Not that I’m saying I don’t trust you. Believe me, I do. But I should have realised that it was too easy to get into the sort of problems we have now. I shouldn’t have left you with the responsibility. Goodness knows, I’m not sure I could have resisted the temptation myself. I could have wished my planet, my people, back into existence. I’m not blaming you, Donna. Anyone could have made the same mistakes. But… now, at least, you have a chance to put it all right.”

“Me? I’ve got to? I thought… you’re the Time Lord. You said it… it’s your job. Your people…”

“No. You’ve got to put it right. It’s up to you. You don’t really want your mum dead, do you?”

“I loved my dad. And my granddad. More… I never… never argued with dad. He never pushed me around the way mum does. But… this isn’t right, is it? It feels as if… as if I killed her. I did it. and… that’s a horrible feeling. I know I can’t leave it like this. I have to let dad go… put things right.”

“Yes. But it’s got to be the right way. You can’t just reverse the last wish. You’ve got to find a way to end it once and for all.”

She thought for a few moments and then she nodded.

She stood up.

“I wish I had never touched that pendant and made that first wish,” she said.

At first it didn’t look as if anything had happened. Then she noticed that the pendant was gone.

“Did it…”

“Come on, let’s go and see.”

He took her hand and they walked back towards the place where Donna’s dad was buried. Donna gave a sob as she saw her mum and granddad beside the grave. Yes, everything was as it should be. Her dad was dead.

“He was supposed to be dead,” The Doctor reminded her. “It’s just the way life is. You can’t change it. I can’t. Nobody can. Nobody should. You just have to accept it.”

“I know,” Donna said with a sigh.

“I'm sorry we’re late,” The Doctor said as they approached. Mrs Noble looked about to say something cutting, but he got in there first. “It’s entirely my fault. Donna told me time and again that we had to be here. But I delayed us. And then I got us lost in the cemetery. I’m afraid we didn’t even have time to go to the florists. My apologies to you all.”

For a moment it seemed as if Sylvia might be cutting to The Doctor, anyway. Then her face softened and she almost smiled at him.

“That’s all right, Doctor,” she said. “It’s kind of you to think of us at this time. You only met Geoff the once, didn’t you?”

“That’s right, yes.” The Doctor made polite agreeable conversation for a minute or two. Then he stepped away. He watched from a distance as Donna and her family had their moment of remembrance at the graveside. When they were done, Donna hugged her mum briefly, and her granddad a little less briefly, and then hurried away.

“Thank you,” she said to The Doctor. “For what you did. For everything you’ve done.”

“All in a day’s work. Speaking of which, we have some loose ends to tie up.”

He didn’t explain what he meant. Donna didn’t dare ask. He had not yelled at her once for being so stupid as she had been. And he still wanted her with him in the TARDIS after all the trouble she caused.

She wasn’t going to rock the boat.

She was a bit surprised, all the same, when the TARDIS materialised beside the market square on Ux-Pa-Ly.

“It’s a couple of hours before we were here the first time,” The Doctor explained. The best way of making your last wish come true is to make sure the thing isn’t there to tempt you. Ah… there we are.”

It was hanging there among the other trinkets. The Doctor picked it up carefully, by the chain, never touching the crystal for a moment. He let the stall holder put it in a paper bag and then held that very carefully as they returned to the TARDIS.

The next stop was a perilous one. Donna looked at the viewscreen and saw the TARDIS hovering over the caldera of an active volcano. She wasn’t sure if it was on Earth or some other planet. She followed The Doctor to the door, but kept back, holding onto the handrail as he dropped the paper bag out. The paper turned to ash long before the pendant fell into the magma below.

“That will do it?” she asked as he closed the door and turned to her. “It won’t turn up in a thousand years when some fossil hunter chips open a bit of rock?”

“No. The heat will have shattered the crystal into millions of pieces and melted them. It’s over.”

“Thank goodness for that. Still… I wish…”

The Doctor put his finger over her lips, cutting off the wish.

“Just until we’re out of this galaxy, let’s try not to use the ‘w’ word. To be on the safe side.”