Sunday, 30 November 2008


Here's a short story I've written about Susan from The Chronicles of Narnia and how she is left out of "Narnia" (which is in essence a metaphor for heaven) at the culmination of "The Last Battle" and left alone with the news that her entire family have been killed in a railway accident. Exactly why she is excluded remains a topic of fierce debate, many consider her exclusion to be the result of her sexual awakening and Lewis' naive and skewed view of female sexuality while others argue that her exclusion is merely because she has chosen to forget Narnia and Aslan and no longer cares for what she sees as a childhood fantasy.

""Sir," said Tirian, when he had greeted all these. "If I have read the chronicle aright, there should be another. Has not your Majesty two sisters? Where is Queen Susan?"

"My sister Susan," answered Peter shortly and gravely, "is no longer a friend of Narnia."

"Yes," said Eustace, "and whenever you've tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says, `What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.'"

"Oh Susan!" said Jill. "She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."

"Grown-up, indeed," said the Lady Polly. "I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can."

"Well, don't let's talk about that now," said Peter. "Look! Here are lovely fruit-trees. Let us taste them."

-From "The Last Battle" by C S Lewis


The peal of blithe laughter and shrill goodbyes as she left acquaintances at the entrance could be heard from the lounge and the door made of apple wood closed with a snap as she entered the house. The confident echo of her stiletto heels entered the room before she did; her cloven hoofed stride certain and sure. The man in the dark blue suit, uneasy in that debutante address, the lodging as unknown to him as she was. The quivering sheets of paper within his hands one of which bore her name, he’d never had to tell someone so young. How could he face this stranger, this girl this…Susan?

“Hello can I help you Mr…” She queried calmly in her flawless RP; if she was surprised in the least it didn’t show beneath her calm smile.

“Detective Inspector James. I think perhaps Miss Pevensie you ought to sit down.”

“If you wouldn’t mind, I’d rather stand.” And with that declaration she took her place by the hearth, the unlit fireplace bereft of fuel the sight of which suddenly made the inspector realise the bitter cold which gripped the room; the dark room of antique mahogany and modest light. In the gloom it was harder to see the peeling wallpaper and chipped tiles, the moth eaten curtains and the chair arms worn away to wood. She could feel the detective’s gaze wandering around the room, concern lining his face.

“Oh how remiss of me, would you care for some tea inspector?”

“Well actually Miss Pevensie the reason for my visit is of some urge-”

“Nonsense! I’ll just get the service.” Her voice cracking with hidden emotion under her mellifluous tones, like honey over splintered glass. The silver service she brought into the room gleamed, its pristine sparkle dazzling even in the dim light, yet when she brought it closer it was clear that it must have been polished hundreds of times gradually stripping away its silvery radiance.

“This is a rose pouchong a friend bought me from China,” the words flowing as she poured the golden liquid into dainty china cups. The floral scent drifted around the room like an incense, its drowsy fragrance taking hold.

“Roses…” whispered the inspector, “roses. Like Turkish delight.” Susan’s cup shattered in her clenched hand, her formal gloves torn but her skin intact the colour drained from her face.

“Weak…cups.” The only scrap of language she could manage. As the inspector bent towards the floor, scrambling for shards of broken china he looked at her properly for the first time. Her tresses of russet hair fell about her shoulders framing a face that while beautiful appeared drained for someone so young; exhausted by looking elegant, her vivid green gown captivating but frayed from too much wear.

“Miss Pevensie I really must tell you why I am here. I’m afraid I have some terrible news. There has been a… catastrophe, a freak rail disaster on the same train which your family were taki-”

“What hospital are they in? Can I see them straight away?”

“I’m sorry miss, there were… no survivors. I have a list…” His words trailed off, useless as they were as he stretched out his hand holding the sheet of paper that had weighed so heavy in his heart. She became as still and cold as a statue, her hazel eyes glazed and listless and her skin as white as the paper she now clutched and there was no bell to ring to rouse her from her grief. There in the parchment were the names of a world that so suddenly had ceased to exist, but a world she had left long ago. The first two old and frail the witnesses of her world’s inception, her fellow adventurers brothers and sister through so much who had lived in her world’s golden age and those two who had journeyed after her, keeping the land alive; the final names her parents such accidental victims to a cruel and proud spirit. Within the names of that sheet of paper her heart had been made and died, the golden train carriage with its engine roar and mane of steam had claimed her world and family and her reason to live. Were their deaths incidental or integral, how could she know?

Will they think of me as the girl who abandoned them, will they know I’ve been toiling for them? Every night I put on my debutante smile and clutch my lipstick and invitations to try to secure our future, I was never allowed to live in fantasy with them when I could see our money was so short. To secure a future for all of us. But it seems someone has left someone behind. After so many hard hard years circumstance was a cruel beast.

Susan shed silent icy tears and snow began to fall outside the window, snow as white as a shroud, or nine shrouds as Susan thought; signalling the start of a winter that would never cease for her.

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