Island of Arrows: A Susan of Narnia Story

Chapter 1:

Though many children hungered for sweets and soda, or toys and games, Christopher Pevensie (named for his late grandfather) always had a hunger for stories.

He would ask his mother every night to tell him one, but every night she would instead tell him:

"Christopher, for the last time, I do not want you to waste time on such childish things. The mind is a terrible place to leave your imagination unattended." And he would get no story at all.

He never understood why he, and not other children, should go so long without stories. Other children his age would often play in the schoolgrounds, acting out the stories their parents would tell them. They would play King Arthur and his round table of knights, or search for buried gold like the pirates in Treasure Island, or even imagine the small woods behind the school was Tarzan's jungle. But Christopher would never be allowed to play with them, for he didn't understand the stories.

As his mother often had worried and tired looks on her face (especially ever since he and her moved to the country after his father left), he never told her of how he was excluded at school. It would just be one more thing for her to fret about.

But still, he could never help himself when bedtime came, and would ask once more. He yearned for a story as much as anyone could yearn for something.

One night, as he always did, Christopher asked his mother for a story. And again she said:

"No, as I have told you: the mind is a terrible place to leave your imagination unattended. Now go to sleep-"

"Mother, I've been thinking a great deal about that."

"About what?"

"That phrase. What you tell me every night."

"Have you now?" she answered, her tired expression growing somehow more tired as she did.

"Yes, and I was thinking…if it isn't correct to leave your imagination unattended, then shouldn't that be a reason to tell me a story?"

"Why would that be?"

"Well, since you don't tell me stories, I often find myself lying awake at night and telling my own. If you wish for my imagination to not run wild, would it not be better for you to tell me a story of your own choosing? Otherwise, who knows what kind I will end up telling myself."

Christopher's mother sat quietly for a moment. She would not tell him this, but she had always seen a bit of her younger brother in him. Now, as Christopher argued with her and made such trouble, it was like she was arguing with her brother as she did so long ago.

"If I do, will you promise to go to bed?"

"Of course! I swear!" He said and held out his pinky finger.

His mother smirked and grabbed his pinky with her own. "Very well, just a short one. Let's see…"

That night, and for nearly a month after, for the first time in Christopher's life his mother told him a story. At first, she continued to fight against it, and would often fumble to think of one. In fact, her first few stories were quite bad. And far too short for his liking. But as the weeks past, she began to fight with him less and less, and the stories began to get better and better.

One night she told him of a dam made by talking beavers who loved to spend quiet evenings drinking tea and eating biscuits. Another night she told him of a faun whose pan music could lull anyone to sleep no matter how they fought to stay awake.

Christopher began to notice that now, whenever he asked for a story and she paused to think of one, she spoke differently. Not like she was making something up on the spot, but as though reciting something from memory. As though these stories had been told to her a long time ago and were only now coming back to her.

And on a warm Friday night, when he had asked for a story and she said yes, something happened that made him certain this was true.

She had been telling him a story of four children who travelled to another world, where they fought great battles and became beloved kings and queens. When he had asked her what their names were, her brow furrowed deeply as though she needed great strength to face this question. Suddenly, her eyes, which had always had a bit of a sleepiness to them, suddenly looked wide awake.

"What's wrong mother?" Christopher asked, worried a great deal for her.

"I cannot finish this story tonight. And please do not ask me for more."

And with not another word, Christopher's mother ran out of the room and slammed his door behind her.

She refused to answer any question he had for her regarding this and, likewise, refused to tell him another story ever again, returning to muttering that same old phrase:

"Do not waste time on childish things. The mind is a terrible place to leave your imagination unattended."