Afterglow

Because it can't be easy going back to being less than you are.

This is my first Narnia piece; I hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don't own Narnia, Lucy, or any of the characters or places used herein.

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"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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It's the clothes that tell the difference first. Cardigans, skirts, blouses, mittens, shoes, underclothes that once seemed so natural that she barely thought about them now chafe painfully. Her skin protests against sturdy wool after the whisper of silk. She still walks as though she is dressed in cascading skirts, graceful and sure, which now looks awkward in the clothes and body of a little girl. She misses her crown.

Sometimes when she steps outside into the smoggy, busy streets, she cannot catch her breath and starts to cough, choking with lungs used to clear mountain and sea air, untainted by industry and pollution, until Edmund pounds her on the back and she can breathe again. He takes her hand, squeezing it, because he understands. The air stings.

She finds herself talking to her cat and the birds in the park and the mouse in the cellar as though they can listen, understand, offer advice and sympathy, and sometimes she catches Susan doing the same thing. But there is no understanding shining in their eyes, which are sad and almost empty, like the windows of an abandoned house. There are fewer friends here.

Sometimes she falls into the high speech, words lofty and golden and flowing off her tongue in ways that warm her heart. It doesn't matter so much when she's at home; Peter often does the same thing, though he is almost a man now, and so much that it seems natural, almost. But she's only a little girl, and the children at school laugh, mocking, teasing: what game is she playing? Who does she think she is? Princess Lucy, Princess Lucy, they singsong, and it takes all of her strength not to insist that she's not a princess; she's a Queen.

Sometimes when she's in geography and staring at the maps too long, they blur before her eyes, and she sees names and features so strange yet so familiar—Lantern Waste, Archenland, Fords of Beruna, Telmar River, Stormness Head, Cair Paravel. And then the pictures and words blur again, but this time it is because of tears, salty as wind off the Eastern Ocean.

She's never demanded luxuries; she's a simple girl, really. But the wood of the kitchen table is rough compared to the mahogany of her little breakfast table in Narnia, and the worn armchair in the living room is nothing like her velvet-cushioned throne.

When she wakes in the night, drifting in the sea between dreams and the waking world, she is certain that the trees outside her window are dancing and that she can hear the mermaids singing in the bay.

She misses Tumnus so much that it hurts, and there is an aching gaping hole inside her where Aslan used to be. She can remember the multitudes of shades of gold in his mane, the velvet of his fur, the richness of his voice. The security and comfort so very deep that it is all she is, that can only come from the absolute knowing that he is there and always will be.

She knows that there are so many things she learned, so much wisdom gained, that cannot fit inside a young girl, a normal girl, who has to wake up and set the table and go to school and play hopscotch and do homework and have a bedtime. There's a restlessness she never felt before, but a peace, too, and grownups always comment on her ancient eyes and the other children laugh at her solemn, wistful expression as she daydreams.

She longs, now, for so much more than she ever imagined Before (because her world, her life, is divided into Before and After now), the more that once known, once lived in, can never, ever be forgotten. She has become her longing now, and the only comfort she has is the looks in her siblings' eyes that tell her that it was not all a dream and the knowing—knowing—that one day she will be called Home.

For now, it will have to be enough.

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