At twenty-two, most people would call Susan Pevensie a beautiful woman, a wonderful dancing companion, and a true gentlewoman. But Susan Pevensie did not feel none of those things. Indeed, she'd stopped feeling pretty, and beautiful, and all those other names that girls are lavished with. No, Susan felt very, very ugly. Ugly both inside and outside. She felt bitter, and betrayed. She sat livid in the pews of the church, at the pulpit the minister went on and on about how God was merciful and that he would heal all pain.
Susan scoffed. What did God know about human pain? Her once mascara lined eyes were now red rimmed and puffy from crying for three days straight. Two days ago, she'd buried her parents, and now she faced the inevitable- burying her brothers and sister. Three open caskets, one smaller than the other two stood at the front of the church. The boys were dressed in their best suits, and Lucy her finest dress. They looked as though they were merely asleep, locked forevermore in the most peaceful dream once could ask for. At her side, lay three long stemmed white roses. When the minister stepped down from the pulpit to offer condolences, Susan stood quickly and went to her siblings- even in death, they were still family, even though they were distant as of late.
"You promised me you'd be back soon."
She went to Edmund first, laying the flower on his folded cold hands. Her eyes grew moist as she leaned down to kiss his cheek. Holding back a shudder, she went to Peter next. The High King lay there undisturbed in his deathly slumber, and she half expected him to wake up, eyes flashing wit merriment as a joke well played.
"But you're not joking. All of you are really gone. " Susan whispered hoarsely. She placed her hand over Peter's, squeezing gently before giving him his rose as well. When she got to Lucy's casket, she faltered. The one person whom she held closest in her heart, her baby sister, was laying in a casket at only seventeen years old. Lucy indeed looked pretty here. Her makeup was done up perfectly, her hair perfectly fanned out. The most beautiful cream colored dress on, it was her favorite one. Susan bent her head, taking in a deep breath, steadying herself.
"Bye Lucy, I love you. I- I'll miss you. I-"
Her words got strangled in her throat. This would be the last time she said goodbye to her brothers and sister! The last time she'd glimpse their faces before they were lowered into the ground forever. Wiping her eyes, Susan slowly placed the flower in her sister's hands, taking a shaky breath once more.
"Ed, Peter, Lu, I love you all. I'm sorry I was such a wretched sister these past few months. I hope- wherever you are, you're very happy. Goodbye…."
With that, Susan Pevenise turned and fled the church.
Susan did not accept gentlemen callers or receive anyone into her home for days after the funerals. The rising model sat at her kitchen table rummaging through old memories of a childhood she wished gone far too quickly. Gone was the young woman who wanted in all right now, but a scared little girl who only wanted a loving family. She leafed through old photos and trinkets of her childhood, tears pooling in her eyes everytime. She was shaken out of her memory walk when a knock at the door startled her.
"Who is it?" she asked thickly, voice clogged with tears. She was quite surprised by a young man's voice on the other end.
"Joshua Pole, listen Susan if you….."
Susan opened the door, staring at the soldier turned civilian with a familiar expression. He'd lost his sister in the train crash also. The stupid train ride to go into a made-up land that gotten their siblings killed.
"Josh, I'm so sorry for your loss. I really am."
They hugged, but Josh's eyes were alight with a strange fire that she'd never seen him with before, at least not before the war had broken out. Without speaking, she gestured for him to come inside and sit down. Josh did take a seat then rose up again, pacing excitedly and waving a note around the room.
"Jill wrote the most wonderful letter, Susan! In it she talked about-"
" Josh, Jill's dead." Susan reprimanded him darkly. She wasn't going to have him go on and on about this made-up land was she?! Josh took a hint, and sat down on the couch this time, his face fixed, eyes level.
"Before they died, they wanted us all to know about Jesus. Narnia is more real to me now, even if you deny it. He won't deny you Susan. He never did. Never has. You and I laughed at Narnia but our families knew the truth and are in a much better place now because of it. I picked up your mail since you hadn't done so recently, they wrote to you as well."
Josh reached into his overcoat and withdrew a thin packet of letters. Susan sat down next to him, slowly reaching out and accepting the packet. Thin hope and growing fear and anger battled with each other. She recognized Lucy's flowery handwriting, and Ed's messy scrawl instantly. Peter's writing was confident and smooth. Her tears began to fall onto the pages, letting the ink run down the paper. Josh touched her knee tenderly.
"I felt the same way when I read Jill's letter." He reminded her. Susan nodded, breaking the string binding them and opened Peter's first.
My dearest Susan,
Ed and I only have time to jot down a few lines before train comes in. I didn't know Ed was so knowledgeable about these things! We found the rings in Professor Kirke's backyard- dressed as workers too! We had a jolly good time about it- joking and laughing, throwing mud at each other back when we were schoolboys.
I know we've been distant as of late, and I think I know why. Ever since we began talking about Narnia and Aslan's continuing grace towards us. Edmund told us we had to discover Aslan in our world and we found him- or rather, we always knew him but we didn't know him. Alsan is Jesus, Susan. He's very much alive and well. In Narnia, on earth, in our hearts, minds, bodies, and actions. Every breath we take is because his everlasting love allows to be so. To realize this, I have never felt more complete in my entire life- we were so blessed as a family, Susan. Please, please, remember that. We're praying for you. I love you Susan.
Susan was crying hard now. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and then opened Lucy's letter, focusing on the last bit of information her sister left her.
Ha! I think I sound like a proper grownup lady for a moment, didn't I? I writing from the train, and sitting across from me is Eustace- and I think he's copying me, for I see pen and paper in his hand too! Good for him I say, he hasn't written to his mum since I heard they got into such an awful row about money for the train tickets.
My dearest sister, was has happened to us? A time of bonding like no other should be upon us, and here I find myself on a train to aid Narnia, and you are doting on boys and lavish parties. Do you really want to grow up so quickly Su? What has happened? I know you and I had that row right before we left for the station- the one about Jesus Christ being the one and only true son of God. I know we haven't been to church since the war years, and we barely paid much attention when we did- but oh Susan! Narnia! Aslan! I recall so fondly those memories of old that it makes me weep as I'm writing this!
Why Su- we romped with Aslan! Do you remember? We were made queens and ruled beside our noble brothers at the Cair! Do you remember? Ed and I rode to Anvard and set back those Calormen's- I remember that presently. We saw him die Susan! You and I walked with Alsan- we watched him die at the Stone Table- please, please remember that. I do. Edmund certainly does, and Peter does. Eustace and Jill wept when I told them at the dinner we seven friends had. Poor Ed, he couldn't stop crying for a long time after that. Oh! The conductor is calling for tickets, I've got to go Susan- we'll talk more when I get back- I love you.
Your baby sister,
Susan looked at the last letters Peter and Lucy had written to her while they were alive. If she didn't get through Ed's letter, she'd begin to cry and not stop. She placed those letters on the kitchen table, and Josh waited patiently for her to finish. Her perfectly manicured hands were shaking when she opened the last note.
Hello sister, Ed here. Just wanted to write you a quick note before the others arrived. I see Peter at the moment, walking up and down the platform, pipe in hand, studying a piece of paper. He apparently wanted to write to you as well, so we're both taking a moment to do so it seems. Last Sunday, I noticed you seem so uncomfortable in church. Why? Is it because of what Pastor O'Malley said about Christ's love and forgiveness? I saw you look as though you were going to cry the entire time- its ok to cry. I cried many times ,for I was destined to die once too, and Aslan saved me.
Please dear Susan, I do not mean to come off sounding lofty and preachy, but I feel a strange though the words are just flying from pentip to paper without my stopping them. Narnia is not a game we played as children. You and I ruled there along with Lucy under Peter. By the grace of Aslan.
Aslan is Jesus. Jesus is Alsan. We are kings and queens, and someday we shall be with him to rule always and forever- he promised us this. He protected us, he sacrificed himself for me. I am both his king and his servant- and you are as well, his queen and his servant. I love you Susan. We'll talk more when we return to London. See you soon.
Your redeemed brother,
" I do remember! Oh Josh! I remember it all! The feasts we had at Cair Paravel! The battles! The talking bears, dancing fauns! The good centaurs and the Witch! I remember ruling Narnia as a girl and eventually a woman! Oh Josh-!"
He took her into his arms, whispering kind words and rubbing her back. Tears were flowing down both their faces now, unashamedly. They knew the truth, and in opening their hearts they were now finally free. After a moment, Susan and Josh broke apart, both kneeling on the floor, cheeks still wet from crying.
"I'm so sorry I laughed at them…" Susan admitted freely. Josh wiped her eyes then his own and took her hand.
"Me also. I chose not to believe, especially after all that I had seen in the war. No more. I'm going to believe, and live, and keep doing so until I'm called home and I can see Jill again."
"Me also, until I see my family again."
They looked down at the letters that had fallen onto floor, Jill's letter having tumbled from Josh's pocket onto the Pevensie letters. Both remaining siblings looked down at them, and then at each other with smiles rising onto their features for the first time in a long time. They had a long road ahead of them, but with the love of families never really gone, they would start the process of healing at long last.
And they would begin to heal together