Edmund had always hated saying good-bye.
When his father left for the war, he had sat on the edge of Edmund's bed and brushed his son's hair out of his eyes, thinking he was still asleep. He had whispered promises of being back for Christmas, even though they both knew that would not be the case. He had murmured one last story, before leaning down to kiss his son on the forehead and silently leaving the room. But Edmund had been awake the whole time, and had heard every word his father had said. And his ten-year-old mind had believed the promises and the stories, and hoped every day would be the day his father came home. That night, he had wept silently, whispering good-bye to his father long after he was gone from the room.
That was the first time Edmund realised he was afraid of saying good-bye, because good-bye meant waiting for a long time.
When Edmund and his siblings had left London to go to the country because of the air raids, their mother had kissed them all on the train platform, telling them to be brave. But Edmund had been terrified. He was leaving everything he knew, leaving his mother, to be taken into safety at the unknown Professor's house in the unknown country. And he had been frightened to say good-bye, frightened he would not see his mother after that. Peter had stood up and promised to protect his younger siblings. Susan had smiled, even though her lower lip was trembling. Lucy had clutched her stuffed animal tighter, but had not cried. Edmund had hid his fear not in bravery, but in anger, anger at having to say good-bye again. He had remained silent the entire train ride, trying very hard not to cry, not to admit her was afraid, whispering good-byes to London that only he could hear.
That was the second time Edmund realised he was afraid of saying good-bye, because good-bye meant leaving the things you loved.
When Edmund stepped out of the wardrobe, out of his fully grown self and back into the spare room, back into his eleven-year-old self, he watched in silence while Peter closed the door to Narnia. He bitterly remembered all the good things in Narnia, and wished they had not left. He missed his crown and everything that went with it. He missed Narnia so badly that it hurt. But somewhere, deep down inside, he always believed that he would go back. Lucy believed the strongest, and she was happy to wait, and hope, and tell stories and remember. Edmund grew closer to Lucy than ever before, because her belief made his stronger, and then it hurt less. They were going back, they just had no idea when. And that was the reason Edmund never truly said good-bye to Narnia. He wasn't afraid of leaving, or going back. He said farewell instead of good-bye, see-you-later instead of good-bye.
That was the third time Edmund realised he was afraid of saying good-bye, because good-bye meant forever.
When Aslan told Edmund and Lucy that they could not come back to Narnia after their adventures on the Dawn Treader, Edmund had not believed it for quite some time, and still believed that they would go back. It was almost a year before Edmund resigned himself to the fact that he would have to suffice with just his old memories of Narnia. There would be no new adventures. Peter had had far more time to come to terms with this unpleasant truth, and Edmund grew closer than ever to his elder brother, because Peter's strength made Edmund feel safe and not quite so alone. Together, they said good-bye to Narnia, and Peter rested an arm around Edmund's shoulder while the younger boy cried.
That was the fourth time Edmund realised he was afraid of saying good-bye, because good-bye meant waiting, leaving the things he loved, and forever, all in one. And that realisation was the scariest moment in Edmund's life.
When the train crashed in a streak of silver and a noise like thunder, Edmund felt nothing except for Peter's hand squeezing his very tightly. In the instant before they came to the Summer Country, the end of the Shadowlands, he said good-bye to England. He was perfectly happy, the happiest he had ever been in his entire life—which seemed fitting, for in the old England, he was dead. He smiled as he said good-bye, because he realised that it was silly to be afraid of a small word. Good-bye. With Aslan and Peter and Lucy and everyone else from their old Narnia, and the memories of their adventures becoming more real every moment, and the thought of having new adventures, Edmund knew that he would never have to be afraid of anything again.
That was the fifth time Edmund said good-bye, and he realised he no longer had to be afraid of saying good-bye… because he never had to say good-bye ever again.
A/N: My promised Edmund-fic, a few months later than I intended. I realised while writing about Edmund's fear of saying good-bye, that it is a legitimate fear, as viable as fearing spiders or the dark. It is possible to fear the feelings you have when saying good-bye, the sense of loss, and grief, and it's not necessarily connected to death. I thought Edmund seemed the most likely vector to carry this fear. It just seemed right to me.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed this little good-bye. :)
P.S. The next one is about Peter and his footsteps. Hopefully that will be up later this week...