Fate and Faith

In the space of a single heartbeat, Edmund struggles.

He watches the speeding train approach through a haze of slow motion, and even as his mind (and Peter's tightened grip on his arm) tells him he's about to die, he rebels, because it can't just end, not now, not like this. Images trace themselves on his eyelids and he remembers—he remembers skies as wide as uncharted dreams, he remembers moonlight on the sea, he remembers bombs falling into the night and echoing hymns and firelight trapped in Lucy's hair, a jumbled mess of memoirs from two worlds. And all these pictures, brightening in recall, begin to fade beside the sad, wise majesty of golden mane and deep eyes. It is to these eyes (smoldering with tenderness and love and the hidden possibility of terror) that Edmund addresses his question.

Why? he shouts in his mind, until his head is full of empty echoes. Why?

He struggles for Lucy (Lucy, burning bright and beautiful, extinguished so suddenly), for Peter (the gold light Peter fills the cracks of the world with erased with a single, train-shaped swipe), for Susan (his silly, conceited, beautiful sister forced into wearing black like a widow, when he knows she loves blue), but mostly, he selfishly struggles for himself.

He can see the possibilities stretching before him, endless and unfulfilled. Riding a hot-air balloon. Going to university. Writing a book. Falling in love. Making mistakes. Teaching his children. He'd always taken for granted the years he had left to him, and now they're being ripped away, along with all his dreams and unrealized promises of the future, and he resents it. He'd never asked for much in this world—just a full, quiet life, with someone to love and cherish in it, a contented amble towards children and grandchildren, and a peaceful end with old age and good memories for company. People grew old all the time—it isn't fair, this lightning death speeding towards him, greedy and perfectly ready to steal his youth away.

And then the heartbeat is over, and he does one of the most courageous things he's ever performed in his life—he pushes his resentment away, looks to the ceiling (because it's the closest thing to a bit of blue sky, which is what he really wants), and murmurs, "Into your hands I commend my—"

The train crashes, and Edmund's little entrustment is lost among the screams.