A visit of hope. A sweet, emotional vignette for the holiday season and a gift for all Narnia fans. I'm not going to say anything more in case the story is spoilt, so please enjoy and thank-you for reading my stories this year.
My rock and resting place.
Mummy no!" The child's voice squealed as his pretty, dark haired mother tried to unlatch his fingers from the thick stick clasped in his pudgy little hands.
The well dressed woman gritted her teeth slightly, trying to ignore the stares from the other perfectly primed mothers at the playground, most of them wincing in sympathy as the four-year-old played rebellious tug-of-war with his young parent.
"Petey," the woman said mildly after a moment, the boy stopped his tearful protest, his brown laced shod feet half-way off the ground, and his hands clinging to the piece of willow.
"Yes Mummy?" The blue eyed boy looked up at his tall mother with a slight hiccup in his voice.
"Put down the stick, Petey," the young mother said gently. "We have to get home. Your Daddy will be home from the bank soon and Mrs Woden will have dinner ready for us."
The boy cocked his head to the side, his longish fringe falling over his dark blue eyes. "Then I can take it home then?" He half-questioned, half-demanded of his mother.
The exhausted mother set her son back down on the ground. "Why, Petey?" The dark haired young woman questioned. "Why do you want to take a dirty old stick home? There's plenty of sticks in the garden at our house."
Petey looked outraged. "Not stick, Mummy! This is my sword," he made a swishing sound as he swung it about. "Just like King Arthur, see?" His blue eyes widened in his earnestness for his mother to see this was not a stick. It was a shinning, magical sword.
The dark haired woman got down on one knee, not caring in that one moment that her fitted, cream skirt would get dampened by the wet asphalt of the path, (winding its way through the London park; edged by autumn trees, just starting to loosen their golden leaves from their boughs.)
"I see sweetie. But you have to leave it here and then," the young mother stopped mid-sentence to reach over to her black clutch purse and unclipped it open. She pulled out a lace-edged handkerchief and wiped her son's grimy, tear-stained features.
"And then you can come back and play with it another day."
Petey shook his head adamantly and stomped his left foot. "No. It's my sword Mummy, mine," he suddenly pulled out of his mother's tentative grasp and bolted down the path, waving his sword.
Jumping to her feet, the dark haired, cream-suited mother bolted down the path after her son, the heels of her black pumps clacking on the wet path as she rushed after Petey.
Rounding a bend, the young mother skidded to a halt as she almost ploughed into a strong figure, who was holding up a struggling Petey by the back of his braces and reached out with his free hand to steady her.
"Does this belong to you, Madam?"
Petey waved his arms. "I belong to you, don't I Mummy?" His blue eyes were wide and the dark haired woman sighed and held out her arms.
"Yes, I'm afraid so, sir," the young woman admitted, sparing a cautious glance up at the man who had rescued her son as he passed over her son into her arms.
He was tall, broad shouldered and with unusually long, fair hair, almost reaching his shoulders.
Must be one of those Beatniks I've read about, the dark haired mother thought as she shifted Petey, stick and all, to her right hip. But the man wasn't dressed all in black, he was dressed in a nice grey suit and long black, woollen coat; his blue eyes twinkled kindly within his bearded features and the young woman smiled.
"Thank-you. Petey say thank-you to the nice man for catching you before you slipped and hurt yourself on the wet ground," the young mother insisted of her son, who obediently turned and looked up at the broad shouldered man with a perfect grin, showing off his baby-teeth.
The fair haired man laughed and shook his head. "Not a problem young fellow, here," he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out shilling. "How about you go over to that tea-cart over there, " the fair haired man pointed just across from the path where a stand was set up.
"And get three cream-buns while your mother catches her breath, hmm?"
Petey took the offered shilling and his mother placed her cheeky son on the ground, fixing up his coat before letting the small boy go rushing to the tea-cart, and the dark haired young woman collapsed on the bench opposite the cart.
Reaching up to reaffix her hat-pins through her curved hat and into her up-turned, dark hair, Petey's mother looked over at the fair haired stranger; who sat down beside her as she fixed her awry hat back into place. "Thank-you again. Petey can be a handful."
The man's eyes twinkled kindly again. "Petey...is that short for Peter, then?"
"I always call him Petey...it does come from Peter, which isn't his first name. It's actually part of his middle name, but it serves its purpose as a nickname." The young mother explained, placing her gloved hands back on her lap and pursing her bright red-lipstick covered lips together.
"You see Peter was my brother's name and Petey...he's so like him."
The fair haired man nodded as the dark haired woman continued to talk, finding it somehow comforting to confide in this stranger...who didn't really seem like a stranger at all.
"It's painful sometimes. My siblings, my parents and my maternal cousin were all killed in a train accident five years ago," The woman dabbed the corner of her eyes with her handkerchief.
"We used to play a game, my siblings and I. My brothers used to pretend to be Kings, and my sister and I would be Queens. But Peter, that was my eldest brother, he was the warrior King, like King Arthur.
" And Petey...his father's been reading him tales of King Arthur, so lately Petey's been pretending to be a King, and it's brought back so many painful memories."
The fair haired man lent his arm on the back of the bench. "I would have thought that it would have brought back the good memories of spending time with your siblings, " he pointed out oddly.
The dark haired woman raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow. This man was peculiarly forward with such a presumption. "Not really. They continued with those delusions into their adulthood oddly, encouraged by an old Professor and his lady-friend, of all the sensible people to encourage such an idea. They all refused to grow-up and let go of...that place."
The stranger rubbed his bearded chin. "I do sympathise. Narnia is not such an easy place to forget."
Petey's mother nodded her head firmly. "Well it certainly wasn't for them at any rate, but..." she trailed off when she realised what this strange, kindly man had said. "What did you say?"
The man reached out and grabbed her left gloved hand with a soft smile. "Susan," the man said in a voice so achingly familiar, that the young mother felt faint and reached out with her other hand to grab onto the edge of the cast-iron bench to steady herself.
The name of this man(or spirit...shade...ghost... )came to the woman's lips, but she couldn't form them into words. Susan wordlessly mouthed the name repeatedly, in disbelief as she snatched her hand away from the man who was now no mere stranger.
"Susan," the man(...Peter...her brother...it couldn't be...he'd been clean-shaven when she'd identified his disfigured body in that cold morgue...oh God help me...) repeated softly. "It is me. Don't doubt that our parents, Edmund , Lucy, our cousin and friends are all alive in Aslan's country. It is a new life and a good existence."
Susan shook her head repeatedly. "It can't...you can't...they were games...Peter, even if you are Peter...they were games," she wanted to shake this shade of her long departed eldest brother. How dare he torment me from beyond the grave with such nonsense!
"Narnia was real," the spirit repeated, folding his arms over his broad chest. "It was destroyed and the true Narnia, which has another name in this world, was open for all that were good and right; and had past from this world to the next."
Susan pressed her gloved hands to her mouth in despair as tears trickled down her face, spoiling her impeccably applied make-up and mascara. "Why are you tormenting me?" She begged in a small, strained voice, turning her gaze towards where Petey was waiting in line.
The shade placed his hand gently on Susan's shoulder. "Oh Sue. I saw all our old friends, Mr Tumnus, the Beavers, Lord Peridan...King Lune and King Cor with Queen Avaris and that rascal Corin; and Caspian was there with his beautiful wife and son," he sighed. "It's wonderful."
Susan saw this spirit of her brother was adamant and she turned her attention back to him. "Why tell me this?" She almost spat, worried her brother was here for her right now...what about her son?
"I'm not here to take you away, Sue," Peter guessed his younger sister's thoughts and squeezed her shoulder. "You have many years in this world, time enough to see your son a grown man, see him marry and have children of his own."
The younger Pevensie, (who now had her husband's surname, )sighed in relief, but not in complete relief. "Then why are you here, Peter? Why are you here?"
Peter moved his hand to grasp his sister's much smaller one. "Sue, my darling, beautiful sister. I have been sent by Aslan to let you know it's not too late. You can find him in this world by another name, and have a chance to enter the true Narnia at the end of your years."
Susan dabbed her smudged eyes with the corner of her handkerchief and sniffed affectedly. "I don't have time to go searching for a deity, Peter. I have a son and husband to take care of. I already have a God that my husband and I take your nephew to pray to in church every Sunday." She pointed out.
Peter's eyes twinkled. "And do you know his son?"
Sue scowled, turning away from the smiling spectre. "What a ridiculous question, of course I do," the moment the words left her lips, Susan suddenly realised what her brother meant and turned to look back at her brother.
But the spot next to her on the bench was empty.
Looking around, Susan could see no trace of her brother, and she opened up her handkerchief to sob into the white cloth, with all the sorrow and pain she'd been holding in since the death of her family and friends five years ago. Narnia...it wasn't a game...all those years...
"Mummy? Are you okay?"
Susan pulled down the handkerchief and looked up at where her son was standing uncertainly in front of her. A paper bag in Petey's left hand, the change from the cream-buns clutched in his right, and his dark blue eyes looking at her with worry.
Reaching up to push back Petey's dark brown hair from his aforementioned blue eyes, Susan pulled her son into a tight hug and lifted him onto her lap. "Mummy's just sad," she explained.
Petey patted his mother's face gently. "Oh. Is it because the nice man didn't say good-bye to you?" He questioned as Susan looked at her only child with alarm. "That's all right though, Mummy. Don't cry, 'cause he told me to tell you good-bye from him."
Susan clutched her precocious child tighter, she knew Peter hadn't been a product of her imagination, her son had seen him too...and the shilling had been real. "Did he say anything else?" She managed to question.
"Ah huh," Petey nodded his head. "He told me that it was very nice meeting me, that I should always keep pretending that I'm a Prince or a King, since you're really, really a Queen." He snuggled close to his mother. "Then he said he had to go home."
Susan rested her chin on her son's dark haired head and smiled. "Do you know that man is right, Petey. " She kissed his forehead and hugged him tight again. "Once a King or Queen or Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia. And you're my son and Prince."
"Yes." The boy said cheekily. "Prince Petey, though. Not my silly first name please Mummy."
Susan nodded her head and smiled to herself. She knew that one day her son would grow-up and want his first name. But for now,(and forever to her,) he would be his mother's Petey.
So like his Uncle Peter...and Susan knew that she couldn't be more thankful of that.
"Like branches on a tree we grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one. Each of our lives will always be a special part of the other." -Author Unknown
Thank-you for reading and a blessed, happy New Year to you all. (Oh and the first name of Susan's son? It's quite simple. It's the original name Saint Peter bore before Jesus changed it.)