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Chapter Four: The Party


“Are you sure you are up to the party tonight?” Carl asked as he helped Susan into her coat. They had returned to Susan’s house to ready for the party. Susan felt much better, though she was careful to look into no mirror.

“A party always lifts my spirits.” Susan poked at Carl. “Of course I won’t miss your aunt’s party.”

“You know, we could just stay here and sit by the fireplace reading or knitting like old people.”

Susan puckered her lips, though she kissed Carl’s cheek. “Carl, I don’t ever plan to be like an old woman and I don’t intend to do so now. Besides, the only books in this house are stuffy odd things that belong to my brothers.”

“Ah,” Carl said, as if understanding just what Susan meant.

They left the house and pushed through the wind that now really did think it owned the evening. Thankfully, Carl had pulled the top down over the automobile, and they were warm as they drove to the Bryant’s residence.

Already, many people were at the party. A butler stood at the entrance taking people’s coats. Susan gave away hers and followed Carl into the well lit room full of voices and people. At once her spirit lightened and she was glad she’d come. All of her worries and stresses melted away at the sight of a full night of festivities.

“You look gorgeous,” Carl whispered into her ear. “Standing there and admiring everything as if you aren’t the one to be admired.”

Susan fingered the skirt of of her silvery blue dress and smiled. She did feel nice tonight.

“How I wish you’d let me kiss you,” Carl said.

If Susan were a normal girl, she’d have taken that moment to promise, “Someday”, for most girls planned to someday grow up and marry and have children. But Susan didn’t want to think about someday. So instead she ignored his words and said, “What do you think there is to eat?”

Carl pulled away from her ear and pasted on a good-natured smile. “Shall we go and see?”

πŸŽ•πŸŽ•πŸŽ•πŸŽ•πŸŽ•

There were no children present, but other than that, nearly every age was represented there that night, from those around Susan’s peer group to older military men retired from the Great War with their wives.

Susan recognized only a handful of the many people in the Bryant’s home.

Tables full of delicate foods and richly decorated furnishings belied that they were all still recovering from the war and her rations. In a room adjacent to the main visiting room, couples danced to loud music. Carl and Susan danced several times, but there were also people to meet and socialize with.

And Carl, well known and well liked, nearly the life of the party, had many people to show Susan off to. Susan had no complaint. She held onto his arm, not with timidity, but with a soft touch as he lead her from person to person. She conversed with everyone as if she were the lady of this house and Carl were her husband.

Susan felt in those moments that maybe such a future wouldn’t be so bad. She was more content with Carl than any other man before, and none of the young men there had her eye no matter how dashing they were. In those moments, she determined even more to keep Carl.

“Susan, here’s a good friend of mine. We met in the war.” Carl led Susan to a young man she’d never met before, but felt she recognized in some way. Carl introduced him. “This is Francis Pole.”

Francis Pole wasn’t as tall as Carl, but he still stood over six feet at least, so tall that Susan had to look up into his face as she shook his hand. The lights danced on his rusty blonde hair like fairies and his eyes shone golden like a lion’s—Susan blinked the imagery away and saw only a handsome man, if not still strangely familiar.

“Francis, this is my girl, Susan Pevensie.”

Francis’ golden eyes widened with astonished delight. “You aren’t related to the Lucy Pevensie, are you?”

Susan laughed to be known through her younger sister. If that weren’t a first. “Yes, she’s my younger sister. How do you know her?”

“Fancy that! She’s good friends with my little sister, Jill.”

Now his familiar face made sense; truly, he looked much like Jill Pole, the young friend of her siblings who also believed in Narnia. “Oh, yes,” Susan smiled. “I don’t know her well, but she seems like such a sweet girl.”

“She’s the jolliest sister ever.” Francis grinned, not hiding his pride. “Always full of fun ideas. And a wild imagination at that.” Francis spoke his last words slowly and peered deeply into Susan’s eyes, as if implying more than he could say.

Susan thought she understood. “Yes, the dear children do have imaginations, don’t they?”

Francis nodded, still with that same look. “But one that makes me nearly envious.”

Susan was uncomfortable. Just what was he trying to say? But then, did she want to know?

Carl saved her. “I’d leave you two to talk together longer, as it seems you have so much in common. But then I’m afraid that you might too much in common. So, I think I better steal Susan away while she’s yet mine for a dance.”

The serious look disappeared from Francis’ eyes and he grinned. “Wise man, Carl Bryant.”

Susan nodded goodbye to Francis as Carl lead her into the room pressed full of dancing bodies.

πŸŽ•πŸŽ•πŸŽ•πŸŽ•πŸŽ•

The night grew later and the house slowly emptied, but Susan’s heart swelled more and more with delightful energy that couldn’t be drowned by any sort of worry.

“Once a path clears, I’ll take you home,” Carl said.

“If you like,” Susan said, falling to the nearest sofa out of exhaustion.

Carl joined her. “You’re so alive at night.”

Susan laughed at his compliment, then smelled his breath. “You’re drunk, aren’t you? Are you sure you ought to drive me home?”

“I’m not too drunk.”

Susan settled further into the softness of the sofa and her eyes roamed the room until they connected with Francis’ eyes. He hadn’t been looking at her, but now they both stared. Not out of romance, but out of secrets. Susan thought of her family, of Narnia, and, strangely enough, of God, too.

She blinked the disconcerting thoughts away and moved her eyes away from Francis’.

Her gaze rested on a policeman. At first she hardly noticed him, but then she wondered what he was doing here. He was speaking to Mr Bryant. Mr Bryant pointed toward both Francis and Susan.

Why would he point to the two of them?

Her eyes found a mirror. She hadn’t noticed it before, as it hung high on the wall. But now she saw it. And—Aslan’s face appeared. He looked angry. No, His look was of rebuke, not anger … The lion growled so loudly Susan jumped and squealed.

“What is it?” Carl asked.

But Aslan’s face vanished from sight.

“Nothing,” Susan said as she placed her hand over her heart, which was still racing wildly as if ready to explode into panic.

The policeman motioned to Francis to follow him across the room toward Susan and Carl. Looking worried and distraught, Francis came and stood with the policeman in front of Susan. “Are you Susan Pevensie?”

Susan stood and said, “Yes, I am.”

“I … I’m afraid I have bad news for both of you,” the policeman said, looking between Francis and Susan.

“Yes?” Francis’ voice wavered.

Susan couldn’t bring herself to ask. She feared she already knew what must have happened—someone was hurt very bad. But who? Whomever was hurt, she already felt immense guilt. For when had Susan truly loved any of her siblings or parents as she should have?

“I don’t know how to say this … ” The policeman looked at his boots. But then he forced himself to look in their eyes for his next words. “There was a terrible accident at the train station. A car came loose at the end and … ”

“Jill?” Francis asked.

“Jill Pole and a Eustace Scrubb are in the hospital, but both of them are unconscious. Everyone else … died.”

Susan felt she might fall. But arms—Carl’s arms—wrapped around her. “Everyone else, who?” Tears already heavied her voice.

“Your siblings and your parents. I’m sorry,” the policeman whispered. “And there was an older couple with them, too.”

“All of them?” Susan squeaked and her knees collapsed, her full weight falling into Carl.

“I’m sorry,” the policeman said again. “Would you like to go to the hospital?”

“The hospital?” Susan asked.

“To see your cousin. They don’t know if he’ll make it.”

Susan hid her head into Carl’s jacket and sobbed. She didn’t want to see her cousin. She had never liked Eustace. And it was terribly unfair that he’d be alive and everyone else dead.

“Shhh.” Carl stroked her hair. “Everything will be fine.”

“No, it won’t,” Susan tried to scream, but her voice was numb and weak. “They’re all dead. All of them.”

What do you think of Francis Pole? Would you like to see more of him? And do you think Susan has a right to grieve for her family after having treated them so poorly? 

Links will be available when posts are published. 
A new installment will be posted the first Monday of every month: 
Prologue: Polly and Digory
Chapter One: The Mirror
Chapter Two: The Church
Chapter Three: The Friends
Chapter Five: The Book
Chapter Six: The Hospital
Chapter Seven: The Kiss
Chapter Eight: The Dinner
Chapter Nine: The Rings
Chapter Ten: The Conversation
Chapter Eleven: The Cottage
Chapter Twelve: The Train
AFTERWARD: Why I Wrote Susan Of Narnia 

Comments

  1. Ah, this is too much for my heart to bear! So much sadness. :'( But, I do love Francis already. He seems so sweet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, your poor heart. I should feel bad ... I'm glad you love Francis ;D

      Delete
  2. DANGIT I KNEW THIS WAS COMING BUT IT DOESN'T MAKE IT HURT ANY LESS. I am LITERALLY tearing up right now. (So, in other words, this was amazing. XD)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, thanks so much! I'm so happy for your tears ;)

      Delete
  3. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa I KNEW IT WAS COMING BUT IT STILL HURTTTTT

    Yep, yep i like Francis. i needs more of him :)

    Lia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANKS! And you'll definitely be getting more of him ;)

      Delete
  4. I do want to see more of Francis! Oh, I hope they are not really dead... :(

    astorydetective.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, glad you like him! And yeah ... me too ... ;/

      Delete
  5. Nononono poor Susan. I've always wondered how she felt when she got the news of the train wreck. That was always such an interesting part of TLB.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'd always wondered why she wasn't on the train/ where she was. It is such an interesting part of Narnia.

      Delete
  6. I always hated that part in the books, and now seeing Susan reaction makes it hurts a lot more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too ... her reactions were hard to write, for sure ;/

      Delete
  7. AHHH SO SAAD. Poor Susan. :'( You don't really stop to think about the Susan in the books or the movies having to grieve over her whole family. It's quite tragic. We just tend to forget that part because we get to see the Narnia side of it. ;D

    theonesthatreallymatter.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, there's hardly any time to feel sad in the books for Susan, because there's so much happiness for everyone else. And THIS is why I had to write Susan's story ;) Thanks for reading, Emily!

      Delete
  8. It's been so long since I read The Last Battle that I forgot they "died." Ahhh!! And I like Francis. Much better than Carl, who is always pressuring Susan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm so sorry I had to remind you of that ;/ So glad you like Francis ... and yes, Carl isn't so nice ;/

      Delete

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