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Chapter Eight: The Dinner


On the day of the funeral, eight caskets were lowered into the church cemetery—Eustace’s parents had their son cremated and his ashes put in a jar so that they could always keep him close by.

Susan hardly cried that day, and if she had, her eyes may have been frozen shut, for the day was miserably cold. Many people came to give Susan their condolences, but she remembered none of their faces. She only heard the buzz of their words.

An middle-aged woman whispered loudly to a group of her friends as if Susan were not just a few feet away. “Quite strange, they say, the whole ordeal.”

“How so?” The others asked curiously.

“Well, they say it wasn’t a very bad crash. The one car that came loose from the train was all there was—and the only people to be hurt were those connected to the Pevensie family. Everyone else on board had hardly a scratch.”

“You don’t say? Not even a broken bone? It’s a miracle, it is.”

“It’s true. And they say that, though the young Susan is left entirely alone, she will inherit quite a large sum from that Miss Polly Plummer. She gets everything from the Professor (he only had a small cottage), and her own family, of course, but none of that is comparable to Miss Plummer’s fortune.”

“Almost a blessing in disguise, eh?” All the woman smiled as if they wouldn’t have minded such a thing to happen to them.

“Very much.” Agreed the first woman with a satisfied smile.

Susan flushed with anger. Who could say such a thing? She was glad that no one else was hurt—but that was no miracle, for nine people had still died. And those nine were too many. And who cared about the money? Were their memories worth so little that their fortunes were already the talk of gossip?

But Susan had no strength left to fight the gossips. She tried to forget their words as she waited for when she could be free of well-wishing people, so that she might go home and cry over a good cup of hot tea.

๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•

January’s frozen rains slushed on into February, and Susan found herself crying less, though her heart was no lighter. Carl would come every day, though he never stayed very long in the evenings.

When February finally came, Carl asked if she might be ready to start attending parties. They both sat in the Pevensie parlor, Susan on the sofa with a think blanket, and Carl on the armchair, his back hunched forward as he questioned Susan.

Susan knew she would never be ready. She found she’d rather remember her family and Narnia.

Narnia …

Susan found she still believed in the place and always had. She’d just ignored her belief, or pretended the belief away.

“I don’t know about parties … They are so exhausting, Carl.”

“I thought you always said they were exhilarating.” Carl smirked as if reminding her of some joke.

Susan didn’t laugh, but sighed. “Did I say that? Maybe I’ve finally grown past it.”

“My Susan, too old for fun? I’d sooner expect my aunt to take up sailing.”

Susan giggled, though it didn’t leave her feeling refreshed as old laughter used to.

Carl winked. “What’s on your mind? Obviously not parties.”

Susan felt she could trust Carl (and if she were to marry him, she’d have to, after all), so she told him, “I think Narnia is truly real—please don’t laugh at me yet. It’s been so long since I was there that my memories of the place have grown fuzzy. But I know they are memories, not daydreams.”

Carl laughed anyway, but his laughter stopped short when he saw Susan’s serious expression. “Susan … Dear … I understand that you have experienced great tragedy. I can’t even begin to comprehend all you feel right now. I’ve been trying to, but … my aunt suggested that we find someone for you to talk to, to help you sort your grief.”

“What do you mean?” Susan asked, a chill creeping over her arms.

“My aunt has a friend who talks to people and helps them find themselves again after trauma.”

“You mean a psychiatrist?” Susan’s fingers trembled, so she balled both of her hands together. “You think I’m insane?”

“No.” Carl threw his hands in the air and fell back into his chair, slumping inward. “It’s just … you’ve lost a lot. It’s been hard on you … A therapist can help you cope with what’s real and make sure nothing else gets pulled into what you see as real.”

“You do think I’m crazy.” Susan turned her head away. Talking about Narnia was insanity. But … she thought Carl would understand. Not betray her.

Carl only sounded frustrated. “I said no such thing, Susan. Stop putting words in my mouth and please just consider this.”

“And what next? What if I decide to still believe that Narnia is real? Will you have me sent to an asylum?”

Carl spluttered, rising from his chair. He paced the room, but he didn’t deny Susan’s accusation.

Fear pricked her heart. Carl—she thought he’d always be there for her. But this?

Susan pulled her knees to her chin and tried to not cry. She squeezed her eyes shut to keep all of her emotions locked away. “Why can’t you try and understand me?” Susan asked.

“I’m trying.” Carl stopped pacing, and she suspected through her closed eyes that he stared at her. “I’m trying to understand you, Susan. But I’m also worried about you.”

“I don’t want to talk to a therapist.” Susan opened her eyes, and saw that he was in fact staring at her.

“Fine.” Carl shrugged.

But for some reason, Susan didn’t believe him.

“But what of getting out?” he asked.

“Can we do something small? Have dinner at your uncle’s?”

Carl’s face lit up. “Tomorrow?”

Susan gulped away her urge to say no and tried to smile. “That would be perfect.”

๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•๐ŸŽ•

Mrs Bryant dressed her table exuberantly for Susan’s first time out. There was too much food for four people—a large roast amidst an arrangement of vegetables, piles of seeded biscuits, and a brown soup. There was wine and water to drink, but Susan couldn’t bring herself to taste the wine yet.

The Bryants politely conversed, their tones even and mild, almost monotone, so that Susan might have been tempted to fall asleep if she hadn’t felt uncomfortable and out of place, ready to go home.

Carl held Susan’s hands and squeezed—she knew that he wanted her to join the conversation. So she tried. But to think of things to say was too hard when all of her thoughts were darkened. It took all of her effort just to eat. Her thin fingers shook as she held her spoon, and every bite tasted bland.

As Carl squeezed Susan’s hand once more, she forced herself to look to Mrs Bryant and say, “The soup is quite lovely, Mrs Bryant.”

Carl patted Susan’s hand. Thankfully he didn’t take his away, but left it draped over her hand, sending warmth through the rest of her.

Mrs Bryant smiled, seemingly very pleased. “Do you think so? I must confess, I like it very much myself. I got the recipe from a friend at church, but made some modifications that I think are huge improvements from the original.”

Susan nodded along with Mrs Bryant’s words, glad that she’d found a topic that had Mrs Bryant doing most of the talking.

“Would you like the recipe? It’s very easy to make. I could make a copy for you before you leave.”

Susan didn’t really want a copy, as she really didn’t think she’d care much for this soup if she could taste it, but she said, “That would be lovely.”

“Do you think that you might start coming to church again now that you’re feeling better?” Mrs Bryant asked. “The other women have been asking after you. Everyone is quite worried to not have seen your face in so long—I said I’d offer you a ride. Would you like that?”

Susan could hardly think or see, all the words overwhelmed her. Church. She’d heard that. And would she go with Mrs Bryant? Susan couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone to church, but she still remembered what was supposed to have been her next time going. Susan had promised her mother that she would go with the family once there were all back.

The soup stuck in Susan’s throat, and Susan realized she hated the soup. She took a sip of water before noticing that everyone was staring at her, and Carl was squeezing her hand very tightly.

Yes, Mrs Bryant had asked her a question. And she’d never be able to go to church with her family again. “I … that would be kind of you,” Susan said, unable to think of an excuse to decline the offer.

Everyone, seeming satisfied with her answer, let her be and turned to other topics. Susan breathed relief and let her eyes roam over the room until they landed on a long mirror situated on the wall. Susan knew she shouldn’t look into it, but she couldn’t help it.

Besides, no one had appeared to her in weeks now.

Susan smiled as the glass ruffled and the image inside showed Lucy, dressed as a queen, standing beside Aslan. They both smiled toward her invitingly. Lucy said, “Susan, why are you so sad?”

Susan grabbed Carl’s hand and whispered loudly to him, pointing with her other hand, “Look, Carl!”

Carl looked where Susan pointed, then frowned. “The wall? It looks normal to me … ”

“No, the mirror. Can’t you see Lucy and Aslan?” But even as Susan said that, Lucy’s face wavered out of sight.

Carl turned to Susan, his eyebrows knit together so that he looked more angry than worried. “Susan. What is going on with you?”

Carl did not speak quietly, and the Bryants stared at them.

Susan blushed. She wanted to insist that she knew what she saw—but how could she? She felt foolish and exposed, and couldn't bring herself to say a word as everyone pointedly looked at her.

“I’m fine,” Susan told Carl, purposefully trying to not see everyone else.

“No, you’re not,” Carl said. “And it’s obvious to all of us.”

“Susan,” Mrs Bryant said softly. “Has Carl told you about my friend? She’s a very nice woman and no one else would have to know that she’s helping you.”

Susan wanted to say she didn’t need help, but she doubted herself as their words sank in. What if she were losing her mind? Did a person ever truly know? Did not a crazy person feel always as if they were as sane as the rest of the world?

But … why then did she feel this betrayal from Carl?

“Susan, please. I’m worried about you.” Carl took Susan’s hand and kissed it.

“No,” she argued. “You won’t believe me.”

“Be fair, Susan. How can I? What would you think if you were in my place?”

Tears stung Susan’s eyes. How could he be so insensitive? Yet her logical side told Susan that Carl was correct. She would think him crazy, and she would have probably stopped dating him to find a man with less problems and worries. Carl was still with her. Would she have been even half this loyal?

Even so, Susan felt betrayed. It wasn’t like he was trying to see if maybe she was right and not crazy.

“Please, Susan. See the woman. Can’t you do that for me, if not for yourself?”

Susan pulled her hand away from his hand, then nodded. “All right, Carl.”

There was a collective sigh from everyone around Susan. Everyone else turned back to their food and talked as if Susan was no longer there while she silently cried into her soup, unable to take another bite.

If you were Carl or his aunt and uncle, would you be worried about Susan's mental health? How would you handle such a situation? Or would you believe that Narnia is real and that seeing dead people in a mirror is perfectly normal? 
Also, doesn't Mrs Bryant's soup sound just delicious???

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 Four: The Party
Chapter Five: The Book
Chapter Six: The Hospital
Chapter Seven: The Kiss
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. Poor Susan! *sobs* Carl is just trying to help, even if he doesn't understand. <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. *cries many tears* The feels!!!!! Poor Susan!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow Keturah...I haven't read any of your other installments of this but YEEEEEEE!!!!! This was very emotional and I just wanted to go sit in a corner and cry!!! *weeps*

    But gosh...I don't know WHAT I'd do. Maybe believe her?? She is very persistent about it...but yeah, not sure. xD

    By the way - I've skimmed through your book (Haven't had time to beta it yet. *hides in shame*) and it's SO GOOD!!! I can't wait to read this baby!!! ^^

    You have an awesome time in Germany!!! <3

    ~ Lily Cat (Boots) | lilycatscountrygirlconfessions.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, you're just jumping in??? You must go back from the start, girl! There's so much more and hopefully it'll make you cry for a lot longer than a corner-sitting ;)

      Ah, but crazy people are always the most persistent—can we really believe on that alone?

      haha, I get the not having had time ... but I'm so glad you think it looks good ;D That makes me excited!

      Thanks, I sure am!

      Delete
  4. Oh dear, she does look rather crazy. xD If only we readers could sweep in and defend her...

    theonesthatreallymatter.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha, but then she couldn't learn anything on her own ;)

      Delete
  5. It's understandable that they think she's a bit crazy, but I hope she goes to Francis soon since he'll believe her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ah, yes. Francis. And thank you for letting me know about all of the broken links!

      Delete

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