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Chapter Nine: The Rings


It was too cold to be outside, but Susan needed the fresh air, so, carrying everything she had of Narnia (the box of rings and the compact mirror), Susan took a blanket and sat in the sunniest chair.

To be alone and not alone at once—that was what she needed. A break from therapists, church gossips, and the Bryants (even Carl) while surrounded by something alive that could not harm her or condemn her.

The entire month of February ate away at Susan. She was not getting better, and everything was only worse.

The therapist was frustrated with Susan because she would hardly talk, and, when asked how she was doing, Susan would say, “I am coping.” The woman was not satisfied with such vague words, but if Susan would actually tell the truth, the therapist would look at Susan as if she were pitiful.

No one was supposed to know about the therapist, but whenever Susan went out (which was only when the Bryants took her to church or demanded she go to a party with Carl), she heard the people around her murmuring as if she were too stupid to hear them.

“That poor dear—losing all of her family so suddenly as she did.”

“Yes, I hear she’s no longer right in the head.”

“It’s true. And they’ll be sending her away soon, if I’m not mistaken.”

The women's’ words from church rang in Susan’s mind still even though she was alone. And though her blanket was thick and wool, she shivered. Would Carl truly send her away?

Susan rung her hands together, feeling she ought to pray. But deep inside, she still cringed at begging God for help.

If only she could return to Narnia, to not have to worry about life on Earth anymore, or if God were Aslan, or anything …

Susan opened the box of rings, wondering if they still worked. And if they did, if she dared risk using them. She knew how they worked. They would take you to a wood, and in that wood, she’d have to jump into ponds that would take her to different worlds. What if she couldn’t find the right pond for Narnia? Or what if she were to jump in a world worse than Narnia?

Susan found her fears were weaker than her pains. She gritted her teeth and said, “Aslan, please let me leave this world and return to Narnia. Please, I’ll do whatever you want.”

And so she reached inside and grabbed hold of the yellow ring, slipping it on her first finger.

But she remained in London, sitting in her backyard under the chilly but sunny sky.

Susan bent over the box of rings and wept.

🎕🎕🎕🎕🎕

The Bryants threw a lot of parties those days, and it was unacceptable for Susan to miss any of them. Or so Mrs Bryant had implied. So an hour before Carl was to get Susan, she went to her room and dressed as appropriately as she must, applying a little makeup, but putting no extra effort into her ensemble than necessary.

Susan did not keep Carl waiting as she had been wont to do before her family died, but was ready as soon as he rang the house bell. Wordlessly, she accepted his arm, and he lead her to his automobile.

Neither of them spoke the entire drive. Susan missed having him make her laugh. She missed talking with him. And she missed how he used to always ask to kiss her—ever since the hospital, he’d kissed her a few times, but never had he seemed much enthused.

The silence pulled at Susan, so right before Carl parked the car, she turned to him to say something. But before she could think of anything to say, she observed his relaxed behaviour. It was as if he found the silence preferable to what she might say.

She wiped at her eyes before tears could fall and said nothing.

Carl found a parking space, then lead Susan inside, stopping only to leave her coat by the door.

“Stay here,” he said bringing her to an empty sofa. “and I’ll bring you something to drink and eat.”

Susan opened her mouth to say she wasn’t hungry, but Carl left before she could say a word. And when he returned a moment later with a small plate of savory snacks and a glass of sparkling water, she accepted the food without complaint and even found herself able to eat and enjoy the tastes.

Carl did not sit by Susan, but joined the party, passing from one group of people to another, entertaining guests with his stories and wit. Susan watched him laugh, and her heart swelled with longing. How had the two of them become such strangers these last few weeks? Was it her own fault?

Once she would have wished to join Carl and his friends, curious to hear what they were saying. But now, just sitting on the outskirts pulled at all of her energy.

The edge of the sofa seemed to give way and, for a moment, Susan felt as if she would fall over. She turned and gasped when she saw Francis Pole sitting next to her.

“I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to startle you,” Francis said.

“Oh, no. You are fine.”

“You don’t mind if I sit here while I wait for the rest of my party to arrive?” Francis asked. His eyes warmed her as he looked at her and Susan couldn’t help but think of Aslan again. And how very handsome Francis seemed to be—she blinked away the last thought, realizing it was unfaithful toward Carl.

“No, I don’t mind,” Susan said. “No one else needed the seat.”

“Thank you.” Francis said as if she had truly done a great favor for him. “And how have you been, Miss Pevensie?” His tone lightened with his last words, and then she remembered that he, too, had lost someone, and so must have felt at least a small part of the pain that she felt at that very moment.

Susan looked to him, but Francis still smiled easily. He appeared to be faring much better than she. Susan quickly broke away from his eyes and stared at her own lap, willing herself to not cry. “I’m … doing as well as I can,” she answered, feeling that it was all a lie.

Francis Pole cleared his throat, then softly said, “I wonder if either of us will ever be fully well?”

Susan laughed bitterly, knowing that she wouldn’t, that the emptiness inside was to always be her companion.

Francis’ tone lowered even more. “I’m actually relieved to find you alone. There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

Susan’s heart stuttered rapidly, and she didn’t know why. Partly curious and mostly exhausted, she said, “Yes?”

But nothing could have prepared her for his words. “Susan Pevensie, what can you tell me of Narnia?”

Why won't the rings work for Susan? Do you think maybe she isn't ready to leave, though she desperately hates her life now? Is it cruel for Carl to make Susan go to a party, then leave her alone? Or do you think he should always stay at her side? 
How do you suppose has Francis heard of Narnia? 

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 Eight: The Dinner
Chapter Ten: The Conversation
Chapter Eleven: The Cottage
Chapter Twelve: The Train
AFTERWARD: Why I Wrote Susan Of Narnia 

Comments

  1. I was so hopeful when she tried the ring.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The despair she's going through :( :(

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this!
    Quick thing: your chapter links are off. Many
    of them have '2' as the month....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and letting me know! It seems with this serial I've had lots of issues with the links. I'll go fix these now ;D

      Delete
  4. Whoa, I was not expecting Francis to say that! I felt so sorry for Susan when the rings didn't work! (Sorry this is late! I don't jnow how I missed this one!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Late is better than never in my book ;) ahh so glad to give you a pleasant shock after the cruel disappointment ;)

      Delete

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