A new take on the life of Susan following the events of the Chronicles of Narnia.
Retribution for the Fallen Queen
"Can anything else possibly go wrong?" Susan asked herself again, as she sat on the front porch of her seaside bungalow. She looked down at her ball of yarn and knitting needles, losing focus again from the quilt she was making for her son.
"That's right." She thought, "I was making this quilt."
She sighs as her gaze turns to the beach. Anyone would give everything to live along the beaches of California, but this did not seem to brighten Susan's spirits. She merely closes her eyes for a moment, the crows' feet now becoming apparent on her once beautiful face. Any normal man would still look upon her and know that she was quite the charming woman, despite the imperfections of age, but her flaws have come at a much higher price. It is nearing the anniversary of the day that her former husband fell in battle against the Germans. He had received a medal of honor, though such a medal seems so vacant when the hero doesn't return home.
Death was something that she should have grown accustomed to, as it seemed to follow her wherever she went. The tragic misfortune that she's had to endure would be enough to make any normal person simply roll over and pray that a loving and caring god would allow them to die a peaceful death. Susan, however, was not such a person. She had been a queen at one time, albeit in Narnia, but a strong queen, the High Queen Susan to be exact. She was expected to be strong and courageous in the face of danger and conflict. No, those were just silly games they used to play as children, were they not?
Her gaze is broken upon hearing the pitter patter of small, yet heavy footprints coming from within. "Mother!" the sounds of the boy resonates with the loud crash of the back door crashing open, not startling Susan, such as this is a recurring action. The young boy then jumps from the threshold of the doorway and right next to her side. She smiles and looks down at his bright blue eyes and curly blond hair. She strokes his bronze cheek with all the tender love that any mother could muster.
"Hello, my dear, sweet Colin!" Her tone makes a sudden shift, starkly more different than the tone she had just moments ago. "How was school today?"
"It was great, mother!" He responds with eccentric excitement. "There were two new students that joined our class today. They said they were from Hawaii."
"Oh, how wonderful, dear. Did you introduce yourself to them, and were you friendly?" She asked in a slightly more stern voice.
"Yes, mother...!" He says while rolling, not just his eyes, but also his entire face, it seemed. Susan had been teaching him from a very young age to mind his manners and to be respectful and polite, so as to raise him to be a model citizen, even in his young age. "Very good, Colin."
"Their names are Kalani and Halia..." He continued with his energetic tone. "We became fast friends and they wanted to meet you, so I brought them over with me. They're at the front--"
"Oh, they're here?" She states with a sharp, surprised sigh. "Well, you had better be glad that I tidied up the house today, Colin." She stands and straightens out her dress. They walk into the back door and toward the front door. The home itself is quite modest; a small two bedroom bungalow with a spacious living area and decent-sized kitchen. Not the biggest of houses, nothing like what her parents had in London, and certainly not comparable to the house Professor Kirke once owned. The small hallway leading to the front door held many portraits and memorabilia of her late husband's time in the military. As she goes to open the door, she stops for just the slightest of moments to glance at one of the pictures hanging on the wall, a picture of Staff Sergeant Cooper. He was an African American man of great stature and handsome features, much of which his son had inherited. His uniform full of strips and insignias that many who were unknowledgeable of military tradition would be able to understand. Now one may wonder if this sort of marriage was acceptable during this time period, and although there was terrible strife in the southern states, her home state didn't meddle with such atrocities of segregation. Besides, Susan was well accustomed to ruling and serving over races far different from her own.
Susan opens the door to welcome the two children, but, instead, finds the mailman. He hands her three envelopes, then smiles and nods his head, thanking her for the coincidental meeting, before continuing with his postal duties. It is then that she notices two, what we now call surf boards leaning against the steps of her front porch and two kids sitting at the bottom step. They stand and face her with large smiles.
"Why, hello children. Welcome--ah--Aloha, I believe it is." The kids' mouth open with excitement, they look at each other, then respond with an excited, "Aloha!"
She lets them inside, leaving the boards outside. They are treated with a small snack and just small conversation, getting to know the kids and watching their brimming conversation with her Colin. After so long, they ask if they can head to the beach to teach Colin the art of he'e nalu, or what we now call surfing. She agrees, but only with her supervision. Colin excitedly goes to change into something he can get wet in, though in the excitement of the moment, the kids become fascinated with Colin's room and almost forget about surfing entirely.
While all this is going on, Susan clears the dining room table and sits to sort through the mail received earlier. She didn't realize it at first, but she notices one of the envelopes more lumpy than the other two. She curiously examines and palpates the envelope, then drops it when she reads the name of its sender: Helen Pevensie. Her breathing becomes rapid and shaky, the room seems to spin as she clutches the table to regain a sense of stability. She glances out the window and all around her, thinking that, perhaps, someone was spying on her and playing a very cruel prank. How could anyone do such a harsh and painful thing? But no, clear as day, there is the letter addressed to her from her late mother. She shakily takes a drink of water, still breathing hard and fast. The room still spinning around her, then finally out of mere desperation, she goes outside, hoping that a breath of fresh air is enough to calm her nerves.
She sits in her rocking chair, trying to process what she is certain she saw. Could she be hallucinating or dreaming? No, this is a harsh reality that she now had to face. She takes one last deep breath and stands to her feet, resolute in looking one more time at that envelope. "If it is, in fact, from my mother, then I will open at once and without hesitation." She was once a queen after all, and a queen must have stay her heart with an iron will, regardless of what terror she faces. She was certain that would be something her older brother, Peter, would tell her, were he still alive.
She takes slow, long strides toward the letter, each step seeming to become heavier and heavier. Her hands start to tremble and her breathing again becoming faster and more shallow. She does make it to the dining room table and looks down at the letter. Her eyes were not lying to her. The letter was, assuredly, addressed to her from her mother, Helen Pevensie. She swallows hard, then carefully opens the envelope. With trembling hands, she carefully allows takes out the letter and puts the other contents from within upon the table. Two rings roll out from within the envelope: one green and one yellow and two airline tickets. This causes her trembling to become more tame as the feeling of intrigue overtakes the initial shock. She opens the letter to read it, though she skims through it the first time, she looks up from it, confused; takes a deep breath, then reads again, this time more carefully:
I am writing this letter with great importance and I hope that it finds you soon, as I am sending it with great urgency. I apologize in advance for the anguish I may cause you in using your mother's name and pray to our Lord that you would find it in your heart to forgive me for such an atrocity, but it was the only way I thought you would read the letter with your utmost attention. I wish to send you my greatest condolences for the loss of your family. I'm aware that this may trigger a bad response to you. I mourn your loss, as I also lost someone during that great accident.
You see, I was a student of Professor Kirke, as well as a great friend to, both, him and Ms. Polly Plummer. I was one of the few they trusted with the stories of Narnia's creation and about the passage thereof through the wardrobe. He told me of his Uncle Andrew and his godmother's dealings in the dark arts, as well as his own dealings. It is my understanding that there were some rings that were created by him, but I have discovered two more rings among the late professor's belongings. That prompted me to write this letter, you see. I feel that I may have found a way to worlds beyond our own.
Now, I know I may seem strange to you and that you may just as well cast this away as the musings of a madman from London. If you, by some chance, would just grant me a moment of your time, I would like to explain my experiment in greater detail, and in person. I've attached two plane tickets, just on the off chance you would need two, as well as the two mentioned rings. I trust you will take great care of them. I hope you will find your way to my home.
Oliver B. Hemmenbaum
Susan sat there, reading and re-reading the letter several times over. She picked up each ring, examining them closely, wondering what they had to do with getting to Narnia. To her, it should've been something that was limited only to her imagination, but something, someone in reality wanted to ensure that it was shoved right in her face. Nearly two hours had passed since she opened and read the letter. In that time, she had gone through a wide array of emotion: anger, happiness, sorrow, joy--one cannot truly imagine the type anguish she was experiencing.
She could not sleep that night, tossing and turning about, wondering why. Why now of all the possible times that she could have received such a letter? Was this another cruel joke or the musings of a fickle god? In the times that she did sleep, however, she would dream. She dreamt of the days of her time as High Queen of Narnia, her brothers and sister, and yes, even Aslan himself. That morning, after seeing Colin off to school, she decided to examine the rings once again, this time a little closer. There didn't seem to be anything extraordinary about them; they were as plain as you could possibly imagine. She then looked at the airline tickets... They were vouchers to exchange for actual plane tickets.
"It has been a while since I saw London. And I haven't visited my families' graves in quite a while either." She continued to reason with herself until she finally made the resolute decision to make the trip. She wrote a letter, in response to Mr. Hemmenbaum, stated as follows:
I thank you for taking the time in sending this correspondence. I must say, I am rather angry that you used my mother's name in sending this letter, and I cannot begin to describe the distressing anguish that you triggered in my mind and heart. All the same, I am glad that someone other than my brothers and sister knew about my time in Narnia. It only solidified what I was trying to suppress for so many years. I think you will be pleased to know that I have made the necessary arrangements to make the trip back to London. You can expect my arrival on 17th of June. I will be coming with my son. Until then, I bid you well.
She sealed the letter and walked to her local post office. While speaking with the teller, she almost seemed to hesitate in relinquishing the letter, but eventually relents. The teller didn't seem to take any notice and processed the postage, per his usual routine. Susan thanked the teller and stepped out of the building. "It's too late to turn back now." She sighed. "I hope that this situation is legitimate..."
On her way home, she heard the loud cries of a man, preaching on a street corner. He was on her route. Susan didn't have any problem with street preachers or churches, or even God for that matter, although everything that she had been through over the years had certainly left a crude scar upon her heart. She lets out a sigh, stiffens her posture, and proceeds. She gives a quick nod at the preacher as she walks by him. The preacher gives her a kind smile and nod, bidding her a good morning. This was different than all the other times, however. There was a slight sensation in her mind, causing the hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. She pauses and listens to the preacher for the slightest of moments, almost as if it was drawing on her.
"... 'For all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!' That means, beloved, that all of us, including myself, are filthy and unworthy to stand before holy and righteous God. The good news of the gospel, however, is that God provided for us a perfect sacrifice that would satisfy His wrath, namely Himself. He stepped down from his heavenly throne, taking on flesh and walked upon us as a man, living a perfect life. Then he was beaten, tortured, mocked and ridiculed, all for our sins, becoming a propitiation for the punishment we deserve! Oh, beloved, all that is required of us is to accept and believe in this sacrifice and repent of our sins, and live a life that is truly acceptable to God--"
A tear runs down Susan's cheek upon hearing this as the memory of Aslan's sacrifice for her brother was triggered. "He died in place of poor Ed. Could this be the same--?"
"Dear woman." The aging preacher approaches her, with a warm, gentle smile. "Pardon me for being so forward, but I noticed you listening."
"O--oh! Y--yes, I... my apologies, reverend, I--" Her voice trails off, as she wipes the tear from her cheek.
He looks on at her, almost as if he were staring into her very soul. "You have much hurt and doubt, don't you?"
She nods slowly. "I do..." She finally replies. "I have lost so much over the years, reverend." Her voice starts to quiver as she speaks, "God is supposed to be good, is He not?" She bites her bottom lip, trying to hold back tears. "Why would he allow me to live in such torment?" She starts sobbing into her handkerchief.
The reverend doesn't say anything for a few moments, allowing her to mourn and providing comfort, by merely being present. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Dear woman, I know not the anguish you have lived through, nor will I even pretend to understand. Sometimes, tragedy happens to us as an act of mercy." He grabs her hand and gently guides her to a nearby bench. "I've have also have losses in my life. I don't have children. My poor late wife could not carry a child to term. Six times we tried, however, five were stillborn." Susan looks up at the old reverend upon hearing this, paying closer attention and noticing tears welling up in his eyes. "With our final child, my wife passed due to complications. They tried to keep the little one alive, as well, but he simply could not hold on to life." He lets out a single sob. "But God is good."
"I must say, I'm quite in awe of your faith, reverend. You say you have not experienced tragedy like I have, but I would almost say we are quite similar." She says, slightly more hopeful. The reverend wipes the tear from his eye, then gives her a hopeful smile.
"Let me tell you something I've learned in all my years of living; it rains on the just and the unjust, both good and bad happen to all. What you do with it is what defines a person's faith and belief." He stands to his feet, while adjusting his suit coat. "Regardless of what happens here in this life, we can have the assurance of eternal life, long after we have departed from this world." He looks up to heaven for a moment, then looks back to her. "Don't be so distraught about your loss, dear woman. Instead, think back and be thankful for the time that you did have with your lost loved ones. In gratitude, we relinquish our bitterness." He tips his hat, like any gentleman would and head back to his wooden box to continue preaching.
Susan listens for a few moments longer, before making her way back to her home. She indeed ponder everything that she and the old reverend discussed. In the days leading to her departure, she made it a point to commit some of her time to prayer and reading of the Holy Scriptures. Her outlook on life, though still filled with sorrow, did become a little brighter. She often thought of her time in Narnia and her time as queen. She even sat with Colin and his friends to tell them of the wonders of a world called Narnia with great enthusiasm, bringing awe and inspiration to the children and lifting her own spirit. Every day was a new adventure that was shared, until it became a world that was even more real than our own, up until the day came for their departure. The friends bid farewell to each other and promised to return soon. With all bags packed, they board the plane with great anticipation of what awaits them in London. Susan still had trouble believing those silly adventures that Lucy, Edmond, and Peter used to talk about all those years ago, but at the very least, that wonderful adventure could be carried over into her precious Colin.