It is often the case that we don’t realise how odd our upbringings may be until we compare with our friends. That was the case with Lilliandil, the girl who grew up at the beginning of the end of the world. She didn’t know to miss the company of children her own age, because she’d never met one, and we may suppose she did not even know any other children existed. All she knew was her father, Ramandu, the star at rest. All she knew was singing the sun into the sky.
She had hobbies, of course. Her father had many books, so many that Lilliandil could not have read all of them in her lifetime. Father Christmas visited once in a while to give them gifts, though Lilliandil never knew to expect his visits since it never snowed on their island. She wove intricate tapestries on the loom Father Christmas brought her with skeins of yarn that never seemed to run out. She knew every inch of their gently hilly island and often walked along the beach sifting her toes through the sand. Every night she looked up at the stars. She didn’t need to wonder what it would be like to be among them, for her father told her stories of his time up in the sky and about what he saw down in Narnia. She wrote these stories down and added them to his library along with stories of her own imagination.
It wasn’t a bad life, all in all. The weather was always perfect to take a swim if she couldn’t think of anything else to do, and indeed, thinking took up much of Lilliandil’s life. Yet as soon as the strangers set foot on her island, she realised that there was a whole world out there she could not understand from her father’s stories alone. There were other people out there, other animals, people her own age. She knew she must leave with them.
Lilliandil had never experienced friendship or love beyond her father, though she had read of them in her books. She recognised immediately the way Caspian looked at her, his sun-weary eyes softening. She would tuck it away to think about later. The only thing she wanted to think about was discovering the whole wide world. She could hardly wait for the ship to return from its voyage to the utter east. She spent the intervening time mending and cleaning her everyday dresses, the ones that were rubbed threadbare from time spent in the sand, the ones with grass stains from lying on the hills at night gazing up at the stars. She folded them into her mother’s old wooden chest with some of her favourite books. She didn’t have much else: a comb, a flute, a set of dice, her little sewing kit. She had no need for shoes on the island, but she might need them where she was going, so she tried on an old pair of her mother’s. They fit her perfectly, though she found the snugness disconcerting. She immediately took them off again and wiggled her toes.
When the Dawn Treader came back, Lilliandil found she was suddenly a little reluctant to leave. She didn’t know if she would ever see her father again, at least not in “human” form. Her whole life was on this island. But she picked up one of her beloved books, a tome of Narnian plants, and flicked through it. She wanted so dearly to see these plants, and so many other things she’d read about, in person. She hugged her father goodbye and boarded the boat. Caspian requested his kiss for breaking the curse, though she told him gently (and absentmindedly, as she looked around the boat) that it was Reepicheep who had broken the curse.
She soon settled into life on the boat. Lucy was only too happy to share Caspian’s roomy cabin. Lilliandil soon discovered that Lucy was not from Narnia and eagerly digested her stories of life in this unknown world. Lilliandil didn’t often need to eat, as a star, but she joined in all the meals in the ship’s galley, enjoying food much more real and ordinary than the food she ate on the island. Caspian and Edmund gave her sword-fighting lessons out on the deck, where she walked barefoot, gratefully leaving her mother’s shoes in the cabin. She climbed up into the dragon’s head and learned to play chess. She learned both skills quickly, beating Edmund at chess in only a few days (and Edmund was very, very good at chess). She let Eustace look at her books of botany and told him about the plants that grew on her island. The plants Eustace had said weren’t heather were called sea lavender. They made delicious tea. Lucy said that explained why the island smelled like deep purple, and Lilliandil laughed in agreement. She asked Lucy what colour the ocean smelled like, to which Lucy could only say it smelled too much like salt to give it a colour.
On the way back they saw more Sea People. Lilliandil gasped in delight to see the people she’d read of in all those books, for they were so much more beautiful and fierce to see in person than on paper. They saw dolphins, too, and more creatures none of them could describe. Some looked like seaweed floating by, but Lilliandil pointed out that they had fins and could swim against the current, and she was right. She spent most of her days onboard the Dawn Treader hanging off the side of the boat. The crew had saved some of the liquid light from the end of the world, and Lilliandil drank of it. It reminded her of singing the sun into the sky every morning and the feeling of those white birds’ feathers brushing by her face.
They stopped at Coriakin’s island, of course, to refill their casks of water and replenish their stores of food. Coriakin was happy to see them and hear their tales of the East. He warmly embraced Lilliandil and told her what a lovely star her father was. She was delighted to meet the Dufflepuds, who thought she was the smartest lady they’d ever met. After that, they didn’t see another person until the Lone Islands, though Lilliandil was far from lonely. She spent time getting to know each man and woman on the ship until she knew all their quirks and if they had family waiting for them back in Narnia.
It was when they reached the Lone Islands that Lilliandil knew her adventure was truly beginning. She was already a different woman than she’d been on the island, but stepping off Dawn Treader onto Doorn would change her even more profoundly. She stood at the railing of the ship, letting her hair ripple in the wind behind her, just watching ships move in and out of harbour. She could see the business of daily life, and it thrilled and terrified her in equal measure. Lucy came up to her and took her hand. “Ready?” she asked, and “Ready,” Lilliandil answered. Still holding hands, they stepped together onto the gangplank and walked out into the shining wide world.