Her breath came in short gasps. She could hear the minister droning on in the background and tried to focus on the sound of voice; on the words he was saying. Her eyes felt glazed over with unshed tears. She blinked and tried to find something to focus her eyes on. She looked directly in front of her, then shook her head. No. Anywhere but there. She tried to tear her eyes away, but it was almost as though they were held there by some unseen force. She couldn’t look away, couldn’t blink. And so, she sat, immobilized by grief, forced to stare at the nine coffins laid before the pulpit.
Susan rubbed her still-blurry eyes. She was home now, the rest of the funerals had passed in a quick blur and everyone had gone to Professor Kirke’s mansion, where Susan would be staying for the foreseeable future. He had left it to the Pevensies in his will and now, well now she was the only Pevensie left. Susan shuddered at the thought, the last Pevensie.
Tears rushed to her eyes as thoughts and words began to race uncontrollably through her mind: 'I should have been there. They invited me along and I said no. But I should have been there. Now I’m here. Alone. So alone. But I should have gone.'
She could feel herself gasping for air again. She seemed to be doing a lot of that today. She tried to push the emotions back down, tried to blink back the tears. Oh, how she tried. I need to leave this room. I need to get away from everyone, she thought, but she couldn’t make herself move. Suddenly, she felt a hand on her back.
Susan turned, slightly startled, and stared directly into the green eyes of Mrs. Macready, Professor Kirke’s housekeeper. There was no judgment in her eyes; in fact, it seemed that there was no emotion at all, except, perhaps, what one might have called sorrow had there been more. “Come along dear, let’s get you refreshed.”
Susan allowed herself to be lead from the roomfuls of other mourners and into a bedroom on the second floor. “Just stay here until you’re ready to come down. I can make excuses to people.”
“Thank you,” Susan whispered. Mrs. Macready nodded and began to leave, but turned back and pulled the younger woman into a hug. They were both silent for the duration of the embrace, finally, Mrs. Macready pulled away. “That’s enough of that. Best not have people wondering. Take as long as you need.” She left, shutting the door behind her.
Susan looked around the room and stopped short when she saw it against the far wall. The wardrobe. For the first time since receiving that fateful telegram, she allowed the tears to fall. They cascaded down her face in a never-ending torrent of agony. She walked over to the wardrobe and placed a hand delicately on it. She gasped as memories of the adventures in that wardrobe ripped through her. Before she fully comprehended what she was doing, she had ripped open the door and climbed in. Susan pushed through the coats and felt her hand smack the back. She screamed through her sobs and hit the wood.
“Why did you take them? Why didn’t you take me too? Why didn’t you stay with me? Why did you fade so easily? Why?”
She collapsed, still sobbing and seeing red. She closed her eyes and tried to breathe. Suddenly, she heard a deep voice by her ear.
“Because you didn’t fight for me.”
Susan flinched, she knew that voice. It haunted her dreams.
“Aslan?” She whispered, too afraid to open her eyes. “
Yes, my lamb.”
Susan peeked through one eye, then opened the other. “Where are we? Why is everything so red?” She didn’t dare look beside her at the one whom she had failed.
“This is the old Narnia. The Narnia you knew.” Aslan’s tone was indiscernible. Was that sorrow? Or elation? Or was it both? Susan couldn’t tell.
She continued to look straight ahead, into the never ending stretch of red. “Is Narnia dying?”
“Yes, ovem perditam.”
She hesitated before asking her next question, “Am I too late?”
There was no answer. Suddenly, she heard a loud roar and rushing winds. She closed her eyes tight and it felt like her body has being flung through the air. It stopped just as quickly as it had begun and she opened her eyes again. The scenery had changed, everything was still red, but at her feet, there was color. It was almost like a pool of sorts, leading into another world.
“What is that?” She asked, sensing Aslan still at her side.
“You are looking at the New Narnia.”
Susan knelt to peer deeper into the pool. “Is that...?” She leaned forward, trying to get a better look, “It is!” She began to wave her arm, “Mother! Father! Peter! Lucy! Edmund! It’s me! I’m here! I’m here!” She tried to crawl into the pool, but Aslan’s large paw on her chest stopped her. She finally looked at him. He was bigger than she remembered, and how mane was more golden and majestic. She lowered her eyes, feeling ashamed and unworthy to gaze upon his glory.
“Look up child.”
She lifted her head obediently. “Why can I not go to them?” She asked meekly.
“It is not yet your time. There is still work to be done in you, dear one.”
“Aslan, I don’t know what to do anymore. I failed you. I failed them.”
Aslan sighed deeply, “Do you know my name in your world?”
“What is it?”
She shook her head, “I can’t. I’m unworthy to speak it.”
“Yet you speak my name here? Why is that?”
“Because here it’s just imaginary.”
Aslan roared into her face, loud, long and powerfully. “Is that imaginary?” He asked.
Susan shook her head in stunned silence.
“Say my name.”
“Jesus.” She whispered it.
“Louder,” The lion commanded.
“Jesus!” She spoke it in a normal tone.
“Jesus!” She shouted it.
She shouted it again, this time in a broken, heart-rending cry.
Aslan’s voice was soft, “You need only to call out my name, and I will be there.”
Tears streamed down Susan’s cheeks. “Will you help me, Aslan?”
Susan turned back to gaze into the pool, at the faces smiling up at her.
“Can they see me?”
“No. But they know you’re there.”
“Will I ever see them again? There are so many things I wanted to say and do.”
“If you return the way you left, you may yet see each other again. And they know, dear heart. They know.”
The lion roared again, and the winds rushed once more. Susan closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she was back in the wardrobe. She looked around, confused for a moment, then wiped the tears from her eyes and crawled underneath the fur coats and out into the light. She walked over to the bed and knelt down by the side. Susan folded her hands, bowed her head, took a deep breath, and began, “I haven’t talked to you in a while. I’ve really messed up, and I need you know. I need you to help me, to pull me out of this pit that I’m stuck in. I want to feel that old fire burning in me again. And- and can you tell them that I'm sorry?”