Thursday, January 26, 2012

Off to Sevenoaks

And the tears came running. "Lucy! Why you?!"

And like a voice inside her answered: "maybe it was better that way, for me. After you told the shrinks, you know."

And the tears gushed, with guilt rather than grief, and her heart was wrung by a black oppressive grief without a shade of lighter hope.

At eleven she had still not taken a cup of coffee, but she had been crying on and off. Bright memories and black missing them and never seeing them again, and blacker still it-was-my-fault-they-had-to-die interrupted whatever consolations she felt from memory.

A car stopped outside. The doorbell rang. "Oh bother, it's Reverend Jenkins!"

"Yes," she bellowed, half-sobbing, while pulling herself together and wiping out a tear or two from very ruddy eyes.

She opened the door, and there was the man: a clergyman unmarried and she could well see why, a young, shy priest of her Church, not quite as manly as some she had seen Romewards, when Lucy or Peter or even Edmund were talking about converting. Never matter, it was what he had to tell her that did.

"Who is arranging for the funeral?"

"That might be you, my young lady."

"Is there anyone left alive to help me around with it?"

"Let us see, the dead ones that you would know were your brothers and sister of course, but I did some checking this morning and found that your cousin Eustace Scrubb and your archery pupil Jill Pole were smashed too. So was the old man Professor Kirke and his friend Polly Plumber."

"For heavens' sake, can you stop! Is there noone left alive in my life?"

"Well, your parents were on the train too."

"And that is a thing you tell me now?!"

"But Mrs. Macready is alive, she helped to identify the corpses, and the same is true for Mrs Alberta Scrubb."

"Uncle Harold?"

"Will be along as funeral preparations advance - unless he wants to cremate Eustace, of course!"

"Oh, no! He mustn't do that!"

"Well, he is a bit modern, and the reticence of the Church is historically linked to the old belief or orthodoxy that we are to be resurrected body and soul on the last day. Not quite what we believe now, is it?"

"Not quite," she snapped back. "Anyone more alive?"

"Mrs. Pole is there, at the accident site."

"Yes, where did the accident happen?"

"It is not a pretty site."

"I couldn't care less if the site is pretty or not, I want to get there and see how they looked when found!"

"Shall I take you in the car, I took it along?"

"Do. Is it far?"

"Only a few miles off London in the direction of Dover."

He opened the door for her, after she had closed her own. "I'll buy paper handkerchiefs as we go along."

"I already did that."

"Where are we going?"

"Sevenoaks." Jenkins might not be the most attractive man - what a shame to be thinking in those terms on an occasion like this, but that came out of the life she had been leading recently - but he did know what to do in emergencies involving dead people.

"Give me a handkerchief please!"

He did. She used it.