Sunday, December 11, 2011

Susan has a bad fright.

Ad ostendendam quandam veritatem ...

In one of the golden happy years after beating Hitler when party was the rule of the day, when soldiers not yet married were party lions, and boys too young to have fought might say how much they admired their older brother (but unfortunately for the ladies that elder brother was already married) or even lie and pretend to have been fighting in the war, Susan Pevensie was at a party.

Some may remember these years as anything but "party was the rule of the day", but note I was speaking of bachelors and unwed maidens. Note also, rationing can be used so that you save up rations for a party. In that case, in theory party was the rule of the day 30 to 31 days a month except February, and the 25 to 28 days in practise without party were preparations for parties, for these folks. Susan was both unwed and very expert at rehashing canned meat and other rationing goods to make a real feast of them. While the qualification to get to a party was often to agree with some friends to save rations, she was while note quite catering, still part of preparing the party in more than one such circle. This evening she had been to a party with people she had not known for very long, some of them.

Once outside home - she took a cab, the Pevensies were a bit better off, but she had to share it and half regretted it, since the taxi had a bad jerk, but even more because of the company that was starting to be not so entertaining any longer - she pushed the young goggled man off as he tried to embrace her.

- "No, don't, rather!"

- "Why?"

- "You said you envied the pilot who bombed Dresden!"

- "Yea - so?"

- "Then you would have been bombing all the old men and children and babies and mothers who were in the city?"

- "Sure, I see what you mean, but - they were Germans!"

- "Take this from me:" Susan added with some heat and bitterness. "German soldiers may have been fighting for Hitler, but their women and children were not. And in a war, you fight the ones who fight. Not women or children!"

- "So, what do you know?"

- "Well, anyone knows the German soldiers were not in town 1945. They were freezing or heating themselves at camp fires. They were huddling together and hoping the war would be over soon. And they would come back to their wives and ... oh, you are a beast, a beast, a beast!"

- "So, should we have let Hitler roll over all our troops and do nothing?"

- "There are other ways to fight wars than bombing!"

- "What do you know about that? You have never been in a battle?"

- "I won two battles at Beruna!" (What did she say that for now?)

- "At Beruna? Are you mad?"

- "Sorry, forget it and leave me alone!"

- "You must be mad, women weren't captains in the war. And if there had been a battlefield with two victories on the allied side, you think I wouldn't have known its name? Does Beruna even exist?"

- "Oh, back off! Here's my house."

The cab driver stepped out and said to him: "Get back into the car, will you! I fought in the trenches, and when we came home we were not all that eager to dominate."

He stepped back into the cab and gave her a really queer look. A bit of pity, a bit of anger, a bit of restraint, a bit of "oh, I am insulted, but I am charitable, so I treat you as mad" - but he said nothing.

So she got in.

Back in bed, she tried to think of something pleasant. The Narnia Gang, as she called them - Professor Kirke (his name was Digory she had found out), Polly Plumber, same age as the professor, but looked younger, a bit younger than her grandparents, Eustace, Jill, younger than herself and of course her two brothers Peter and Edmund and sister Lucy (she was second to Peter) were heading off to Narnia. No, not to Cair Paravel, but to a town in Italy. It is really called Narni, but back in Roman times it was Narnia. "At least that is a real place."

Since she had drunk some quantity she did in fact not take long after calming herself to fall into heavy sleep. Parties mean you drink more than usual. Drinking more than usual means heavy sleep. And all she was thinking of when getting calmer was how nice a trip they would have to Italy. And all that stopped her was thinking about the rude man. Or being ashamed for again, even for just a moment, falling into the Narnian story. I mean, all the memories are just there because she imagined so well, when they were playing. A bit like memories from under hypnosis, maybe? Well, however these memories came there, she was living with them. Usually in silence. Except she had blurted out Beruna. Just because of the rude man. Would she go to mental hospital? Madhouses were not nice places. They made her afraid. They made about everyone afraid, but most people did not care to talk about it. How nice for Edmund and for Lucy and for Peter to be going to Narnia and not to a madhouse. Even if it was not the same Narnia.

She woke up with a dry mouth, with sweat, and screamed: "Oh God!"

She had been dreaming about a man, as she recalled it when staggering to the kitchen, a man not like the one who tried to embrace her, but somewhat similar to Caspian - one of her recurring memories from Narnia, as if it had been real, except of course it wasn't. Only he was captive with the White Witch (another memory). But it was not the White Witch, it was a Green Witch. Once every night he was himself. But before that moment came, always, always, always he asked people around to tie him to a chair. And seated on that chair, for that hour, he remembered every horrible thing the witch had done to him, every piece of hypnosis she had used. Since Susan knew party hypnosis, she had seen it at a few parties, but not volunteered, she could identify it, even if he did not call it hypnosis. And in that chair - the next hour enchanted him. He could do no more. "How if I had Susans horn!" he moaned.

And then she woke up. This means she did not know how it continued. She poured up water in a beaker, so as to avoid getting a headache in the morning.

She did not believe in God. She did not deny God on philosophical principle either. But she thought things were so unfair, ever since she decided that talking about Narnia was a game they did together and remembering Narnia was an illusion, coming from that game. If Narnia, why not the resurrection? If they, the four siblings, and she one of them, could get balmy discussing their wishes, why not those twelve? And it was so unfair - she did not have Lucy's courage and devotion - that she should neither have a blissful ignorance about all Narnian things, well, maybe not blissful, but then again ... nor the blissful illusion of the other seven. But now she made an exception: "God, if you exist, if you are Aslan, help that man!"

Then she took a beaker of water. And another. And went back to bed.

She had no headache when she woke up again. Nor had she been tormented by the vision of the unfortunate captive. She had instead been dreaming about Polly Plummer saying something like "She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can." It was less terrible than the man in the metallic chair. But it was a bit rude.

In that morning, she heard the news - I'll come back to by whom, it was not on the radio. The train had crashed. She was told that Mr. Peter Pevensie, Mr. Edmund Pevensie, Miss Lucy Pevensie were among the corpses identified. All of those in the waggon were quite dead. Speed kills as much as war machines.

Hullo, that means, she thought to herself, once she recovered from the first shock of grief, she was now the only person alive to know anything about Narnia. Unless Mr. Kirke had told someone else.

The Anglican parson who told her knew nothing - at least nothing about it being true.