The rain was torrential today, the drops racing down towards the windowsill with alarming speed. The sound of it drummed against the roofs of Finchley with astounding force, puddles collecting in every free space. Ballards Lane was swamped with the floodwater, gritty drops splashing up onto shopfronts in the wake of drivers who seemed to hurried to bother with caution towards pedestrians. The day was grey and miserable, somehow exceeding the normal dreariness that London was famous for.
Richardson's Grocers was full of unfortunate Londoners caught without an umbrella, the air inside steamy and warm with their breath. The produce on the shelves had almost been exhausted from the recent shortages, the few good fruit and vegetables crowded for space on the wonky wooden shelves. The old shopkeeper sighed. It had not been a good day.
From somewhere in the crush of people, a small pale hand stretched through to reach the last potato. Grasping her prize, Susan Pevensie filled her small bag with the less-than-appealing vegetables. Why did they have to choose today to be inside? Susan thought to herself. Her monthly grocery shop was her time. Being interrupted by inconvenient strangers only made the thought of a rainy day worse.
Susan had lived in Finchley as long as she could remember, but she had always hated rain. As a child, rain had signified another day spent inside doing lessons instead of games. As an adult, rain had reminded her of the siblings she had been deprived of, and that one rainy day that had started it all. The thought of Narnia made her even more cross. A silly child's game so absorbing that merely pursuing the thought had led her siblings into irrevocable danger. Susan closed her eyes for a split second. Pevensies had never cried in public, and she wasn't going to begin now.
Suddenly jostled out of the way by another careless Londoner, Susan realised that her shopping was finally complete. Checking the list once, she elbowed her way through the crowd to the counter. The old shopkeeper looked at her lipstick in disgust. Susan rolled her eyes. There was nothing wrong with wanting to look pretty, and honestly, this man's opinion was hardly monumental in her everyday life. The man inspected the bag, adding up the prices so slowly that Susan was almost ready to walk out of the store. Finally, he spoke. "Eighteen pence, love." His voice was as low as it was disapproving. Susan handed over the money with an icy glare. "Thank you." The reply was curt and without emotion, a social pleasantry, far from pleasant.
Susan made her way through the crowd once more, arms full of brown paper bags. The interaction with the grocer had put her in an even sourer mood, and she was in dire need of a cup of tea. Envisioning a warm drink, Susan stepped out onto Ballards Lane. The cars roared past, a grating sound, their horns beeping, it seemed, at the weather. Taking a cautious step onto the curb, she juggled the bags while trying not to slip. Before she knew it, Susan had fallen into the largest puddle on the street, groceries thankfully out of harms way. To make the day worse, a car roared past. In a few seconds, an exasperated but dry Susan Pevensie had become sopping wet, cold and all the more miserable. Slowly, she collected the groceries and began the several blocks' walk in the rain.
Mrs Trunkett's boarding house had never been much. A building as old as the streets itself, it loomed above Finchley in an almost comical manner, its large windows haunting eyes to the daily life of hard-done-by citizens. The brass knocker on the door was faded so much that if Mrs Trunkett hadn't polished it, it might have disappeared into the grey door entirely. Susan opened the door with a certain amount of difficulty, wobbling up the narrow stairwell once again in pursuit of the seemingly unobtainable cup of tea. Finally she reached her own faded door, the paint peeling off of the aged timber. Fumbling with her key, Susan unlocked the door to reveal a small room. Depositing the untouched groceries on a small table by the door, she began changing her wet clothes. The smell of pollution tainted the blouse she was wearing a ridiculous amount. She would have to wash it tomorrow.
The wet clothes were eventually hung out to dry on the clothing rack that somehow seemed to take up half of the small room, Susan herself slumping down onto the rickety bed. The wall opposite the bed needed a new addition. Finding another runaway pencil, Susan thought a while and started sketching on the sheet of paper that covered the wall opposite the bed. Soon, a familiar figure appeared. Small horns, curly hair, goat's legs, and a beaming smile. Tumnus the faun. Susan stood back to observe the mural that had been one of her only joys since the deaths of her siblings.
The paper covered the entire wall, filled with Narnian fairy characters. It didn't make sense to believe that the strange dream that was Narnia had actually happened, but something inside Susan had made her hold on to her childhood fantasies. The mural was just another expression of her pain, a way to remember her siblings. For amongst the giants, fauns, centaurs and dwarves four figures stood out. The four Pevensie siblings dominated the mural in astounding detail, dressed in royal robes, arms around each other, with facial expressions so accurate they could have been real. Susan had drawn herself in a lighter touch, as if she had never known them at all. She had known, she knew now, that they could never come back. She could never be where they were. Maybe, someday, years in the future, but not today, not for years. She was alone, no matter how many people were with her.
Tears gathered in her eyes, falling like the rain. Susan laid on the bed and sobbed.