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An Ordinary Grown-Up Lady

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She's not like Lucy, you know...Queen Susan is more like an ordinary grown-up lady.

~Corin, A Horse and His Boy

It's only years later that Susan admits she misses her brothers and her parents, and, God help her, even her sister. Maybe she misses Lucy most of all, actually. Lucy was always so alive, and isn't that ironic, because she's dead now, and Susan's alive, and she's not sure why, she doesn't deserve to live any more than Lucy deserved to die, and yet, and yet...

This is how things are now.

She reminds herself of that. This is what the world is like now. Yes. This is the way her life works now. Yes. Everyone in her family is dead now. Yes. Even that boring old man whose house they stayed at during the war is dead now. Now. Now. Now. It is Now, not Then, and Susan was the only one in her family who would ever acknowledge that.

No one in her family ever wanted to leave Then, especially Lucy, and yet somehow, Lucy was always...always something—Susan breaks off the thought there and calls someone to suggest that they crash a party.

At the party, she keeps seeing echoes of Peter or Edmund or Lucy, even echoes of that horrid cousin of theirs, what was his name, Eustace, that's it. He's dead, too, now. She stands up too suddenly, and the edges of her vision cloud with black, and clear, and Lucy is across the room, rummaging in the refrigerator, looking out the window, dancing with a stoned boy Susan slept with once. How dare she, Susan thinks, how dare he want Lucy over me, she's only a child playing children's games. She pours more bourbon into her glass and sips it and sees Peter is changing stations on the radio, drinking rum and Coke, charming everyone the way he always does. Did. Did, did, did! Susan turns quickly away from her brother and sister, only to see that Edmund is laughing with one of Susan's friends, his hand on her shoulder, listening to her, being fair and kind and bloody just, oh, isn't that wonderful, Edmund's such a fairminded boy, it's such a treat to meet a young man like him, you must be very proud of your brother.

She hates her family and loves them all the more fiercely for hating them.

She leaves the party and goes back to her flat. She takes a pill and sleeps and dreams and doesn't remember the dream in the morning.

This is what she dreams:

Susan is standing on the top of a large, flat-topped hill next to a stone table with a crack in it. The sky is the same color as a dead television set and the grass under her feet is the color Lucy's eyes were in the coffin, still and dull silver. The world is silent and grey and Susan is alone.

She doesn't move. She doesn't try, so she doesn't know if she can. She just—doesn't.

The sky sinks closer and closer and closer and the hill and the grass on the hill rise to meet it. Susan is in the middle, and she's going to be crushed, but, oddly, she doesn't mind or care or fear. Everything begins to spin, grey hill and grey grass and grey soil and grey table and grey sky spinning and color begins to bleed into everything, bright streaks of vivid life.

But, no, everything's slowing and stopping, except that around Susan, there's still a streak of circular movement. Moving bodies, and they slow, too, dancing ring-around-the-rosy around Susan, and she doesn't want them to stop or slow down enough so she can recognize them.

But what Susan wants doesn't matter here, because they do slow, and they do stop, and the sky is full of color and the air is warm and Lucy is smiling at her and Peter drops their hands and hold his out to her and Edmund moves a little to his left to make room for her in the circle that's a triangle with space to become a square and they're all happy.

Susan's confused.

They're happy to see her. This isn't how the world works, and on that thought, the dream fades and the last thing she sees in it is Lucy, Lucy's eyes, Lucy's eyes smiling at her.