Can we talk about Lucy Pevensie?
Let's talk about Lucy riding to war to defend Archenland, her hair braided back, her bow string pulled back to her cheek. Let's talk about her clear, clear eyes sighting down the arrow shaft.
Lucy worked in the healing tents after battles. She kept her magical vial tucked in a pouch that hung over her heart and learned to bind wounds and splint limbs.
Peter went green at healing tents the way he never did at war, but he did a walk-through anyway, after every skirmish, each pitched fight. He clasped hands and thanked them, took soldiers' letters for their sweethearts and made sure they got delivered.
Lucy tied her hair back, rolled up her sleeves, and went to work.
When the Pevensies tumbled back through the Wardrobe, after a decade and a half of rule, Lucy left her healing vial behind. Peter left his sword and Susan left her horn, but the space over Lucy's heart felt cold for the rest of her life.
Lucy was her own first battle. She was her own first belief. She was, in her way, her only belief.
Lucy believed in dwarves and brave sword-fighting mice and lions— she had named them and loved them and watched them die. What need was there for belief here? Truth was at the tips of her finger.
Lucy’s war was this: she stepped into her school skirts and people called her a child. They said wardrobes were always exactly the size they seemed, that talking lions were impossible, and that she was a little girl and not a queen. And Lucy smiled.
Science! They screamed, and Lucy wanted to throw the textbooks at them.
Hypothesis! Observation! she wanted to scream back.
I went through the wardrobe door and I found a world. I went through again to check the repeatability of my results and then I brought independent observers in to verify!
I saw it. I observed. The dissertation is my life. I’m not sitting here believing in wardrobes. I’m believing in me.
Lucy had tea with Mr. Tumnus in her bedroom, out of plastic cups. She overbrewed it and chattered at the shadows, like she would have any afternoon in Cair Paravel. Anyone who caught her at it and called it playing or imagining would get hot tea poured in their lap.
She was remembering, and that was holy.
Lucy befriended a shy, gawky boy on the play yard and missed Mr. Tumnus so much it ached. She and the faun had spent more years than Lucy owned in this tiny body learning how to grow into that friendship.
But this kid, a skinny nine-year-old named Timmy— Lucy squared her shoulders and bared her best grin and decided to teach him how to dance.
Let’s talk about how Lucy Pevensie was not your object lesson. Let’s talk about how Lucy was her own triumph.
She was scraped knees and tree-sap palms, impetuousness and little jealousies and bright eyes, and she was her own light. Go buy your lanterns elsewhere. She was not here for you to warm your hands on.
Let’s remember that she was the Valiant.
Can we talk about how Lucy stepped back onto Narnian soil again and felt slain? Cair Paravel’s walls were crumbled and overgrown. Mr. Tumnus was long buried.
Lucy had always thought they’d come back, but this—she took a shaky breath, and then a deeper one. The apple saplings had sprouted into hoary old things.
When they hiked away from their old home, into the old forests, the trees were still. Their guide asked why she was surprised (the true word was sorrowed) and Lucy stared at him. “They used to dance,” she said.
Lucy slipped away from the camp that night, found a moonlit grove and begged the trees to wake up, the dryads to come out and greet her.
Lucy knew this to be true: trees dance. The world was filled with light, with life, with magic. She had walked these forests as a child and she walked them now, a child again. Lucy could feel her bones straining to grow in her little frame. She could feel her tears straining to fall. Trees dance. She had walked these woods and the trees had danced with her. She knew this to be true and these silent, steady branches broke her heart.
Lucy squeezed her eyes shut and spun in place. She thought about calling her siblings to her, but she was afraid they would call this pretending, her spinning in this shadowed clearing and dancing for the still trees. She was not pretending, though, and she never had been.
Tears spilled down Lucy’s cheeks as she danced for the trees. She was mourning them. She was remembering. She was telling the emptying world that they had existed once, willow girls and oak maidens, and they had danced with her once. They had danced and she would remember them.
Aslan told Susan and Peter they could never come back to Narnia. Lucy's heart didn't break, just beat and beat and beat. She squeezed Susan's hand and she felt grateful.
Narnia was ingrained into the whorls of her fingertips. How could she ever let it go?
In a few years (for Lucy), in only decades (for Narnia), Aslan would turn to her and Edmund, at the very edge of the world, and say the same to her.
Let's talk about Lucy reading about Romulus and Remus in school, reading about the mythical brothers raised by wolves, who had built a city on the banks of a river.
Lucy felt like the beavers and fauns had raised her, a childhood of hot tea in furry palms and good advice dropped out from between sharp teeth.
Some mornings Lucy felt like a myth.
Those were the mornings where she stayed in bed and wrapped her arms around herself and just breathed. She filled her lungs out and emptied them. She tasted stale London air but she thought about the sweet salt at the edge of the world, the apple blossoms outside Cair Paravel, the musty beloved old scent of Mr. Tumnus and the terrible way he overbrewed tea.
Lucy was only ever her own height. The world got bigger or smaller, brighter and darker, and she remained the same.
The doctor said Lucy had grown two inches. Lucy looked at her mother and thought oh no she shrank.
The world grew smaller and smaller. What must that be like? To grow from nine years old to your twenties as a queen, an explorer, and a warrior, and come back as an emblem of childish purity of heart?
Lucy had found Narnia because when she had seen that flash of light that turned out to be lamplight on snow, she had stepped out into the cold.
She was Marco Polo except instead of stealing noodles she stole her own heart.
Lucy was the brightest of them, the bravest of them in so many ways, but they called her blessed. Blessed. As though the word was a compliment.
Her faith was not a blessing. Her life was not. It was a choice.
Lucy walked in light but she lit the path herself. This was not heaven sent, not the surety of her steps or the way her grin blazed. This was earned. This was bled for.
The first person Lucy learned to have faith in was herself. Standing in the professor's house, her hackles up against Susan's worry and disdain, Edmund's teasing, Peter's responsible frown, Lucy had raised her chin and told her story without shaking.
There was a world in the back of a wardrobe. It was there, snowing lightly. It was not that Lucy believed in the world. She believed that she had found it. Her eyes, her ears, her hands—she had run her fingers through a lion's mane and no one could ever take that away from her, not well-meaning teachers or worried parents or all the years of her life.
This was not a story about faith. It was the story of a girl who filled every inch of her skin, up to the very brim, and no more. Lucy reached out with the very tips of her fingers to find the world and she did. There it was. She saw it, so there it was. It was there.
This was not innocence. This was not blind. Lucy was no one's blessing but her own.
You ever see a beautiful meadow looking soft and inviting, blooming red and purple and yellow? You ever go lay down in it and put one hand on a thistle and the other on an angry bee?
Lucy Pevensie was not a meadow. She was a little girl who never got a chance to grow up, who was maybe the wisest of them anyway. If you tried to sit on her, tried to stuff her into a nicely labeled box, she would sting you. Father Christmas gave her a little dagger as well as the healing potion, remember?
She had been so small back then, still a child, her hands disappearing entirely into a golden mane.
Lucy was always a child. She didn't rankle at it the way Peter and Ed did.
Susan didn't rankle at all, just walked right by anyone who belittled her and laughed if they thought their words should have touched her in any way that mattered.
Ed scowled at his gawky new/old limbs, but Lucy ran her fingers over every inch of herself, tucked in the old bathtub.
Here was an old scar gone. Here was a cluster of freckles faded.
She learned them. She reclaimed them and called them hers.
On a ship with a dragon’s head, Caspian gave Lucy her heart back, her little healing vial. It was cool in her palms, its glass far more ancient than her bones but exactly as ancient as her soul.
On a beach strewn with lilies at the end of their long voyage, Aslan took her heart away again. At the very end of the world, where the seas tumbled over the edge, Aslan told Lucy and Edmund they could never come back.
Let’s talk about Lucy stepping from lily petals and white sand to the drab carpet of her uncle and aunt’s spare bedroom. Let’s talk about how she didn’t let her heart break—because that’s important, there. She didn’t let it. It was breaking so she clung on to the edges of it and tasted the salt on her tongue.
Aslan had told her once that she was a lioness. She could live through this.
At fifteen, Lucy would be planning to go to nursing school. Someone else might have said this was because nursing was as close as she could get to Narnia, to having her healing vial back in her hands again, but Lucy was not someone else.She was as close to Narnia as she had ever been.
Learning how to save lives just seemed like something she wanted to fill her head with. And, after all, she already knew how to splint arms and not swoon at the sight of the wounded. She’d be at the top of her class before the year was out.
Let's talk about how Lucy loved her sister. Lucy didn't understand all of her but she loved Susan. Peter was the rock of their family but Susan brought them all down to earth.
Lucy had watched Susan fold in on herself, seen Peter scramble and grope for old burdens, after they lost Narnia.
But Narnia was ingrained into the whorls of Lucy's fingertips. How could she ever let it go?
Lucy’s poetry took you away, they said. She wouldn’t’ve have understood if someone had told her that. Lucy had never gone anywhere in her life.
She had always been here, with these hands and this skin. Sometimes her feet had been in fine boots dusted with Narnian dirt, and sometimes they had been in sore schoolgirl shoes and sometimes they had been bare, running through the grass with her sister and shrieking laughter. (That could be any universe, that laughter, her hand in Susan’s bigger one, their toes squishing in the mud).
Narnia was in the soles of Lucy's feet, her palms, her bones. It was in the whorls of her fingertips. She pressed her hands to the cold place over her heart and breathed, and breathed, and breathed.
Lucy got up on early mornings and watched the sun rise. There was something about sunrises. They transformed the land.
“Let’s go to the end of the world, Ed,” said Lucy, lying on her back during a visit to her brother’s new dorm room. “See if we can fall off the edge.”
“No can do, Lu,” said Edmund. “This world’s round. No edges.”
She rolled over and looked at him, “Don’t you think we should go check?”
Let’s talk about how Lucy died—seventeen for the second time.
Let’s talk about her on the train, trying to find her way back to a Narnia in peril because she was brave, she was a friend of Narnia, she was the Valiant. Let’s talk about how Lucy was squished into a cramped little compartment, sitting on stained upholstery, her cheek pressed to the window glass, looking out.
Let’s talk about how Lucy died: seventeen, on her way to her last war, looking out at the trees and remembering.
Let's talk about how she lived.