Susan is 24 and working two jobs, struggling to make ends meet. she barely even knows what she’s keeping going for
It’s been three years since the accident and since Susan’s world fell through.
she cried for days afterward- she blames herself, somehow, and won’t ever step on a train
Susan feels like there’s something she’s forgotten, something she needs to get back to, something she used to have and lost
sometimes she doesn’t know what to do, she feels like she needs to get back to that thing so badly. she doesn’t know what it is but her life has been one long grey stretch for years and something’s missing, something’s lost, and it feels like it would fix everything if she just could remember it- fix everything she doesn’t have in this life where she doesn’t know what she’s holding on for
She only wanted to have fun and party when she was nineteen. That ended when she became the last Pevensie child standing.
She cried for months
Susan doesn’t know what she’s holding on for, what she’s missing is driving her mad, she’s been having weird dreams and feelings lately and she knows you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead (if that’s what it is) but she can’t shake the feeling that Edmund and Peter and Lucy left her behind for somewhere else. She knows she shouldn’t say such things, that they died and it was a tragedy and maybe they went to heaven if that’s what you choose to believe, but they certainly didn’t leave her behind.
Still, sometimes she wonders if, if she walked off a bridge, she could follow.
Susan has dreams of blood and gold and green. She doesn’t know what she’s holding on for. She knows she’s twenty five but sometimes she feels so old, like she’s a thousand years old and still here .
Susan doesn’t have friends at work. All her siblings died. Her father had a heart attack (partly from stress, the doctors said) a few years later, and she doesn’t know where her mother is anymore. They don’t keep in touch. Susan’s life has been a stretch of grey for years and the only thing she’s holding on for is the sense of forgetting something, the sense that there’s something she’s still here to do.
She goes back and sets out candles and flowers at the site of the train crash and their graves every year on the anniversary. Every year.
When Susan turns twenty six she feels like she could scream. She’s losing something and she doesn’t know what. She can’t remember. There was something important and she can’t remember it. She can’t sleep and when she does her dreams are strange. Lions and forests and castles, chain mail and battle and cheering. One day she has a weird feeling when she looks in the mirror, and turns around, somehow expecting to see a scar stretching across the back of her left arm. It’s not there and she’s both unsettled that it’s not there and unsettled that she expected something to be.
Her sisters and brothers left her behind and she’s forgetting something, and sometimes she feels like they’re connected. Susan doesn’t feel like she’s lived for years, since the accident, and sometimes she feels like it’s all connected.
Sometimes she looks off the edges of bridges and wonders if she could follow.
She’s been having weird dreams and one day when her scarless arm is really bothering her, she takes a nap and has one of her dreams, and wakes up in the middle of it and grabs a piece of paper and scribbles on it before slipping under again. When she wakes up properly, she reads it.
Battle with some bad giants. Didn’t want Lucy to waste serum on me when there were others more injured.
Susan goes to check her arm again, the scar isn’t there, and she rips up the paper and throws it away. She doesn’t have a clue what she's doing.
She’s fired from one of her jobs. She gets another temp one. Susan never went to college. She was too interested in partying before the accident and too devastated after.
Susan starts to write on more scraps of paper, that she’s forgetting something, that remembering is driving her crazy, that her siblings left her behind for something but she doesn’t know what. It’s stupid, she tells herself. They died years ago. She has to let go.
She has a vivid dream of standing next to Peter and Edmund and Lucy when they were younger, happier, still teenagers. She holds a bow and arrow and shoots down an apple from over a garden wall (she’s never shot a bow before in her life).
Susan would get a therapist but she doesn’t have the money.
She thinks she was in a shooting contest with a gnome? And she writes that down, because for reasons she can’t explain it feels so vitally important that she does. And she keeps going, she keeps writing things down.
Santa was real and he stopped for us
We were kings and queens for years
A mouse lost his tail and got it back again
A lion died for Edmund
At some point Susan remembers the afternoon when she and her siblings all had great fun pretending there was a world in the back of the closet for hours. The storyline and the mini-world all match up- but she doesn’t know why her mind is getting stuck on all the imagined details of that day now. She’s never heard of anything like this happening before, of a fantasy taking over someone’s life. Is she losing her mind?
The dreams are so vivid and incidents like thinking there should be a scar there when there isn’t one are happening more and more often. Susan feels like there’s something pressing against the walls of her mind straining to get out but she doesn’t know what it is. She still feels like she’s forgotten something.
It crosses her mind eventually that maybe that afternoon didn’t go as she remembers it, that they didn’t all curl up in a closet together and talk their way through an imagined adventure. But the thought that her memories are wrong, that something else happened that she doesn’t remember is...unsettling. And impossible. For all that she wishes whatever she’s waiting for could get a move on, Susan is grounded, or she tries to be.
Her memories could be wrong. Her memories could be wrong. Her memories could be wrong- No, no no they can’t be. She knows the difference between fantasy and reality. She knows! They all sat in the closet and had a marvelous time, they created a fantastical world and formed a memory of a better era that she still treasures, because she knows what happened that day. If she tries, she can still feel the wood of the closet under her legs. It happened exactly like she remembers, because anything else would be ridiculous.
She’s at work anyway, writing out a description of an impossibly vast army, a witch and queen at it’s head, sunrise touching a cracked stone table, a noble lion coming back to life, when someone else sees what she’s writing. They ask if she came up with it herself and she stammers out an answer (why, yes, I did) (because of course she came up with it, it’s imaginary) and they tell her she should be a writer.
Susan takes the idea to heart.
It doesn’t quite fit, it doesn’t quite feel like that’s what she’s looking for, but she tells herself that maybe it’ll help. There’s a longing in her chest for something , and she was writing it all down anyway. Maybe it’ll help.
The dreams are blurry and nonstop and confusing, no matter how vivid. She remembers almost nothing when she tries to think about them upon waking; what she does recall comes only in flashes. She doesn’t even remember the name they came up with for their imaginary land.
But the dreams aren’t stopping. And maybe writing will help.
She scrounges up the money to afford a small writing class and starts going. It’s difficult (she never had an interest in writing before) and she’s downright horrible at the start at coming up with her own ideas that didn’t just appear in her dreams, but she tries anyway and slowly gets better.
Her memory for dreams gets better, too. Soon she’s writing paragraphs instead of just sentences. She doesn’t want to think about what any of this might mean; she doesn’t even know how she got into this mess in the first place.
She begins to write, begins to fall in love with it, shoves everything inside her out onto the page until she has stacks of disorganized dream-records (or whatever they are)
And she’s 27 when she remembers that it was real. The coats, the wood, the back of the closet fade away and instead she remembers a curved wooden bow in her hands, warm furs and regal fabric draped on her shoulders, wild earth under her feet. Susan sits down hard in the kitchen.
That night, she goes into her backyard and screams for Aslan until her voice is hoarse and her neighbors are furious.
No one answers.