Susan Pevensie was one of the four children in C. S. Lewis’ classic Narnia Chronicles. One reason I enjoyed these books as a teen is because I recognized that the Lion Aslan was a Christ figure.
Susan first appears in “The Wardrobe” book. Thereafter she is mentioned in “The Horse and His Boy”, and appears in “Prince Caspian.” In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” we learn that she has gone to America with her parents. Lewis also tells us that Susan was considered the pretty one of the family although she was no good at school.
In the final Narnian installment (The Last Battle) all the children are back in Narnia, having died in a train collision. The only one missing is Susan. The reader is informed that Susan is no longer a friend of Narnia. According to Eustace Scrubb she now asserts that Narnia was just “funny games” they used to play as children.
Whatever happened to Susan? Her fate has haunted me and I wanted closure. The following fictional snippet is me indulging myself. I’m sure Lewis and Narnia fans will disapprove. Nevertheless, here it is…
Susan Pevensie’s Last Days:
The face staring back at her in the ornate mirror seemed like someone else’s. The hair wasn’t its original color, the skin wrinkled and loose, and the runny make-up gave the face a somewhat macabre look. After what seemed decades, Susan dug out old black and white photographs of herself and her family. The photos lay haphazardly strewn and tear stained on the unmade bed behind her. That happy girl, captured in a time long-forgotten, wasn’t the one looking back at her now.
Another convulsion of tears – she needed a fresh handkerchief.
There was a ring at the doorbell downstairs. She couldn’t be bothered seeing visitors just now – or ever, for that matter. Emily the maid would get the door and hopefully tell whoever it was that she wasn’t seeing anyone. After a brief silence, Emily announced that Cecil Scrubb was here to see her. Bother! Susan determined that this was going to be a properly polite yet very short visit.
Cecil Ernest Scrubb sat opposite her as they sipped tea which Emily had poured in little china cups. He was an odd looking man, she thought. His clothes were clean but very dated. Scrubb was a thin, smallish, balding man with eyes that looked too large for his head. Susan tried hard not to notice the prominent Adam’s apple moving up and down as he talked. She found it rather off-putting.
Cecil Scrubb surely wasn’t handsome. He was also as socially awkward as his cousin Eustace Clarence Scrubb had been. Yet he’d gone into the ministry, married a beautiful woman and had four children. “How odd!” she thought. Susan hadn’t seen him in what seemed decades, though.
She was grateful that none of the preliminary small talk involved her divorce. The last thing she wanted was to dredge that up again. Susan just wanted to be left alone. But here Scrubb was. They both knew why. She had terminal cancer and she’d come back to England to die.
When she was about to give him the cue that the visit had run its course, Scrubb suddenly began talking about Eustace and her brothers and sister. She seemed unable to stop him from rambling on. They were all long dead after a horrible train accident [The last Battle]. Susan was horrified at her compliant submission in listening to this torture. Years ago she would have made him stop, or even thrown him out. Perhaps this was an effect of the cancer.
Cecil Scrubb’s story:
Young Cecil had noticed the sudden change in his older cousin Eustace. It had become conspicuous after Lucy and Edmund Pevensie stayed with the Scrubbs. Of course Eustace could still be a prig at times, but he’d changed in a profound way. Cecil liked his cousin’s new friend Jill Pole too.
He recalled how Eustace, Jill and the Pevensies often huddled away together. Whenever they did this, they came out behaving like children who had just opened their Christmas presents. He wanted to know why. One day he managed to hide in the wardrobe of one of the bedrooms where they were having their talks.
His heart had burned within him as he heard about Aslan, and he could have listened for hours. He knew it had to be all true. Unfortunately his allergy got the better of him. The dust made him sneeze and the jig was up. While they were all quite angry at this intrusion, Edmund took pity.
“Edmund was especially kind to me,” said Cecil. “He often reminded me that he didn’t deserve kindness, but that Aslan had died for him. Of course I now know that He died for us all. Even Eustace got very grave when that subject came up.”
He continued, “It was either Lucy or Edmund (he was so kind) who told me that I ought to know Aslan as He is here [The Voyage of the Dawn Treader]. Providentially, it was before….well, the train…”
“You know it was all made up nonsense. It was a diversion from the war,” Susan shot back weakly.
“You know it wasn’t, Susan,” he countered gently. “You have been thinking of Him too, haven’t you? I’m only here because of a series of providential events. Without knowing you were back in England, I felt a prompting in my spirit to ask after you. And here I am.”
“Even if it were all true,” Susan conceded amid a fresh outburst of tears, “I’m no longer a friend of Aslan. I betrayed Him years ago.
“A fantasy cannot be betrayed. Your tears suggest you know it’s true. I remember Jill telling me how they wanted to visit Narnia so that they could escape school bullies [The Silver Chair]. Yet it was Aslan who was really calling them all along. He’s calling you now.”
“It’s too late! And don’t tell me about Edmund’s forgiveness. He didn’t know Aslan when he betrayed us! Edmund had an excuse. I knew Aslan and still walked away!” Susan sobbed uncontrollably.
Scrubb paused for a few moments. He was either deliberating on what to say next, or waiting for Susan to compose herself. Then he continued.
“None of us have excuses. Edmund once said something to me which makes a lot of sense now. Your name came up and he referred to your coronation at Cair Paravel. Aslan announced then that, ‘Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen.’ [The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe] The world lulled you away for a while. Now He is calling you back. Will you answer Him?”
Cecil Scrubb slowly rose from his chair and placed a small parcel of books on the table in front of her. “I’ve said enough. It’s time for me to go, dear Susan. Do think about these things. It isn’t too late.”
Two weeks later, Isabel Scrubb took a phone call for her husband. It was Emily, “I’m sorry to inform you that Susan passed away in her sleep last night.”
Emily had found Susan lying back against her pillows. Her reading glasses were on the bed table, along with the books he’d left with her. There was an envelope with Cecil’s name on it. It contained a letter which Emily read out.
My dearest Cecil,
Of course you were right! He hunted me down relentlessly. One can’t get away from Him. I know this now. But, oh, how happy these few days have been! What joy!
Thank you for the books. Dear Mr. CHS taught me so much about His Grace. I’ve read them all – in between my sleeps. My body is failing quickly and I’m quite ready to Cross the River to see my Dear One’s Face again. I won’t say I’m not afraid, yet I so long to see Him.
I expect it will be my last night in this tired old body. I write hurriedly as I find sleep overtaking me. Thank you for coming to visit, Cecil. We were never close as children. But we have much catching up to do when we see each other again.
May He bless you in all things!
“Is everything alright, dear?” Isabel asked after her husband finally hung up the phone.
“Everything is glorious,” he answered with a broad smile.
From a small child I was taught that Christ died on the cross for my sins. I understood that my eternal destiny hinged on this fact. Yet I still managed to walk away from this truth for many years. I got myself hopelessly lost in this world. Left to my own devices I’d still be lost.
But God relentlessly hunted me down and brought me home. He is faithful when we are not.
To Him be all the glory!
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39