Wednesday, April 28, 2010

As Retold by Sadako: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Lucy Looks Into a Wardrobe

Once upon a time there were four children named Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They were sent away to live with an old professor in the country during the war because of the air raids. He lived with his housekeeper, Mrs. McCready and three servants. (Their names were Ivy, Bridget, and Katie, but being lower class and almost surely Irish, they don't much matter.)

The first night, Peter said, "We've fallen on our feet all right. That old chap will let us do anything we like and this is a jolly fine house. I can't wait to go exploring outside tomorrow."

"Huzzah for the blitzkrieg!" shouted Lucy, "I hope it lasts at least a fortnight!"

But the next day it was raining. "Oh, it would rain," grumped Edmund.

"Do stop grumbling, Ed. We're well off. There's a wireless, plenty of books, and I spied a tube of lipstick downstairs," said Susan.

"None of that for me. I'm exploring," said Peter, and they all agreed.

They set off around the house and came to a room with a great wardrobe. The others lost interest but Lucy, the youngest, decided to explore. She went inside, taking care to leave not to shut the door behind her (for all strong, right minded, Christian god loving people know not to shut themselves in a wardrobe). The fur coats smelled wonderful.

Tea with Mr. Tumnus

Lucy felt around for the back of the wardrobe but she couldn't find it. The air got colder as she went back and she felt something wet on the ground. Snow! She stepped into a snowy world, and noticed a lamp post. Curious and curiouser.

A faun holding an umbrella and packages under his arm was walking by quickly. When he saw her he gave a great gulp and dropped the packages. "Are--are you...a Daughter of Eve?"

"Why," said Lucy, "I'm only a Capricorn. What are you?"

"You--you're human? A girl?"

"Yes," she nodded. She tried to explain where she had come from but the faun who called himself Mr. Tumnus didn't seem to understand any better than her. But he told her that this land was called Narnia. He brought her back to his home.

There was a roaring fire, sardines on toast, cozy armchairs, and the occasion was only marred by the lack of botulism (the faun had just eaten the last of the steak and kidney pie). Mr. Tumnus told her stories about Narnia as it had been in the olden days. There were stag hunts and treasure hunts with the old dwarf and sometimes Bacchus himself would come to visit and there would be revelry for weeks. But now the White Witch ruled and it was always winter, but never Christmas. Only the occasional bout of Hanukkah--and who wants that?

Lucy said that she expected she had better be going.

The Faun suddenly burst into sobs. "I'm such a bad, bad Faun!"

"It's all right," said Lucy pleasantly. "I can hardly even see your areolae when you lift your arms like that."

Mr. Tumnus told her the truth. That he was in the service of the White Witch and that he'd promised her he would hand over any Daughter of Eve or Son of Adam to her. But Lucy told him, "If you let me go now and wear sweaters when company's over, you won't be such a bad faun."

Back home, Lucy tried to tell the other children about the land of Narnia, but they wouldn't believe her.

Edmund Meets a Cougar

Edmund especially jeered at her. But one day during a particularly ripping game of hide and seek, Edmund saw Lucy go into the wardrobe. Having the idea of making fun of her, he followed her in, foolishly bothering not to leave the wardrobe door open (as all right thinking children of the British Empire know to do). To his shock, he realized that there was snow on the ground and he was in the land of Narnia.

A sledge pulled up, with a dwarf driving reindeer. Behind him sat a beautiful white skinned woman, more gorgeous than any he had ever seen. "You, boy," she said. "Are you a Son of Adam?" Edmund explained that he was a boy.

"This may wreck all," she said to herself. "But he is only one, and I'm sure I can destroy him quite easily if I need to." She smiled at Edmund. "Would you like a ride on my sledge?"

Edmund frowned. The woman's words were a bit alarming. But she smiled so invitingly, and let her beautiful fur fall a bit off her shoulder, and he immediately climbed on. "Rather!"

She offered him anything he wanted to eat. He chose Turkish Delight and the dwarf brought him some. He gobbled it up eagerly for you see, this was enchanted Turkish Delight. In real life little else can compare to it, but perhaps opium smoked by Chinamen in far off lands or a good helping of bangers and mash. The beautiful light skinned woman said that she was the Queen of Narnia, and that she would make Edmund a king at her castle. But first he would need to bring his siblings there so they could be courtiers. Edmund agreed to all this and more. She let him off the sledge, and he ran off.

He ran into Lucy who'd been having a lovely visit with Mr. Tumnus. They'd talked about goblins and wood nymphs and dwarfs and other whimsical, enchanting things that I shan't go into--else I won't have anything to write about if this book gets picked up and made into a multi million dollar grossing franchise! Lucy thought it was smashing that he knew, too. But when they got home, Edmund refused to tell the others that he had been in Narnia, and instead laughed at Lucy.

A Day with Beavers

Lucy thought no one would believe her--until something very important happened a few weeks later. The children were trying to hide from the housekeeper giving tours to grown ups who wanted to see the Professor's house. They went into the wardrobe and suddenly they were all in Narnia. Right away Peter apologized for not believing Lucy and she forgave him.

"Well, what shall we do first?" asked Susan.

"Let's look up Mr. Tumnus," said Lucy excitedly. "I'm sure he won't mind if we all crash." But at Mr. Tumnus's house, no one was there and the sweet little house was in shambles more befitting the lifestyle of a hobbit than of a faun. There was a note on the ground describing Mr. Tumnus's arrest.

"Oh no!" cried Lucy. The children weren't sure what to do when they spied a beaver in the woods. The beaver introduced himself with the charmingly original name Mr. Beaver and told them that Mr. Tumnus had informed him about them before his arrest. He and his wife, Mrs. Beaver, would help the children.

"Aslan is on the move," Mr. Beaver told them. The children all felt a rippling of excitement move through them. Lucy felt like she did watching a particularly good Guy Fawkes Day bonfire. Peter felt as he had when he'd read about the British quashing the Indians in the 1857 rebellion.

"Is Aslan a man?" asked Susan.

"A man?" said Mr. Beaver scornfully. "He's the son of God. And a spirit. And human. All simultaneously, though--don't ask how. It's complicated." Then when Mrs. Beaver gave him a look, he amended. "Er, no, he's actually a lion. But a great and terrible lion. He will put everything to right. As legend goes, once two Sons of Adams and two Daughters of Eve sit upon the thrones at Cair Paravel, all will be as it should. That's you children!"

They asked next about the Queen.

"No, there isn't a drop of human blood in her," said Mr. Beaver. "She's really a witch. She comes of your father Adam's first wife, who was part Jinn, and quite beastly--wanting equality instead of sitting and sewing for Adam all day. And on the other side, she's of the giants. She'll be wanting to kill you children to prevent the prophecy."

Suddenly, they realized Edmund had gone. Mr. Beaver said, "He had the shifty eyed look of someone who had been with the Witch and eaten her food."

"And his skin looked a bit swarthier," Mrs. Beaver added.

There was no time to waste. As soon as Edmund found the Witch, she would be after them. The children and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver went off at once. They took shelter in a hiding place the beavers knew of and fell fast asleep.

Aslan is Nearer

All of a sudden, the children heard a sound. The beavers scampered up and then came down and told the children that Father Christmas was here. That meant the Queen's power was lessening: Christmas! Not Ramadan or Solstice, or an awful pagan holiday like that, but Christmas. Father Christmas stood before them. He wasn't the jolly, fat man they'd seen pictures of as children. He was tall and quite solemn.

Bu then Santa smiled. "I've got gifts for you." For Peter, a sword of truth and a shield of justice to be used in the battle to come. For Lucy, an elixir that could be sprinkled over the wounded to make them smell better--and might even do them a bit of good health wise. For Susan, a bow and arrow. "Shall I use it in the battle?" she asked.

"No, it's mostly for show. Battle is ugly when women fight. Use this instead if you're in danger." Santa handed her a beautifully hand crafted rape whistle.

The children peered in eagerly at the rest of the toys in Santa's sack--guillotines and vials of acid and heaps and heaps of grenades, for good little boys and girls in other faraway magical lands. Then Father Christmas raised his hand and was off.

But you must be wondering about Judas--er, Edmund. He had been growing angrier and more resentful, feeling that the others were ignoring him, which wasn't true of course. They were simply more interested in the adorable anthropomorphic rodents, as we all would be. But Edmund left. He tore at his hair with his hands, thinking, "Oh, I say! I'd sell Lucy to an orgy of satyrs for some Turkish Delight!" In no time, he was at the Witch's house where a great many animals had been turned to stone.

The Queen gave Edmund no more enchanted Turkish Delight, however. Instead, upon hearing his news, she knew it was time to set off to find the rest of the children. She put a rope around Edmund and made him pull the sleigh. She did have odd taste, didn't she?

But it's too frightening to think of. Let's turn to the rest of the children. For them, it was time to meet Aslan. If it were possible for something to be both good and terrible, then Aslan was. The others went off to prepare a great feast, while Aslan decided to speak to Peter.

"Come, Son of Adam, I will show you a far of sight of the castle where you are to be High King." Aslan gestured to a beautiful castle far off in the distance. "That is where you shall be king, and your brother and sisters shall be king and queens as well. We're getting your throne and scepter set up for you by next week, and I'll have Mr. Beaver erase the scrolls of the last king."

All of a sudden there was a loud noise--Susan's whistle! There was chaos as people ran about. Peter looked up to see that a large wolf had chased Susan up a tree. He ran after it and slayed the beast using his new sword. In relief, Susan came down. Peter felt pretty shaky himself. And I won't say there wasn't a great deal of hugging and kissing on both sides--though I won't go into it, being British and all.

In the distance there were other wolves running off. Aslan told the rest of his followers to go after them to find the White Witch and rescue Edmund.

"You have forgotten to clean your sword," said Aslan to Peter. Peter blushed and bent to wipe it in the grass. "Here," said Aslan gravely, dropping a packet of wet wipes and some antibacterial sword sanitizer at Peter's feet. "Since you took it out of the original packaging, you'll have to be careful. Remember always to clean your sword, Son of Man."

Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time

Finally, Edmund had been rescued but the Witch still lurked. She came to Aslan the next day, though, telling him that Edmund was hers. All traitors were hers to dispose of, just as the Deep Magic decreed. She had filled out all her forms in triplicate, too. "But Aslan," Susan argued, "isn't there something we can do to work against it?"

"To work against forms filled out in triplicate?" Aslan looked at her with something like a frown on his face, if lions can be said to frown. And nobody ever made that suggestion to him again.

Aslan walked with the Witch. And finally they came to an agreement. Edmund was to be released.

That night, Susan and Lucy couldn't sleep. They felt something awful would happen to Aslan. They went outside and found Aslan. "My children, why are you following me?"

"We felt the need to be close to you, O Aslan," said Lucy. "I can't explain it."

Aslan said, "Very well." But soon he said, "Now you must leave me." Susan and Lucy didn't go any further but they did watch.

But oh the things they saw! Such evil looking monstrous things that I won't describe because if I did the grown-ups wouldn't let you read this book. And because I don't know how. Finally, the The Witch killed Aslan. Susan and Lucy cried bitterly.

Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time (or Aslan and the Legal Loophole)

But a few hours later, the girls heard a sound and saw Aslan before them. He explained, "What the Witch didn't know about was a loophole in the Deep Magic. When a willing victim is killed in a traitor's stead on the Stone Table, it will crack and death will work backward. Narnia's legal team of centaurs and wood nymphs found that out at the eleventh hour, and as we speak our satyrs are preparing a suit that will have the White Queen wrapped up in litigation for all eternity. Come, children!"

Aslan made all the stone creatures whole again. And then all the creatures he had brought back joined together and hunted down the battle where the Narnians were fighting the White Witch. The dogs and lions and wolves were going full speed with the others following and the children and smaller animals on the backs of the four legged creatures. It was just like an English fox hunt (but with more noise and less tweed).

On the battlefield, Aslan fought the Witch. Soon after she was killed, the battle ended. Edmund had been wounded badly--he'd fought his way to the witch and destroyed her wand. "Lucy," said Aslan. "The elixir."

Lucy put a few drops in her brother's mouth, her fingers trembling. "There are other people wounded," said Aslan as Lucy stared into Edmund's face hoping to see the elixir work.

"Yes, I know, just wait a minute," said Lucy, cross.

"Daughter of Eve #2," said Aslan. "Many others are at the point of death. Must more people die for Edmund?"

"I say," said Edmund, looking up, "you're going to hold that over my head for my entire reign at Narnia, aren't you?"

"Until Daughter of Eve #1 leaves her nylons drying in the throne room, yes," said Aslan.

The Hunting of the White Stag

Now that the Witch was dead, good was returning to Narnia. Of course, there were a few werewolves here and there to stamp out, a rumor of a hag now and again, or stories of a dwarf who was swarthier than normal. But in the end all evil was stamped out. And these two Kings and two Queens made good laws and liberated young dwarfs and young satyrs from being sent to school and shouted "Rule Narnia" at random intervals. Aslan himself wandered off--after all, he is a wild lion and doesn't like to be tied down or asked, "Where are you going? When will you be back? Why don't you ever call on us? Are you remembering to comb your mane?"

One day years later the two Kings and two Queens were out hunting the white stag who granted a wish if he were caught. Soon they came upon a lamp post that looked familiar. They went a little further and instead of going through trees, they were going through coats and falling out the other end of the wardrobe as four regular boys and girls.

They thought they ought to explain to the Professor the absence of the four coats they'd taken when they first entered Narnia--they were, after all, sons and daughters of empire. After listening, the Professor didn't tell them the tales of Narnia were the ramblings of a half mad half insane idiot. Perhaps indeed they would one day return to Narnia. After all, once a King of Narnia, always a King of Narnia!

And, the children agreed, it had been the best war related hol ever.

Off topic, but just wanted to thank everyone who's re-tweeted or mentioned my blog to other people--my goal this year is to increase the readership even more, and every bit helps!