March 10, 2005 § 1 Comment
Ok, I hope you guys aren’t gonna be mad, but I must confess up front that this is a far as I have gotten.I know exactly where I’m going with this, but I’m not sure *how* it’s going to get there right now. We’re talking a major bout of writer’s block. Hopefully, posting like this will be incentive to write more. Hopefully. hehe.
Chapt 2 Darla
The next morning, Susan had found her sea legs and as long as she stayed above deck, she felt fine. She hadn’t noticed any children her age getting on board the day before, so she decided to wander around to see if she might find some.
Her search led her to the prow of the ship, where she stood and let the salty spray whip her hair and sting her face. It was such an exhilarating feeling that she eyed the railing, contemplating what it might be like to climb it.
“I would never think about climbing a boat railing.”
Startled, Susan looked behind her and saw a girl, slightly smaller than herself, but about her own age. She had long curly blonde hair pulled back in a velvet bow. The white frilly dress and blue sash that matched the one in her hair was obviously quite expensive, and she held herself with an almost imperial bearing.
Susan had always been called a great beauty, and she knew she was very pretty, but next to this girl’s finery, she felt rather plain.
“It’s far too dangerous and every well-bred person knows that it is simply not done.” She approached the spot next to Susan with these words and cast a sidelong glance at the taller girl. She spoke with an American accent, but in a rather affected tone. Susan stared in wonder at this bold child and suddenly felt quite ridiculous for no apparent reason.
“My name, “ she announced, “is Darla Dietz.” She raised an eyebrow pointedly at Susan.
“Oh, ah,” Susan stammered, “I’m Susan. Susan Pevensie.”
The girl looked Susan over from head to toe as if sizing her up and then nodded when her perusal was done. Her face seemed to say, “I’ve seen better, but you’ll do.”
“You’re British, aren’t you.” It was more a statement of fact than a question.
“Yes, I’m from London.”
“I thought so. I could tell just by the way you were standing here. Only a Brit would think about climbing on a ship rail.”
Susan knew she should have felt insulted by the girl’s words and condescending manner, but she felt squeamish and tongue-tied under this Darla’s piercing gaze.
“Well Susan Pevensie, I have a great secret, but if you’ll be my special friend, I will tell you.”
Susan nodded, still rather dumbstruck by the whole encounter.
Darla moved her head in close and in a conspiratorial tone whispered, “Tonight, my father and I will dine at the Captain’s table!”
In spite of herself, Susan was impressed. She had always dreamt of receiving such honors, even though in Narnia she had dined with kings and dignitaries and even Aslan himself. But Narnia seemed so far away on this boat on the Atlantic, and she had none of the finery, nor felt any of the queenly grace she had possessed there. Here she was just a girl, and subject to all the girl rules.
“Daddy is a very important person. We travel all over the world, just him and me. He’s an art dealer and knows everything about paintings and sculptures and all that. Personally, I find it all so tedious.” She sighed heavily and rolled her eyes in a most dramatic fashion, which for some strange reason was fascinating to Susan.
“My father is going on a lecture tour of America,” Susan began.
“Is he getting a lot of money for it?” Darla interrupted.
“I– Well, I…” Susan stammered, completely taken aback by the question.
“My daddy makes just tons of money and has loads of pictures and pieces from all over the world. Do you want to see some?”
Susan’s fascination was quickly becoming swallowed up in disgust, but her curiosity was piqued. She didn’t think this girl would at all make a very nice playmate, but it would be nice to see real art. Besides, the trip could get lonely if one did not make friends.
“I’d love to,” she said.
Darla led the way down several flights of clanky metal stairs, past the living quarters and through several heavy metal doors. Eventually, all that could be heard were their hard shoes clanging on the shiny metal floors above the churning pulse of the ship’s engines.
It soon occurred to Susan that they were far from anyone else, and that they were probably somewhere they ought not be.
“Are you sure we should be down here? I don’t think–” she began
Darla turned and faced her; her large blue eyes looked piercingly at Susan. Her face expressed full innocence, but Susan sensed something deeper.
“No one has said we can’t be down here, and no one is here to stop us. If anyone asks, we’ll just say we got lost going to the bathroom.” Her face broke into a beaming smile and her eyes glinted with a mischievous light. “Besides, isn’t it fun? We’re on an adventure with danger round every turn! C’mon, let’s go!”
With that, she bolted down the corridor.
Susan did not like the suggestion of a lie, but she liked the idea of standing here alone even less. She didn’t think she would be able to find her way back through all of the twists and turns they had taken. But deep down, Susan rather liked the idea that she was a party to something slightly naughty, and the possibility of being caught sent a thrill down her back. So she ran off after her new friend.
Darla was stopped in front of a large door that read “Cargo Hold.”
“This is it. This is where all of Daddy’s paintings are. Only, he doesn’t call them paintings. They’re ‘Acquisitions.’”
It sounded like a grand word for paintings to Susan, and she turned the word over in her mind, tasting it.
“Maybe I’ll sell Acquisitions one day,” she mused aloud.
“Maybe, if you like dumb old pictures,” Darla said as she heaved open the heavy metal door, which through the carelessness of a hasty crew member, had been left unlocked.
Susan chose to ignore the comment. It seemed to her that Darla made lots of thoughtless, slightly rude and insulting remarks, but she wondered if it wasn’t because the was alone much of the time.
“She needs a friend, “ Susan reasoned. “Perhaps I could be a good influence on her.”
Susan followed Darla into the dark echoing cavern of the cargo hold. By the light from the open door, they made their way farther in. A rat ran from behind some crates and Susan screamed.
“Shh!” hissed Darla. “Do you want to get us caught? They’ll make us walk the plank for sure.”
“I’m sorry,” Susan whispered meekly. If anything, Darla had imagination. Maybe she could tell her about Narnia? Susan immediately dismissed the thought. She barely knew this girl and most certainly did not want to open herself up to ridicule. Besides, Narnia was real, and not to be trifled with. You had to have been there to understand.
“Here it is!” Darla was looking at a large crate with many labels on it. “That’s Daddy’s office in New York.”
She began to look around for a crowbar or something with which to pry the crate open when they suddenly heard clanging footsteps growing closer and louder.
“Oh help!” Darla squeaked as she grabbed Susan’s arm tightly.
“What!” Susan croaked as the girls clasped one another.
“’Oo’s down ‘ere?” came a loud voice. “I know I ‘eard somefing, so don’t fink you can ‘ide from me!”
With that, bright light flooded the cavern as the overhead lights blazed on, revealing two startled girls in the middle of the room.
“Susan how could you?” Mrs. Pevensie asked an hour later. Susan and Darla had been returned to their respective quarters and their parents had been subjected to a stern lecture on the importance of keeping an eye on one’s children, especially when aboard ship.
“It’s not seemly to be running about the lower decks and rifling through the cargo. But more importantly, what if you had fallen down or gotten hurt? Any number of terrible things could have happened to you.”
“I’m sorry, Mother and Father. Darla wanted to show me real art from other countries. I didn’t realize it meant going down there.”
“Perhaps this Darla is not such an ideal playmate, “ said her father.
Even though this echoed the sentiments of her first impression of the girl, Susan’s loyalty reared up.
“She’s just bored and lonely, Father. She doesn’t have any brothers and sisters like I do. She needs a friend. And maybe I could help keep her out of trouble.”
“Like you did this afternoon?”
Susan looked at her shoes.
“I’m sorry, Susan, but I don’t think you should go around with Darla Dietz. She seems highly suspect to me. One can tell by looking at her that she’s spoiled and petty and you are too sweet natured to come under her influence. I don’t want to see you associating with that girl again.”
“That’s my final word, Susan. Now I suggest you go to bed, you won’t be going out the rest of the evening.”
“Yes, Father,” she said dejectedly. Oh well. She hadn’t really liked her anyway, and she knew that Darla could cause quite a stir if she put her mind to it. But she could not help feeling somehow drawn to her…
Susan lay in bed turning over the day’s events in her mind. Then she remembered the look on Darla’s face when the lights went on. And smiled.