Peter Pan: A Novel

the continuation of Peter Pan, in which Peter is haunted by visions of growing up and falling in love

Primary Studies November 7, 2007

Filed under: chapter three,peter pan — snarkytea @ 6:02 am
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{ 1,416 words}

            Peter’s first day of school was somewhat terrifying and quite a bigger challenge than he would have thought. First of all, he hadn’t a sheet of paper to save his life, nor so much as a pencil, so he was grateful for the other students, who took to Peter easily and lent him what he needed before he had to ask. All of them seemed to know something he didn’t about himself and why he was here, but that was no surprise, seeing as Peter really knew nothing at all outside of Neverland. He wandered from class to class in a sort of haze, and when people spoke to him, he tried to respond but barely understood their language.

            There were new things to discover, but most of them were useless. For example, writing and English studies. Peter was sure he’d never heard of English previously, and he fumbled his way through writing, which was a silly practice of drawing circles and slashes across a parchment and hoping it came out how it appeared on the board at the front of the class. Peter was good at mimicking what he saw, so ‘taking notes’ as they called it came easily to him, though he couldn’t read a word of it to save his life.

            In another class, arithmetic equations were scrawled across the board, and though Peter was even better at taking notes in this class, he had even less of an idea why he was doodling such odd shapes and lines or what it all meant when strung together.

            There were many new terms to learn, not leach of which were the way in which the other boys teased one another and spoke and chatted. Peter was quite enamored with their easy language, with the way they said things like “We’d better hurry” and “This costs such and such” and “Curfew isn’t till this time or that time” and best of all when they cursed. Peter had never heard of cursing in his life, nor did he know what any of the words meant, but there was something rushed and heated about the eager, angry way they came out, and Peter was attracted to anything a little dangerous.

            As he left his History of the World course, a stack of weathered hand-me-down books clutched to his chest, he exited the large brick school building and found it was snowing. With a shudder, Peter found himself bumping elbows with Theo, who seemed to have been waiting in the snow for him.

            “Alright, Peter?” he asked with a grin, taking some of the books away from Peter’s armload to assist with the heavy weight. “How was your first day of school?”

            “Was that school?” Peter asked and grinned when he made Theo laugh.

            “What did you think you were doing all day, learning ballet?” Gesturing to the small alcove across the dark alleyway that would lead them home, he led Peter on and talked all the while. “I suppose you’ve been home schooled until now? That would explain your emotionless and shock. Did they give you paper and things?”

            “No, but some other boys lent me some things, like these pens.” Peter pulled some pens and pencils out of various pockets, and Theo had to wonder how deep his old pockets had been.

            “Well, I’ve got some extras from my allowance that I can loan you as well, and I’ll sneak some from Madame’s stash, so you’ll be set for the rest of the week.”

            “The rest of the week?” Peter asked, thinking that sounded like an awful long time indeed to be drawing those shapes and taking notes all the time.

            Theo held the door for Peter as they entered the small dwelling Peter remembered from the morning breakfast. In the inner foyer, other boys were bustling to remove their boots, coats, gloves, and scarves, and Peter felt a little silly only removing his shoes, though he didn’t see why that was necessary except it was nice not to wear them anymore. In the foyer were twenty-five distinct coat hooks at one side of a green-wallpapered wall and on the other a closet, where several boys were storing their extra jackets and things that wouldn’t fit on the hooks. Straight ahead was the staircase they had descended that morning for breakfast, and Peter thought it looked ever more oddly familiar than from just one romp down it. To his right was a small room where several older women were seated, drinking tea and reading small black books in the dim lighting.

            “Those are Madame’s sisters,” Theo explained in a whisper, leaning down to Peter’s level and nudging him. “Best not to stare or try and rouse them from their studies.”

            “Are they in school, too?” Peter asked, thinking it quite resembled what he’d been through all day, with the exception that they didn’t have a blackboard in front of them.

            “Lord no,” Theo chuckled, shaking his head and pushing Peter along. “Well, I suppose you could call it studying, but they’re merely finding new verses of the Bible for contemplation.”

            Though Peter didn’t know what the Bible was, he felt for once it might not be wise to ask any questions about it.

            Theo led the way up the stairs and gestured for Peter to enter the nursery room he remembered from earlier, while Theo himself went away several doors down and shut the door behind him. Feeling slightly left out, unsure what to do, Peter sat down on the bed in his room, and saw that the sheets had been tucked for him. It was a strangely homey thing to have had occurred, and he wondered if his mother had done it. It was an odd thing to wonder of course, but it made Peter feel safe and content to know a mother had washed his sheets, tucked them for him, and would do so hopefully in the days to come. He wondered suddenly if she would come to kiss him goodnight and to tuck him in as well, and knew he should like that too if she would do so for him.

            Glancing up, beyond the boys who were talking amongst themselves, Peter saw the snowflakes glistening on the window’s ledge of the open sill and felt suddenly quite lonely. He had forgotten his reason for coming to this place, had forgotten most everything by now, and was trying hard to wrap his mind around where he’d been before this morning, when the mattress shifted and he felt a warm weight settle beside him.

            Tiger Lily was his immediate and happy thought, but he was greeted with Theo’s strong voice instead of Tiger Lily’s.

            “You alright, Peter? Sorry, had to go and settle my things. I have my own room since I’m oldest, but sometimes I miss sleeping in here with the rest of the boys.” He glanced around with a sad smile. “It’s hard. I know it’s hard, being thrown in here and expected to mind your Ps and Qs like you really know everything when I’m sure you’ve never so much as a seen a nun before and probably never been forced to eat oatmeal for breakfast every day either. I know it’s tough, especially since you seem to have a past like mine, but it gets easier, it really does.” Theo patted Peter’s back gently, which made Peter swell with contentment. “So just take it slow. If you have questions, I’m here, so no worries, alright mate?”

            “No worries!” Peter mimicked with a warm smile. “I do have questions, too.”

            “Well then?” Theo asked, making himself comfortable on Peter’s bed.

            “What is arithmetic? And English? And what is the meaning of these shapes on the paper I doodled all day? And what is the Bible? And why don’t I have paper and pens? And –”

            “Good grief, Peter!” Theo laughed, half exasperated. “I don’t know how literal all that was supposed to be but…say, you don’t know how to read, do you?” At the look on Peter’s face, Theo flinched. “Oh… I didn’t know, of course, but nobody blames you, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of surely – lots of us don’t know how, and it took me years to master it, honestly, only now I’m one of the best and quickest readers in my year. I ought to be able to help you out, and you shouldn’t need to explain it to Madame. How does that sound?”

            “Superb!” Peter exclaimed.

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