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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The Nursery…continued {2} November 6, 2007

Filed under: chapter two,peter pan — snarkytea @ 6:24 am
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{ 1,663 words }

            “Oh, like the elf?” Theo chuckled, shaking his head. “Well, Peter, you are doing a sore job of tying your tie, so I suppose your mother always used to do it for you.” Noting Peter’s flinch as he took the tie and began to knot it, Theo bit his lower lip. “Sorry, mate. I know you’re new and all. I shouldn’t have teased you. Hell, I know how you feel. I lost my mother at your age, probably younger,” he added, judging by Peter’s height and slight weight, “and I really didn’t mean anything by it, but around here, you’ve got to really keep your chin up and try to overcome those kinds of thoughts.” He leaned in, giving the tie a firm tug to tighten. “Or you’ll be dead meat, as they say. There you are – all done. Now, let’s get down to breakfast and then I’ll show you to your school.” As they headed down the stairs, Theo continued to speak and Peter found the sound of his voice somewhat comforting. “You’ve never been yet, have you? It’s a real challenge, honestly, but a good one, starting in a new place and all, without knowing a single soul.”

            “A challenge?” Peter asked, finally intrigued enough to ask a question. The thought of a new challenge, something that was hard for everybody else to overcome, filled him with sudden delight.

            “Well, yeah,” Theo said, pulling Peter along down a hallway and into what had once been a sitting room but what had now been made into a dining room, complete with a long table. It wasn’t clear to Peter, but the whole room had the feel of something that had been demolished and rebuilt. It was vaguely familiar and yet so fresh to his mind that he was sure he’d never seen it before. “I mean, school is always a challenge, especially if you’re from another country, which no doubt you are. Swedish?”

            “What’s Swedish?” Peter asked. “If it’s something awful, I’m sure I’m not it, though if it’s pleasant, I might be inclined.”

            Theo gave him a once over, slightly taken aback, and then covered his mouth to keep from exploding with laughter. “Peter, you’re going to have to learn your manners and answer people straight away when they ask you a question,” he said through his amusement, still chuckling but trying to clear it away as they entered the dining area. He forced Peter to hold back and whispered in his ear, “There’s Madame. You’ll want to watch out for her. If she catches you in my clothes, she’ll holler something wicked, but as you’re new and she probably hasn’t caught on yet to your appearance, you should be safe. Just keep quiet and stay calm, and when you eat, make sure you’ve got your mouth closed.”

            “Mouth closed while I eat?” Peter gasped. “Where’s the fun in that?”

            “Shh, we’ll be seated now, so stay close to me and keep quiet.”

            Peeking around the corner, Peter was surprised to find around twenty or thirty boys waiting at various parts of a two-room-long Maplewood table. They were not rowdy or clamoring for attention or laughing – all of them stood behind a set chair, their hands behind their backs and proper postures all around. Every single boy wore the same thing, and the only real way to tell them apart was their eye and hair color, as well as various hairstyles, though most were tamer than Peter’s frazzled blonde curls. Upon the table sparkled settings of the finest silver, better than Captain Cutthroat had ever hoarded aboard his finest fleet, and soft velvet place settings marked out a spot for each of the boys, including Peter if he could count that high. And at the head of the long table sat an old French woman, with ancient lines drawn down her face and a tight-lipped, mirthless look upon her withered face. Dark bags hung under her vivid green eyes, which were trained upon Theo sternly.

            “You are late,” she said and waved them in.

            Theo grabbed the cuff of Peter’s sleeve and tugged him along to a seat at the table next to him, which had happened to be vacant for months, until now. “I am sorry, Madame,” Theo said quietly, bowing his head and pressing his own fingers over the back of the chair as the other boys had done. Finding it a very quaint and droll sort of game, Peter mimicked the action easily, thinking to himself that he did it quite better and faster than even Theo had managed.

            “I shall do the honors this morning,” Madame said, and without warning all heads bowed and all hands clasped in front of them. Peter followed suit of course, as he normally would playing follow the leader, though as Madame said morning grace, he couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable in her presence and he admittedly peeked with one eye to look at the old woman as she prayed. She looked a great deal like Captain Cutthroat to him, without the beard, mustache, and gold teeth, and she seemed incredibly frail, as if any moment she might collapse, though the line of her mouth told him she was strong and not old enough yet to wither.

            But looking at her, Peter felt sick. She was old. She had passed growing up and was now towards death, the skin at her neck droopy and elastic, and the lines along her cheeks, eyes, and mouth growing longer every day. Her wrists were skinny and brittle, and her fingers looked like hooks to him, her long nails doing wonders for his imagination. Worse of all was the fact that he could not see her hair from under her ________ (nun’s garment?) and it made her look like an aged queen set on her deathbed.

            “Amen,” she whispered with a nod, making motions at her chest, forehead, and shoulders, which the rest of the group, including Peter, copied eagerly. “You may be seated, boys, and enjoy your breakfast.”

            Peter nearly lunged for the empty bowels in front of them, but Theo steadied his hand before he could move, and luckily Madame had looked the other way to usher in several other nuns, who were several decades younger than Madame. Carrying trays of food, they gave each boy an equal amount of oatmeal, toast, and jam, and Peter found it quite disappointing that the jam was the only element of food that had color to it. He realized the last time he had eaten it was a phenomenal feast of blue and yellow and even silver fruits, nuts, and grains, but all of that seemed ages away from him now, and it was even starting to get hard to remember what exact color the chocolate gumdrops were he’d had for dessert the previous evening. Or was that a week ago?

            After breakfast, Madame excused herself and the room broke into a quiet sort of morning discussion between various friends and cliques.

            “So what year are you?” Theo asked as he finished off his toast. “You look around eleven or so. Perhaps twelve?”

            “Certainly twelve,” Peter said, thinking whatever number best suited him it ought to be an even one.

            “Well then that puts you into 8th year over at the secondary school (??). That means you’ll be coming with me. I’m a couple years up, but I’ll walk you at any rate. Haven’t got a schedule, I suppose?” When Peter shook his head no, not quite knowing what a schedule was, Theo shook his head and brushed his auburn hair away again, slicking it handsomely back on his head with both hands. “Blimey, they really ought to have you prepared on your first day. I suppose you came here in a rush? Aren’t you going to finish your oatmeal? You won’t get another bite until tea.”

            “It tastes awful,” Peter said, blanching at the thought of having to eat more.

            Theo laughed again and shook his head. “Suits me fine, but I’d better eat it so Madame doesn’t think you’re being ungrateful.” Theo promptly spooned the rest of the meal into his mouth with a wide grin and even made Peter snort with laughter as he mimicked the way Madame ate her food – much like a bird, with bobbing motions and sharp swallows.

            As they made their way outside, Madame handed each of them a small sack for lunch and waved them all on their way, though Peter got the distinct impression she would have not minded if less of them came home than had left. As they stood outside in the snow, Peter shuddered until he felt Theo’s warm arms rubbing him.

            “That ought to put some warmth in you,” Theo said grinning. “Need to ask Madame for a coat or you’ll be freezing. With how bad off your clothes were, no doubt you’re not used to our English winters. They can be brutal.”

            Suddenly, Peter flinched, as he felt a rough bite at his ear. Grabbing at it, he pushed whatever had bitten him away and as he caught up to Theo, who had walked away, still talking about the winters in England, several boys gestured up to the sky, where a tiny light had danced away.

            “What was that?” an older boy asked, squinting at the sunlight, which now blocked the small light from view.

            “A dragonfly!” one of the small boys whispered, in awe.

            “No, a fairy!” another cried, “I saw it, I swear!”

            “A dragonfly in winter?” the older boy scoffed, hands shoved in the pockets of his coat, “What an ass – that was just a leaf falling from that tree, you nitwit. Honestly, a dragonfly!”

            “I really think it was a fairy,” the youngest repeated when the oldest boy had gone. “I saw its wings fluttering. It was after that new boy.”

            The two boys watched as a single light danced along behind Peter’s shoulders and occasionally nipped at his ear.

 

The Nursery November 5, 2007

Filed under: chapter two,peter pan — snarkytea @ 7:16 am
Tags: , , , ,

{ 1,267 words }

            When he arrived in London and crouched upon the tiers of Big Ben, Peter was exhausted and without much of a happy thought except seeing Wendy and Moira and telling the both of them at once that he was to be their son and brother, respectively. He had already rehearsed the scene in his head several times. He would confess his love for the both of them and they would delightedly accept his brilliant proposal to live with them. He would fit in nicely in their beds, he wouldn’t take up much space or eat much food, as he was used to eating imaginary food at any rate, and he would be loved and love in return so politely. Overwhelmed with such a happy thought, it should have been easy to fly to reach the house he knew so well and land upon the windowsill unnoticed.

            And indeed, his plan was to arrive as quietly as possible. He wanted to surprise Moira especially, to see the delight on her face when she woke to find a new brother beside her. And then of course, Wendy would rush in and flush in enthralled enchantment and clasp Peter close, comb his hair properly, offer him clothes and some breakfast. And Joseph would pat his head, tell him he was a strapping lad and that boyish clothes quite suited him. He would eat a quiet breakfast, go off to school as perhaps he had always been meant to do, and would return to play with Moira and the others afterwards. Joseph would ask him at dinner about his schoolwork, Wendy would draw a bath for him, and both of his new parents would tuck him in comfortably.

            Breathing heavy as he hopped off of the large clock while it struck midnight, filled with this new joyous future, Peter didn’t even notice that the season was very much different than the last time he had been to see Moira. Then, it had been a cool spring evening where the windows were easily to forget about and leave open the entire night long. Now, there was a chill in the air that signaled autumn was long gone and winter had firmly settled in, a snow just on the horizon, and nearly every window was closed, including the small nursery where Wendy and Joseph raised their children. Even that didn’t slow Peter down, nor the strange number of beds that seemed to surround the dark room as he nudged the window open and slipped inside.

            A gush of air rustled his hair as he closed the window and peered out from the inside as Wendy had often done. It was odd, looking out at the night sky from a small room, knowing whatever life you were about to live was about to change drastically and you may never know anything of the other kind of life you lived.

            But though Peter was sad to lock the latch on the window, he found an empty bed and grinned into the pillows as he pulled the covers over his face and huddled into the warmth, contentment radiating from his small frame and excitement bubbling within, for tomorrow brought the grandest of adventures Peter had ever known.

            Sleep was almost immediate, and when Peter awoke, it was not as rehearsed.

            The noise and rustling of clothes and bedsheets, of teeth being brushed and water running through nearby pipes startled Peter from his pleasant and much-needed slumber. As he sat up, it was hard to remember what he was doing in the small blue and white room with twelve beds or who the other boys were who dashed around in front of him, chatting and dressing on their way out.

            “You’d better get up,” one of the boys said to Peter, “Or else Madame’ll skin your hide for sure. Are you new?”

            Nodding, for he was sure he wasn’t old, Peter slipped out of bed. “Who’s Madame?”

            The boy snorted with a laugh and grinned to Peter, looking him over. “Good dreams last night, I suppose? I bet they threw you in here late, too, so you’ll need a better rest tonight.” He glanced up at the sound of a tin whistle and cursed softly under his breath. “My name’s Theodore but everybody calls me Theo. We’ll have time to talk later, but for now, you’d better get dressed and meet us downstairs or you’ll be getting off to a rougher start than I did.”

            Thinking it a bit of a game and a test of his skills, Peter dusted himself off and headed for the door. He didn’t expect Theo’s fist to curl in his shirt or for the other boy to haul him backwards and toss him onto the bed.

            “You don’t even have proper clothes on!” Theo crowed with a laugh. “Here, you can borrow some of my old clothes – they’re far too small on me, but you look just the size.” Rummaging through a trunk at the edge of his bed, Theo tossed a pair of dark slacks, a gray vest, and a starched, folded-white shirt to Peter, who caught them all hazily, still too overwhelmed to speak. “There,” Theo said, shaking his auburn bangs from his blue eyes. “That ought to do. Go on, get dressed, I won’t peek.” Throwing Peter a wink, he gestured to the trunk once more on his way out. “There are shoes and socks in there too – help yourself. I’ve got to help the others get ready, but I’ll come back for you and show you down to breakfast.”

            When Theo had gone, leaving Peter alone with two other boys who sat across the room trading papers as they dressed, the room seemed quite silent, despite how the noisiness from moments ago had woken him. Mechanically, and because he wasn’t sure what else to do, Peter dressed himself in the foreign wardrobe and a full length mirror across the bedroom showed Peter his image.

            Startled, he felt something strange strangle in his throat. For a long moment, he simply stared, following the lines of his body down from the shiny buttons at the collar of his new shirt to the faded black of the worn shoes adorning his feet. Somehow, he couldn’t ever remember wearing shoes like this before, nor did he recall a need to do so. It had never been strange to be barefoot before…whatever before really was. Something clanged to mind in the back of his head, a name, a woman, a vision.

            “Wendy…” he whispered, fingers on his slack tie in the mirror.

            “Who’s Wendy?” Theo asked, entering the room and shooing out the other two boys who made their way quickly and together.

            “I…don’t remember just quite,” Peter said, brow furrowed boyishly, “Though I am sure she was someone important and beautiful.”

            Theo quirked a brow. “Won’t find much of that kind here, seeing as how there aren’t any girls here, least of all women. Well, except for Madame and the other sisters, but having any kind of impure thoughts about them will get you into more trouble than a caning for sure. What did you say your name was?”

            “Peter Pan.”

            “Oh, like the elf?” Theo chuckled, shaking his head. “Well, Peter, you are doing a sore job of tying your tie, so I suppose your mother always used to do it for you.” Noting Peter’s flinch as he took the tie and began to knot it, Theo bit his lower lip. “Sorry, mate. I know you’re new and all. I shouldn’t have teased you. Hell, I know how you feel.”

 

The End of Peter Pan continued…{4} November 4, 2007

Filed under: chapter one — snarkytea @ 6:35 pm
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{ 773 words }

            “…We have not seen you much in Neverland these past several weeks, so I imagine you have been to see her again.” Tiger Lily’s disdain for Wendy went slightly beyond the childish kind of competition for Peter’s heart where it had once remained, and had, since she knew Peter still visited the girl, turned to cold bitterness. It was her fault Peter would grow up like this and be miserable without her. Had she never told stories of Peter and Captain Hook, they would have never met, and had she never spun her Cinderella tales of princesses rescued and transformed, Peter would never have been so stupidly smitten. “Your silence says that you have.”

            “And so what?” Peter barked, jerking away from her again, though he didn’t move far. “I have been to see her several times.”

            “What has changed to make you so sad?”

            For once, Peter could keep up the happy façade and instead bowed his head in shame. “She has a daughter. She is old.”

            “And you wanted to grow old with her? What a silly thought, Peter; you who will never grow up here.”

            “I don’t want to grow up,” Peter said seriously, and indeed it was a strange thing to notice he was not playing any games. He was thoughtful and his face lost some of its twinkling boyishness. “I don’t. But I can’t help it. I visit her daughter as often as I can, even if I don’t talk to her. Sometimes I watch her. She is good at storytelling, too, but she is growing, quickly. The last time I saw her, she was a foot taller, nearly Wendy’s height.”

            Tiger Lily nodded. “She does not want to stall her growing up, does she?”

            “I think she is excited about growing up!” Peter exclaimed, now laughing in his usual manner. “I told her that was silly. Growing up is not exciting, nor is it wonderful or painless.” At the mention of pain, the clouds seemed to swell thicker and a bolt of lightning crashed in the distance over the vast sea. Pain had not often been introduced into the small Neverland.

            Tiger Lily hunched further into her furs and after a long moment of silence stood up. “I see only one answer to your dilemma, Peter, and that is to go to Wendy and stay there with her.” Dusting herself off, she frowned very beautifully, her eyes damp. “You should grow up, Peter. It doesn’t have to be painful. When you are in love, all should be happiness and contentment.”

            She began to walk away and, when Peter didn’t try to stop her, of course she was afraid. Peter’s absence for more than a few days would mean he would forget things from Neverland, just as a few days’ absence from the other realm meant he forgot their adventures as well. Peter’s absence from Neverland meant also that once he stopped believing in it, it would no longer exist, for Neverland was everything Peter had ever imagined as a baby and everything he ever wanted as an adolescent. It was adventure, romance, happiness, and games. Without his imagining it, darkness would overwhelm its green shores.

            Glancing over her shoulder at him, she smiled just enough to assure him her words were wise and rightful, and then whispered, “Please come back and visit now and again, Peter.” Tiger Lily sauntered into the mist, her arrows slung over her strong shoulders and her bow drawn, for she would never be without protection in case of danger, and when the skies were so dark, there was no telling who could be lurking behind a bend.

            The darkness of the sky was so dense it made Peter afraid. He could not see but an inch in front of his face, the Pirate ship over the ledge disappearing into the fog. Rain came in sheets and all happy thoughts had gone from his young body. For the first time in his life, he was forced to make a true decision about something that would change the course of his life forever, and it was so overwhelming and terrifying that he couldn’t move. It was as if a simple inhale would bring him down one path and an exhale might take him down the other.

            And somehow he already had made the choice.

 

The End of Peter Pan continued…{3}

Filed under: chapter one,peter pan — snarkytea @ 4:28 am
Tags: , , , ,

{1,252 words}

            A buzzing in his ear told him the fairies wished he would come play with them, but he wasn’t in the mood and as he told them so, he swiped the girlish pixies away one-handed.

            Of course, Peter Pan not being in the mood to play was almost unheard of, so the pixie took offense to his words and bit his ear as she fluttered off in fury to tell the other fairies. By the time she returned to the celebration and saw the beauty of the moment, she only had room for her happiness and so let the anger fade, leaving Peter much more alone than he’d been before she’d been flipping her wings in his ear.

            Peter was sure he had never felt such a feeling before, for it was the first time that he had ever felt lonely in Neverland. That wasn’t entirely true, though he believed it to be, since he had forgotten what it felt like the first day without a mother and the first day without Wendy, but on those such occasions he had surely felt similarly heartbroken.

            Dark gray clouds began to glaze their way across the sky and a slow shower began to fall. The Pirates packed up their things and retreated to lower, safer levels, all sails limp in the breeze-less skies. The fairies, miles away it seemed, rejoiced in the soft patter of raindrops upon their treetrunk homes, and the Lost Boys covered themselves with giant fronds to keep the rain out and huddled in a warm mass in their hideout, waiting for Peter’s return.

            Neverland was a horrible place when Peter’s emotions were sore, as his sadness, anger, despair, or happiness seeped into the very soil underfoot and spread in fiery haste throughout the island, jungle, and beyond. As he was normally happy or afraid without much room for any emotion in between, the strange loneliness that enveloped his small form also enveloped the weather in Neverland and while it rained there was also a mist and even a bit of sporadic snowflakes that fell. Suddenly, it was so cold and flowers curled into their roots for warmth.

            It was several hours later, though nobody had a clock to know for sure, when Peter felt a soft, warm body beside his own.

            “You are wreaking havoc on our harvest,” Tiger Lily spoke, her words wise and brave in his presence, as she gazed out over the Pirate ship with him. Unlike other girls who could pass for her age, Tiger Lily was not petite, nor was she concerned with girlish things like playing with dolls or chasing boys. In fact, there was only one boy she would ever interest herself in and she was quite sure it was all merely a game to him. Her profile was strong, like her father’s, with a straight nose that came to a gentle and elegant point, and her eyes were pale but intense, full of the history of her family and the future she believed she held in Neverland. Unlike most of the Neverland inhabitants, Tiger Lily was quite aware that living here was more or less a dream that could end the moment Peter opened his eyes. She would have loved to tell him to remain asleep forever, but when the clouds rolled in like that, she was often afraid for him and the sadness he withheld on so many occasions for the sake of his strangled happiness. Tiger Lily was, perhaps, years older than she appeared.

            Peter refused to look at her but laughed anyway. “Am not,” he argued, grateful to have his silence interrupted and perhaps to start an adventure after all.

            “Oh? So you call this storm a welcomed insistence upon our happy spring planting season?”

            “Yes,” Peter said, nodding emphatically, “I would.”

            Tiger Lily wrapped the large bear fur her father had recently given her around her slender shoulders. Underneath, she was clad only in a simple deerskin hide, which she had sewn herself and beaded with gentle adornments. Barefoot, her hair long and raven to her waist, she huddled closer into the fur and shook her head, rustling the beads in her ears. “I am sure you would, though we don’t have such a sense of humor.”

            Peter snorted and stood up, hands on his hips, looking happier than ever though the clouds hadn’t shifted. “No sense of humor! I must be off to help that long then. The Lost Boys and –”

            “Why are you unhappy, Peter?” Tiger Lily’s question was frank and caught Peter off guard. With a knowing look, she continued to gaze out over the rocks. “There has not been such an odd tempest since Wendy left to grow up, and I am sure I have not seen any new mothers come and go since, so I am confused at your sadness.”

            Peter looked caught. “I’m…I’m not sad!” he argued, puffing out his chest. “I dare you to prove I am!”

            “The clouds are proof to all who occupy this small land,” Tiger Lily whispered, the sadness beginning to freeze her, so she was glad for the bear’s fur.

            “Did someone tell you I was sad? Peter Pan is never sad, for he doesn’t understand sadness or know its nature! You can tell that to Captain Cutthroat and he will learn his lesson for meddling in Pan’s rumors!”

            Tiger Lily looked up as she moved to kneel at Peter’s feet. Reaching up, she touched his hand and held it still when he skittishly tried to jerk it away. “Do you think me stupid, Peter?”

            “Of course not! Tiger Lily is one of the smartest girls I know,” Peter affirmed.

            “Then sit and talk with me. You are sad. There is no doubt of that. The only doubt is why, for you have everything at your feet, least of all the love of every single creature in Neverland and children in realms beyond. You have sunlight any time you call it, the wind at your back as you soar through it, clouds that taste of candy when you find you are hungry, food that never molds at your touch, and the adoration of an Indian Princess, more than a dozen Lost Boys, and even that of the Captain of the Pirate band. You will never grow old, you will never know the pain of death or of knowing death, and you –”

            “Stop it!” Peter cried, throwing her hand away and flying several feet away. “You are filling my head with nonsense!” He laughed, the sound dry and breathless, and he knew too he had lost the game of pretending he hadn’t an inkling of what she told him.

            Tiger Lily surveyed Peter’s pain-stricken face and knew instantly what the matter was and knew in the same breath she had lost her Peter, that he would never be the same. “You have grown older, Peter,” she whispered in despair. “How long has this been happening?”

            “I…I’m not older! I’m not!”

            “Then explain your emotions. You are crying. You have not cried in a very long time since.”

            “I am not crying!” Though when Peter felt his cheeks, he knew he was wrong and couldn’t pretend the wetness away. “I…I am crying? Why am I crying?”

            “You have been crying for hours, if the storm corresponds to your tears as it must.” The beautiful Indian leaned forward, took Peter’s hand, and led him back to her. “What have you done to make yourself grow so quickly?”

 

The End of Peter Pan continued… November 3, 2007

Filed under: chapter one,peter pan — snarkytea @ 6:52 am
Tags: , , , ,

{ 1,798 words – I’m updating total word count in the widgets)

 

            Of course, it was not the last time Peter visited Wendy or Moira, for in fact Peter Pan seemed to have remembered the joy of being around women or was too curious to keep himself away from the Darling house. But every time, he came in secret, and he felt entirely different than before. Instead of random whims which brought him soaring to see Wendy, he was now pulled by a desire to see Moira grow up, to watch her legs and hair grow long, to see the change on her face when she no longer remembered what fairies were.

            There were nights, endless amounts of them, where Peter hung by the open window and watched Wendy read Moira her bedtime stories. At times, Mr. Statson, or Joseph as Wendy called him for he was her husband, would join in and with a smile that looked ever so much like Peter’s, he even sang to them or fought with the boys like a pirate or helped them build a fort out of pillows and blankets. In fact, Peter noticed with much disdain that Joseph was very much a boy at heart during these evening playtimes. Though he did also notice with a sneer that Joseph was a man of business, and when the children were asleep, he talked to Wendy of work. Of business. Of real things Peter couldn’t understand. He spoke of sending Moira to a public school, and whatever that was, it appalled Wendy very much and she fought with him over it, saying things like “We can afford to send her to a private school!” and “Of all the things I never wanted for my child…”, none of which Peter truly understood.

            Then there were nights when Peter snuck in well after Wendy and Joseph had gone to bed, nights when Peter appraised Moira with a kind of knowing rage.

            She was beautiful, and he thought this to himself often. Somewhere in the back of his mind he remember that Wendy had been beautiful too, and he must have given her a kiss to keep, though he wasn’t positive such an event had ever really taken place.

            The Lost Boys had told him they read stories or overheard the Pirates talking about love and girls. The Pirates said women (and mothers especially) could only belong to one man and that love was a once in a lifetime chance, and when you fell in love with a woman it was because she was the most beautiful thing in the world to you and only you. Peter had asked for elaboration on the subject, and one of the smallest boys told him it meant that when you kissed the girl you were meant for, she would kiss you in return.

            Though Peter couldn’t quite understand it all, he knew that looking at Moira made him recall Wendy, and that Moira was as beautiful as Wendy had been when she was still perfect and young and living in Neverland as his wife and the mother of the Lost Boys.

            One night, he tempted faith and kissed Moira quietly in the dark. The small acorn he placed in her hand looked awkward there, and a merely instant after the nut had touched her palm, Peter had snatched it back from her, proud of himself for trying but angry that he’d nearly lost his one and only kiss to a girl it wasn’t meant for. But the next night, Peter once again found himself pressing the acorn into her palm. And the next. Until finally one evening, well after the boys and Wendy and Joseph had gone to bed, Moira’s fingers wouldn’t let go.

            Aghast, Peter slapped her hand and as she screeched, he gasped and pressed his palm over her mouth.

            “You’ll wake Wendy!” he said, and as Moira opened her eyes, she thought to herself that those should have been her words. “Give me back my kiss this instant!”

            “Your indignant attitude won’t make me give it back,” Moira whispered heatedly, cheeks flushed as she gripped the small acorn tightly, hiding it from the boy who hovered over her bed. “Besides, if you keep placing it my hand and expect me not to want it, you must be very foolish, boy.”

            Ruffled, Peter folded his arms haughtily and sat down in front of Moira on her bed. “Fine,” he said, “I’ll wait.”

            “Right there on my bed?” Moira giggled. “You’re awfully impolite.”

            “Am not.”

            “Are too. Why were you calling this a kiss? Don’t you know what a kiss is?”

            “Of course I do!”

            “Well then, why don’t you give me one?”

            Peter snorted with laughter and rolled back on the bed, holding his stomach. “You’re holding it right in your hand and you don’t even know what a kiss is! You must have never been in love! That’s why I couldn’t give the kiss to you after all. That’s why you mustn’t keep it.”

            This made Moira laugh harder. “You’re Peter Pan, aren’t you? My mother says I shouldn’t leave the window open for you, but I knew you’d come back.”

            “I’ve not come back at all,” Peter argued, laying on his back and staring up at her nursery ceiling, counting the ancient ducks on the wallpaper that jogged a memory of a different time.

            “Haven’t you?” Moira asked impatiently, leaning over him and smiling down at his handsome but elfish face. “Do you know that my mother tells stories of you and your adventures?”

            “Am I the hero?” Peter asked, gazing up at Moira with bright eyes, imaging his glory in the face of danger, of rescuing the Lost Boys and making peace pacts with the Indians. “Of course I’m the hero. I bet they’re lovely stories – can you remember any of them?”

            “I’m not as good of a storyteller, I’m afraid,” Moira said, looking downcast.

            “Of course you are! Tell me a story, girl.”

            Moira’s brow furrowed but she tried not to be offended. “I have a name, you know.”

            “Shall I use it?”

            “I would like that very much, Peter.”

            “I suppose you should tell it to me first then.”

            Staring down at Peter, her soft, short curls bouncing tenderly in the slight breeze that rustled through the open window, Moira felt overcome with sadness for Peter, who could not remember that he had learned her name several weeks ago. Perhaps it was easy to forget things, having such grand adventures and all, but it suddenly occurred to Moira that Peter might not remember anything at all of this event in several hours time, that her name, face, and words could be so easily erased from his thoughts as swiftly as the daylight overlapped the night.

            “My name is Moira,” she whispered and reached out, pressing her fingertips to his cheek. “Do you think I could give you a real kiss?”

            “You’re wet,” Peter said, cringing away from the look on Moira’s face and the tenderness of the moment shared between them. Shaking himself from it, he settled on the window’s ledge, staring out at the night. It was possible that he forgot Moira then as well, that her name would continue to escape him. After all, there had been many times he had forgotten Wendy and even some of the Lost Boys. It was simply that Peter only had time to remember the present moment. The past and future were foreign thoughts to him and had little place in his heart. They were unimportant because there was no urgency to them, whereas with the present moment, insistency was all there was to it.

            “I shall close the window then, if you’ll be leaving,” Moira said solemnly, standing beside Peter though below him at the base of the bay window he knew so well. “Since you shan’t be returning after all.”

            “Yes, I should think it a splendid idea,” Peter said, and flew away without a word, very hurt but a great deal full of pride and selfish.

 

            In Neverland, there were an unlimited number of possibilities to attend to. Firstly, Peter had to tend to the Lost Boys and count them all to make sure none of them had been eaten by wolves or captured by Pirates. There were often scares and hunts for a Lost Boy who never existed in the first place, since Peter far too often miscounted their ranks in his head and said there should have been one more than was present.

            Besides the daily head count, there were also precautions to be undertaken to assure there wouldn’t be any captures by said Pirates or even by Indians, for as often as there were peaceful times, mostly the Indians fed for themselves and didn’t wish to confide in or partner with the Lost Boys. Peter, of course, could easily wriggle into their ranks and win them over in seconds, though that was thanks mostly to Tiger Lily, whose love for Peter went beyond mere adoration. In fact, she someday hoped for marriage, though she knew very little of what it meant other than living with a man and raising children with him.

            Peter was also required to assist the fairies in their celebrations, which were as often as whims, though Peter didn’t notice their frequency but helped them happily clear the brush or decorate the inside of a tree or make up new dances.

            And at times, Peter was also needed to cook, clean, or do other manual chores meant for a wife but left to him, as he was their father.

            But mostly, Neverland was a land of adventure, and Peter’s favorite daily activity was getting into trouble and getting right back out of it. He often lounged with the mermaids, who vied for his attention and tried to kill each other to prove their love for him, and swam in their waters, while at other times he snuck aboard the Pirate ships and tormented the crew with crows and dark whispers into their ears. And at other times, he would hunt with the Lost Boys, finding imaginary beasts to kill and skin, and when they returned home, they often held celebrations for their outings which could last the entire night and nearly every time gave their location away to nearby Pirate or Indian spies who meant to do them harm. Of course the next day, the whole celebration was quite forgotten in the heat of a battle.

            On one fine evening in Neverland, Peter found himself alone on the edge of a large cliff that overlooked the Pirates. Unaware of his careful watch, several Pirates were talking amongst their shipmates, while others guarded the perimeter and even more played games at the helm. The ship had not moved or altered course in years, though Peter hadn’t noticed.

 

The End of Peter Pan November 2, 2007

Filed under: chapter one,peter pan — snarkytea @ 4:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

{1,424 words}

            It was lonely at times, though mostly Peter forgot. Daily adventures and swooping romances from various makeshift mothers and fathers had done little to taint Peter’s soft dreams of a happiness that was as yet intangible. If he had any kind of time for real thought, as normal children often did, he might have contemplated what he should do if Wendy grew up and left him. But as it was, he hadn’t bothered to notice her growing up and moving on.

            Wendy, of course, tried very hard to appear younger each time Peter came to see her, but the trouble was that sometimes Peter wouldn’t return for years at a time, thinking these absences mere days or hours. The real trouble with growing older was that she couldn’t quite manage to put age on pause for Peter, as she so prayed she could.

            Peter still believed her a child, even as she noticed wrinkles at her lips, laugh lines and crows feet littering her cheeks, until one day when it was impossible to hide.

            Peter Pan flew in, as always unannounced and called for her. Like the breeze through a cloud, Wendy’s dress rustled behind her as she entered the small nursery, where her own children were laying fast asleep. She was awfully glad it was dark, as she covered her face with her hands and gasped his name in a familiar whimsical tone.

            “Wendy!” Peter crowed, but as he rushed at her, he realized his manners and pulled back to wait upon the window’s ledge. He bowed handsomely, and grinned like a fox when Wendy curtseyed to him in response. “Oh Wendy, I’ve wonderful adventures to tell you! Captain Cutthroat has joined up an army and has captured every single fairy, and the Lost Boys and I, we took the ship by storm and even traveled with Indians and formed an alliance to save them!”

            As always, Wendy grew lost in Peter’s stories, but it was ten minutes into his tale before he noticed he hadn’t been invited to come further inside the small pale room.

            “Mother, may I come in?” he asked, playing the part of her son, and it was this that made Wendy cry.

            “Oh Peter, don’t!” she said, the first words she’d truly spoken to him in years. “Peter, please don’t come closer. I will not invite you in!”

            The sound of her voice was odd to Peter but as he thought everything a wonderful game, he thought perhaps she was tricking him.

            “Are you to tell me I can’t enter my own house, wife?” he asked, puffing his chest and looking at her incredulously, except he wasn’t sure what incredulousness was. Taking a large step in, arms folding, he flew across to her with a knowing look. “You wouldn’t even admit your loving…” With a start, he noticed the sparkle of tears glittering down Wendy’s face, and something tore inside him. He had not shed tears in a very long time and had quite forgotten what they meant. “Why, Wendy!” he said, trying to get closer to her, when at every turn she dodged him, “You…you’re wet!”

            “Peter, please,” she begged, shaking her auburn curls and shushing him as they neared the beds, which were full of her own children with another man. “Please don’t come closer – I’m afraid!”

            “Afraid?” he bawked, “Afraid of what?” Glancing at the beds Wendy was so careful to try to hide, Peter grinned wolfishly. “Oh, so you’re hiding Pirates here, are you Wendy?” Dying for a good game, Peter easily took on so many roles in one day that he was likely never really Peter Pan at all but a hero, ghost, captor, barbarian, husband, or father instead. And now, he wanted to be the hero that rescued Wendy, the man who freed the captive Indians and slaughtered the sleeping Pirates who had taken them hostage. “Beastly creatures!” Peter howled, “Out of your beds!”

            From the nearest bed, covers stirred and a small girl, nearly eight, sat up quietly, rubbing her blue eyes and brushing auburn hair from her face. “Mother?” she whispered, squinting at Wendy and the shadow. “Mother, what’s happening?”

            With a burst of terror, Peter flew backwards with a gasp, until his back hit the nearest wall. Shaking, he could feel his chest burning and knew something was amiss. It was the same feeling he had known when Wendy had left, though he was unable to remember it to connect the two events.

            “Who calls Wendy mother?” he asked.

            In the darkness, Wendy shrunk and took her daughter’s small hand. “Peter, this is Moira. She’s my daughter.”

            Always ready for a new game, Peter scoffed. “So she is my daughter too! We can –”

            “No,” Wendy said, so sternly it wiped the smile of Peter’s face. “No, Peter, she is not your daughter. This is not a game.” Moving out from the shadows, her middle-aged form coming into full view, she bowed her head, still as beautiful as ever but aged, old, worn. “Moira is my real daughter. Do you understand? She will grow up here, with me.”

            The silence that dragged along between the two of them was only broken with the quiet exhales of Moira in her wonderment and the inhales of Peter in slight hysteria. The idea of something not being a game was quite foreign to him, even if he had lived real moments in the past, and even worse was the idea of this girl, Wendy’s daughter, growing up. How could she possibly want to grow up here? The very thought made Peter ill, and when he did not understand something, he merely disengaged from it, made it not so.

            With a laugh, he shook the sadness from his face and tousled his hair with the movement. “Ha! She will not grow up! What a horrible thing to say, Wendy. What a –”

            “It’s true, though,” Wendy interrupted, imploring him by stepping forward another step, despite her best judgment.

            “No!” Peter snapped, and as his eyes fell on Wendy again, his stomach clenched and turned over time and again. With disbelief, he looked upon an aged version of the girl he had just met, though it had been some twenty years since. She was much taller, thicker, and the kiss at the corner of her mouth belonged to someone else.

            “I had tried to tell you last time,” Wendy apologized, “But you wouldn’t hear me, and truthfully, I almost didn’t want to spoil it for you. But…well there it is. This is Moira, my daughter, and over there is Marcus and over here in the crib is Benjamin.”

            “Mother, is that Peter Pan?” Moira asked, spellbound and in love.

            At the sight of the look in her daughter’s eyes, Wendy nodded but raised a hand in a hushing manner. “I will explain later, my darling.” She looked back up at Peter, who was no longer looking at her but instead at the ground, in despair. She had never seen such a look on him, as if his very soul had died. She expected it must have been a surprise to him, a shock, but she had not thought he would look so grave and listless. It was horrifying and sad, and as she approached she could see not only tears but anger in his eyes. It made her shrink away from touching him, though she never had reason to before.

            Folding his arms tighter around his small body, Peter Pan suddenly looked frail and helpless, finally appeared just as young as he was. Wendy would have guessed he was merely ten, maybe eleven at most.

            “You are,” Peter finally said, his voice the voice of a small child, “You are old, Wendy.”

            Years later, Wendy could look back fondly on the poor child’s innocence, at his disbelief and willingness to think one could not grow up, but right then, at that moment, she knew she had betrayed one of the people dearest to her heart.

            “Yes, Peter,” she replied, through choked tears, “I am old.”

            “I will never grow up,” he argued, more to himself and whatever thoughts were running through his head than to Wendy and her soft-spoken despair. “Never.”

            As he darted for the window to leave, Wendy caught his wrist, trembling. “Peter… Peter, will I see you again? Please, will you come back sometime? I’ll tell you stories – I have endless amounts of them!”

            “No, I don’t think I shall be interested.”

            And this was the last time Wendy saw Peter.