Friday, November 21, 2014

Fanfiction Friday: How Peter Pan Grew Up

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Dear ususpecting Reader:
  I know this must come as a shock to you. You might have seen the movie, some years back, and thought, "But it couldn't be possible!" I saw it too; I would say that Moira and Peter both looked better than the couple on-screen, but I can't fault the movie-makers for trying; it's an aunt's prerogative to believe that her own family is better looking than some paid actors. At least they got Neverland nearly right... I wonder if any of them had been there as a child—I'm sorry, I'm babbling, aren't I? Where was I? Oh yes:
Now on the shelf before you stands a book, haughtily maintaining that the boy-who-would-always-remain-a-boy actually managed to grow up. It almost feels like your own childhood has been stolen, doesn't it?
Yes, it's true; I, Margaret, I did it. I made Peter grow up. And I am sorry for it. Please read this story with an understanding heart, and forgive me.


My story begins in a little house on Waterford Road in Fulham, southwest London. It was tall, and narrow, but a pleasant dwelling. I lived there with my mother, Wendy, and my father, Edward. I never understood why Mother always called Father "Tuttles," or something like that, and she would get a faraway look in her eye, and go stand by the window and look into the sky. I would come and wonder what she was doing, but by then the look was gone, and she always hugged me close and said, "Just remembering the fallen leaves of yesteryear, my dear."
Mother said I was a very level-headed child from the start. I never had any use for her stories of pirates and mermaids and fairy dust. Mother would talk on and on in all seriousness, but everything was a heap of babble to me.
After a time, I noticed my Mother would watch me carefully. She was always coming into my room and checking to see that the window was unlatched, no matter what the night weather was like. When I asked her why she unlatched the window, she only said, "So that you can open it easily if you want a soft night breeze, my dear. Your sister always used to have it that way when this was her room." She meant my sister Jane, who was a teenager away at boarding school since I could remember.
Once, an autumn gust blew the window open and let several leaves inside. I showed them to Mother the next morning and begged to bar my window the next night. She immediately snatched the leaves from my hand and peered at them closely, as if they held some message. Finally she sighed.
"They aren't his," she said in that same airy voice she got sometimes.
"Whose, Mother?" I asked.
Mother laughed and cast the leaves aside. "Why, Peter Pan's, of course!" she said.
I frowned, "Why would he track leaves everywhere and make the house dirty? Seems a pretty rude little boy if you ask me! Besides, Mother, my room is on the second floor. How on earth would the little boy from your dream stories get to the second-floor window?"
As soon as the question left my mouth, practical though it was, I saw my mother's face change again. She peered at me keenly as she answered, "He can fly, Maggie. Can you believe that?"
"Of course not," I answered quickly. "People can't fly; that's why there are airplanes." I did not understand how Mother could be so insensible.
"Peter isn't people," Mother tried to reason with me, but even I knew it wasn't reason at all.
"What else could he be?" I scoffed.
"A boy, that's all."
I shook my head and returned to my Erector set. I was trying to build a replica of Big Ben. "Boys can't fly either," I insisted.
Mother got to her feet and sighed. "You can, with happy thoughts and fairy dust. You're only a little older than I was when Peter first visited me; you'll see when he comes for you, dear."
I didn't say anything, but my heart always trembled at the thought of a strange boy using magic to sneak into my room at night. It didn't help that Mother described it as "coming for me," as if he were some hobgoblin sent to collect empty-headed ninny children. Well, I certainly was no ninny!

I liked real toys, blocks and puzzles and models and such. Mother had bought a few dolls, but I kept them in their store-bought dresses on their display stands. They were decoration, not to be played with. They did not have names, unless it was the likeness of a famous celebrity. I had real friends, not imaginary ones, and we talked about real things like jobs, money, shopping, and running a house. Mother didn't tell me bedtime stories; I would not let her. Daddy would go to the public library and get me books about history, biographies of great explorers and inventors.

I never once saw Peter all during my early years.

I was six when my sister Elizabeth was born. She was Mother's favorite, as much as I was Daddy's favorite. What made it even worse is that Lizzie was just as imaginative as Mother, so every night I had to sit and try to focus on the latest exploits of Joan of Arc or Edison, while Mother explained to Lizzie all about Peter Pan and Captain Hook and the fairies and the Redskins ("Indians!" I would persistently correct her), and the little ignoramus believed every word.

I will never forget the time she pounced on me at the crack of dawn.
"He's real! I saw him! Why didn't you wake up? He kicked you, you know, boom, right out of your bed, but you were still snoring, so I made him lift you back up."
I pushed her away. She was six, what did she know? I slid my hand under the covers and felt my side. It was definitely tender, as if I had landed hard on something, and I knew it had not been so when I went to bed; but Peter Pan did not exist. How could I have been bruised by something that did not exist? Come to think of it, I could just be imagining the pain. I probably just slept wrong.
"Get off me," I grumbled to the starry-eyed baby quivering near the foot of my bed. "I don't want to hear about that dumb Peter Pan any more."
Five months later, in the spring, I turned thirteen, and in honor of my maturing from a girl to a young woman, Mother and Daddy let me have my own room. Finally, I wouldn't have to suffer through any more of the nonsense. I swore never to set foot in that room again.
Not long afterwards, I awoke and came down to breakfast to find both Daddy and Lizzie gone.
"Tootles has gone to a two-week conference for his job," Mother explained.
"What about Lizzie?" I demanded jealously. "Did Daddy take her with him, or is she away at Gramma Mary's?" Senile she may be, but Gramma Mary sure knew how to spoil a grandchild.
A queer sort of smile I didn't quite like played at the corner of Mother's lips.
"She'll be back in a week or so," she hinted to me.

Did you enjoy the excerpt? Click HERE to read the full story!

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