The Playwright: The Escapades of JM
A Visit From a Horse
Disclaimer: I can't say it all belongs to Miramax, for I'm pretty sure J.M. Barrie did not "belong" to a movie company in the year 2004. So, Miramax's ideas belong to Miramax, and my ideas belong to me. Good. Now I won't get sued.
Quick Introduction: Hello, first time readers. Welcome The Playwright. I recently finished this, and I'm immensely proud of myself. It depends on when you are reading this whether the sequel has been posted yet. Never fear, though. If you're reading this, and see that there's a sequel too, I don't care how long it takes you to read, but I'd like you to read. So read. Hahaha just kidding, everyone.
What you're about to read is a continuation of the movie Finding Neverland, starting off with introductions to the characters and the plot. The characters are all from the movie, and if you don't see them all here, you'll be sure to see the rest in my second story. So grab a bag of chips and your mouse, and scroll down to read the story. Enjoy! Love, MJ
James Barrie smoothed back his dark brown, almost black hair, so that it was almost completely pasted to his scalp. He pulled his suit jacket forward on his shoulders, slipped his pocket watch into his inside pocket, and looped its chain around a button on his shirt. He gave himself one last look in the mirror, and ventured out into the hall. In the corner, there was a long rope hanging from the ceiling. James curled his fingers around the rope, and looked down the silent hallway. Everything was still, peaceful. Everyone else in the house sleeping soundly, dreaming...
He looked at his watch, waited a few more seconds, then began pulling sharply on the rope. The bell's scream cut through the silence like an angry razor. Yells and the sounds of the fumbling of sheets came from behind a closed door a ways down the hallway. James had cleared out Mary's room to make space for the boys, and put in four beds, furniture, and painted the walls. When he was sure that Michael, George, Jack, and Peter were getting up, he let go of the rope and planted himself in front of the bedroom door. Moments later, the door opened and the boys appeared in a line, from shortest to tallest, Michael in front, and George in back. Nobody spoke, nobody moved. For a while.
"What is the condition of the bedroom, Lieutenant George Llewelyn Davies?" James asked the oldest boy. He stepped out of line and spoke loudly.
"Ready for inspection, sir!"
"Would you like to have a look?" Michael asked in a small voice, sounding ever so excited.
"Michael, shh!" Jack whispered. James bent over, and put his hands on his knees. "What's that you say?"
"I didn't mean to, sir," Michael whimpered.
"What'll be the punishment for speaking out of turn, General?" James stood up straight and began thinking. Punishments...punishments...well, it can't be something too bad. After all, they really are just little boys even though they seem to be in the military.
"Give him the prunes," he whispered finally, "Top shelf. I'll inspect the bedroom."
"No! Please, sir!" Michael pleaded. James and George exchanged a salute, and the General made his way into the bedroom, while Michael was carried off downstairs, over Jack and Peter's shoulders. The room had changed, that was for sure. Drawings and photographs of James and the boys had been pasted around the fireplace and on the walls, and toy trucks and kite strings had been set upon the mantle very neatly. Mary's old wardrobe had been replaced with a much larger one, to accommodate the clothes of four little boys, and the walls, that James had spent an entire day on painting, were splattered with ink in areas where Peter sat to write...
"You've got paint on your nose, Uncle Jim!" James looked down at Michael from his stool and smiled.
"Oh, that's not paint, Michael," James said. The younger boy let loose a shrill laugh.
"Don't be silly, Uncle Jim! It's the same color!"
"It's the same color, is it? Well, I'll tell you, it's not paint, my wee lad."
"What's he talking about now?" Jack asked, entering the room, careful not to step on Michael's teddy bear by the door, or put his arms on the wet walls.
"Peter Pan has paint on his nose," Michael said.
"He's not Peter Pan, Michael," Jack said. He and George would often tell him this, though Michael still insisted that James was indeed the boy that never grew up. Because, really, on the outside, James Barrie was showing age, but on the inside, he was still as giddy as a six year old boy.
"You don't know anything," Michael said, sitting on a chair. He looked back up at James, who had continued to paint, and was smiling away as though this was the most amusing thing he'd ever been a part of.
"So what is on your nose, Peter?" he asked.
"A kiss?" Jack said. James nodded. "A kiss," he confirmed.
"What kissed you?" Michael asked. "Was it mum?" James shook his head. "Not this time," he said, then paused from painting and looked down at the puzzled boys. The sight made him laugh. Old sheets laying about the floor splattered with light blue paint, and two boys, looking as though they had just been slapped in the face. "This time," he continued, "I was kissed by a fairy."
"A fairy?" Michael was enchanted. "I've never really seen a fairy before!"
"Of course you've seen a fairy!" James said.
"Only in my dreams."
"Dreams are as real as you wish for them to be, Michael. If you saw a fairy in your dreams, that fairy may really be flying about this room right now as we speak." James looked around the room as if he was following the route of a real, playfully floating fairy. Jack looked around as well, trying to catch it with his eyes, then he looked at James.
"Last time you were kissed, it was by a mermaid," he said. Michael giggled. "And you had gravy on your chin!"
"I don't believe you were kissed by a fairy, Uncle Jim," Jack said.
"Then believe it."
"Sure you can."
"Make me believe."
"I can't make you believe anything, Jack." James said, dipping his brush in the can in his other hand, and proceeding to paint over the boring white that had covered the walls. When he pulled it back to work on another spot, the bristles of the brush grazed his cheek, and Jack and Michael found themselves in a fit of laughter. They were, indeed, laughing at the new blue spot on their adopted father's cheek, but they were also laughing at the completely shocked look he had given. He covered it up with a playful grin, and a glance at the two.
"My fairy's going to come kiss you too," he said, his eyes twinkling as they did so often.
"Oh no, Jack! Run!" Michael squealed, hopping off of the stool and running out of the room. James, paint can and all, ran out to chase them. His gigantic dog, Porthos, waddled out of James's room, barking loudly, and barreled down the stairs after Peter Pan and two of his lost boys once he saw there was a commotion. Peter and George were playing a game of chess on the dining room floor, and as soon as the party blew through the room, the chess pieces were scattered around, and Peter and George had joined in on the chase. It continued outside, where everyone, including the dog, had ended up in a big, wet, sticky, blue pile in the grass. Neighbors walked by with looks of loathing and embarrassment. Only the children walking by with their mothers and peeking in through the gates, laughed. The mothers only pulled them away hastily. The Barries didn't care, though. They were just glad to have fun. Later that same day, James and the boys had spent hours trying to get the paint out of their hair, and of course, Porthos's fur. That was the way life was supposed to be. This was home.
James moved the rug with his foot, and discovered a single blue splatter. He had found it there after he came upstairs with a fresh can of paint the next day to finish the job, and decided to leave it there, as a memory. He wasn't sure if the boys knew it was there, and if they did, they hadn't done anything to get rid of it because it was still there, as clear as day. He smiled, and took one last look around the room. James was satisfied. The beds were made neatly, the covers pulled up over the pillows. He went to the door, and just as he was about to turn off the lamp, he spotted something underneath Jack's bed. He approached the bed, and pulled out from under it, a pair of beige colored trousers. He smiled, walked back out of the room, and began to ring the bell again. Peering over the balcony, he spotted the boys filtering out of the kitchen, and into a line, shoulder to shoulder, in front of the door.
James paced back and forth in front of the line. Michael was sporting sticky purple smudges on his face.
"I am astounded by this discovery I've made. You should all be ashamed of an act with the seriousness of this amplitude. Not just Jack, but all of you. Do any of you realize that this," he held up the trousers, "could give away our position if seen by the opposite side?" He shook his head, maintaining a straight face, though the children laughed into their sleeves. James realized he had something here, and continued.
"This is just what they need!" he shook it around, and this was followed by even more laughing. "They find it, and we could all end up dead!" Between laughs, Peter managed to say,
"Excuse me, sir - but Jack's trousers are hardly the desired treasure of the opposite forces."
"Really!" James exclaimed. He bent down to Peter's level. "Then what, young man, is their desired treasure?" Peter could barely get it out. "George's socks!" James smiled, and the boys, again, roared with laughter.
James opened the door. All four boys waited to go, while their guardian turned to them for the final check.
"Does everyone have his lunch? His school bag?" The boys nodded, and stepped off of the stoop. James waved at them as they walked off, saying their goodbyes over their shoulders. He closed the door and went upstairs. He wouldn't be spending the day in the park today. He had someplace to be now, and he had to get ready.
In James's room was a trunk. This trunk, he had told the children, could only be opened by whomever is worthy to use it, and its protector. There were four locks on the front, and each was opened by a different magic password, each one special, and representing something of importance in the trunk. James believed in this big black box himself, and even when he was alone, he made believe he was the protector of its contents, and muttered the magic words to it while his fingers worked around the metal locks. Presently, he pushed up the lid, kneeled on the floor, and looked inside. He smiled at what he saw.
Costumes, props. Everything to transform you into what you wished so much to be. He put his hands inside and fished around, withdrawing a large flowered bag, and anything else he decided would make good toys for a group of children.
You see, these children would believe in the magic, because these children (if not all, but most of them) had hope. Hope for a new life. Hope relied very much on Imagination. Because, without Imagination, there would be no Hope.
So now, James took out a shawl, for a little girl to become a helpless woman for the hero to rescue, a pirate hat, a false hook, three wooden daggers. Indian costumes, a frayed rope, feathers, other various hats. A lot of these things he had requested for from the theater where his plays were, almost exactly the day after he finished them, were practiced, and then eventually, performed.
James's ears piqued. He had heard something coming from outside. It sounded like a horse. Maybe someone was coming to visit? He got up from the floor, closing and locking the trunk, and went to the window.
"Ah, yes. A horse indeed." Emma du Maurier was clip-clopping up the walk, her usual smug expression plastered on her face like a particularly stubborn blot of ink on a piece of silk clothing, and her four thousand skirts (James called them this) swishing in front of her, in back of her, hell - everywhere. James smiled sardonically.
"Mrs. du Maurier! It's a pleasure to see you here, and so soon after our last visit. No doubt you have other places to be, it's an honor to be in your presence while you have other, more important, things to do." He turned away from the window, and began making his way down the hallway, proceeding to talk to himself and gesticulating theatrically.
"I tell you, the boys have been just wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. It's a shame you're not living here with us, or you might be able to be in on the fun. Oh? You don't know what fun is, you say? It's a bit hard to explain, really. You'd have to try taking part. Not interested, eh? Aye, I understand. A lass like you has to spend her time wisely, what with going through old age and such. Should have gone to Neverland, you'd never grow old. But of course...for you, this is now not an option." He opened the door smiling, the only reason being his short performance for the nits in the wall.
"Good afternoon, James," Mrs. du Maurier said curtly.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. du Maurier." Emma pushed past James into his house, taking her hat off and plopping it on the banister. Snow fluttered down from it, sprinkling the bottom stair and floor with white powder. James closed the front door, and watched Porthos's tail vanish behind a chair in the dining room. He smiled. This, in his mind, was another game. Porthos wasn't a dog, but a lost boy. And Emma du Maurier wasn't the grandmother of his boys, but the evil Captain Hook.
"Peter!" James spun around, and where Porthos had been, a small boy dressed in dirty clothes, and a brown nose in the middle of his face, waved at him to join him behind a large boulder. James obeyed and crouched down next to him, where the two watched Hook through the other entrance to the room.
"I was think - Mr. Barrie? James?"
"Peter! Peter Pan! Come out, come out, where ever you are! You can't hide for long!"
"What do we do, Peter?" the Lost Boy asked, trust filling his small, whispering voice. James thought a moment, keeping his eyes fixed on Hook, who was now wandering almost aimlessly throughout the beautiful Neverland, trying to find Peter and his friend. James put his arm around the Lost Boy, and spoke into his ear, careful not to let Captain Hook hear, so they wouldn't be discovered.
"We plan to attack from above. We'll climb up in that tree there and once he comes back this way - " "Now what in heaven's name are you doing down there?" It was a bit frightening - it was Hook who was speaking, but with Mrs. du Maurier's voice. The scene then vanished. James was James, Porthos was Porthos. The chair was just a chair, and Mrs. du Maurier was Mrs. du Maurier. Neverland faded into the boring, un-picturesque dining room.
"I dropped my..." James started, looking around the floor for something only he could see, but Emma du Maurier didn't let him finish his imaginary excuse.
"This is the type of nonsense that I was talking about."
"If you don't mind my saying, you haven't said anything, Mrs. du Maurier." James got up off the ground, taking his arm off of his dog. He patted Porthos's backside, sending him out of the room.
"Yes, but - " Emma sighed. "James, I've been thinking about the prospect of you and the children moving in with me." He knew this had been coming. It had really only been a matter of time. He immediately thought of the blue paint splatter on the floor, and the walls covered with pictures and ink splotches, and the puffy white clouds James had painted to make it feel like every time you went to sleep, you were flying off to Neverland. He wanted the boys to feel this way, so they would fly off to Neverland in their dreams, and get away from the sick reality they had to go back to when they woke up. James's heart sank.
"But...this is...this is their home now, you can't just take away a boy's home."
"Moving in here is completely out of the question. If you move in with me, you won't have to pay maids, or...worry about...anything." Emma paused. "The boys could do the work. We could just relax and maybe get to the point where we could actually talk to each other without getting in each other's hair. Sylvia would've wanted it to be that way." She gave a smile, that wasn't forced, for she almost always smiled at the mention of her daughter, her daughter that had gone off to Neverland. James had supposed that Mrs. du Maurier would become a pirate when she went off to Neverland...if she went there at all.
"The boys need to have fun! While they can; they need to be children. Before it's too late, before...before they grow up." Emma's smile turned almost immediately into a deep frown.
"Oh, well, then good. They can become just like you and never grow up." Another pause. James stared up at the grandmother from his five foot one height, then sighed and looked out the window. She decided that she had defeated him, and really, she had. He would have normally put up a fight and defended his position so that he could keep the boys away from their grandmother, but if it was what Sylvia wanted...well...that was another story.
"Good then. By Friday, I'll have your rooms ready and you'll have your bags packed, yes?" James looked back at Emma. He couldn't let this woman (even if she was the boys' grandmother) take away a person's home, a person's one haven, away from being perfect and pinched up like they would have to be if they moved in. James knew that he couldn't live like that. He might go out of his mind. He would have to stay here. But he couldn't leave the boys, he couldn't let his Lost Boys be taken back to Captain Hook's ship.
James nodded. "Yes."
"Good. Well, maybe you're growing up after all." She gave him a brief pat on his oily dark brown hair, like a child, wiped off the intrusive liquid on her dress, and made her way into the library. James had to entertain a bit longer before he could leave...