This is it.
A year to the day that I started writing this story.
I won't lie, writing this last chapter
actually made my eyes tear up, just
a bit. It's an end to many things,
this story, a character's childhood,
alot that I think everyone can identify
with. J.M.'s book is timeless, and
something that will live on through
the ages. I can only hope I've
reawakened your love for his writings,
or have for a small while transported
you back to your own Neverland
and childhood, or made you believe
in magic again, if only for a bit.
I lifted quite a bit of the last scenario
from the book by Barrie, only because
there's no way I could have done it better,
and in a way sort of wanted to connect
it to the aforementioned text. This is after
all supposed to be a part of Barrie's story,
simply filling you in on the details he left
out as Wendy grew up.
I have gotten several e-mails, of
readers who have enjoyed the story, and
asked if Wendy is supposed to be me at
all, along with JM Barrie's. The answer is of
course yes. I never wanted to grow up,
and to be honest I still don't. I'm not
really old at all, but old enough to appreciate
the freedom and magic of youth. I know that
in time, things are forgotten. And so
are people. But at some time, some person may
come across it, and read it perhaps enjoy it.
And so I will have stayed eternally young, in
some strange sense, and that brings comfort.
Well, this has gotten much too long
and far too sappy. I leave you with
this. I hope you've enjoyed reading
this story as much as I adored writing
it. I'll miss you all! And thank you for
Red Handed Jill.
Chapter 20: The biggest adventure of all
And this gentle readers, is where the tale does come to a close.
A woman of about thirty stands before the window of the Darling's beloved nursery. The moon has a silver circle round it, bathing everything around it in ethereal light, including her.
Her dark hair is tied loosely at the back of her head, sporadic tendrils spilling around the sides of her face. She smiles softly as the clouds pass, and as she closes her eyes she can almost see the island, and the mermaids, and the lost boys...and Peter.
It takes no genius to know that this is our beloved Wendy, all grown up. And she had a lovely daughter. This ought not to be written in ink but in a golden splash
She was called Jane, and always had an odd inquiring look, as if from the moment she arrived on the mainland she wanted to ask questions. When she was old enough to ask them they were mostly about Peter Pan. She loved to hear of Peter, and Wendy told her all she could remember in the very nursery from which the famous flight had taken place.
It was Jane's nursery now, for her father had bought it from Mr. Darling for a rather large sum, knowing that he was not one for climbing stairs any longer.
Hook had insisted they donate their prior luxurious home in the centre of London. And so they had, only for it to become an orphanage. The most lavish and well taken care of orphanage in all of London, and it still stands there to this day.
It had been a large joy in Wendy's life when she learned of James' purchase. To know that their child would sleep in the very nursery that Wendy had in her youth.
And so it happened one night that Wendy stood before that nursery window, looking wistfully into the snowy London night. She did this on occasion, and Jane was always curious to know what exactly her mother was thinking, but she had a fair guess.
"Tell me again about Neverland," Jane begged gently from her bed, her tired eyes drooping and her head tilting to one side.
"Oh dearest," Wendy trilled, tickling her daughter fiercely, loving the way her daughter's laugh sounded. It was a laugh completely unfettered or held back. The laughter of a child is something forever loved which is lost with age.
Her daughter squealed with delight, settling down only as her mother's tickles diminished. Jane smiled sleepily, her eyes closing as she prepared for another of her mother's tales of Peter Pan, mermaids, and so much more.
"I think," Wendy drawled lightly, "I am too tired for story-telling."
"Oh, you aren't!"
"I think I may be," Wendy pretended, looking weary. "I think this night I may need some help."
Jane smiled widely, and as Wendy pulled the covers around her daughter's small frame. But it was Jane's invention to raise the sheet over her mother's head and her own, this making a tent, and in the awful darkness to whisper:
"What do we see now?"
"I don't think I see anything to-night," said Wendy.
"Yes, you do," replied Jane, "you see when you were a little girl."
"That is a long time ago, sweetheart," sighed Wendy. "Ah me, how time flies!"
"Does it fly," asked the artful child, "the way you flew when you were a little girl?"
"The way I flew? Do you know, Jane, I sometimes wonder whether I ever did really fly."
"Yes, you did."
"The dear old days when I could fly!"
"Why can't you fly now, mother?"
"Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way."
"Why do they forget the way?"
"Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly."
"What is gay and innocent and heartless? I do wish I were gay and innocent and heartless."
Wendy couldn't help but feel a bit lighter. A bit as if her old life were shining back at her through her daughter's bright blue eyes.
"I do believe," she said conspiratorially, "that it is this nursery."
"I do believe it is." Jane's eyes gleamed with excitement. "Go on."
They then embarked on the great adventure of the night when Peter flew in looking for his shadow.
"The foolish fellow," laughed Wendy, "tried to stick it on with soap, and when he could not he cried, and that woke me, and I sewed it on for him."
"You have missed a bit," interrupted Jane impatient, who now knew the story better than her mother. "When you saw him sitting on the floor crying, what did you say?"
"I sat up in bed and I said, Boy, why are you crying?'"
"Yes, that was it," Jane said with a big breath.
"And then he flew us all away to the Neverland and the fairies and the pirates and the redskins and the mermaid's lagoon, and the home under the ground, and the little house."
"Yes! Which did you like best of all?"
"I think I liked the home under the ground best of all."
"Yes, so do I. What was the last thing Peter ever said to you?"
"The last thing he ever said to me was, Just always be waiting for me, and then some night you will hear me crowing.'"
"But, alas, he forgot all about me," Wendy said it with a smile. She was as grown up as that.
"What did his crow sound like?" Jane asked.
"It was like this," Wendy said, trying to imitate Peter's crow.
"No, it wasn't," Jane said gravely, "it was like this"; and she did it ever so much better than her mother.
Wendy was a little startled. "My darling, how can you know?"
"I often hear it when I am sleeping," Jane said.
"Ah yes, many girls hear it when they are sleeping, but I was the only one who heard it awake."
"Lucky you," said Jane who now yawned ever so slightly, hoping that this would go unnoticed by her mother. But, Wendy was a sharp eyed mother and knew when her little one should be asleep.
"Goodnight my darling," Wendy whispered, kissing her cheek softly, drawing the sheets more tightly around Jane and slipping once more to the window.
"Mother..." Jane inquired sleepily from her bed, "Do you think that I shall ever see Peter Pan for myself?"
Wendy looked over to her dear child, and finally found it in her to reply to such an inquiry.
"I daresay you shall."
Satisfied, Jane slipped off into a dreamland that Wendy had not seen for many years. As the minutes passed, Wendy turned back to the window, her eyes growing misty. For as much as she loved to recount tales to her young daughter, tales growing hazy, it brought pain as well as pleasure.
"Oh, Peter," Wendy whispered softly, her eyes growing wet as she stared out into oblivion. She didn't know how long had passed when a rumbling voice entered the room.
"You look even more stunning tonight than ever, my beauty."
Wendy smiled gently at the quietly spoken words, and turned to see a tall figure coming inside the door. His lean body was covered in dark trousers and a dark grey sweater. His face was pale and clean shaven, and his hair was sheared into a respectable fashion. And even though his eyesight was not as good as it once was, his vanity demanded he refuse to wear glasses.
To look at him, he would appear a most handsome man and almost average save for his right arm, where he still wore his hook proudly, and those entrancing eyes of his.
"You say that every night."
"Then I must mean it every night."
Hook drew closer to Wendy, pulling her into a tight embrace before going over to the bed of their daughter. She slept soundly, not even stirring as he placed a warm kiss upon her forehead.
"How were your classes?" Wendy whispered as he approached her once more.
"Fine," Hook replied with a small nod and smile. "More than fine actually, the headmaster wishes for me to teach the younger ones literature as well."
"It's no wonder," Wendy said as she snuggled into his embrace. "You have such a way with children.
"Are you mocking me? Nevermind. Are your brothers and their families still coming for Christmas this year?" Hook inquired, looking out into the snowfall. Wendy could see the ever piercing eyes gazing out, and she wondered if he still longed for high sea adventures.
Hook let out a good natured groan and grasped her around the middle from behind. Wendy felt his chin upon her shoulder, his hot breath against her neck, and the thrumming of his deep voice against her back as he spoke.
"More children scampering about the house, causing mischief."
"You say how much you despise it," Wendy said turning into his willing arms and smiling with eyes twinkling. "But I think it is your biggest pretend."
Hook's wide grin reaffirmed her statement, and as he lowered his firm lips to her own, Wendy felt the same sparks and butterflies she had felt so many years ago, never fading. The broke apart moments later, their faces flushed and hearts pounding.
"I believe we should retire," he whispered into her ear and she nodded in agreement. Their fingers locked tightly, and the two prepared to head out the nursery door.
Wendy was just about to close the aforementioned door when there was a sudden thud at the nursery window.
"I thought I closed the-" Wendy's voice died in her throat as she stepped more fully into the room, and that one lone figure forever etched in her mind stood proudly, hands on hips, not aged a day.
"Hullo, Wendy," he said, not noticing any difference, for he was thinking chiefly of himself; and in the dim light her white dress might have been the nightgown in which he had seen her first.
"Hullo, Peter," she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying Woman, Woman, let go of me.
"Hullo, where is John?" he asked, suddenly missing the third bed.
"John is not here now," she gasped.
"Is Michael asleep?" he asked, with a careless glance at Jane.
"Yes," she answered; and now she felt that she was untrue to Jane as well as to Peter.
"That is not Michael," she said quickly, lest a judgment should fall on her.
Peter looked. "Hullo, is it a new one?"
"Boy or girl?"
Now surely he would understand; but not a bit of it.
"Peter," she said, faltering, "are you expecting me to fly away with you?"
"Of course; that is why I have come." He added a little sternly, "Have you forgotten that this is spring cleaning time?"
She knew it was useless to say that he had let many spring cleaning times pass.
"I can't come," she said apologetically, "I have forgotten how to fly."
"I'll soon teach you again."
"Oh Peter, don't waste the fairy dust on me."
She had risen; and now at last a fear assailed him. "What is it?" he cried, shrinking.
"I will turn up the light," she said, "and then you can see for yourself."
For almost the only time in his life that I know of, Peter was afraid. "Don't turn up the light," he cried.
She let her hands play in the hair of the tragic boy. She was not a little girl heart-broken about him; she was a grown woman smiling at it all, but they were wet eyed smiles. Then she turned up the light, and Peter saw. He gave a cry of pain; and when the tall beautiful creature stooped to lift him in her arms he drew back sharply.
"What is it?" he cried again.
She had to tell him.
"I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew up long ago."
"You promised not to!"
"I couldn't help it. I am a married woman, Peter."
"No, you're not."
"Yes, and the little girl in the bed is my baby."
"No, she's not."
But he supposed she was; and he took a step towards the sleeping child with his dagger upraised. Of course he did not strike. He sat down on the floor instead and sobbed; and Wendy did not know how to comfort him, though she could have done it so easily once.
She was only a woman now, and she ran out of the room to try to think, to compose herself. Peter continued to cry, and soon his sobs woke Jane. She sat up in bed, and was interested at once.
"Boy," she said, "why are you crying?"
Peter rose and bowed to her, and she bowed to him from the bed.
"Hullo," he said.
"Hullo," said Jane.
"My name is Peter Pan," he told her.
"Yes, I know."
"I came back for my mother," he explained, "to take her to the Neverland."
"Yes, I know," Jane said, "I have been waiting for you."
When Wendy returned diffidently she found Peter sitting on the bed-post crowing gloriously, while Jane in her nightgown was flying round the room in solemn ecstasy.
"She is my mother," Peter explained; and Jane descended and stood by his side, with the look in her face that he liked to see on ladies when they gazed at him.
"He does so need a mother," Jane said.
"Yes, I know." Wendy admitted rather forlornly; "no one knows it so well as I."
"Good-bye," said Peter to Wendy; and he rose in the air, and the shameless Jane rose with him; it was already her easiest way of moving about.
Wendy rushed to the window.
"No, no," she cried.
"It is just for spring cleaning time," Jane said, "he wants me always to do his spring cleaning."
"If only I could go with you," Wendy sighed in suppressed envy.
"You see, you can't fly," said Jane pragmatically, giving her mother a caring look as she viewed the tears in the elder woman's eyes. "Do not cry mother, I shall return as soon as the spring cleaning is finished."
"I shall bring her back myself," Peter promised, and they headed towards the open window, both crowing happily with Wendy feeling so helpless.
"Tell father not to worry either," Jane called over her shoulder, "I love you both!"
Wendy felt her stomach dropping sickly at these words, and she went towards her daughter who was already out in the beautiful London night, only to be stopped by a strong hand on her arm, pulling her back into him. A figure that had been hiding in the shadows all along.
"She shall return," Hook promised firmly, although Wendy could see the worry in his eyes as his only daughter, his only child made her way through the sky, her large blue eyes entranced by the figure that held her hand and promised her immortality. The two children flew quickly out of sight, as small as the stars, disappearing completely before long.
"You know the perils of that place," Wendy whispered against him, sobbing openly, the sobs of regret and pain at the loss of something more that she could not name, and worry that only a mother can feel.
"I do," Hook replied, holding her more tightly. "And I know that she will survive it."
"Do you never miss it?" Wendy asked of him, feeling as if she were a child again in his wake. He looked down to her, giving her a most serene and comforting smile. He placed a sweet kiss upon her forehead before pulling away.
"At times," Hook replied, resting his cheek against her head. "But I am comforted with the knowledge of something Pan could never know or understand."
"What's that?" Wendy inquired, growing calmer as Hook drew to into his arms, silently promising her protection, strength, love and devotion.
And the words he spoke next were more poignant because of the conviction in which he spoke them, and because Wendy knew he meant it, and because she agreed with all her heart, no matter how hard it hurt at times.
"That to grow up and live, to truly live, is the biggest adventure of all."
And now we leave these two, staring out the window after their beloved daughter. They hold each other tightly, like two people whom have lived the world in all its chaos, drowning in the sea of the world and cling to one another for life. Like two figures that have been through much and wish never to endure such alone.
As you look at Wendy and Hook, you may see their hair becoming white and their figures little again, for all this happened long ago. Jane is now a common grown-up, with a daughter called Margaret; and every spring cleaning time, except when he forgets, Peter comes for Margaret and takes her to the Neverland, where she tells him stories about himself, to which he listens eagerly.
When Margaret grows up she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter's mother in turn; and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless