my memory serves me far too well
and if these wounds, they are self-inflicted
I don't really know how my poor heart could have protected me
but if I have to carry this pain, if you will not share the blame
I deserve to see your face again
- - - - - - - -
I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to be as still as possible. It never fooled him, but it never stopped me from trying.
I heard his whisper again. It seemed a little more urgent this time. "Wendy? I know you're not sleeping."
The covers were pulled up over my head, so how could he be sure? I didn't move.
But pretty soon I heard the padding of soft footsteps coming closer. Pressure on the end of the bed. Then in one swift movement he was beside me, lying on top of my blanket, snoring lightly. This had been his game for at least the last two weeks. I still didn't move.
The snoring kept on for a few minutes. Until he realized it wasn't funny, I suppose. It had stopped being funny a long time ago.
There was silence for a while. My body relaxed a little. Maybe he really was asleep. My eyes gradually opened to stare at the blanket covering my face, wondering why he kept doing this, wondering why he wouldn't ever give up.
Maybe because he'd never given up before in his life.
My eyes drifted shut eventually. It had a strange effect on me, the idea of a warm body at my side. Whether it was wanted there or not. It made me feel a little protected, a little safer. The breath that I'd been holding started to even out. Maybe I could go to sleep and when I woke up he'd be gone.
No such luck. Before long I heard him say again quietly, "Wendy?" He shifted a little beside me. "Why do you always ignore me?"
My breath stopped again. I concentrated on being still and closed my eyes.
He sounded firm. "You can't ignore me forever."
Of course I could. I didn't want to, but I could. Or maybe not, I thought immediately as he started rummaging beside me. What in the world... My eyes were closed tight, but I knew exactly what he was doing. I felt the blanket lift off my face, the warm flesh of his arm beside mine, and again the blanket floated back down and rested on top of us both. His breath wafted through my hair, tickled the lashes of my closed lids.
I couldn't help it. My head turned toward him and my eyes opened.
He smiled. A true smile, his eyes sweet and thankful. "Hello little lovely wide-awake Wendy."
I gave him a soft smile. "Hello Peter."
He kept grinning gratefully. The more he grinned, the better I felt. Inside. "Is there something you wanted?" I asked, as if boys popped up under my covers every day.
He didn't say anything at first as I watched him. He still smiled as he played with a lock of my hair with his dirty fingers, then eventually looked at me again, and this time his eyes were serious. "Why wouldn't you talk to me?"
I regarded him for a moment, my smile fading. I don't know was all I could think. Something's not right about all this. I turned my face up toward the blanket again, not really sure what to say to him.
"Weeeeennnnnddddyyyyyy," he sing-songed quietly. When I didn't respond, I felt a change in him. "What's wrong with you?"
I couldn't do anything but shrug my shoulders.
"Do you want me to leave?" he asked softly.
I met his eye. There was hurt there.
"Do you want me to never come back?"
I couldn't stop looking at him. This beautiful boy was hurting because of me. His eyes were searching for an answer.
I found my voice. "Peter, it's not that I don't want you to come back." I paused. "But you shouldn't. Because every time you come back, every time you get close to me, it makes it harder and harder..."
He brought his face a little closer to mine. "Harder and harder to what?"
His nose was almost touching mine, and I could see flecks of rainbow in his eyes. I bit my lip but finally answered, "To keep myself from going back to Neverland with you."
He grinned a little and tugged on an unseen lock of my hair. "I could make you come back with me," he said tauntingly.
My heart stopped. "What?" I asked quietly, uncertain about what he meant by that.
"Sure." Within an instant he had pounced on top of me and pressed his hand over my mouth. "I could grab you up," he said as his other arm slid underneath me and yanked me even closer to him. "And before you know it we'd be back in Neverland and I would never never let you leave again."
My eyes were wide and nervous. He seemed to stare down at me for an eternity. We had never been this close before, our bodies flush together, his arm holding me tightly, his other hand still firm against my mouth.
Then, as quickly as it had happened, he let me loose and lay back down beside me. "But I would never do that."
My breath was short and I could feel my hands trembling. "You wouldn't?" I asked, hearing my voice wobble.
He smiled. "Of course not, silly Wendy." His fingers found my side and began to tickle. But I wasn't feeling very ticklish, and eventually he gave up, his hand resting on the fabric of my nightgown. He was quiet for a minute, until he asked, "Would you want to go back with me?"
Just those few words caused tears to prickle my eyes. There's the question I can't answer. So I didn't.
He didn't seem to notice. He was busy playing with those darn acorns he seemed to have attached all over his body. Still as unobservant as ever, I thought as I nonchalantly brushed a tear away. Having his fill of examining them all and finding the one with the pointiest end, he plucked it and began touching the pointy end to my bare arm. It was sharp, but he was doing it gently.
"Hey Wendy," he said, still poking me.
He looked up with his best set of puppy dog eyes. "Tell me a story. For old time's sake."
I smiled a little. "All right," I answered softly.
He beamed and snuggled his head close to mine.
I sighed. I already knew where this was going. "Once upon a time there was a girl. And though she didn't want to, it seemed that she was growing up. Before everyone's eyes, she was slowly turning into a woman."
He abruptly tugged on my wrist. "Stop," he said and made a face. "I already don't like that story." He draped an arm across my waist, scooting even closer to me. "Don't you know any good stories anymore?"
I didn't say anything. All I could think about was the arm he had across me. I couldn't move, but he just wouldn't stay still. At first he was gripping my waist, then ran his thumb over the fabric of my nightgown, then it almost felt like he was stroking my side, coming dangerously close to my chest. I didn't know if he realized what he was doing or not.
"Peter," my voice cracked a little. I grabbed the hand he had across me. "Peter, stop it."
He lifted his head and looked confused. "Stop what?"
I tried to say the right thing. I really did. But what I came out with was, "I think you're growing up and you just don't know it."
He seemed skeptical. "Why do you think that?"
"Well," I started, "because boys who are turning into men, they do what you do, they have the feelings you're having, they touch people the way you're touching me."
I couldn't help that his face turned a little stonier. "Then I shall never do it again."
All of a sudden I couldn't steady my voice. More tears leaked out. "I love you, Peter."
His face softened, and without warning he crawled on top of me again, straddling my waist, gripping my wrists in his hands. "You will always be my Wendy."
It caught me off guard. My mind immediately wondered, Why does that sound like a threat?
He stared down at his hands gripping mine, and let them go. Except for my right index finger. He examined it as if he had never seen one before, then brought up the acorn he had plucked off his shoulder and turned it to its sharp little tip. I gasped a little as he dug it into my skin. I tried to pull my hand away but he held it fast, squeezing my finger and bringing up a few drops of blood. He then pierced the skin of his own finger, then pressed our fingers together.
All I could do was stare at him weakly, not really sure what to do.
"Your blood is now mine," he explained, as if it were the most simple thing in the world. "And mine is your's."
And before I knew what was happening, he leaned down and pressed his lips to mine. They were warm and comfortable, and almost vulnerable in the way he seemed to search for permission, search for a sign that I was kissing him back. His arm again slid underneath my back and lifted me closer to him, his kiss becoming harder, his body clutching me as close as he could.
I didn't want to fight this. I kissed him back. But I had to stop it before it got out of hand. I gave him a gentle squeeze and tried to loosen his grip around my body. He eventually pulled back after one last brush of his lips against mine. His eyes were full of remorse and longing. And love.
I felt a few tears roll down my cheek. "You better go, Peter," I said, almost choking on my words. I hugged him close once more, wondering if this would be the last chance I would ever have. "You don't want to risk becoming a man."
He held onto me for a few more moments. But I guess he was never one for long goodbyes. He didn't even meet my eye again before he flew out from underneath my blanket. By the time I untangled it from myself and looked toward the open window, he was gone.
Since then, he hasn't come back. And all the time I question myself. Second guess myself. Wonder if things might have worked out differently if I had just said something else. Something different. Said whatever it was he had wanted to hear. And since that night, I care nothing for sunrises. They mean nothing to me. But I never let myself miss a sunset. Blue turning to pink, turning to orange, turning to red. Sunsets mean possibilities. Sunsets mean that he might some day come back again. I know he will.