Peter eyed the tightly closed window and tried hard to peek through it. What were they trying to keep out, anyhow? Overexcited fairies?
Tinkerbell, his very own overexcited fairy, also attempted to peek through the opaque shutters. He would have given up in an instant (as boys are easily distracted and would sooner go off and fly around Jupiter than try to pry open a closed window), but there was an uncharacteristic sort of urgency in his heart.
"Her name is Wendy, right?" he asked Tinkerbell. Now that he had thought back toward it, he remembered promising a dear friend that he would come back and listen to her stories, but once the shutters were closed shut, his mind had wandered, and he went off gallivanting on his own amazing adventures. A boy like Peter Pan hardly dwelled on the past; they were ever always living in the starry, bright-eyed future.
"She always said growing up was a big adventure, but I have quite enough of those," he told Tink confidently as he scratched at the window, confirming the strong wood. "Wendy must have made many new stories in all that time." He frowned. "It has been a long time, I think." The unexplained fear continued to tug inside him, so irritatingly in fact that he swiped at his chest a few time, just to see if it would leave.
It didn't. Trying to swat it away from his mind, he said dreamily, "Growing up would be sort of interesting. You get bigger. And smarter. And I'm sure you can fly higher too."
He poked hard at the window. It was just how he had left it, besides the fact that it was closed. Peter laughed out loud as another memory sifted toward the surface. Hook had aimed gigantic cannonballs on first sight of Wendy, but it had taken only the Lost Boys' peashooters to shoot her down. Hook. Why was he so zealous and impatient in killing him anyway? Not that Peter was complaining; it was great fun. But Hook had forever. He could hunt Peter for as long as he wanted. No rush at all.
Flying back for momentum, he kicked at the stubborn window. "Captain Hook is a big, ugly grownup," he informed Tink, who already knew this obvious fact. "But he acts like he has no time to kill me."
Suddenly, his foot froze in midair. A story Wendy had told many, many nights ago reeled into his head. In one of her versions of Sleeping Beauty, all of the people in the castle were cast into an enchanted sleep, lest when Sleeping Beauty grew up, they would all be dead. At that time, Peter neither cared no wondered about those slumbering people.
But Hook wasn't under an enchantment, and it suddenly occurred to Peter that the captain didn't have as much as time as he had first presumed. The magic in Neverland will make his life longer, he assured himself. A world without Hook would be a boring one.
There was no Neverland magic here in bitter cold London. A world without Wendy is…
"Tink." He was surprised how high his voice was. "Tink, when you grow up, you grow old too. What happens when you grow very old? So old you've made all the stories you can in your life?" The sense of panic rose in his chest as he caught the endless sadness in Tinkerbell's eyes.
Frantically, he pushed harder on the window, putting his whole weight on it. All stories came to an end, Wendy had once whispered to John and Michael as they fell asleep. But Wendy's not a story, thought Peter fearfully. She was the storyteller.
Alarm shot through his chest as he dug his fingers into the cracks of the shutters, so hard that the splinters caught into his skin and he bled. Sucking on his thumb, he screwed his face in determination again and strained against the barrier.
"Tink! Help me, please!" he yelled, tears forming in the corners of his eyes in anguish. Together, they rammed once more on the window, and it shattered onto the carpet.
Peter stood up warily and spun around. It had been remodeled into a bedroom, with musty curtains and an alarming lack of toys. There was a single candle illuminating the old nursery room, and lighted by the candle was a bed. Someone was in it.
Heart pounding, he tiptoed to the side and whispered earnestly, "Wendy? Are you there?"
He peered in and backed away with a start. This was not Peter's Wendy. Wendy's hair was chestnut brown, not the gleaming silver he saw. Her skin was not pale and wrinkled and much too delicate. And Wendy was not old.
As he was about to leave, he caught sight of the lady's palm. In it was a kiss. With wide eyes, he studied the person breathing deeply before him once more. Wendy's nose. Her chin. Even her ears. Peter had seen them all before, and memories rushed in like a gathering storm.
Blinking rapidly, he murmured to Tink, "We've been gone a long time, haven't we?"
Wendy was right. As a little boy, he was not complete. The past didn't matter to him, and so he had let it fly loose into the wind, like a handful of fine sand. But without his past, without remembering, he was only half of who he was.
He gazed at her slumbering form, a sharp knife in his throat as he struggled to breathe. She was as beautiful as she had used to be. Sleeping Beauty had been beautiful after her hundred years too.
Maybe he could wake her up gently, like all the fine Princes did in the stories. He leaned toward her awkwardly, hardly tall enough to tower her bed, and gave her a light thimble on the lips, although he was unable to stop a teardrop from falling onto her cheek.
Peter watched with joy as she opened her eyes, the one thing on her face that didn't change in the slightest. He watched her large blue eyes widen with shock and then crinkle into thin wrinkles as she smiled delightedly.
"I thought you forgot a long time ago," she noted. Even her voice had changed into a softer, wispier tone. "You've come back for the stories. I'm sorry Peter. I haven't thought much of any exciting stories to tell you."
Peter smiled and shook his head, whispering, "No. I've come back for you. You've had enough time being a grownup, Wendy. Come with me to Neverland."
She sighed sadly. "I don't believe I'm quite up for an adventure," she murmured.
He clutched her soft hand, white and so frail. "Close your eyes and you'll get there," he promised, his voice breaking. "Remember, second star to the right."
"Second star to the right," she repeated softly as her beautiful liquid-blue eyes slowly closed into an eternal dream.Peter held her hand for a few more minutes, desperately trying to contain his tears. "I'll meet you there," he said, casting one last look at her before flying through the broken window and into the midnight sky. And Peter never came back to London again. After all, the story was finally finished.