His hard gray eyes scrutinized me. Not kindly. Wasn't Peter Pan supposed to be jolly, fun, boyish? Not dark, depressing, and emo-like? Seriously, he looks Goth (not to be confused with ugly). All in black, from head to toe and glaring at me like I just killed Tinker Bell, is not comforting after all I've been through.
My life is not nice. I'm an orphan who no one wants. So the orphanage just lends me out for work and takes the money I earn for themselves (Their excuse is that they feed and clothe me. Puh-lease! They feed me stale scraps and dress me in rags.). I hated it all, until I started working for Jonathan. I was a day cook and maid on weekdays but on weekends he often had dinner parties with his friends and needed me to stay overnight to help attend to them. But that was not what I liked. I loved the fact that Jonathan was nice to me and treated me like a person. I didn't hurt that he allowed me access to his personal library filled with any book I could possibly want (no one taught me to read. I taught myself, and I love it.) , but the fact that after he found out the orphanage took my money; he always gave me a little extra on the side.
That all changed though 3 nights ago. When serving, I usually serve a little wine to everyone before they go to bed. Jonathan always refuses because he says that wine is not safe for him. He finally cracked, though, and drank a cup (thanks to his stupid rich friends). But then he didn't stop. And apparently alcohol is very strong and really is not good for him like he says because he completely changes in a matter of minutes (maybe an hour or two). Long story short Jonathan plus wine plus me equals pain, suffering, tears, and more pain for me. Which is why I ran.
I really didn't know where to go. I just ran and ending up in the walking path in the park. It was dark and the path was narrow and lined thickly with trees. Shadows splayed over the path that I stumbled on, stubbing my toes and falling on my face a few times. Moon light is fighting to break between the dark foliage of the trees. One ray actually makes and is shining on the path in front of me. Actually shining. But wait, no, something on the path is shining. I'm shaking, crying and dirty but I need to something to distract me from the pain in my cheek (Jonathan however gentle he is sober completely disintegrates when he's not. And he's much stronger than you would think….), so I walk to it. It's gorgeous, a shimmering Orb, with silver swirls in it, no blue then purple then silver again. Mesmerizing. But then I make the mistake of touching it. That's when I lose consciousness. And wake up in Neverland.
I didn't originally think I was in Neverland. I didn't think I was awake (or alive…) until I felt my stomach growl. That kind of pain doesn't exist in dreams. I couldn't find my way around though. The trees were unlike anything I've ever seen. Very tall and very green and very thick; they all looked the same to me and I was soon lost from the initial clearing I woke up in. I ended up staying up the whole night. I couldn't stand the thought of sleeping on the ground in the dirt and with bugs, but what really scared me was the fact that I didn't know what was here. What kind of animals? Everywhere you go something's going to try to hurt you, even if it's a human (as I've recently learned). The next day I walked some more, and stayed up all night again, with no sign of food or water. Until the third day. I was exhausted, weak, hungry and even filthier and sorer than I had been when I came in. I stumbled around mindlessly, just looking. For anything, animals, water, people. Then I heard it. I t was odd a sound. A big whoosh, then a softer whoosh. And it kept repeating. Now this made me excited because 1: This was the first sound I heard that didn't sound vaguely familiar or even animal like since I've been. And 2: This can only mean it was the one thing I hadn't encountered here yet. Water.
I tried to waddle along toward it faster but only succeeded in falling on my face. Pull yourself together, I thought angrily to myself. You don't have energy to waste. When my feet hit that soft substance that I don't have a name for yet (I think its sand since I've read about this in some books.) I actually see what making the whoosh sound. Well, I see as best as I can, my vision is kinda blurry from the sudden light. It's a wave. I remember when I had read a book with a certain section on it. I had experimented with it as much I could, by moving my hands back in forth in the washing water and the well water, looking at ponds to see if they moved too. Usually I might be excited to actually see, touch and hear something that I could only dream about, but with my hunger and exhaustion eating away at my life all I want is water. So I take an uneven step toward it.
That's when the kid grabs me. Just pops up behind me and pulls me away (back to the woods) hissing foul things about me. About my stupidity and what if I work for Hook and how bad I smell, and so on. It's a guy with some companion that is caring my feet while he carries my arms. And I am so happy. People. Who speak my language! Who are taking me somewhere, hopefully with food! When we get to wherever it is that they have carried me they sit me on a something. I'm now completely delirious with hunger and pain, but there is certain clarity. Certain things like the Chestnut curls on the boy's head pop out at me while I can't even focus on his face. But just by listening to his voice I can tell he isn't happy.
"Peter's not gonna like this," He mutters while he looks at me (I think…?). Now I try to use my voice. My throats dry, and my throat is sore from screaming (thanks Jonathan) and I can barely comprehend what's coming out of my mouth.
"Peter?" I rasp.
"Yes, Peter. Peter Pan. Our leader. I don't think she's with Hook. She looks too stupid. Have you ever seen anyone as dark as she is? She kinda looks like an Indian or even that guy on Hook's crew. Except she's lighter than some and darker than others. What's wrong with her? She bloody and filthy and I think bruised? Maybe?" His companion speaks up.
"No duh, genius. She just has random blood on her and no bruises to go with them."
"Shut up." I try to speak again.
"Peter Pan isn't real." They stop their bickering and the first kid leans toward me. A gain something pops at me. His eyes; hazel, to go with his hair.
"Yes , he is. And he's not happy about you. So you're going to go explain to him why you're here. Right now." And that's how I came to be standing face to face with an angry Goth Peter Pan who looks like he wants to spear me, gut me, and then give me to the Clock Alligator. How wonderful.
"Name." Short and clipped. Pan obviously doesn't want to talk to me. But I choke out an answer anyway.
" Mari…" Well, part of it anyway. My name is Imari (pronounced ee-mar-re). But maybe I should change it a little bit. This is a new start, right? A new life? So I'll leave it at Mari.
"Where did you come from?" Where did I come from? That's a question I've been asking myself all my life. But where did I just come from? I rasp as much as I can.
"Death." I try to swallow but I have no more saliva. It seems like I'm going to death instead of leaving it.
"What skills do you have?" Can he not see me dyeing right in front of him? Maybe, I can negotiate…information for water? When I rasp out my demand of water (simply saying wa…), I get what I think is a snort. Or I'm just sinking deeper into delirium. Pan says something to whomever, but I soon feel myself being carried away. My eyes flutter as I wonder where I'm going… Water (life) or the Woods (Death)…..
Soft air tickled my arms in a breeze. I was dreaming the most wonderful dream. At least, I'm assuming I'm dreaming and not dead. I was in this grassy field, next to the park, back in my hometown. Whoever had bought the park didn't buy the rest of the beautiful green hills. I didn't often come here because I had to work but whenever Jonathan was busy and didn't need me at went there. It was always empty because it was more out of the way from the park. I loved it there because it was so calming, and no one could bother you.
Another breeze rushed over my arms, wrapping itself around my body. Now this is how I know this a dream. I'm wearing a long, loose pale blue dress that drapes around me. It whips around in the wind reminding of the waves I've seen in Neverland. All of the sudden I feel something cool and sweet flowing refreshingly down my throat. And that's when my eyes fly open….
When I open my eyes I look straight into Chestnut's hazel eyes. The water is still being poured down my throat (by him). He straightens up from bending over me, his cheeks looking a rosy color (blushing…?). I swallow a little finding that my throat's not dry at all compared to what I thought was my first drink. I try sitting up, placing my palms on the sides of my body and pushing but that's not working, I keep slipping. I hear a frustrated sigh which doesn't make sense seeing as I'm the one who can't sit up. All of the sudden I feel myself being lifted up, then being plopped onto my bottom (I've got some pretty god cushioning down there it seems.)
Chestnut maneuvers his back in front of my looking somewhat disgruntled. His gives me a look of extreme disgust, which I take for haughtiness on his part. But with his messy hair and dimpled I'm finding it hard to take him seriously. Another sigh escapes his lips this and begins his little rant of whatever.
"Okay," He starts, beginning to sip off my water. I narrow my eyes trying to hint that I, the ill girl, wants that water but he just ignores me. "I've been ordered to explain this whole thing to you. I'm Sneaky when on an operation, and I want you to call me that, you hear?" Oh, I heard.
"Fine, then Chestnut." I lean back a little, my back resting on something very lumpy and hard.
"Chestnut? No, call me-"
"I'm going to call you Chestnut. It fits." I turn around a little finding that I'm leaning on a sack of potatoes.
"Look I said I want to be called Sneaky!"
"And I said I'm going to call you Chestnut." He narrows his eyes and I try to narrow my eyes back but I can't keep a straight face. "Continue, please." I murmur trying to hide my smile. His exhaled loudly. God, again with the sighing! Really, so dramatic.
"Anyway, the only way you can stay here is if you are useful. If you're not then you might as well choose how you want to die." I perk up my ears at this. Die? I just came back from death! I swallow, my throat feeling dry again. "We will kick you out if you're not useful. You can either die by attempting to survive out there," He jerks his thumb at the dirt wall, indicting some invisible evil. "I doubt the Indians will help you. Or you can try to join Hook's crew." He smirks then, as if the idea of me joining some pirates is sooo funny. "If they don't kill you, they'll hurt you enough. So much you'll either kill yourself or wait for Pan to come for you." The idea of dying by Pan's hands seemed a little more sadistic then I cared for… At least that was the way Chestnut was making it sound. I try to speak my voice tinier then I thought it would be.
"What is it that I could do to stay here?" I cast my eyes down wondering just what I could possibly do to stay here. It didn't seem like they needed a mother like in the stories… I hear some quiet shuffling and a little trickling of something. Out of nowhere Chestnut's voice floats softly into my ear, scaring the crap out of me.
"Lay down." Oh my GOD! What does he want? I find myself panicking wondering if I could escape this situation. I can't, I thought despairingly. Not if I couldn't even do it when I was healthy. Tears flood my vision as I come to this realization. He places a strong hand on my shoulder forcing me down. Then I feel something wet on my lips. Water? I part my lips slowly, and then eagerly begin to drink the refreshing liquid.
"Relax," Chestnut cheeks once again have that rosy tint (why only when he gets close to me?). "You're over exhausted. Relax, get some rest. There should be something for you to do here, so don't worry." Relief washes over me as I sip at the liquid. How could I have thought he would do something to me? I guiltily decide that I soon as I'm well I'll become friends with him. He seemed likeable enough, even funny to talk to. Unlike that Pan, I thought lazily to myself…..My eyes felt heavy…he was right… I was tired….