It was the turn of the century, the beginning of a new era…and it was marked by a tragedy. It was the sinking of the great, grand ship everyone had been talking about—the Titanic. It had been declared unsinkable, which was perhaps the reason why it caused such a big stir when it sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean several months ago, killing more than half its passengers. And yet, in wake of this tragedy, the first thing that came to my mind was quite another ship. A pirate ship by the name of The Jolly Roger.
Every time I heard of a ship, that pirate ship popped into my mind, as clear as if I could still see it in the night sky. But as I pondered on these things I realized exactly how much time had passed since I had seen it.
It had been almost nine years since I'd last seen him—the boy with the red hair and spirit that no one could tame—and yet his face was still clearly etched in my mind, as if branded there for life. If I closed my eyes I could still catch a glimpse of the magnificent feeling that flying brought, and the strange emotions I felt when I almost kissed Peter—feelings I didn't quite understand back then. But whenever I opened my eyes again those long-ago memories disappeared, and I realized that I was still in the real world…and I was no longer a little girl. I myself was living proof of that, as well as John and Michael.
At sixteen, John had grown into a fine young man, more sophisticated than most children his age. He was on the verge of becoming a man, only a month or two shy of his seventeenth birthday, and had stopped believing in Peter Pan when he turned ten, arguing that our adventure to Neverland had been nothing more than a dream—a mere illusion. I tried to tell him that it was impossible we all had the same dream, but he would hear none of it. He had made his mind up not to believe.
Michael, on the other hand, still firmly believing in Peter Pan. At twelve, Michael was still a kid at heart. He loved to play pirates, although he had to play by himself ever since John decided he was "too old for such nonsense," as he put it. The boys in his class would make fun of him when he told them he went to Neverland, and as of late, he got into a couple fights over it. Sometimes I would play with Michael, and often, (since I was the only one in the house besides Michael who believed in Peter Pan) I would tell him stories of Neverland. My father, as always, disapproved of the stories, but was even more insistent as of lately that I needed to leave those childish things behind so I could become a proper young lady. At twenty-one years old, I felt like my life was being decided for me, instead of deciding what I wanted to do with it.
It all started when I turned nineteen. My father took me to a business party at the bank, along with my mother, leaving John in charge of Michael. It was like any other social outing, except my father had something planned for me that evening. That was the evening my feet were bound with shackles and I felt my freedom being taken away.
That was the night I met Edward.
"Wendy, darling, I would like you to meet my dear friend, Mr. Charles Jones," my father announced, making a sweeping gesture at a man in a top hat and coat that stood in front of me. He had on a polite smile and a certain twinkle in his eyes.
"Pleasure to meet you." Almost as a reflex, I curtsied.
"The pleasure is all mine, Miss Darling," Mr. Jones said, then he turned around. "Edward, come here." A moment later a young man about my age stepped up next to him, looking up at him expectantly. "Edward, I would like you to meet Miss Wendy Darling." He gave his son a bright smile as he gestured towards me, then turned his eyes back over to me. "Wendy, this is my son Edward."
Edward turned to look at me and as he did a smile spread across his face. Before I could speak he grabbed my hand and kissed the top. "Pleasure to meet you, Wendy."
I forced a smile and pulled my hand away, feeling slightly uncomfortable with his boldness. "The pleasure is all mine." I recited the courteous line like a skilled actor.
The rest of the night was filled with forced laughter, fake smiles, and routine gestures. Eventually, Father, Mother and I retired to our carriage and set off for home. As the familiar sound of horse hooves against cobblestone filled my ears, I leaned my head against my mother's shoulder and dozed off. I was just about to crossover into dreamland when my father's voice pulled me back, jolting me awake.
My head snapped up at the sound of my name and I forced my tired eyes open to look at him.
"Hm?" I asked, unable to keep the tiredness out of my voice.
"Your mother and I have something to tell you." A smile started to play at the corner's of his lips.
"What is it?" I asked drowsily.
"As you know, we have been taking into careful consideration your future. You are growing into quite a fine young lady, and as such, it is nearing time for you to marry," my father began.
"Yes, I know, father."
"Darling, do you remember that young man you met at the party? Edward?" my mother asked, seemingly changing the subject. I nodded, but didn't understand. My mind was still hazy from the exhausting evening, and I was having a hard time trying to decipher what they were trying to say.
"Yes, what of him?" I looked at both my parent in utter confusion.
"Well, to be quite frank...I talked with Edward's father last week and we agreed that you will marry Edward," my father said. This was enough to chase my lethargy away completely.
"Marry Edward?" I gasped, sure that I had misheard them in my half-asleep state.
"Yes, isn't it wonderful, my dear?" my mother beamed, putting a hand on my shoulder.
"But…but why?" I asked, unable to keep the fear from creeping into my voice. The smile fell from my mother's face.
"Why, aren't you happy, Wendy? Edward comes from a wealthy family, and this will ensure your comfort and happiness," she said, speaking in a soothing manner, but nothing could calm me right now.
"My comfort maybe, but not my happiness. I don't love him!" I protested, and suddenly the smile on my father's face turned into a scowl, but before he could speak my mother pressed her hand against my cheek in an effort to soothe me.
"You will, my dear. You will with time."
"Wendy, we're doing this because we love you. It is a very fine match, you and Edward," my father said, irritation biting at his voice.
"But I…I hardly know him!" I said, exasperated because my protests and excuses were becoming fewer.
"There will be time to get to know him. There is to be a two year engagement period," my mother said, thinking this would calm my spirit, but all it did was make me think of how much time I had to figure a way out of this.
That night my mother came to my bedroom and sat down on the bed next to me, where I sat with my knees drawn up to my chin. My mother put a hand on my shoulder, but I couldn't bring myself to look her in the eye. How could they do this?
"It's not as terrible as you think, my dear. Edward is a nice young man, and he will be able to provide for and take care of you. You will be as happy with him as I am with your father," she said before leaning over to kiss my forehead, just like she did when I was a young girl. "Goodnight, Wendy."
That was two years ago, and since then I got to know Edward very well, as my mother said I would. He was a nice young man, someone a lady like me should love. He was perfect…but he was also perfectly dull. He was the silent type, and not very adventurous or daring. Put simply, he was boring. He also didn't believe in Peter Pan. Whenever I told him of how I went off to Neverland he would smile, pat my hand, and say, "I think it's lovely that you have such a fertile imagination. They will make great stories for our children someday, but that's all they are…stories." Oh, how it enraged me!
But as I walked home from the bakers shop with a bag of flour, I knew I had to face the facts. Today was my twenty-first birthday, and my last night as a free woman, for tomorrow was to be my wedding day. Today my mother was putting together a birthday party and a goodbye party, because after I married Edward we would be moving to York, all the way across England, and so very far away from my family. Edward had accepted a job at a bank there, so as his wife, it would be my duty to follow him wherever he went.
I hugged my frock coat closer as I walked along the London streets that were left muddy and wet from last night's rain. London was hit by a thunderstorm a few nights ago and the rain had left a bitter cold still clinging to the air, but as usual, the heat generated by Londoners going about their usual business kept it from becoming too cold. I made sure to side-step the bigger mud puddles so the hem of my skirt wouldn't get dirty. Father would have a fit if I ruined it, and I had to keep up my appearance, for Edward was coming to the celebration tonight. Everyone seemed to be in a festive mood, as I could see from the early Christmas decoration on the lamp posts and the festive wreaths on the doors of London penthouses. Christmas was only a month away, and it was a shame I wouldn't be able to spend it with my family.
I noticed a telephone booth up ahead and my eyes widened when I saw Edward standing inside. I stopped, but then took a step forward, knowing that if I stood still in the middle of the sidewalk I'd only draw attention to myself, and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I finally decided to try and put my hand up and cover my face, but before I could his eyes turned and caught sight of me. I saw his mouth move quickly before he put the telephone back on it's hook. He rushed out of the booth and over to me.
"Hello, Wendy. What are you doing out this fine afternoon?"
"I am bringing mother flour for the cake tonight." I tried to pick up the pace, but the skirt I was wearing was very binding. It was pinching me at the knees and wrapping around my lower legs tightly, making it difficult for me to walk, even with small steps and a slow pace; I almost had to hobble down the street. I never would understand why these skirts were so popular among women, they could hardly be walked in!
"May I escort you home?" He held out an arm.
"It's really not necessary…" I started, but he held up a hand to silence me.
I knew there would be no way to get rid of him, so I gave in and took his outstretched arm. We walked in silence; Edward was comfortable with it, but since I loved to talk, I hated it. When I finally got to my door I turned to Edward and nodded.
"Thank you," I stated briskly. Edward tipped his hat and started down the street. I quickly dodged inside and walked into the kitchen to find my mother busily mixing ingredient in a bowl.
"Thank you, Wendy," she said, setting down the bowl to take the flour from my hands. She looked down at my skirt and a smile played at the corner of her lips. "Go up and change into another gown for tonight, your skirt has a bit of mud on the hem."
My cheeks flushed pink when I looked down and saw dirt all along the hemline. I dashed up to my room and changed into a dress for tonight's celebration—one that didn't bind my legs and allowed me to move freely. As I was smoothed the folds of my dress I heard a soft knock on my door and went over to open it. I found Michael standing there with a bored expression on his face.
"Wendy, can you tell me a Peter Pan story?" he asked. With a smile, I opened the door for him to come in. He ran over to my bed and hopped up on it.
"Which one would you like to hear?"
"One with Captain Hook."
"All right…well, there was this one time when Captain Hook stole Tinker Bell from Peter Pan, and Peter and the Lost Boys went to rescue her…" I began. When I was done with the story Michael had a troubled look on his face, unlike the previous times when I told him stories and he beamed at me when they were over.
"What's wrong, Michael?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"How come Captain Hook never wins?"
"Because he's the bad guy, and the good guy always wins."
Michael furrowed his eyebrows before responding. "John says that Peter Pan isn't real because in real life the good guys don't always win, and sometimes the bad guys are actually the good guys."
"Well, I suppose that's true sometimes." I had never thought about that before.
"Wendy, do you think that maybe Captain Hook is really the good guy, and Peter is the bad guy?" he asked, his wide, innocent eyes full of worry. I shook my head fervently before smiling at him.
"No, Michael. Peter Pan is definitely the good guy," I said before reaching out to tickle Michael. He tried to dart away but I caught him and he fell back onto the bed laughing, trying to escape from my grasp. After a minute I pulled away.
"And you shouldn't believe everything John says. Wanna know why?"
Michael sat up and smiled. "Why?"
"Because Peter Pan has never, ever lost a fight to that dastardly Captain Hook, and he never will."
My story is based primarily on the 1953 Disney version, but the temperament, personality, and what I imagine Hook looking like is taken from the 2003 live-action movie. Hope you enjoy! :)