Mr. Darling's Dreams
George Darling stared out the window at the snow that had just started to fall, and he felt his heart freeze with every drop that graced the ground.
Another year had passed and he was no closer to any of his dreams than he had been the year before. They lay beyond his reach, and the drawer in which they lay now seemed to be impossible to open…in fact, he had probably lost the key to it.
He sighed as he pulled himself together and turned away from the window and back towards his work.
But his mind was pulled away yet again, and he found himself looking towards one of the actual drawers in his desk. The truth was, his dreams literally were in a drawer.
He hesitantly reached a hand towards the handle…and then slowly pulled it open.
There, looking completely innocent and plain, were his dreams on over one-hundred and twenty pages of paper in a painstakingly tiny print, carefully written with a sure and steady hand. On all the pages were scenes that brought forth vivid imagery, stories that he had started telling Wendy when she was just three years old.
He wondered if she realized that her stories of Hook had started because of the stories that he'd told her.
George had created that particular character while at university. James Hook had been everything that he sometimes wanted to be…but with a bit of an evil side to him.
He was one of his greatest creations, and he was secretly thrilled at the fact that Wendy had like the character so much that she'd continued to make stories about him.
He had so many stories about the character of Hook that he'd never had the chance to tell Wendy all of them. Mr. Darling longed to turn back time, simply so that he could have the chance to tuck her into bed at night and tell her yet another story, something that he dearly missed.
His fingers barely touched the pages, but a faint tingle at the tips of his fingers reminded him of the powerful impact that those words had on his children.
Especially on Wendy.
He had written the stories mainly about James Hook, the fierce captain of the ship the Jolly Roger, but as a young girl she had latched onto Peter Pan, a minor character he had created, as her favorite, and he let her.
She had created countless stories about Pan and his adventures, including stories that had his infamous Captain Hook. Sometimes, at night, just before the children went to bed, he would listen on the other side of the door as Wendy regaled both Michael and John with her stories, and as he listened he secretly hoped that she would become a writer someday. She had a wonderfully imaginative mind and captured her younger brothers' attention so easily with her passionate words; he knew she would be great at it.
However, ever since the night that she and her brothers had disappeared and then returned, her stories, Mr. Darling had noticed, had taken a different turn. She focused less on Peter, and more on the illustrious Captain. He was no longer a purely evil villain, but a man of good taste and manners when need called for it, but with a fierce temper and uncontrollable passion for life.
That was why, according to his daughter, Captain Hook resented Peter so much. Peter had taken his hand from him, partially dulling one of his five senses.
He could no longer feel with his right hand, no longer touch, no longer hold onto anything.
He could never hold onto the wheel of his ship with two firm hands grasped tightly to the worn wood; instead he had but one hand and a hook, a poor substitute.
Sometimes he would notice a slight inflection in her tone as she would describe the man. In fact, one night in particular, only a few nights ago, stood out in his mind.
She was seventeen, and Michael and John were twelve and fourteen, respectively. They were still at an age where they could enjoy her stories, and she still told them, never growing tired of entertaining them, even though they now shared a separate room from her. The three of them would gather in her room, once the nursery, and she would sit at the window and tell them her stories.
But back to the story in question that Mr. Darling had heard.
He remembered her voice taking on a softer tone as she spoke…
"Now, today was a different day for Captain Jas. Hook, and not like any other day in Neverland. For everyone else, the sun continued to shine, the birds continued to sing, and they continued to stomp about the island, no one ever quite catching up with the other…but the captain was alone in his room on the Jolly Roger, his heart low in his chest."
"But why?" asked Michael, and Wendy quickly explained.
"Because, Michael, today was his birthday…and no one, not even his trusted first mate, Smee, had remembered it."
At hearing this, John spoke up.
"But if he doesn't get any older, like Peter, then why would it matter if it was his birthday or not?"
At that point, curious, Mr. Darling opened the door just enough so that he could peek in without being noticed and saw Wendy sigh and look out the window at hearing her younger brother's innocent enough sounding question.
Finally, she said, "Well…think about it. Even if you don't get any older, one should always have at least one day a year to celebrate the fact that they were born, shouldn't they?" She turned her eyes on both of her brothers who sat on the floor in front of her.
"You see, you two, Captain Hook, though still a dreaded pirate and fierce warrior, is also a man. A man who wants nothing more than to be recognized as still being good from time to time."
She gave the both of them a stern look.
"How would you feel if no one ever paid any other attention to you than to notice that you were frightening to them?"
At that, both of the boys' eyes dropped to the floor, and Wendy continued her story.
"So, knowing that it was his birthday, the Captain decided to do something that he hadn't done in a very long time." She paused for dramatic effect, the silence in the air charged with anticipation of what she was going to say next. "He decided to go into town and go to the local orphanage."
At this, both boys lit up at the new information and Wendy explained.
"Yes, there is an orphanage in Neverland. It is for the Lost Boys who decide that they want to grow up, but don't want to leave Neverland. They can go to the orphanage and grow up and get jobs…and even become pirates, should they wish it!"
John and Michael gasped and she continued.
"So, as Captain Hook had done once before, he went to town and walked to the local orphanage to see who was there. You see," she explained, "Lost Boys come and go, and they must go somewhere when they are found, and, sometimes, if they become pirates, they even serve on board the Jolly Roger!"
John then spoke up.
"Do we know any of the pirates on board the Jolly Roger?"
Wendy nodded. "Yes, you surely do. Remember Tommy? The little one who was always late and missed every adventure?"
Michael shook his head.
"He was only a little bit bigger than me, but he had to stay behind to watch things for us so that the pirates wouldn't find the tree house." He paused, almost as though he was remembering, but Mr. Darling laughed and shook it off. Of course they were playing one of their make-believe games!
"I miss him," said John, as though he, too, were remembering, but then he asked, "So…he's a part of the Jolly Roger crew?"
Wendy nodded again.
"Yes, he most surely is. Thomas, who was once the lost boy, Tommy, is now Back-Handed Tom, because of his great skill with the sword! He never kills, only maims, with a single back-handed swipe of his blade, and for that reason, the fact that he will not kill, he usually stays behind on the Jolly Roger while the rest of the crew is on their adventures, much as he did when he was simply Tommy, a Lost Boy."
She then forged ahead with the story.
"Captain Hook arrived at the orphanage and, you will be surprised to find out, that many of the children came rushing out to greet him! You see," she explained, her eyes bright with excitement, "He only detested Peter Pan and the Lost Boys because they were so intent on killing him and his crew, but he adored regular children who would eventually grow up, and they adored him as well. They had been told only the best of stories about him by Lady Dane, the lady who ran the orphanage and was a close acquaintance of the barbarous captain."
She turned her head towards the window once more, and Mr. Darling watched in fascination as he eyes softened slightly as she spoke.
"He gave them all sweets that he had bought in town, laughing as they pulled them from his pockets, all of them bright-eyed and eager to see him. However, there was a boy there that caught the captain's eye. He was eight years old with black hair and hazel eyes…his name was James, the same as the captain's. He was thin, but did not seem to want any sweets, hiding behind Lady Dane's skirts the entire time the captain was there. So, our Captain Hook decided that he would give some of his money to Lady Dane and ask her to take special care of the young boy until he was old enough to join his crew."
At this, both John and Michael looked perplexed at this turn of the story, but listened anyway, though it was obvious to Mr. Darling, that she was speaking more for her benefit than for theirs.
"This is an important story because it shows us, even if it doesn't show Peter Pan, that Jas. Hook does have a heart, and that even on the day that he should take for himself, he went out of his way to help someone else in need."
She stared off into the distance, her hazel eyes bright.
"And, several years from now, that boy will become a part of the Jolly Roger crew and be known as simply Jimmy, and his place will always be at the captain's side. For there is only one James in all of Neverland: Jas. Hook."
She paused again, and then continued. "And Captain Hook will eventually name this young boy, Jimmy, Captain Jim Rayne, the most honored pirate Captain in all of Neverland, and the end of the fearsome feud between pirates and Lost Boys, including Peter Pan!"
At hearing this, Michael and John shared a look and then looked back at Wendy in confusion.
"But, Wendy," protested John, "You make it sound like the end of all your stories. It isn't, is it?"
His tone sounded slightly sad and pleading, but then Wendy looked back at both of them and said, "I'm afraid it is. Captain Hook has been a villain, he's been a gentleman, and now he's fulfilled his role as teacher…the only things that he could ever be in Neverland. Now he must leave Neverland to complete his journey, and those stories, I'm afraid, are not yet written."
Michael and John looked at her again, and this time Michael spoke up.
"What's the rest of his journey then? What hasn't he done?"
"Why, he hasn't been a husband or father, of course. And, as you know, you can be neither of these in Neverland."
She gave them an elusive smile, filled with mischief, and they both smiled in return, understanding what she was trying to say to them. There would be more stories, of course, just not of Hook. They would be about the noble and honorable pirate captain, Captain Jim Rayne.
Mr. Darling smiled to himself and gently closed the door behind him, walking back to his study…
Remembering this, he pulled out the pages and held them in his hands.
Finally, he knew why he hadn't published them. They weren't finished. Feeling lightened, he walked out of his study and down to the nursery, now Wendy's room, and quietly opened her door. He saw her asleep in her bed and smiled, and then walked over to her writing desk and placed the papers on it.
He then walked out of the room, leaving a silent prayer of thanks to whomever it was that had blessed his daughter.