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The Boy and Neverland

a short, twisted retelling of the classic “Peter Pan”

By Danielle Joy HackettPublished 7 months ago 18 min read
2

“Goodnight my darling Wendy.” Mother whispered as not to wake my two brothers sleeping soundly in the beds next to me. She kissed my forehead gently and was swept into the light of the hallway. I watched her silhouette disappear as she shut the door swiftly, leaving me in the dark emptiness of night. I gazed around the room towards the open window as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. The breeze that came from outside was feeling more chilly than usual. And the curtains seemed more distressed this evening as the wind blew them in towards the room. The night was alive, and something lay ahead of it. Trying to comfort myself from what may take hold of my head if I lay here awake any longer, I decided to count the seconds that passed. I mimicked the sound of the tick tocking from our grandfather clock, only it made me more anxious. After I stopped, and sat in the daunting silence for what felt like an eternity, I heard a melody in the distance. It sang me into a deep sleep. That was, until it grew so loud as though it had crept through my nursery window as I slept, and was now with me in this very room. The thought startled me more than awake, but had me fully conscious now. I opened my eyes. To my surprise a little boy stood above me, casting the darkness of his shadow over me. My eyes trailed past the boy as his shadow ran across the walls of the room. Frolicing and twirling around, dancing with the little perpetual bunnies on our nursery's yellow wallpaper. Joyfully as if it could go on for longer than forever all the while humming this cadaverous tune like the lullaby singing me to sleep. Except this time, in all the excitement I couldn't find myself tired. I was too hypnotized by the wonder and magic of such a shadow. How curious I was as I'd never seen anything quite like it.

“Hey there.” His melodic voice snapped me out of the trance and my eyes glanced back over to the boy in front of me.

He looked awfully silly, and couldn’t have been less than two years younger than me. With copper eyes and hair that stood straight up like a castle atop his head. His face, well it was very familiar. He wore leaves of green and auburn around his waist to conceal his exclusives. I examined the strange sewing job that kept them tightly into their place. A golden silk-like thread has been woven back and forth between the shrubbery. It looked deathly close to a spider’s web, except for its glowing color. I should be bothered to see such a peculiar sight in my nursery, if I wasn’t so curious.

“What's going on? Did anyone ever tell you it's rude to show up unexpectedly. And at such a late hour too.” The words slipped out, I didn't mean to sound impertinent, for I was very happy to meet such a magical new friend. He didn’t answer, only responded with an unreadable look.

“Well? Where from may I ask?”.

“A place where dreams are born, and time is never planned.” He spoke confidently.

“How fun!”

Together, me and the boy stayed up until the sun arose and bathed us in her warm morning glow. He showed me all sorts of magical things like his fairy friend, who didn't seem to take much interest in me. He told tales from his land of mermaids and pirates, one particularly who had once sailed all the sea in attempts to capture and kill him in a duel. He jumped up as if he felt a great triumph as he told me his story of survival. The boy also told me he could fly, and that he had flown right into the room last night as I was sleeping. I laughed at him of course but he threw his arms into a crossed position and pouted his lip after speaking “Well now I won't show you tonight!” I wasn’t angry though, for this meant he was going to return to me and bring all of the enchantment with him. However when the dawn broke, the boy seemed troubled.

“Whatever is the matter?” I had only asked to reassure him although he didn’t seem to notice the concern in my voice.

“I must go!” He cried out.

“I’ve spent far too much time away from my island. I must go back now.” He jolted upright, collected his shadow and stood staring down at me, one hand on each hip.

“Oh please come back! I must see you again and hear more tales of your great bravery.” I nearly begged him, and was about to grab at his ankles before the door swung open.

“Whatever is the matter here? Wendy are you alright?” Mother stared down at me on the bedroom floor as I wiped my tears.

I turned around to see the boy again, but was bewildered to see nothing but an empty room full of toys. The window was open still, but the curtains were ever so calm this peaceful morning. I turned back around towards Mother and silently prayed to see him once again tonight. Then I told her all about the remarkable evening I had just shared with the boy.

“He disappeared right outside that window! You must have scared him off.” I ended.

“Oh dear, I guess we better shut it tightly tonight.” She laughed.

I had been eagerly awaiting bedtime all day. I was hardly able to focus on my studies and during playtime, I only boasted about last night's adventures to my little brothers. They seemed thrilled by the ideas and were glamoured as I re-told all of the boys' stories to them. They, too, wanted to experience the magic and meet my new friend after dark. I only hoped he would show up. Mother had read us all a story of magical spells, and knights in shining armor. We didn’t listen to a word she spoke though. Maybe because we had heard it all before and no one likes a spoiled ending, or perhaps it was because we couldn't contain our excitement. Very soon would Mother kiss our heads and leave us to sleep, then the adventure would continue once again. Except this time, with us all. We said our prayers together, then Mother placed a peck on each of our foreheads and disappeared back into the hallway as always. It felt as though an endless amount of time had passed, and I could hardly keep my eyes open any longer. I decided it was okay if I shut them for a quick few seconds, just to rest them in preparation for the late night that awaited me. Except a few seconds didn’t seem long enough, if I could have just kept them closed a little while longer and perhaps the boy won’t come while they are shut. Yes, that idea found comfort in me. The darkness behind my eyelids was soothing like a warm bath and I let myself drown in it. I awoke to the sound of a song, identical to the one from last night. I looked around to see my brothers fast asleep in their little metal beds. They were going to miss it all. I jumped out of my own to save them, and ran to shake their bodies awake. But they were too far gone into their slumber, so I decided to get up towards the window and watch the much anticipated arrival of my friend. When I pursued forward and stood up off the bed, I turned to see the boy right behind me with a grin that spread from ear to ear. He was back. We played for hours with all sorts of strange gadgets he brought over from his island. He showed me things like wooden slingshots and swords enhanced with magic, while I introduced him to our plain old toy trains, tops and marionettes. He seemed so fascinated by everything, I promised to let him take some home to his mysterious island. We stayed up again until the morning fell upon us. The forenoon had become a sad reminder that we once again had to part. The boy and I stood by the window watching the sun rise past the clock tower, when he took my hand in his. He started to speak but I stopped him before he could make the words out.

“Is this real or only a figment of my imagination?” I wanted to believe, I had up until this point, but it all seemed too good to be true.

“Of course this is real. You just have to believe.” His answer was assertive with a subtle trace of offense that I had questioned his existence, but I knew he'd never let me know that.

“Prove it.”

“How?”

“Kiss me.”

His eyes fluttered in confusion but he ignored his own thoughts and with a sigh, pulled from his pocket an acorn. I laughed, and informed him of the simple mistake then told him what a kiss meant here in London.

“Why would anyone do that?” The bafflement on his face was easy to read like one of our story books.

“I just want to know if you truly do exist. Therefore if I feel the kiss I will know it's true. That you are standing in front of my eyes. And if not, well then I guess I have the most brilliant mind to make up such a spectacle.” I told him that a kiss would reassure me.

“Alright then.” He followed the sentence by setting a quick kiss on my lips.

I felt it all. Soon after the event as we giggled and ventured on playing games of tomfoolery, I heard mothers footsteps approach the nursery door. We both sprung up into action as if it were a monster approaching the both of us. But before he left again, there was one thing I had to ask. A question that had been burning inside me, growing hotter with each passing hour we spent together. It was time for me to release the fire, so I asked the boy for his name.

“Peter.”

With that, the door sprung open, Mother stood in the doorway as destiny planned, and the boy was once again gone.

Mother shut the window of the nursery tightly tonight after kissing the top of my head. She followed Father outside and closed the door carefully behind them. This evening they had both been concerned as my brothers pestered me and convinced them that I was not only dreaming it all, but imagining the events fully awake. They had lied to Mother and Father about being asleep last night. They continued to say that they had been awake for most of my adventure and that it was just me pursuing nonsense, talking to myself and parading around the room all alone. They just hadn’t been able to believe, and without faith they couldn’t understand. When I told Mother about Peter yesterday morning, I remember a worried look had washed across her face. She told me that Peter was the name of a boy who had lived next door, that he’d fallen ill and died from tuberculosis just a few years back. I encouraged Mother that I had known him once, but that it wasn’t the same boy from the island. She was quick to pick up the telly to where I assumed she sought counsel from a neighbor, because my words didn't seem to uplift her as I had hoped and she remained troubled. Peter visited my room again as I had prayed for tonight. I was growing tired and restless from a mixture of excitement and lack of sleep the last few evenings. So his brisk arrival had me quite relieved. I asked him if tonight we could spend less time buzzing around the room, but rather sharing more stories of life on the island. He nodded and began to tell me this tale of the same pirate he once fought. Peter mentioned the hook for his left hand. His arch nemesis, an alligator had bitten it off long ago. The hook-handed pirate swore to one day defeat the gator once and for all, and lured the reptile into swallowing a small pocket watch. That way, when it approached the pirate again, he could hear the tick tocking of the clock from afar and prepare to fight the gator one last time. I marveled over the story, and clapped as he took a bow.

“You should come with me Wendy. To Neverland, my island.” He offered the invitation with a smile.

“If only I could come with you tonight. But I have an appointment to see the doctor tomorrow evening.”

“Are you sick?”

“Oh no, it’s just a simple visit. Mother said there's nothing to worry about.” I tried to comfort him.

“You know, where I live no one ever gets sick, they don’t even die. On my island, you don’t grow old.” His voice mocked persistence and made the offer seem unrefusable. Except I found that idea entirely sad. However there was a great part of me that longed to see it all myself and experience the adventure first hand.

“Alright then. I would love to visit and see it someday Peter. If only you'd teach me to fly and take me there.” It came out more eager than I had thought I was.

“Very soon.” And he continued to share stories of valor and marvel until the sun made her timingly entrance again and the boy had to go back home.

By this time, a few weeks passed and although I had seen Peter every night since his first appearance, I always looked forward to when the moon and stars came out. There was never a dull moment with the boy, and each visit was filled with wonderment. I watched as he flew into my new room. His shadow followed closely behind him, gliding around the walls, except it didn’t hum a sweet tune or dance around the wallpaper as it once did. No, there wasn’t any wallpaper decorating these walls. The room was ever so glum here in my new home. I think the paint would agree with me, as it barely wanted to stay stuck to the walls and so instead it sat slumped over and peeled from its place. There weren't any toys here, but Peter had gotten used to bringing some from Neverland to keep me occupied. Most days I sat alone on my bed as it was really the only thing to do in here. I didn’t mind it too much though, Mother and Father came to visit often and usually brought John and Michael to play. And Peter's frequent visits always made it worth the while as his presence filled the entire room with excitement.

“Peter, it's so good to see you! I miss you, all the time I do. The only thing that gets me through these gloomy days is knowing that soon I will get to adventure alongside you. Please don’t leave me again.” I hadn't the soul to pretend to love this place any longer. My head and heart had grown heavy and tired of it all.

“Don't fret. Soon I will take you to Neverland and we will never part again. Doesn't that sound like fun Wendy?” He grabbed my hand, leaned over and kissed me.

“Is it scary?” I had to ask as his reassurance was hard to take.

“Oh no you'll be having too much fun to worry.” He spoke with a gentle grin, and a twinkle in his copper eyes.

The rest of the night was spent playfully dueling. Peter wanted to teach me to sword fight in case a moment for the skill arose on the island one day. He brought with him in his hand a sword to equip me for the battle. This time, rather than just his usual waist band of leaves, he wore a leather sheath and pulled from it a second sword. The details were beautiful, as they were both carved with pictures of bunnies and flowers, reminding me of the wallpaper back at home that I missed seeing so dearly. I would use my grief as a weapon in battle and was committed to winning this brawl against Peter. He stood in front of me, positioned as my little brothers had whenever we played pretend as villains. One foot planted firm in the ground ahead, while the other placed strategically behind, ready to pounce forward during an attack. I mirrored his posture and when he said the word, we started our combat. I hit him a few times in the side and he fell over with each thrash, pretending to die a theatrical death. He hit me a couple more times, and I did the same. My voice must have been too believable when I pretended to cry out in pain after each strike. The nurse used to be worried of the sounds and came rushing in to help, but after time she has just grown used to me and Peter’s antics. Before he left when morning arrived, the boy said he believed I was finally ready and that the next time he came, he would take me to Neverland. I beamed with excitement as I watched him fly away.

All day, different nurses took turns supervising me. It wasn’t out of the ordinary, but they weren’t the friendly people like Mother and Father had promised they'd be. I danced around my room giddily for tonight was the night I would meet all of Peter’s friends and become acquainted with his island home. During my stay here however, I was asked a few times to converse with the other children in the playroom, but I never enjoyed my time there. If I found the nurses unpleasant, the children were only more sour towards me. Things always ended in anger. And when I refused to participate in my studies with the other youth, I was quick to be disciplined. They told my parents that I was reserved here, and my behavior was becoming undeterminable. I had heard though that it wasn't out of the ordinary and in fact very normal for a child like me. Nonetheless, I reassured Mother and Father once again, and told them that nobody here understood me. My parents pulled me into a deep hug and answered that they already knew. I layed in bed, head resting well on my pillow and stared outside the shattered window that sat so high in the dullness of my room. I had broken it the first night I stayed here, because it locked Peter outside. I recall, he knocked for a while before I had realized that he’d found me in my new place. When I had finally noticed him outside the window I rejoiced and used a wooden drawer from my night table to break the glass and allow him in. The moon was bigger and brighter tonight. I couldn't wait to take flight off towards it. I imagined all the great things I would fly by on my journey to Neverland, and all the miracles of London I could introduce to Peter. I got up from my bed, and pulled my nightgown down to my feet as I stood up. Its white fabric shone like crystals under the moonlight and flowed mystically through the wind. “How much more magnificent would it look from up there?” I thought to myself as I looked out to the night sky. So magnificent my mind ached. I grabbed hold of the night table beside my bed and dragged it with me across the room to the window. It had once been bolted to the wall, but alas it came apart with ease. I sat down upon the top and gazed around the floor. I missed the softness of the carpet against my feet, and the blocks, dolls, and toy bears that covered the floor of the nursery. I missed Michael and John fighting over something silly like who could impress Father the most with their summersaults. Or who could hold their breath long enough for one's face to turn red as a beet. John always won. And I always cheered for him. I forced myself to smile, to cheer up. There would be no time for sorrow once Peter arrived. He flew inside riding the large gust of wind that blew through the windows cavity, and looked at me with his big, toothy grin. He stayed afloat in the air, magic whirling around him, glowing like little fireflies. The moon soaked us in her light and the stars danced around like little children in the lively atmosphere outside.

“It’s time.” He offered his hand.

“Are we going to the place where dreams are born and time is never planned?”

“Yes Wendy, and we will never have to part again.” The words sounded like that song, alluring, and they caught hold of me.

I whispered and prayed that my words would reach the ears of my parents. “Goodbye Mother. Goodbye Father. Until we meet again.”I accepted Peter's hand in my own, and squeezed tightly. Then with a deep breath of the fresh London air, I stretched my arms out wide into the night sky. My stomach filled with butterflies as my feet prepared to lift from the window sill, ready to take flight. I jumped to Neverland.

Short Story
2

About the Creator

Danielle Joy Hackett

I’m an aspiring writer with a passion for creating art from the free world around me or the worlds that exist solely inside my head. I strive to connect closely with my audience as we together experience and express the human condition.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran7 months ago

    Oh. My. God. I loved it! I did not see that coming! You're an excellent storyteller

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