Inspired by and based on J.M. Barrie’s creation Peter Pan and Wendy.
= = =
When that shadow showed up at my window, I knew instantly what it was. Part of me didn’t want to let it in, but how can you keep a shadow out? I knew what it heralded. I knew who was coming. And what he was coming for. He was coming for me.
I had done something very foolish. No, very stupid. Everyone with a mind knew that a story wasn’t just a story. There was always something behind those fictions, something real. And he was. He was real. Pan. Barrie had conveniently left out the part about Pan also being an ancient Greek god, represented as a man, forever young, tripping and traipsing and stealing away young women for his enjoyment. I didn’t find that out until later, until after I had done my something stupid.
I had called him. I offered him my voice, since he couldn’t hear mermaids sing or fairies talk. I offered him my breaths to count by, as his days are but one endless summer. I offered him my memories to tell him endless stories. I offered him my heart since he doesn’t know love.
I had offered my life, myself, not to an ageless child bent on fun, but to the god of eternal summer. Peter Pan. Puck. Robin Goodfellow. I had given myself to the oldest of the Old Ones. And now he came to collect. I was to turn sixteen the next day. Age of consent. The beginning of adulthood. And, tonight, his shadow showed up at my window, slipped beneath the brace, and sat itself at the foot of my bed. Its master was soon to follow, stepping through a window that opened to admit him as if glad to see him arrive.
I could smell sunshine in his wake, leaves and salt spray on the wind that brought him to my room. He crouched there on the windowsill. He had eyes like flint, a mouth set in a line that would make even a smile look grim.
And, eventually, he did smile with hand outstretched, a voice lilting yet ancient. “Are you ready to fly? Just think a little happy thought and it will be over quick as winking.”
The shadow loomed and I felt cold. All I could do was stare past him to those stars, just as cold but ever bright. Second to the right and straight on to the light.