"Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it."
I look over at the petite girl as she sits on her bed, braiding her hair. "James?" She asks, not looking up from her braids. "Yes?" I ask. She pauses for a minute, pensive, then starts braiding again. "Where is your family?" This makes my stomach drop, I never expected her to ask such a question. I was unprepared, and felt my stomach churn in response. "Is it a touchy subject?" She asks, looking at me. Or, rather, seemed to look through me- as if she knew it bothered me. "Yes. It is, actually. I don't have any. I was an orphan long before Neverland." She smiles sadly at me, walking across the room toward me. The world seems to move in slow motion.
Her bare feet stretch out slightly before every step, the pads of her toes touching ground before her heel. She seems to walk with an air of grace and beauty, a kind I'd only seen on royals or aristocrats in my younger years. The world seems to return to it's normal time as she sat beside me, hugging me around my neck from the side as she leaned awkwardly against my shoulder. "I'll be your family, James, we all will." she says softly, her head on my shoulder. I wrap one arm around her and hug her close to my side. "Thank you, Alanna." She smiles, burying her face in my neck, "Call me Anna." I smile, "Okay."
When the boys arrive home, Anna is brushing my hair with an old brush of mine; a woman's brush, my mother's. The boys are smiling as they sit on one bed, talking, oblivious to Anna and I. I feel Anna run her fingers through my hair, "We should wash it. Your hair." Then I think back. How long had it been? "Peter, can you fetch some soap please?" she asks intrusively, breaking the barrier between us and them. He nods, retrieving a small bar from the top of his dresser, tossing it underhanded to her; she catches it easily responding with a curt "thank you". "This one is for you two to share until I make new ones." I nod with Anna as she grabs my hand, leading me out. "We should leave the lovebirds alone." she says with a small smile after we reach the outside world, blanketed in the darkness of night.
I laugh, "Now what made you think they're in love?" She laughs, leading me to who knows where. I hear a waterfall in the distance, realizing we must be following the sound. "You mean besides the fact they were flirting? Besides the fact I've never, and I mean never, seen my brother so giddy? Besides the fact Peter wouldn't stop blushing? I know my twin better than I know myself." My eyes widen at this, she's not as ditzy and unobservant as I thought.
Once we get there, she rolls up her sleeves and tucks the end of her dress into her shorts, pulling her hair back into a ribbon. I watch awkwardly as the moonlight shines off her skin, making it look whiter than the moon in the sky. She smiles a bit, looking at me, "Come on, stop staring and take off your shirt, I don't want to get it wet." I notice her dipping her feet in the water and nod slowly, grabbing the hem with crossed arms, pulling the shirt over my head and setting it on a dry rock nearby. I suddenly feel self-conscious about the scars littering my chest. At the attempts at my life people have made. At my own attempts. I rub my arms, the air hitting my arms makes me a bit chilly.
Seeing I'm done, she moves onto a rock in the water, peeking a foot from the surface. Nearer to the bank is a rock about 6 inches from the surface, she motions me to sit on it. As I do, she dips my head carefully into the water. My hair feels lighter and I notice bits of mud fall from my hair. She lathers my hair with the soap and I feel her massaging my scalp with her fingers. "You have beautiful hair." she says wistfully, combing her fingers through it. "Yours is much more." I can feel the warmth of her smile from behind my back, "Let's get this soap out, then we're done."
She dips me back into the water again, running her fingers through my hair, getting all the soap out. After she finished she smiled at me, "It looks much better." I roll my eyes, smiling, "Why, thanks, dearie." She laughs, hugging me from the back, "You know I didn't mean it that way." I laugh, holding onto the arms wrapped around me. "I know." There is a silence, only the sound of the waterfall crashing behind us. "James?" she asks, her chin sitting on my shoulder. "Yeah?" I ask, a small wind blowing through the trees, creating a rustling sound. "I'm about to fall asleep, I'm kinda tired." I nod, "Hold on."
I feel her nod as I pull her onto my back, wrapping my arms under her knees. I put my shirt in her hands and she holds it close to her face, as not to drop it in case she falls asleep. Once we reach the treehouse, the boys are asleep in their consecutive beds. I lean backwards over her bed and pry her arms from around my neck. I try to pry the shirt from her hands but she's snuggled up with it and I don't want to wake her so I let her have it. I run my fingers through her bangs and move them from her eyes. She smiles with her eyes closed, leaning into my hand. I smile, kissing her forehead and crawling in bed. Once I start falling asleep I realize she may have been awake. Staring at the wall and smile, in fact, I hope she was awake. It's much easier than telling her I'm interested in her. I may even like her. Possibly love. I'm willing to risk it for her, she's worth it.