Return to Me
“PATIENT SUFFERING FROM ACUTE INSOMNIA.”
" -- inability to differentiate between fantasy and reality.”
" -- complains of vivid nightmares frequently.”
“Please... she’s just a girl.”
“Ma’am, she’s nearly eighteen. She needs to learn how to act like an adult.”
" -- we just need to study her. Document her thoughts. You want us to fix her, don’t you?”
“...my daughter is not broken.”
“Ma’am, that’s not what we meant --”
“Then what do you mean, professor, because as far as I am concerned, all you are doing is insulting me.”
Silence. Only, much more tense. Much.
One of the professors hands the fair Darling mother with a handbound, leather journal.
“You say your daughter’s been acting strangely since she and her brothers came back from... oh, what was the name?”
“Neverland. My children called it Neverland.”
“Right... well, that was five years ago. Who knows what’s going on her mind? If we bring her here and interrogate her thoughts by force, she’ll surely push us away. But if you ask her to document her nightmares and thoughts and ramblings in here,” the journal, new and untouched, was slid across the mahogany table, “then we can be able to see what’s truly bothering your daughter.”
“I can’t lie to my Wendy. This is trickery.”
“You won’t be lying, miss, because it is a gift, only, you’ll just return it to us to examine. And pardon me for my correction, madam, but it is an experiment, not a trick.”
“And you’re sure you’ll find out what’s bothering her?”
“Time will only tell.”
How unfortunate that in Neverland, time stops to a standstill.
- x -
Entry one ; December 4th, 1916.
You’re a gift from mother.
Only, I didn’t ask for one, so I debated on whether or not I should throw you away and pretend I’ve lost you. But for now, you’re lying in Matthew’s spot. You should be honoured. Though I have no use for you. I thought it was quite obtrusive and spontaneous for mother to be giving me such gifts, especially after her withdrawal from me. But a journal it was and a journal you shall be.
Entry two; December 5th, 1916.
Maybe I am going insane like they say. If so, I don’t feel any different. Things were so much simpler when I was younger, and feelings were more clear. Anger. Happiness. Sadness. Now, it’s all a jumbled mess of paralysis that I can’t seem to figure out. Maybe that mixture is called insanity, and since I am feeling it, then I am insane.
I don’t know what else to write in you. My name is Wendy Moira Angela Darling. I am of eighteen years of age. I am insane. I miss a lot of things. I miss being able to go to school without stares. I miss my father being able to be proud of me. I miss Matthew. (It’s been a month since he passed. His mother moved away. If I tried hard enough, I can still hear her crying. Or maybe it’s just me? I’ve lost track.) I miss my brothers.
I have eight in all; John, Michael, Curly, Nibs, Tootles, Slightly, and the Twins. We don’t like to call them the Lost Boys anymore. Mother and Father found it absurd that they came from Neverland, so they disposed of the idea and instead told the neighbors that they were from the orphanage and the Darlings were struck with pity and a desire to adopt six different sons all at one time. Because of this, the Lost Boys and John and Michael forgot about Neverland. I don’t think they have the same nightmares as I do. They are so fortunate.
I will never forget Neverland, simply because it won’t let me.
Sometimes, I wish it would.
Peter is too painful. He is selfish. Journal, I hate him. Not because he has forgotten, because he has many adventures and is bound to forget. But about what he has left behind. The carnage and the debris left in his wake that has made me like this.
Some nights, late during the evening, I wish he hadn’t come through the window.
Entry three; December 7th, 1916.
This boy talked to me today during class. He was new to the academy and didn’t quite hear of the unspoken rule: don’t interact with the mentally disturbed. It caused quite an uproar in everyone except me.
Entry four; December 8th, 1916.
Peter is an unsual person. Nothing like the Peter from my nightmares.
He’s quite mature and dreams of growing up to become a soldier. The only reason he hasn’t been called is because he has a faulty leg. He walks on crutches when he doesn’t have his cane, and wishes he could fly, but of course, he can’t. He says he was born with it, and resents his crutches with a deep passion.
He’s kind and awfully loud and talkative. But he’s generous. Even on crutches, he offers to lend a hand to carry my books. I always refuse because he’s a horrid blend of Matthew and the real Peter that I can’t bear it.
He’s quite nice, though.
Entry five; December 9th, 1916.
Mother is pleased at how I’m keeping up with you, journal. I had the strangest encounter with her today. She came into my bedroom whilst I was writing on your pages and before she saw me relishing her gift, I tucked it underneath my pillow and pretended nothing was wrong. She believed me, but I could’ve sworn I saw her wipe a stray tear before exiting. She kept on shaking her head and muttering apologies, but I couldn’t fathom what for.
Father came into my room today too. He was quite flushed and clearly exhausted from a long day of work. He said hello, quite exasperatedly, and tsk’ed at how I was still staying the nursery after all these years. I told him I didn’t want to let go.
He muttered, “foolish child” under his breath before leaving, like everyone else.
Entry six; December 10th. 1916.
I have a feeling my parents are sending me off somewhere. I can feel it. They’ve been throwing me outward glances and whispering late at night, making arrangements and contacting other schools. Maybe they’re finally getting rid of me, once and for all.
Somehow, I’m pleased to be away from my parents’ disapproving hold, but then I remind myself how much I’ll leave behind by looking out through the window at the empty sky, and that inconspicuous second star just to the right of the horizon.
I don’t think I want to go just yet. A part of me wants to keep waiting.
Entry seven; December 12th, 1916.
Peter walked home with me this afternoon, which took me by surprise. The walk was mainly filled with silence, disrupted by the click-clacking of his crutches and his faint whistling.
I didn’t invite him to join me, and I didn’t exactly say yes to him accompanying me, but I was grateful for the company. Ever since my brothers had gone to train for the war and to various all-boys boarding schools, I’ve had to walk home by myself. It wasn’t too bad, but sometimes my thoughts became too much.
On the way, Peter and I passed by some young soldiers about our age in uniform laughing and chatting, hyped up on the idea of defending our country. Peter had gone dead silent, glancing at them for a moment, before scowling at his crutches.
Never before had I seen a boy who so wanted to become a man. What irony.
I didn’t speak of it, it would have been rude of me, but Peter simply said, “Sometimes, I wish I could just kick these off and die already.”
“I thought you wanted to fly.”
“I want to serve in the war.”
“Because they look at me strangely. A boy of a ripe eighteen and staying home? Unheard of.”
In a way, we were of the same. Both broken, in one way.
I only replied by saying, “Me too.”
“You too what?”
“To just.. die?”
“That would be an awfully big adventure.”
It had stunned me, to hear him say that. I had stopped walking completely, and stared at my shoes and at the cold snow lying on the frozen sidewalk, at the tops of the grass just barely peeking out through the whiteness.
“What? Did I say something?” he asked. His click-clacking crutches had stopped, his eyes were burning through me.
“Yes,” I nodded, becoming dizzy. “You just reminded me of a person who said the exact same thing.”
He stared at me blankly and we kept walking.
Peter had been by my side for the whole length of the walk, and I wondered where his home was. I had asked him when we arrived at my doorstep. He pointed over to the house next door, smiling warmly at my suddenly cold exterior. Matthew’s house.
Somehow, I was angry and forgot to thank him as I walked inside. Matthew’s house had been empty for a while now, and I didn’t want their space to be trespassed by some foreign people who would have no clue how much that house and all its contents had meant to me.
Entry eight; December 15th, 1916.
Woodsburgh Academy for Young Ladies.
That’s my new home. I overheard my mother weeping in her bedroom and father consoling her for her own sake. It had started out as Father’s idea and Mother had gone along with it, but not without some protests.
I don’t know how long I will be staying there, or even, when I’m going to leave. Most likely very soon. To put it simply, I feel betrayed as ever. They don’t ask me for my permission anymore; my life is a pawn in their game of wealth and reputation. That’s why I’ve been gone for a while, journal; it’s been a rough couple of days within hearing The Announcement. Had I reached such a point of no return that they had no choice but to ship me out to a school miles away?
My nightmares have gotten worse, and I have screamed so loud one night, that Peter had heard through my open window and asked me about it in the next morning on the way to school. I told him I had nightmares once in a while.
“Oh? What are they about?” He had hobbled in his crutches, and I had slowed to let him take it easy.
“What’s he like?” ”
He has your name, but is nothing like you.”
“Oh? I shall take that as a compliment, Wendy.”
I didn’t bother defending the other Peter. In fact, I didn’t bother at all trying to make conversations with Peter (the neighbor one.) I would be leaving him anyway. Another person to say goodbye to.
But one thing he had said stuck with me.
“You’re not as crazy as everyone says, you know. I find you quite interesting. Beautifully misunderstood.”
I didn’t really know what to say. So I said nothing.
Entry nine; December 16th, 1916.
Peter kissed me today, at the end of our routine afternoon walk.
And all I could think of was Neverland Peter.
How selfish of me.
In the seconds that our lips had somehow clumsily collided, fumbling for grasp without expertise, I had thought of what Neverland Peter had cruelly said about this, about love - if it was even love, maybe infatuation or blindness.
“Love? Even the sound of it offends me,” Neverland Peter had said angrily.
Does that kiss offend you Peter? Does that bother you?
Of course not, because the main difference between Neighbor Peter and Neverland Peter is that Neighbor Peter can love. You cannot.
It is part of the riddle of your being.
Entry ten; December 17th, 1916.
Tomorrow is the day I will depart for Woodsburgh, which is in the middle of a forested brook miles and miles away from London. I leave in the early morning, six o’clock, in time to make the long journey. Mother couldn’t stop crying and for once, it was she who had kept me up. It had subsided, but I know that tomorrow, it’ll be worse.
It still hasn’t hit me that I’m leaving for good. Me. Alone. Leaving the nursery, the window. How will Peter find me now? But then, the bitterness within me summons the response, “Peter hasn’t visited you in five years. Let it go.”
And so I do, I try so very hard to.
But I won’t say goodbye, not yet, I owe Peter that much.
Because as he once said, never say goodbye, because saying goodbye means going away (which I am) and going away means forgetting.
- x -
It took quite a while for Tinkerbell to find the Darling home. If a large airhead like Peter Pan could’ve forgotten so easily, imagine a tiny mind inside of a miniscule pixie trying to search through faded memories of a human girl she didn’t even quite like.
Peter had begged her to travel back to London to bring her back. He couldn’t do it himself, and numerous douses of pixie dust still hadn’t had the power to make him regain his strength. If it wasn’t for Peter’s sudden shift in appearance and weakness Tinkerbell would never have agreed to finding the Wendy Bird.
And yet, here she was, a faint yellow orb of light trying to slap away the snowflakes as she scanned the rooftops for any sort of distinction between the next gray-bricked home. But to her massive dismay and meteor-like annoyance, they all looked the exact same.
However, if Tink was to go back to Neverland empty handed, her job would be a waste, Peter would be disappointed, and there would be no hope for Neverland.
Not make people take Tinkerbell very seriously. It was quite true that she only had so much body capacity that she could only hold one emotion at a time, and at times, she was rather quite hasty and, she admits, quite envious. But if Tinkerbell was clever enough to become Peter’s trusted companion, she was smart enough to figure out that something was clearly wrong with Peter.
He had asked for Wendy, and so Wendy he shall get.
After dozens of misfired attempts at peeking through the wrong windows, a sudden gust of icy wind made Tink lose all control in her lower wings, causing her to stumble over her legs. She helplessly drifted through the winter wind, and collided with a small tree, knocking her head quite painfully on the frozen bark.
Dizzy and confused, she had no clue where to turn. The blizzard had calmed down slightly, and there weren’t as many snowflakes threatening to palm her in the face, but she was on the verge of giving up. It was freezing, and her clothes were soaking wet from the dripping cold, her muscles drooping from fatigue.
And suddenly, she saw the doghouse.
The tree she was perched on was in the backyard of a home, and she looked down at the empty, dark doghouse that seemed vaguely familiar. She hated to admit that the Darlings’ window was saved in an important place in her mind, but it was true. The Darlings were the only human beings that didn’t live in Neverland, and she remembered some of their adventures and mishaps vividly. She decided to give it one faithful shot; she was already cold and horribly exhausted, what more could another window do?
Then there was the glorious moment that Tink realized she had found it, the window, and in split seconds, she zoomed to the familiar window, excitement and pride tugging at the corners of her mischeviously upturned lips, only to have them fall into a confused frown when she reached it.
She could see through the glass, that Wendy was in her bed. The only problem was,
the window was barred.
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