A Familiar Shadow
She opened the window slowly, not wanting to push a child off of the two-story floor of the house. Tinkerbell slipped in, her mysterious sparkles lighting up the room as she examined every nook and cranny of the nursery.
She whispered as quietly as possible, exaggerating her speech so that he would get the hint.
“Whaat are yoou dooing heere?”
Tink knocked over a couple of books as she investigated Victoria’s shelf.
“I SAW YOU, AND I WANTED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING.”
She pressed her finger so hard against her lip she performed the angel’s mark. Evidently, he didn’t get the hint from before. Tinkerbell resumed tiptoeing around the room, almost subduing her curiosity.
“Why should I whisper?”
“Because, Peter, everyone’s asleep.”
“We’re not asleep.”
“No one should have to whisper if they don’t need to.”
“If we wake up my Mother, we’ll be in trouble!”
“You have a mother?!”
He slunk to the door, Tinkerbell diving in front of him with falcon’s wings. “Can I see her ugly face?”
She pulled him back, almost ripping his shirt in a new place.
“No, you cannot. She’s not ugly, either. I should be quite insulted.”
He turned to her with a look of disdain.
“But aren’t all mothers ugly?”
Peter turned back around, losing interest in seeing Mother Robertson. Tinkerbell loosened Victoria’s grip on his shirt. The two of them ended the tussle and Victoria sat on the windowsill, Tinkerbell fluttered with hummingbird wings.
“Just the ugly ones. What's your name?”
"What's your name?"
She curtseyed as she proudly recited: "Victoria Elizabeth Robertson."
He stood prouder and firmer, despite feeling only half of himself.
"I'm Peter. Peter Pan."
"Where do you come from?" She got down from the windowsill, approaching the boy in ripped clothes. He walked to the windowsill and pointed towards the sky.
"Second to the Right, and straight on 'till Morning."
She crossed her arms in confusion. "An odd place for an address."
Peter stood firm. "It's not an odd address."
"Well, that's what they put on the letters."
He shrugged. "Never get any letters."
Confusion turned to curiosity as she stepped closer. "You've never gotten any letters? No one in your family gets letters?"
He crossed his arms contentiously, almost like she did.
"No family to get them."
Her eyes widened. "So no Father or Mother?"
"Why should I need a Mother? Mothers are overrated."
She tried thinking of some retort, but he continued, walking around her in the process.
"Besides, what's the point of a home if you can't get back to it?"
Peter slumped against the vanity as he sat on the floor. He grabbed for something in his pocket and threw it where Victoria stood.
The ball of fabric almost slipped through her hands. The material felt like finely woven silk, weightless and blacker than the night sky.
“That’s my shadow. Some stupid pirate had cut it off and now I can’t fly.”
She heard a sob well up in his throat only to be subdued.
“I need a lady’s touch to attach it back on. I’ve tried everything.”
“I told you, I’m not a lady. I’m-”
She heard the agony in his voice as he ran his dirty hands through his bright hair.
“Well, what have you tried?”
“Everything!” He looked up at her with misty eyes. “Paint, water, fairy dust, stone, even the fuzzy stuff that grows on rocks! Nothing worked.”
She stared incredulously at his list. He really had no idea how putting things together worked.
“Well, I’d sew it on, but Mother has my kit in her room...Oh, I know!”
She raced to her bedside drawer and opened it, only to reach in and pull out a peculiar looking bar of-
“Soap! What a great idea!”
She knelt down near her new friend. “Not just any old soap, silly. It’s some tricky soap my father found in a novelty shop. It’s hardened glue, so anyone who uses it in the bath would be quite annoyed. And still very dirty.”
As Peter sat by the vanity, the moonlight mixed with the streetlights and fairy dust to paint his frame in orange, yellow, and white. The remnants of his shadow stretched away from the window, allowing Victoria to easily match the cut marks together.
“Will it hurt?” Peter winced in anticipation.
“Not at all. If you’d like, I’d give you a sweet for all of the trouble.”
“I like the peppermint kind,” Peter said. The curiosity washed over him, so he watched Victoria rub the soap onto the ripped parts, bringing them back together again.
He felt his shadow merge back into his body. A warm, tingling sensation overtook him. He then heard a very audible gasp from the girl next to him.
He began to float in the air, as weightless as his shadow. Victoria clasped a hand to her mouth in shock and awe.
Peter Pan could fly again.
“You’re flying...” She whispered. Her eyes fixed on his body as it reached the ceiling with the greatest of ease.
“Oh, this is wonderful! I feel whole again!” The little boy cartwheeled on air, swinging around the chandelier and hopping across the four corners of her room. Victoria watched with glee.
“I’m the cleverest boy in the world!” The smile sank from her lips.
“Hey! It was...my idea...”
“No, it wasn’t.”
“Yes, it was!” She stamped her foot in agitation as the shock and joy wore off.
He swooped in low, arms crossed as brown met hazel. It was the first time in an eternity that Peter stared down another child his size. To Peter, they were all the same, just some of them stared back.
“It may have been your idea,” She said between gritted teeth. “But it was my soap.”
“Then I shall thank your soap instead.”
He turned to the little bar on the floor.
“I promise to never forget your deeds, new friend. I owe you a debt of gratitude.”
“And what about the girl in front of you, little boy?”
He looked back at her, her lips without a kiss, and remembered.
“I just remembered the second thing I needed from you-”
“Wait, Peter. Wait. I think I hear someone opening the front door.”
Indeed there was. Someone was opening the door and locking it, calmly placing their keys in a jar near the door.
“Father?” Peter fearfully stared back at Victoria before bolting out the window and out into the night sky.
Without even a second thought, she grabbed the soap, threw it into her night-table, and buried herself inside of her bed.
She heard her Father slowly climb the steps, each footstep heavier than the last.
He passed his own room and continued down the hallway.
He reached her room. She heard him open the door, the door hinge quietly announced his presence.
He stared at her sleeping there. His precious little girl. Look how soundly she slept, he thought. How could such an angel be in a gang? Impossible.
He lost track of time while watching her.
When would he be moving?
She lay there, frozen in place, afraid to even stir.
Then he started taking a few steps into the room.
How chilly it is in this room, he thought. Surely the open window wouldn’t help.
As his attention broke from his little girl to the now-closed window, he felt tired enough to return to the hallway and gather in all of his dreams back to visit them in sleep.
Like a balloon losing air, she felt a wave of relief sway over her as he left her room to go to sleep. She sat up in her bed, expecting to see a familiar shadow grace the windowpane. Yet it didn’t show until exhaustion overtook curiosity. Peter Pan floated away after that, now armed to chase away the shadows across Bloomsbury before London awoke again.