Peter Pan Among the Shadows

New Friend

The schoolhouse felt more like a courtroom when Victoria arrived the next day. She felt their eyes pierce her, the things their parents must have said weighing on her like a bag of groceries. Her mother barely told her of the murmurs that would cover the school like a fog.

“There goes Victoria...”

“The crazy girl...”

“We had no idea she was a delinquent either...”

While in line for class, one girl asked if she ran away because she forgot to bathe that morning...

One bad day, and suddenly the world turned on her. She had only seen them as classmates, now they were enemies. No one likes to be surrounded by enemies.

She needed to run to the bathroom to avoid bursting into tears in public. She curled up in a stall with the door closed, letting every sob pass through her lips.

Every girl she thought of as a friend turned against her in a flash. Almost like what she did was against morality, against society. Being bullied was so wrong?

She didn’t hear the bathroom door open and a younger girl’s shoes slap the concrete floor.

All she heard was someone mumbling about her.

“Are you okay in there? Why are you crying?”

“I wasn’t crying,” she blurted out. “I was just- I was just...”

“Can you come out? Maybe I can help you.”

She sounded friendly enough. Her eyes dried up from the tears anyways, so with red eyes and nose sniffling, she opened the door.

The girl stood a foot shorter, with dark brown hair and a little kiss on the corner of her mouth. Her shell pin matched the blue of their uniform and her eyes shone with a deep brown.

“Wh-what’s your name?”

“Mary Cantrell. What’s yours?”

“Victoria. Robertson.”

They curtseyed to each other as Victoria rushed to the sink.

“Why were you crying, Victoria?”

“Because... Because I got in trouble yesterday for missing class.”

“Why did you miss class?” Molly leaned on a different sink with crossed legs.

“Because I got chased by a group of hoodlums.”

“Hoodlums?”

Victoria turned towards her new friend.

“Yes. I promise it’s true.”

“To be fair, Victoria, I never argued with you.”

“So you believe me?” Victoria held her heart in her hand as she awaited the answer.

“Why shouldn’t I? You don’t look like you’d lie.”

She let out a deep sigh, a smile curling on the side of her lips.

“The hoodlums weren’t the best part, though.”

“Oh?”

“No. I was saved, Mary. Saved by a boy named Peter Pan.”

“Peter, who?” Mary stepped in closer.

“Peter Pan. He’s a boy who could fly and fight off bullies with swords.”

Mary tilted her head, weighed down by widened eyes.

“Are you mad?”

Victoria’s smile drifted away.

“I thought you believed me.”

“Well, I did, until you told me that there’s a little boy running around poking bullies with swords.”

“Well... Have you ever awoke at night to the sounds of flutes playing outside?”

Mary contemplated that question far longer than expected.

“Well, yes, actually. I just thought it was the wind-”

“It was him! Peter plays the flutes at night. I saw him! Oh, you simply must come sleepover to see what I mean. He has a flying lantern called a fairy, and he flies and...”

“Let me guess, he runs across the rooftops, away from the grown-ups,” Mary interrupted.

“Yes! How did you know?”

“I don’t really know. I guess I’ve seen him but never noticed.”

“So you have seen him?!” Victoria washed her face again.

“Well, it’s hard to miss him. What with his torn shirt and all.”

In complete shock, Victoria jerked her head up, spilling water all over the place. They shared a shriek and, after seeing their dresses all wet, quietly giggled at each other.

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