Peter Pan Among the Shadows

Trouble Brewing

She didn't remember getting home so fast. She rushed up the now clean stairs and banged on the door. Mother swooped to the door and opened it to see her daughter, grimy and drenched in sweat.

"Why aren't you at school?! Why did I find your school supplies on the balcony?"

Victoria rushed into her mother's arms, regardless of the scolding. Mrs. Robertson staggered back in confusion, almost willing her daughter to get her dirty hands off of her dress.

"Oh, Mother! Something awful happened!"

Mrs. Robertson leaned down to her daughter, noting the tear streams breaking through the dirt, her hair stuck to her head, and the dust coming off of her shoulders.

"What are you talking about? Weren't you on your way to school?"

"Yes, but-"

"And what happened to get yourself all dirty?!"

"I..."

Her mother stared with interrogating, cold green eyes, piercing her soul. She knew me, Victoria thought. She wouldn't believe me...

"I... just wanted to skip school."

Victoria felt the Earthquake beneath her feet.

"YOU WHAT?! You said you did well on the test?! Were you lying?"

She looked at her mother with wide eyes and a shameful frown.

"No."

"Then why did you leave school?! Father will be known of this, and we'll have to punish you for disobeying us and the teacher. If you won't give me a reason now, then I have no choice but to march you straight to school for a knuckle-rapping, and bring you back for a paddling. Do you understand me?"

Victoria could barely move her head up to nod.

"Good. Wash your face, switch your dress immediately and be downstairs in 5 minutes. We better rush in order not to miss the rest of your lessons."


Victoria's knuckles throbbed as Mother carried her books home alongside her. They walked in a cold silence as their shoes slapped the stone streets in a broken rhythm. She didn't even ask her why she never went back to school as they walked home, but then again, the answer would be for Father.

Mother sent her straight to her room, to agonizingly wait for Father to come home from the Station. Maybe today he'll come home with such astonishing news that everyone will forget this day ever happened.

She never acted like this, Victoria thought. Then again, I've never gotten into trouble either.

She closed her eyes and began to imagine what could possibly happen to make this day better: He got a police job in Paris so they can move to Mother's village near there. She could learn French and see the Palace of Versailles on a field trip. Maybe he could get promoted to a job in America. Or get invited to tea with the Queen. Or that everyone at school got sick from the lunch they ate while she was away, and she had actually missed everyone passing the disease to each other.

Yet as she thought of happy thoughts to take away the impending doom, she sensed someone else in the room with her. She immediately opened her eyes and looked around her room; under her wooden bed-frame and behind her drawers, across her vanity and moving around her clothes in the drawers.

She didn't think to check the window until she heard something rap against it. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew that it could only be one thing.

Then it flew away in a trail of feathers and cooing.

A swelling of disappointment flushed over her as she sat on the bed, not caring that the dirt on the dress migrated to her bed covers. She once again to dream of some more impossibilities to no avail.

Later, she washed the fresh tears off of her face and changed into her other dress, unlike her other school uniforms.

She heard the door creak open as the Sun dipped over the horizon, coloring the skyline orange and pink.

"Victoria Elizabeth Robertson, please come down now."

Her legs shook with each step. As she reached the banister for the stairs, she saw her Father, leaning against the wall, standing in the living room opposite Mother.

"I heard what happened today."

Victoria's eyes stared at the floor.

"I would like an explanation as to what happened today from you, Victoria. This isn't what you normally do."

It took double the effort to raise her head from the floor to answer the question.

"I-I...I was walking back to school after lunch when a pack of ruffians approached me."

"Ruffians?"

Their interest surprised her.

"Yes. Ruffians. Four big ugly boys. They wanted to kidnap me."

Her mother raised an eyebrow. Father stood straight and puffed out his chest.

"KIDNAP YOU?!? NOT MY DAUGHTER!!"

"They wanted to kidnap you?!"

"Yes, Mother! They were mentioning a man named Ichabod to me and how he needed another girl or something."

"You're getting off topic, Victoria dearest."

"Right." Victoria's face glowed as if she had an audience. Her father leaned back as the emotion drifted away from his face.

"So while they bickered amongst themselves, a pot broke in the distance. At that moment I ran. I never ran so fast in my life. I was so frightened! I ran so fast that the world looked like a blur to me. I couldn't even see the names of the stores I was passing. I think I must've passed the shoemaker's place-"

"You're getting off topic, again."

"Right. So I ran back home, but Mother wasn't there, so I ran away from the ruffians, all the way across town. They found me in an alleyway, filled with rats and mice and ugly birds. But there was this boy, with a glowing fairy on his shoulder, and a ripped shirt and pants, who fought them and distracted them so I could escape. That's why my uniform was dirty and my hair all messy when I got back home and never made it to school."

She took a deep exhale after lifting off the weight on her shoulders. At that moment she expected them to believe her- every word, except for the fairy part.

"Victoria Elizabeth Robertson, where on Earth did you find such a ridiculous excuse?!"

"Mother? You don't believe me?"

"Absolutely not," Father replied. "Never have I heard such ridiculous nonsense come from the mouth of a Robertson."

"But you must believe me!" She rushed over to her Father's hand.

"I swear it to be true!"

Father looked from his daughter to his wife.

"That test must have driven her mental, Aceline. I had no idea Maths were capable of such rubbish."

"Me too. Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?!"

Her Mother rushed next to her, her hand firmly placed on her forehead.

"She's not hot. Definitely doesn't need medicine."

Father turned to Victoria and turned her head up to meet his.

"Are you telling us the truth, Victoria?"

"Yes, Father," she insisted, nodding her head constantly.

"Then go to your room while your Mother and I have a talk."

As she walked up the stairs in confusion instead of shame, she heard her parents begin to whisper. That's how they talked in emergencies.

As she closed the door to her room in the nursery, she saw the stars twinkle in the sky. She turned towards the window and opened it to take a closer look at the sky.

Dozens of stars covered each centimeter of the sky, covered in spots by the chimney smoke and clouds. Bright orange torches lit the street as the noise from the day scattered to the wind, replaced by a lone Pan flute somewhere in the distance.


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