J.M. Barrie playing Neverland with Michael Llewelyn Davies.
Photo Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons: Sylvia Llewelyn Davies.
“I can tell you EVERYTHING you want to know,” Peter boasted as Neverland came into view. “Tell me, where do you want to explore first?”
Giddy with excitement, I replied, “The Mermaid Lagoon.”
We alit on the top of a rock wall, and I could both see the mermaids chatting below. They were enclosed on three sides by rocky cliffs. Years of erosion had carved a little cave into the rock across from us. Several gray rocks jutted out of the water, smooth-topped. The mermaids lounged on these, combing their hair and looking at their reflection in the still waters. Three of the mermaids were swimming, hoping that the water would give a good healthy shine to their skin. The other two were incessantly combing their hair, jabbering back and forth about anything from the mother-of-pearl in their combs to the most recent gossip about Peter Pan.
Photo Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Art by Jean Francis Auburtin (1866-1930).
We stayed for several minutes on top of the wall, unnoticed by the girls below.
“Ready to move on?” he finally asked me.
I nodded, told him where I wanted to go next, and took hold of his hand. This time, we flew across the entire island and landed on a hill.
“Shh, listen!” Peter Pan commanded.
Stealthily, I tilted my head and listened. At first, all I heard was the staccato beating of my own heart, but then there it was! Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. It was the deceptive crocodile. The sound reverberated around the cave where he lived. I slithered down a slow incline so that I could peer into the dim grotto. His eyes were glinting wickedly and looking up at something above my head. Trying to make as little movement as possible, I looked up as well. It was a glove. A white glove. Hook’s glove.
Immediately, I scrambled back up the hill, trying not to hyperventilate. It was real, it was all real! I couldn’t believe it! I saw the world through the eyes of a child; magic was a fact of life, and fantasy lurked around every corner.
“We don’t have much time left,” Peter Pan told me. I couldn’t believe that he was so calm, when I was so breathless and full of awe.
“But the sun hasn’t even risen yet!” I exclaimed, looking out.
“That’s here. This is Neverland. Your world is what we sometimes refer to as Everland. Time moves differently between us and you.”
“Okay. Before we go, please take me to Pixie Hollow.”
Pixie Hollow was a little bit inland from Mermaid Lagoon. There was a massive Redwood tree, glowing with unearthly light. All around it were what I took to be acorn nuts, finely ground.
“Pixie dust,” said Peter Pan, kneeling and scooping some up. He put it in a small vial that he hung around his neck. “Useful when Tinker Bell isn’t around. Go on. Take some. I’ll call to you when we have to go.”
Thinking clearly, I also knelt down and sprinkled some of the yellow magical powder over my head. Then I thought about things that I loved. My friends, my family, books, dogs. I immediately rose in the air.
As I floated upward, I peered into all the nooks and crannies where the fairies lived. When they did notice my presence, they weren’t scared, but smiled and waved at me.
About halfway up the tree, I was aware of something buzzing beside my head. My first inclination was to swat it away, but I held myself back and turned my head to look. It was Tinker Bell.
Statue of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell in Dunedin Botanic Gardens, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Photo Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons: James Dignan
“Hello,” she shouted at me so I could hear her small voice. “Peter Pan said you would be visiting today.”
I glanced down. Peter Pan smirked at me impishly.
“Let me show you around,” said Tinker Bell. She splashed some blue pixie powder over my head, and I shrunk down to her size. She led me into the tree.
I was amazed by everything I saw; the little dishes; the beautiful fairies; the tight community; the way everyone interacted without any regard to differences. I was now able to hear the fairies clearly without them having to shout in my ear. They all offered me something - slippers made exclusively for ladies, gloves that they had smuggled from the foxes, caps made from acorns.
Tinker Bell brought me to Holiday Hall. Several fairies were hurriedly cleaning, using bright pink dusters to swipe away all the crumbs that had fallen on the long tables that were laid out.
“Here, drink this!” said a fairy with raven hair, hurrying over to me. I took the acorn cup and suspiciously tasted the foreign drink with my tongue. It was watery, light brown, and bittersweet, shining in the dim light.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Dandelion wine,” replied Tinker Bell. “We sweetened it with fresh cane sugar from the Winter Woods. Do you like it?”
“I love it!”
Suddenly, I heard the loud crow call of Peter Pan and knew I had to go. We escaped outside. I gave Tinker Bell a hug, and she threw some green dust on me, which made me grow until I was my normal size again.
“Only time for one last place,” said my guide. “I’ve already chosen it.”
It was only a short flight from Pixie Hollow to another tree. It was small; not as thick as the redwood tree we had just visited. Peter Pan knocked softly on the trunk, and a little door opened. The inside of the tree was hollow, and smooth enough to be used as a slide. Peter Pan bowed comically and gestured for me to go first. I climbed inside and screamed as I slid down.
I landed on my feet at the bottom or the slide and quickly got out of the way. Although the room was small, it seemed vast for being underground, and the floor was blanketed with soft yellow sand. There were lots of roots hanging down from the ceiling, neatly trimmed back so that they didn’t get in the way of the kids who lived here.
Peter Pan thumped down behind me and smiled.
“This is what I call home,” he stated proudly.
“Where are the Lost Boys?” I asked.
“Out hunting,” said Peter Pan, reading some scribbles that were written on the table. It was nothing I could have deciphered. Perhaps the Lost Boys and Peter Pan wrote in code. I would have to remember that for my journal.
The room looked like a home - clothes thrown everywhere, unmade beds, dirty dishes still on the table, and the sink over-flowing. Wanting to help these little boys, I went over to the sink and started washing the dishes.
“Oh, no need for that,” said Peter Pan hurriedly, stopping me. “The fairies come and do it weekly.”
I was jealous. I wished I had fairies that came and did my dishes for me.
“It’s been a wonderful time,” I told Peter Pan. “I will remember to always be a kid at heart. But I think it’s time to head back.”
Peter Pan agreed, and we climbed back out of the tree to make our way home.
It was lovely flight. The air was cold and clear, and the stars were just starting to dim. It was that rare time in between night and dawn.
Back at my house, I hugged Peter Pan.
“I’m sad to see you go,” I said. “I wish I could come back with you someday.”
“That’s impossible. But here - you can have this.”
From around his neck, Peter Pan brought out the vial filled with fairy dust. He gave it to me, and I took it gratefully, knowing I'd always cherish it.
“Thank you,” I said. And those were the last words I ever said to him before he flew away.