So the theme of Week two of The Short Story Society is retellings.I have this idea for a novel that is a peter pan retelling so here’s a little scene for it.
Petra Pan didn’t like the word immortal. If asked to describe her situation, she would use words like eternal, everlasting,never-ending,or unfading but never immortal. The very word itself referred back to death, and the pain that everyone else had to face. The word immortal reminded her just how different she was from the rest of the world; that no matter how hard she tried, she could never be like them. She would never die, never fear death and she would never grow old. Most people hated the concept of aging, but to Petra it was almost like a fantasy.When you have lived as many years as Petra has, it was best to not remind yourself of such things, to forget about your situation and just live each moment one at a time.
That’s at least what she tried to do, but it was hard sometimes. She hadn’t always been aware of her immortality.When she had lived in Neverland, everyone lived forever so she didn’t see it as unusual.It was only when she lived amongst mortals that she realized how diffirent she was. When faced with such overwhelming feelings, she often time thought about the past. The past was just as painful as these feelings but somehow it helped.
It had been eleven years since she had been in Neverland, eleven years of wandering, of travelling,and of feeling lost. She hadn’t seen Wendy in those eleven years, it was just too painful. Petra knew that Wendy was getting engaged and she couldn’t bear to see Wendy grow up. The eleven years had been hard. It was hard to find food, to find shelter,it was hard surviving. She didn’t understand the mortal world, it was too complicated, too different. Life had never been this hard.
While there were many obstacles, she did find comfort in words. If there was anything good about the human world it was books. They transported you into a different dimension, one that was more familiar to Petra. She would spend hours in a bookshop, and just read. The owner was a old man who was partially going blind so he didn’t mind that Petra was there. She would reading about Jane Eyre,Elizabeth Bennet and Catherine Ershaw and wish that that was the human life she was living. She had to content herself with words instead of actually living it.
It was on one such trip to the bookshop, that she saw a book that was somehow familiar. It had a green illustration on it of a family surrounded by two mermaids, an Indian and a man with a hook as a hand. “Peter and Wendy.” The title read,written by a J.M Barrie. She brought the book up to the bookshop keeper.
“What’s this book?” Petra asked. The man stared blankly at her. Petra had forgotten that he was blind.
“It’s called Peter and Wendy.”
“Ah yes. My son ordered that for the bookshop. Apparently, this Barrie is quite popular. There’s a play of it, and I’ve heard he’s written other books about this character. Peter Pan his name is. He never grows up. Isn’t that interesting?” Petra thanked the man and did something that she had never done before: she stole the book. She ran out of the shop, and when she was sure that the man hadn’t realized, started walking back to where she was staying for now. She had found a tree, and it was sufficient shelter, at least until the winter came. When she got to the tree, she sat and started to read. Usually she took breaks, so she would appreciate it but she tore right through it. When she had finished,she felt tears falling down her face.Not because it was sad, or good but because someone had taken her story and ruined it. The details were different, but there was no denying that this was her story, hers and Wendy’s. She had to talk to Wendy. She would know about this.
Petra had thought about flying into Wendy’s room, but she decided to go the normal way and knocked on the door. A maid answered and looked at Petra with disdain.
“We’re not hiring.”
“I’m not looking for a job. I’m here to see Wendy Darling.”The maid didn’t say anything, and instead stared at Petra. She had gotten used to the looks, but she still didn’t understand them.
“Miss Darling is busy.”
“Tell her it’s Petra.” The maid pursed her lips but turned to go get her. Minutes later she came back and motioned for Petra to follow her.
She led Petra into the sitting room, and left. She sat down and waited for Wendy
“Petra what are you doing here?” Wendy came into the sitting room, wearing a long red dress,and sat down across from Petra.
“I need to talk to you.” Petra regretted coming. It felt as if Wendy didn’t want her to be there. This was exactly what she had been afraid of.
“ Okay but next time you come see me, please come in through the servant quarters.”
“Well, Petra you don’t look like…”
“Like a proper lady.”
“I’m wearing a dress.”
“Yes but people like you don’t associate with people like me.”
“People like me?”
“People who are colored.” The heat rose in Petra’s face as she realized why Wendy was embarrassed of her.
“Well that didn’t stop you from writing about me.” Wendy’s face went cold.
“How do you know I wrote that? It’s written by J.M Barrie.”
“No one else knows about me. I thought it could’ve been John or Michael but there’s things in there that only you know.”
“It’s not called Petra and Wendy. It’s not about you, it’s based off of you.”
“Wendy, how could you? You took my life,my story and you made it into this. You made up stuff,you made me white, and you made me PeterYou didn’t even ask me.”
“I didn’t think you would care.”
“But Wendy,you took something special, something that I had shared with you and your brothers, and turned into something completely different. You changed everything.”
“That’s what writers do.I know you don’t understand the mortal world,but writers take inspiration from real things. I don’t understand why you’re so angry.”
“It doesn’t matter. Thank you for your hospitality.” Petra got up and walked out of the sitting room. Wendy didn’t call after her and as Petra walked out of Wendy’s house, she couldn’t help but wonder if any of it was worth it. She was stuck her because of Wendy and she had never blamed her because those moments were special but Wendy had took them and shredded them apart.
Now everyone knew Peter Pan. Everyone knew about the boy who never grew up. They knew about Captain Hook, about Wendy Darling and the Lost Boys. They knew about Neverland. No one knew about Petra Pan.