I recently took a trip to London, my favorite city. There are endless literary connections (and I made some connections to the recently-read London) but the most prevalent one for me is always Peter Pan–or more precisely, it’s prequel, The Little White Bird, or Adventures in Kensington Gardens. I wanted a writing project while I was traveling (because I write every day!) so the natural one to work on was a Peter Pan-related short story I’ve had in mind.
One of my writer friends invited me to contribute to a planned anthology of short stories, all based around a central concept–bookshops where people can actually enter into the books they open. Each short story will focus on a different character entering a different book. Peter Pan is in the public domain (mostly–it’s complicated) opening it up for this sort of story.
So I did my daily writing on vacation by working on the story of Will, who found himself falling into Peter Pan…literally! Here’s an excerpt.
Will took the book into his hands. It felt oddly warm, but not in a bad way. It was a friendly sort of feeling. He meant to open the book to the first page, but the pages seemed to twist within his fingers, and he opened instead to perhaps a quarter of the way through.
He had just read, “When playing Follow my Leader, Peter would fly close to the water and touch each shark’s tail in passing, just as in the street you may run your finger along an iron railing” when the bookshop—and rather importantly, the floor—dissolved around him.
Will found himself plummeting through the air. He screamed, arms flailing and legs kicking instinctively. Some less obvious instinct also made him hang onto the worn green book, still in one hand.
Wind rushed past him at a tremendous speed and he had only a hazy impression of great open spaces and mostly all he could think was that he was falling—falling—falling—
A hand closed around his wrist and Will stopped abruptly, hanging in empty air.
“My, but you’re loud!” a cheery voice said.
Will stopped screaming with a gulp and looked up at a small boy floating above him, holding onto his wrist, the clouds above him looking much closer than usual. The boy was blond, clad in leaves, and his smile was impudence itself. “Peter Pan?” Will croaked.
“Oh good, you’ve heard of me,” the boy—Peter, it could only be Peter—said without any sign of surprise. “Where did you come from? Can’t you fly?”
“I was—I—no, I can’t fly,” Will said confusedly, because he wasn’t altogether sure just where he had come from, and also it seemed very, very important that Peter understand that he couldn’t fly and so he should not let go. Will risked a glance downward and shuddered. Somewhere, far too far down, he could see a tossing ocean, broken only by a few shark fins.