Wendy: A Self-Portrait at Fifty

I wouldn’t say Neverland was the real world, but it felt pretty damn close. With the beautiful merwomen grabbing me by the ankles and pulling me under. With the hook-handed men catching me by the neck and hoping I would drown. I wasn’t afraid of water. I was afraid to flounder. Peter Pan was my first kiss. I taught him how to fly. So that he may have an escape. I suppose for the same reason, he taught me how to live. That was when I was younger. We couldn’t stay there forever.

I grew up. In the headlights of the semi-truck that struck him. In the Casino billboard hovering over a brutal, broken-boned, roadside picture. In the list of their obituaries, those Lost Men—people forget, even the Lost Boys had to grow old. Sometimes, I will see the last of them on the streets, in the grocery store, in the coffee shop, and we will remember those mornings floating between the cloud cover, sun dappling sea like so many nuggets of gold floating in the water. Those mornings, we were untouchable.

I don’t bump into them much anymore. In this world, Lost Men carry suicidal hopes. And I tried telling Peter, but he’s suffering from dissociative amnesia—too many near-death experiences, I guess. But me? Just ask the empty jugs of rum spotting my counter: I’m fine.

I wouldn’t say Neverland was the real world, but it felt pretty damn close. That planet didn’t want us to survive either. At least with sirens and blood-drunk men, we knew we weren’t alone. These days, Peter doesn’t even answer his phone.

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