The End of Something and the Beginning of Something Else
by Chuck Rosenthal
Used by permission of Whitepoint Press LLC
Thomas P. Pandora was the son of Peter Pan and the last Wendy, though he didn’t know it. Pan had traveled back and forth from Never Never Land to our world for a hundred years, whimsically selecting the daughter of a previous Wendy, a young girl, to fly with him to Never Never Land to look after the Lost Boys under the Old Oak, then returning her back to her home until, in time, the girl grew into maturity, married, and had a daughter whose mother prepared her for her hiatus to Never Never Land, a joyous and magical event for any young girl and always a most wonderful time for Peter who played with Wendy and the Boys, pretending to be airline pilots and locomotive engineers and cowboys, and he could sit for hours with the new Wendy and the Lost Boys and tell stories of his adventures with mermaids, gypsies, and pirates, especially the notorious Captain James Hook. Sometimes, he found an orphaned, homeless boy and brought him along too.
The girls were seldom named Wendy by their mother; they were Katherine and Margaret and Jessica and Melissa, and they were no longer always from London; some were from Canada or Australia or the U.S., but during the time they spent in Never Never Land they were Wendy, and he was Peter Pan, a boy who would never abandon the joy of play and irresponsibility, who would never grow up.
But one day, on his flight back from California with a girl named Sandra, he felt heavy. His arms ached. And upon reaching Never Never Land, along with an apparent thickening of his arms and chest and legs, he had more difficulty taking flight. For the first time his simple joy sometimes swung to worrisome thoughts, and the tales of the old days no longer gripped him with satisfaction as they once did. He took aside his old friend, the fairy, Tinkerbell, who often sat on a perch that swung from the ceiling of the room inside the oak. Outside the Old Oak they found a bough and sat together. He told her of his problems and she said to him, “Pan, your trips back to your old world have worn into your enchantment. I’m afraid that each visit there has aged you just a little each time.”
“You’ve noticed,” said Pan.
“I’ve watched,” Tinkerbell said. Fairies, of course, were as immortal as the thoughts of children. They were, as well, mischievous and at times even petty and deceitful. But these two had known each other for a long time.
“I’m very fond of this Wendy,” confessed Peter Pan. “It’s not just simple play and joy anymore. I want to spend time with her. I worry about her leaving.” Because it was time to take her home.
“I’ve noticed that, too,” said Tinkerbell, who wasn’t beyond being jealous of Peter’s penchant for Wendy’s. “I’m afraid you’ll have to take her back and return here for good. Or return there for good and grow up.”
“Or keep her here,” Pan said.
“You’ve lost your innocence,” said Tinkerbell. “It would drive you mad. And she might have something to say about it, too.”
Tinkerbell had been a good friend over time, though there really was no Time in Never Never Land. And Peter, likely facing his first real choice since he flew from the bedroom window of his parents’ home near Kensington Park in London, knew he must choose.
“You’ll take care of the Boys,” he said.
“Of course. And maybe there will be another Pan someday.”
Well, he didn’t really want to think about that. But in a day he’d decided. He’d return to the world.
He needn’t say good-bye to the Boys who would lose themselves in play and not remember him until he returned, though this time he would not. He confessed to Sandra on their flight home that he was staying in the world now to grow up. He’d always remember her and maybe, someday, find her again. They were yet children, but he kissed her lips when he said good-bye to her and felt a new pain in his heart. Sandra cried. “Will I see you again, Peter Pan?” He touched her hand, turned, and departed.
He made his way to Los Angeles and found a colony of fairies in Griffith Park who took him in, building him a small shack deep in the bush, though they easily made it invisible whenever any snoopy hikers approached. He changed his name to William Pandora and briefly went to school, which bored him, but he excelled in basketball and high jump, of course. But soon he quit and went to work at the Freak Show on Venice Beach where he performed as an acrobat and later found work teaching gymnastics. He even learned and taught yoga. Then one day, feeling like an adult, for who knew how old he really was, he went searching for Sandra, found her, and they fell in love. They married and had a son. Thomas P. Pandora.
A lot happened in that time, but this is not a story about William and Sandra Pandora, but the story of their son. At twelve, he was bright enough, though he hated school. The campus of Malibu Middle School was rife with illegal drugs, older boys demanded sex from girls, something Thomas wasn’t ready to do, not mentally nor physically. His teachers were underpaid and lazy. They showed movies instead of holding class. His parents were over-protective. They drove him to school, not letting him take the bus. He felt isolated in rural Topanga Canyon, where they lived, and they wouldn’t let him ride a bike on the winding, busy canyon roads. His parents bickered about money. Sandra owned a successful dress shop in Malibu, but William never held a job, not a steady one, continuing with his gymnastics and yoga. There was never enough money. And there was something his parents were hiding from him. They never talked about their past. Their lives were hidden from him. How could he find out who he was if he didn’t know who they were?
His parents talked to him about college but Thomas didn’t even want to go to high school. When he looked around at the adults in his life, he saw unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Drinking, smoking cigarettes or pot, which made them groggy, not happy. What few kids he knew, their parents were already divorced and the teenagers surrounding him already petty, boastful, even cruel. He whiled away days playing games on his i-phone, bored. What would happen to this person inside him who wanted to adventure? Could he run away?
He’d heard that his great grandmother, when she was very young, ran away to Australia and never returned. Could he do that? It must have been easier back then. How could he do it now? Run away and not grow up.