Golden dust in the air she imagined was there, but was not. With all her might, she willed it so, wishing with all the strength her 8-year-old self could muster that it would come on the breeze and lift her into the skies.
Every night, a window left cracked open. Through the bitterness of winter and the sauna of summer, she made sure her window was open in the hopes that maybe he’d come. Maybe he’d arrive in the dead of night, when her parents were asleep, and whisk her away on the journey from which she knew she never wanted to return. Just after her prayers and just before she drifted off to sleep, her heart would whisper, “Please come,” and kiss her into a blissful dream of fairies and mermaids, lagoons and magic.
This was her routine: a daily ritual of patiently waiting, secretly hoping, and quietly willing the arrival of her savior, the one person who could ensure that her life never had to grow more complicated, more unruly, more involved than her childhood years.
“Please come, Peter Pan, please.”
The window is still open. The air still empty. The wish still present.
But she’s older now. She knows all too well that children grow up, that Neverland is but a fictional destination, that life does grow more complicated than a pirate on the hunt for an ageless soul. Yet, some small piece of her heart still believes. Or rather, some shred of her former self still present within wishes it were all real, that such magic existed, that she could have been spared sooner.
She recalls those carefree days of childhood, playing make believe with her brother and transforming a bunk bed into a pirate ship. She remember traversing her yard for any sign of fairies, any indication that help was on the way. She can still feel the longing she felt with each letter she wrote to Her hero asking for a visit, an adventure.
In hindsight, it is as if she knew. It is as if she knew even at such a young age that the sands in the hourglass that is childhood will run out. That adult life will never be quite as sweet or as innocent as the days when her time to play and to dream, to wonder and to wander were endless. That simplicity would be just as shortlived as her days of made-up games and toys, costumes and characters.
A wave of loss crashed over her, heavier than all the water in the sea. She mourned that sweet, carefree child she once was. She grieved for the countless yesterdays when her happiness thrived more than tulips in spring. She cried for the days that she lived and will never get back.
She cried until the remnants of the day frayed into the night. She grieved until her eyes were tired and her spirit exhausted by what once was, yet no longer is.
She approached her ever-open window, placing her hands on the rail. She thought maybe it was finally time to close it, just as she should close the door on her long-ago concluded childhood.
She took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet dew of a summer’s night and with it, that familiar feeling of magic, of hope in the air. She lingered for a moment as she tried to decide whether or not to honor who she used to be or accept who she has since become.
As her mind and her heart sparred over her next move, it was her body that made her decision.
Her eyes noticed a piece of paper poking out of her desk, while her hand reached for a pen illuminated by the window’s glow. With the pen set to paper and the night’s memorable scent lingering in her nose, her mind gave her permission to write it down, to scrawl out a last-ditch plea, even if for the final time:
“Dear Peter Pan,
I’ve left my window open. Please come rescue me.”