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Stories by Laura Lagana
To The Great Beyond


Peter Pan flew through the night, his mission weighing down on his soul. The stars winked at him, letting him know he was not alone.

“Hurry Peter!” The stars called out, hastening his journey. “Before it’s too late and her soul is gone.”

Urgency dogged his flight. Peter Pan zipped past planets and flew through a cloud of space mist. Earth appeared in the distance as a tiny speck.

“Hurry Peter…it’s almost time.” The shouts of the stars grew louder and louder.

Peter covered his ears and screamed. “I know.” He straightened his body and shot through space like a bullet, heading toward earth. When Peter arrived, the dark, wet streets of London were the only things there to greet him. A fine mist hovered in the air and he shivered. Fog rolled in off the Thames River, spilling onto the streets. Peter flew through the dense fog, feeling along the buildings for his way. The lights from the lampposts cast eerie shadows on the street. Peter’s shadow grabbed a lamp in passing and held on, jerking him back.

“Oh no you don’t. Not again.” He yanked on his shadow, bringing it back in line. “I don’t have time for your silliness.” Peter’s brows drew together as he tilted his head, hearing the wailing of the stars. “I don’t have much time. Wendy needs me now…before it’s too late.”

He continued to fly through the streets until he came to a townhouse several stories high. Golden light spilled from her window on the top floor. Peter raised his arms and flew toward the light, hovering outside. An old woman, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, lay in bed dying. A little girl turned to look out the window, drawn by Peter’s presence. She giggled and was shushed by her mother.
The stars yelled out. “Now Peter. Hurry, she’s ready.”

He stared into the room and willed the others away. One by one, they left, all but the little girl who looked out the window at the stars, hearing their wail.

Peter lifted the window, making sure not to draw the attention of the adults.

The little girl ran to the window and waited for him to climb through. Her eager face looked up at his. “Is it really you Peter? I remember you from my dreams.”

He patted her on the head and squatted down to her eye level. “I need you to do me a favor.”

She clapped her hands together. “You want me to go to Neverland with you?”

He smiled. “Not yet little one, but someday you’ll come with me. I need you to leave me alone for a minute with your grandmother.”

Her face screwed up. “Why do you need to see grandma? She’s dying you know.”

Peter nodded. “I know, but right now she needs me more than ever.” He raised his eyebrows. “Can you give me a few minutes alone?”

She grabbed onto his tunic. “Only if you promise to visit me again.”

Peter passed his hand over her forehead. “Every time you close your eyes, you’ll be in Neverland. I promise.”

Elizabeth flashed him a smile. “All right. I’ll leave you with grandmother.” As she left the room, Elizabeth couldn’t resist adding. “Will you tell her I love her and I’ll miss her?”

“Don’t worry Elizabeth, you’ll see your grandmother again someday.”

Elizabeth closed the door behind her, leaving Peter alone with the old woman lying on the bed.

Peter approached the massive four-poster bed that sat in the middle of the room. Thick blankets covered the woman’s frail body. The smell of death permeated every corner. He sat on the edge of the mattress and tucked the blankets under her chin.

“Do you hear them Peter?” Her milky colored eyes darted back and forth.

He brushed the strands of gray hair from her face. “Hear what?”

“The stars Peter. They call to us.”

“I hear them. They want us to come play for your final adventure.”

Her frail hand snaked out from beneath the blankets and clutched Peter’s hand. “I’m dying Peter. I’m too old to run and jump and play.”

His tinkling laughter filled the room.

“Why do you laugh?”

“You won’t be old for much longer.”

A crackling laugh escaped her withered lips. “You are a fanciful lad. If you haven’t noticed, this is my deathbed.” She started coughing.

Peter crawled behind her back and cradled her head in his arms. “It won’t be much longer now.”

“I’ve missed you Peter. Why did you stay away for so long?”

“You left me to grow up.” He kissed her on top of her head. “I wanted you to have the life you dreamt of, but now it’s my turn.”

Her vision started fading. “It’s so dark here Peter. Can you turn up the lamp?”

He looked at the wick in the oil lamp. “It’s as high as it will go.”

A tear rolled down her cheek.

“Don’t cry,” said Peter, wiping away the moisture. “It will be any moment now.”

With on last gasp of breath, her body stiffened for a second and then relaxed in his arms. Peter stood and gently laid her head on the pillow. Her lifeless eyes stared at nothing at all.

“Are you ready?” Peter shook her shoulder. “It’s time now.”

The light on the lamp dimmed for a moment. A wavering haze hovered over the old lady’s body. Peter reached out and grabbed her hand, gently tugging.

“Join me now.”

The ghost of the old woman rose from the dead body and blinked several times. Recognition set in. “Is it really you Peter?”

He grinned. “It’s about time. It took you long enough to die.”

She huffed. “Dying is serious business.” She paused for a second. “Are you here to take me to heaven?”

“Nope.”

“Then where?”

“Where you belong.” He escorted her to a mirror.

The image of a young girl stared back at them. She twirled around in her nightgown. “I’m young again…but how?”

“This is what your soul looks like.” He led her to the open window.

She tugged on his arm to get his attention. “You never told me where I was going.”

“To Neverland…where you belong.”

Together they lifted their arms and flew out the window toward the second star on the right and straight on till morning.

#

Several hours later, the family had called the coroner to have Wendy’s body prepared for her funeral.

Elizabeth dozed on the couch, sucking her thumb. A soft cotton blanket was tucked around her tiny body. She dreamed of Neverland and of her grandmother as a little girl, playing and flying through the clouds with Peter at her side. A faint smile appeared on Elizabeth’s face as her grandmother blew her a kiss.


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