“This is more than just a bloody mid life crisis,” Karen said clutching a tattered red book, until her knuckles started going white. She savagely threw the book onto the chequered dining cloth, and ran her hands through her untamed hair.
“Oi, mind the biccies,” her best friend, Tina, said.
“I don’t know what to do anymore; he spends all his time in the garage doing, God knows what.”
“He’s making a rocket,” a small voice said behind her.
“What?” Karen turned to find her ten year old son, Robert, sipping a large glass of orange juice.
“Dad’s building a rocket to take him back home. Apparently, you get to stay young forever there,” he continued.
An irritating, screechy noise erupted from Tina’s throat; she was laughing, and Karen had heard enough.
“Robert, go to your room and stop listening to my conversations.”
“That’s so unfair! When the rocket is built I’m going with Dad,” Robert stamped his way out of the kitchen and up the stairs.
“Will you shut up Tina? It wasn’t that funny.”
Tina stopped immediately. Tears of frustration were on the verge of spilling from Karen’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, Karen. Come on. It’s not that bad. My Barry tried to get his penis tattooed like a snake when he went through his mid-life crisis, but the pillock couldn’t stand the pain and didn’t get it finished. I used to like doing it with the lights on but, God, I just can’t stand to see those scales and that one beady eye stare at me. It puts me right off.”
The tears began to fall down Karen’s cheeks. “I wish it were as simple as a tattooed penis.”
Tina got up and crouched by Karen’s side, placing her arm around her shoulders.
“Babes, what is it?”
“I think Peter is cheating on me,” Karen began. “This morning his phone rang. I saw the name Wendy flash on the screen. I saw it! But when I asked him about it he said it was Dave.”
“That doesn’t prove anything.”
“Of course it does, she’s even in that stupid book.”
Tina picked up the red book and began to flick through the pages.
“Karen, this is just a story. There’s no such place as Neverland.”
“It’s real enough to Peter and he wants to be there with her.”
“You can’t do this to yourself.” Tina said “Come on, where’s his phone? We’ll find out once and for all who this Wendy, is.”
Tina looked around the kitchen and spotted Peter’s jacket sitting on the counter. “My Barry always leaves his in his pocket.”
She picked up the jacket and waded through bits of paper until she found it. She pulled it out and held it up for Karen.
“Do you want to do it?” Tina asked.
“Yes, I think so,” Karen replied, reaching for the phone uncertainly.
She began flicking through the phone, “He’s called her three times today. I told you, he’s cheating on me.” The tears began streaming down her face once again.
“Come on, the old Karen wouldn’t sit here crying. She’d call up this cow and give her a piece of her mind.”
Karen stopped snivelling, “You’re right.” She dialled Wendy’s number. After three rings a man answered.
“Good afternoon, The Henry Residence.”
“Put Wendy on,” Karen said.
“Would madam care to tell me who is calling?”
“Won’t be a moment.”
“What’s going on?” Tina asked.
Karen held a finger to her lips.
“Hello,” a dainty voice said on the line.
“Hi,” Karen replied, “Are you sleeping with my husband?”
“I’m sorry, Mrs Panciana,” Wendy said confused “I’m afraid I don’t know you, or your husband.”
“Mr and Mrs Peter Pan.”
“Yes oh. So are you screwing him?” Karen was getting more and more confident.
“I think you should speak to your husband.”
“I can’t, he’s in the garage building a rocket so that he can fly back to Neverland.”
“Don’t try and change the subject. Admit that you’re sleeping with Peter.”
“I’m not sleeping with him; he’s just an old friend.”
“Then why has he phoned you three times today?”
“He needed someone to talk to; he’s going through a tough time.”
“A tough time?” Karen scoffed, “I don’t call playing with Lego and talking to a light bulb called Tink a tough time.”
“I think you should talk to your husband.”
“I don’t need your advice.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re calling me asking if your husband is cheating on you.”
Karen was lost for words and suddenly she felt like an insecure fool. “You’re right,” she said after a couple of seconds. “I’m sorry Mrs Henry.”
“Don’t apologise,” Tina cried but Karen ignored her.
“That’s quite alright,” Wendy said and then added hesitantly, “Try listening to Peter, his childhood was different from most and he’s just trying to reclaim a little of it.”
“You’ll be telling me Neverland is real next.” Karen said.
Wendy laughed politely and said, “I’m afraid I have guests to attend to. I must go, Mrs Pan.”
When Karen hung up, Tina looked at her “What was that?”
“She’s not sleeping with him. Peter and I need to talk. I think you should go.”
“Fine, Barry wanted his corns sorted anyway.”
Karen gave a disheartened smile as she led Tina to the door.
Karen watched as Tina tottered across the road to her house, in her four inch leopard print heels. She took a deep breath and turned to head to the garage but was stunned to hear a large explosion that shook the house and left her ears ringing.
“What was that?” Robert shouted, running down the stairs.
Karen didn’t answer; she ran into the utility room and saw black smoke seeping out from beneath the door to the garage. Karen opened the door and found half of the garage swarmed in flames; two legs were poking out from behind a car-sized, rocket.
“Peter,” Karen screeched, running to help him without giving a second thought to the flames searing the sides of her face. “Robert, call 999.”
Robert stood in the doorway eyes wide and glazed.
“Robert!” Karen screamed. She had Peter by the legs and was slowly pulling his unconscious body out of the garage.
Finally, Robert snapped to attention and ran to call for help.
When Karen got Peter into the utility room she collapsed with a mixture of fatigue and oxygen deprivation. The black smoke was slowly crawling through the house, engulfing everything with its suffocating presence.
Karen heaved choked breaths and looked around with bleary eyes.
An angel appeared at her head, wearing leopard print heels, her hair littered with rollers. Karen smiled and began to feel at peace until she felt a sharp whack of pain sear across her face. The angel had slapped her.
“Stay with me you silly cow,” Tina shrieked. Barry appeared by her side. “Get Peter out, I’ll sort Karen,” Tina wheezed.
Karen stayed conscious long enough to get out of the house, hear the applause of the waiting crowd and the wail of emergency sirens, before everything went black.
When Karen came to, she had a pounding headache and a drip in her arm.
“Mum, you’re awake,” Robert exclaimed.
Karen smiled through cracked lips, “And you’re alive. How’s Dad?”
“He’s alright; do you want to go see him?” Robert asked.
“Alright, go get that wheelchair.”
Robert quickly went to go get it and Karen dragged her body into the chair, sliding her bandaged feet into the footrest.
“Lead the way,” she said to Robert.
“I think it’s this one,” Robert said stopping in front of a set of curtains.
Karen gulped then eased her way forward and drew back the curtains. There he lay, bandaged from head to toe. His arms and legs held up by wires suspended from the ceiling. Karen wheeled herself to his side, laid her head on his chest and began to weep.
“Peter you idiot,” she wailed “Oh Peter, please don’t die.”
“I won’t,” said Peter’s voice.
She lifted her head and peered into the holes where the bandaged man’s eyes were. They were closed and the person had jet black eyelashes, Peter’s were russet brown.
She jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned, finding herself staring at a handsome face with deep brown eyes, pointed ears and slightly charred skin. The man was also sat in a wheelchair.
“Peter,” she exclaimed and opened her arms into his extended embrace. He kissed her gingerly on her cheek at first and then again and again until he was finally kissing her on the lips.
“Urgh,” Robert said behind him. “Will you stop that? You’re embarrassing me.”
Peter and Karen pulled away from each other smiling.
“I’ve been an idiot,” Peter said looking at Karen.
“Oh shush, it doesn’t matter now,” Karen replied.
“Yes it does,” he said taking her hands in his “I-I used baby powder instead of pixie dust to make the rocket fly. You see Tink and I had an argument and-”
“I don’t want to hear it. I thought after the fire you’d have changed, but you’re just as crazy now, as you were before.”
“The only thing I’m crazy about is you,” he said, before continuing in a softer voice, “I know the rocket is destroyed now, but I even made your chair extra cushiony because I know you get bad back when you sit down for too long.”
“Dad, are you going to build another rocket, for us to go to Neverland in?” Robert asked.
Before Peter could answer Karen snapped, “Neverland isn’t real.”
“But Dad says…”
“But Dad says nothing.”
“But Tinkerbell nothing. The only thing inside that box is a light bulb”, Karen said, reaching up and snatching the box from Peter’s lap.
“Careful,” Peter warned, but Karen paid no attention, she snapped the lid off the box and her eyes widened when a faint glow streamed onto her face.
Karen finally found her voice, “Where did you say Neverland is?” she asked.
Peter pointed to the window, “Second star to the right and straight on till morning.”
Bio: Jade De-Terville is a writer from Hampshire, ever since she learned to read she loved fiction. With a degree in Business Management and Creative Writing Jade is currently focusing on her day job, which has taken her across the world to New York. She writes in her spare time and hopes that readers love her work as much as she loves the writers that she has over the years.