Well it has certainly been a while hasn’t it? I’m so sorry I’ve not been active here in such a long time. It’s one of those terrible things of life getting in the way. But I’m trying to do better…as I try and do every year!
So, in the time that I haven’t been on here I’ve done an awful lot of stuff and one of those things was being part of the Unburied Fables anthology, published by Creative Aces. It is a collection of Queer retellings of popular fairy tales and I thought I would share the beginning of the story I wrote for it, The Last Lost Boy.
In case it isn’t clear from a title like that, I chose to work from J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan, a book that I read for the first time this year and fell head over heels in love with. It’s an absolutely stunning piece of fiction and very much one of the best classics I have ever had the pleasure of reading. (If you’re in the mood, the audiobook is read by Jim Dale and is just perfection!)
So here it is! An extract of my short story THE LAST LOST BOY from the wonderful UNBURIED FABLES anthology! (If you want to find out more about the collection you can head over to the Creative Aces website, or check out Unburied Fables on Goodreads, or even just mosey on over to Amazon and BUY THE DAMN THING!)
I really hope you enjoy it.
The Last Lost Boy
by George Lester
A retelling of “Peter and Wendy,” more commonly known as “Peter Pan,” by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie.
Bright eyes burn from the open window. The light of the moon hits the side of a boy’s face, but mostly keeps him in shadow as he perches on my window ledge and stares inside. He doesn’t move. He just sits there, like he’s waiting for something, looking for someone. Maybe he’s lost.
How he even got up here is beyond me. We’re on the second floor, for goodness sake. Downstairs, people are still at the party, dancing, singing, screeching. I can feel the bass through the floor, the music pulsing through the house and into my veins, keeping me awake.
Will Mum even be able to drive me tomorrow?
Everything is packed. The car loaded up and fit to burst. I had gone to bed at a decent hour so I could at least attempt to make a good impression.
Will she ask me to drive? I’ve never done a motorway before.
The shadow shuffles around, and I stiffen. Even if I call out, no one would hear me. This is it. This is the end.
“Hey stranger!” the voice of the boy hisses into the room and I flinch. I know I flinch. It could’ve been seen from space, even in the dark. “Big day tomorrow, huh?”
I recognize the voice. I can’t quite place it—the way he has lowered it to stay quiet is making it hard—but there is a sing-song quality to it, a lilt that stirs memories. “Look, I saw you packing the car and I wanted to say goodbye, but I hadn’t seen you in so long, I didn’t think you’d want to see me, and I’m sorry for climbing up to your window but—”
“Peter?” The words slip from my mouth before I have a chance to stop them, more of a gasp than anything else. What on earth was Peter Ansell doing in my house?
“I wasn’t sure you’d remember—”
“You vanished.” And my words are so blunt that I swear the party downstairs grinds to a halt.
Peter shifts. I sit up, keeping the covers over my very naked bottom half but letting the cool night air hit my chest. Damn, it’s hot.
“You grew up,” he says softly. I look down, the silvery light streams in from the window and lights me up. I look ghostly.
“Of course I did,” I whisper. “It’s been ten years, it was bound to happen.”
Peter chuckles in the dark; I can see the movement, hear the throaty noise. I want to flick my lamp on, see if he’s still the same redheaded boy I spent so much of my childhood with.
“Peter, why are you here?”
I hear him hesitate.
“Mum brought me back. Nana isn’t well.”
I remember Nana. He loves his Nana.
“But I saw you getting ready to leave, and I hadn’t realized, and I nearly came over earlier but didn’t think you’d want to see me.”
“I would have.”
“I would have wanted to see you.”
It seems so simple. I can’t imagine a time where I wouldn’t want to see Peter Ansell. Maybe just after he’d left. He didn’t say goodbye.
“Where did you go?” I say to the dark.
“Everything fell apart with Mum and Dad, so Mum packed up and took me away with her.”
“I wish you’d said goodbye.”
“I wish I had too.” I hear him sigh, and he stands.
“Are you going again?” I move around on the bed, flinging my legs over the side as if I’m about to go and stop him, which just seems absurd.
“I don’t…” he trails off. “What’s happening downstairs?”
“Why are you up here?” He laughs through the words, and it sounds like the old Peter but deeper and it is everything. It’s like I’m eight again.
“I wanted to sleep before tomorrow,” I sigh. “Gotta go to Uni, meet people I’ll be living with for the next year, try and convince them I’m not completely socially inept.”
“You’ve not seen me in ten years, maybe I am.”
“I know you’re not.” I almost believe him. It’s enough to put a smile on my face, at least.
He crosses to the window and I see his silhouette in full. He is tall now, broad-shouldered and just a whole lot bigger than the gangly eight year old I knew. He grew up too. We grew up without each other, and considering how close we used to be, it just doesn’t seem quite right.
“How did you get up here?” I say.
I hear him smile. “Get dressed and I’ll show you.”