Peter Pan is Probably Less Fun than You Think

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I had a dream about waking up...

Submitted: August 19, 2012

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Submitted: August 19, 2012




Peter Pan is Probably Less Fun than You Think

By John Mauldin

I always used to wonder if Peter Pan was looking for Neverland, or if, one day, he just jumped out his window and figured out he could fly. I never read the story and can hardly remember the movie, but the sense I made of it on my own was that he woke up in the middle of the night, mid dream, and simply leapt out the window, flying north until he hit Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys. And since I was little I never liked waking up in the morning because, when I did, I would always wake up under my bed sheets in a room full of sunshine.

I knew it then, but didn’t really understand till much later, that I wanted to wake up in the middle of the night, to a dark room lit up by a full moon and a sky filled with stars. That way I would know as soon as I opened my eyes that ,if I had gotten outa bed and opened the window, I’d see not only a sky as warm and purple as my blanket but one I could fly to as well. One that was rich and reachable.

So, whenever I opened my eyes and saw sunshine, I closed them again, as hard as I could, hoping that I would wake up in that pale, midnight blue room that told me tonight was the night I’d fly off to Neverland.

I felt most of that way too throughout my teenage life even though, in high school, it never clicked that I was pissed in the morning because I still wished I was waking up to a cartoon. I wish I had remembered then, a part of it must’ve shut itself away, because maybe then I could’ve at least laughed, and it might’ve made the times that got hard a little easier. As my mom grew sicker and sicker of having to drag me out of bed in the morning, she said the hell with it. She bought me a five dollar alarm clock.

The cheap grey kind with four buttons on top and red numbers that lit up on the front and seared any eyes dumb enough to open up to the sun with dreams still in them.

The night she brought it home for me she said, “No more, I’m not gonna get you up anymore and if you aren’t gonna get yourself up with this, then you are gonna deal with the consequences.”

The first morning I had to get up, I didn’t. I ended up rolling outa bed around noon and missing a Science test and a pop quiz in Calc in the process. You’d think that would be any high school kid’s dream, no longer having any pressure to get up and go to school, right? Well, yeah, that half of things was great. Not so much was likewise losing the source of that pressure in the process. But my alarm clock worked for me, as it was designed to, for the rest of high school and my first few years of college, until one day when I woke up on my own without it. After that, I unplugged it and never plugged it back in.

As strangely as it sounds, I didn’t think I needed it nor did I want it anymore. I felt I was finished with an annoying beep telling me that I should be awake, and I wanted wake up all on my own and really, all it took was one day when I woke up without an alarm clock. It happened when I was 21, still in college, and living in a large house with six of my friends.

 I had my alarm set for around eleven, but I woke up early, and on a Saturday, which was, to any college senior was, the day of all days. I remember rolling over in my bed with my eyes still closed and arms wrapped around my pillow. Maybe I was wrestling a sheep in my dreams; I’d like to think that’s what it was, but really, I can’t remember. My hands felt like they were squeezing the bastard child of a cloud and a Nerf football; firm and supportive, yet airy like a marshmallow.

As I slowly opened my eyes, I smelt sunflowers. My window was closed and I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen anything growing on our grass, but I swear to you I smelt sunflowers.

 It must have been riding on that pale yellow, cheep beer looking kind of white light that only visits the few souls awake at sunrise. I wanted to say the light pouring into the room was almost citrusy, because I smelt the same kinda smell I would from an orange blossom flower, but I can’t really explain why. It was crisp like a cup of white tea, sweet as if the rim was coated in honey, and soft too. Soft like a dryer stuffed with dryer sheets, then half filled with silk socks and half filled with cotton pink panties.

Then I got up as I had a hundred times before and found two guys I had never met rummaging around in the kitchen. Nothing about them was particularly striking, both looked innocent enough and if I had to draw you a picture of them, I couldn’t. All I can really say is that one had green eyes and the other had blue eyes. I’m not even sure how I noticed their eye color, let alone how I remembered it, I swear I’m not that kinda guy, but green eyes was standing at the stove with a pan in hand, and blue eyes was sitting at the breakfast bar reading the paper.

On a side note, before renting the house we did in college, it was decided by everyone that one of the deciding factors was having breakfast bar. The one we ended up moving into connected our kitchen to the main living room, and overlooked the stove in a way that made you feel like some kind of commentator for the cooking network. It had a deep green marble countertop, and could fit five, but for some reason had never been used the way my housemates and I always envisioned. I always saw a Brady kinda breakfast where two people worked around one another as they vied for stovetop space while the rest of us sat at the counter eating cereal. But there was a lot about our house that, when pictured, sounded too good to be true. Though, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the house, just that the people in it were all a bit too lazy.

“Morning,” I said as I entered the kitchen.

“Morning,” blue eyes said to me, turning the pages of his newspaper with both hands in that Leave it to Beaver fashion that is only allowed, by law, for pipe smoking fathers.

“Welcome to the land of the living,” green eyes said, who was oddly well aware of where the spatulas, bowls, plates, and extra virgin olive oil was located within the confusing array of ornate cupboards some sadist of an architect built into our house.

“Sorry, but have I met either of you guys before?” I asked as I passed the stove to grab a glass from the cupboard above the fridge.

“I’ve been around, not sure if we’ve ever been formally introduced, but I’ve been around.” blue eyes said.

“Which one of my housemates are you friends with?”

“Actually, more of them than you might think, though I doubt I’ve ever formally introduced myself to them either.”

“Well it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“I’m here too yah know,” green eyes said as he set the pan down on the stove with a little more force than he probably needed to. It made that kind of ping sound that you only hear when someone wants you to hear it.

“No one said you weren’t,” blue eyes said, his eyes not leaving his paper.

“Well hey, it’s nice to meet you too.” I said.

I stepped over and extended a hand to green eyes, he met my gaze with an easy smile and shook my hand with a cold grip, then went back to what was in front of him.

“I think we’ve met a few times, maybe at a party, but if you don’t remember I don’t blame you, everybody drinks a hearty amount now adays,” green eyes said.

“Oh, well, I guess this is the morning for formal introductions then,” I said while turning from both of them, opening the fridge one handed, and filling my glass to the brim with OJ.

“There always is one I suppose,” blue eyes said from atop his marble countertop.

“So did you have a late night or something?” green eyes asked me as I finished my glass in one stint and proceeded to pour myself another.

“That’s such a relative term now adays, it’s really hard for me to say,” I replied.

“If you’re up late you’re up late,” blue eyes chimed in again atop the breakfast bar.

“I stayed up late and I drank, but I think to qualify as a late night, or for the sake of defining it in a manner befitting his question, the level at which you do one or both of these things has to be extreme enough to interfere with waking the next morning.”

“So you partied in moderation?” green eyes said as he oiled up his pan.

“If I woke up this early I guess that’s what it means.” I said.

The three of us shared a non-emphatic, distant laugh and then green eyes continued talking.

“Was there any cause of celebration?”

“Nope, just a free night and no immediate reason to get up in the morning.” I downed my second glass of orange juice as fast as I did the first. 

“Hurrah for college,” blue eyes said before turning the page in his paper once again.

“Don’t act like you don’t do the same thing. Maybe you don’t do keg stands, but a beer by any other name would still come out as golden,” green eyes said.

“No, you are right about that one, but I think a part of me feels more at ease if I adopt a more sarcastic sensibility.”

“As if self awareness could shield you from being an asshole.” I said with a laugh.

“Hurrah for college,” said green eyes.

I shut the fridge and set my pulp laced glass in the sing.

“It really isn’t hard to understand though, just kinda scary is all.”

“Scary? How do you mean?” blue eyes asked.

“I have a friend, real nice guy, engineer, yearly marathon runner, that always asks me if I think he’s an alcoholic, and every time he does, before I can answer, somebody interjects and says, ‘You aren’t an alcoholic unless you go to meetings.’ And everyone laughs, but he never gets his answer, and most weeknights he’ll funnel a bottle of chardonnay just to get things started.”

“I think I’ve heard that joke before, it’s a good one,” said green eyes.

I laughed after I knew what he meant, “Ha, the meetings thing? Most people have, but if anything it’s scarier to know that everyone’s heard it.” I said.

“Yeah?” asked blue eyes.

“Well, that’s a lot of people skirting a dangerous question with a less than funny joke.”

“So you think a lot of people have drinking problems?”

“I think a lot of people are too young for their own good,” green said over his shoulder.

“People look down on the kids back in my home town, the townies, the people who never left after high school and kept on drinking every weekend since graduation. But look at the kids who go to college, how are our lives any different? We bought ourselves a comforting joke to dull the sharper intuitions that suggest the problematic nature of our behavior?”

“I’m sure they tell the same joke back home,” blue eyes said.

“Well I think I can stand the drinking but not the joking.” I said.

“Well think about it this way, you’re on a big ass ship that starts sinking. You aren’t sure if you are gonna make it off or not, and no matter what you do, you really won’t know if it was the right call until you’re either dead, or floating off on a door. So what do you do?” blue eyes asked.

“You run for the life boats.”

“But what if the life boats are real far away, or at least they feel like they might be too far away for you to reach before the ship goes down.”

“Grab a life jacket and jump the railing,” said green eyes he cracked a few eggs into his pan, the sizzling sound immediately followed by that hearty breakfast smell that always makes me think of roadside diners.

“That thought crosses your mind, but it’s the fucking titanic and it’s a long way down. You aren’t sure if you’ll die when you hit the water, or get dragged down with the steam stack, or freeze after swimming a little while to nowhere.” said blue eyes.

“You know the real problem with this damn hypothetical is the person in the situation who thinks too much,” said green eyes.

“That’s certainly true,” blue eyes said with a laugh, “but my point is that there really isn’t a whole lot of certainty to guide you in that situation.”

“So is the correct answer is to grab the violin?” I asked.

Both blue and green eyes paused what they were doing, neither one moving a muscle as eggs sizzled and newspaper print blew in the AC breeze, before the three of us all began laughing like we had actually meant it.

“I think his point is, sometimes when you’re unsure, it’s just easier to hold someone’s hand,” green eyes said.

Blue eyes didn’t respond, but picked his paper back up and folded it as if he continued reading, though I’m not sure he did. Green eyes threw some pepper on his eggs and turned the heat on low. As I leaned back against the kitchen sink I could feel the cold steel against my palms. From the way it felt, but mostly because my back was turned, I would’ve said it was clean, and I kinda liked the way it chilled my hands though.

“So that’s why they do it, but why do we?” I asked.

“We’re riding the same boat with the same name, ours just has a prettier font on the side,” blue eyes said behind his paper.

“That’s kinda true,” green began as he dug his spatula into the pan, “You’re either handed the world on a silver platter and have no idea what to do with it, or shown a door and have no better guess what to do because of it.”

“Yeah, maybe.” I said.

Blue eyes set down his paper and sat still for a moment as he stared out into the space just slightly above the rest of our heads, that’s when I noticed his blue eyes, and green eyes turned off the burner and slid his omelet onto a plate. He turned, leaving it to cool, and leaned back, which was when I noticed his eyes were green.

“I think we found Neverland,” I said to no one in particular, but both green eyes and blue eyes laughed again.

“Well, I suppose Columbus wasn’t looking for America when he set sail,” green eyes replied.

“Who would’ve guessed we’d find so much cheep beer and vomit,” blue eyes said.

Walt Disney probably did…he just knew how to dress it up a bit” I said, but not out loud for no real reason, just to myself, as I wanted it without knowing why.

Though I did end up saying after not much longer “Well you know what, I think I’m gonna head back to bed,” I said, leaving the kitchen sink as I went to head back towards my room.

“The morning a little too hard on yah?” green eyes asked as he opened a drawer to grab a knife and fork.

“Morning is what you make it, I think we’re all just trying too hard,” blue eyes said as he picked up his newspaper off the marble green countertop and started reading again.

“Well it was nice meeting you both, formally, have a goof night,” I said, turning away from them as they replied with something just as forgetful as what I had said. Which was a shame, because I might’ve met them again at some point, but I can’t quite remember.

© Copyright 2018 John Mauldin. All rights reserved.

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