If fairies do not live long, Tinker Bell thought, I don’t know why I bother with these pots and kettles. The Lost Boys kept sending in new ones every night, somehow managing to break every possible kitchen utensil on a continuous basis – the work of repairing and mending them never truly ended. It was like washing dishes.
Someone was shouting from the Lost Boy’s house, situated near the beach on the south side of the long bay. The rest of the island was tall and thick with trees and forest, but the beach made a clearing. At this time of the day – twilight – the whole sea opened up to a dark blue sky of budding stars. The moon shined brightly over the entire island and lighted Tinker Bell’s work, high above the Lost Boy’s house but not high enough that they couldn’t hear her tinkering.
“Tink!” someone called again.
But Tinker Bell kept working on it. If I don’t keep working now, it will never get finished.
Then someone came out of the house and started climbing up the hill to Tinker Bell’s house. It hung from a tree and stirred on the windier nights. Now it stirred because of Tinker Bell’s reckless clanking against the pots and kettles.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Slightly make his way up around the hill. He was a tall and thin boy – two inches taller than was average for his age, he bragged – and had dark brown hair that was cut in a straight line around his forehead. His cheeks were blazing red; he wasn’t happy.
“You make a ruckus every night,” said slightly. He was leaning into the window on her house now, his face taking up the entire western wall.
“Maybe if you didn’t break these pots every night, there wouldn’t be a ruckus!” Tinker Bell replied. She threw one of her little hammers against the pot and heard it clink before it fell back to the ground.
But Slightly just laughed. “I don’t speak fairy. I just hear ding ding, ding ding ding.”
“Then why do you talk to me?!” Tink huffed.
By then, she had finished the pots and kettles. So she threw the rest of her tools against the walls and pressed her back against the hulking black pot – the one containing all the rest – and shoved with all of her strength. Her house swayed with the weight.
“Hey, wait a second—“ Slightly interrupted.
But the momentum of the pots had already taken control. They slid down out of her house and through the large open side. Slightly cupped his hands out in an effort to catch them before they fell in the mud, but he only caught the largest pot. The rest clanked off in every direction, splattering in the mud.
A particle or two of dirt on his face and the large pot in his hands, Slightly looked into Tinker Bell’s home with a disapproving glare.
“You know, I’m not even the one who has to clean these up. No Lost Boy wants to clean these up. You know what that means, Tink?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she said. Ding, ding.
Slightly hunched over on the ground and picked each pot up, one by one, careful not to let his shadow get in the way of the moon’s light and hide any of the last pots in the mud. Then he stacked them all together – all on top of the biggest black pot, which was now dirty again with mud and dried-up dirt – and plopped them right back down where Tinker Bell had shoved them off. Tinker Bell swayed with the weight of it, falling down on her back. Instantly she came flying out, doing her best to swat Slightly on the edges of his ears.
“Hey!” he said, moving his hands as if swatting at a fly. “I’m not the one who pushed the pots in the mud.” Tink swatted the top of his right ear. “Ow! I tell you, every time you get in one of your moods…”
“Go ahead, finish the sentence,” Tink said. “You have another ear, too.”
Giving up the fight, Slightly started slinking away from Tink until he had developed into a full trot back down the hill. Even if he didn’t understand what she said, she thought he’d gotten the message.
Hovering in the air, she turned back to her little wooden house, hanging from a tree branch far up in the forest. Her wings were fluttering fast, but they didn’t have to strain to keep her up. She was only the size of a hummingbird, and the way she flew around reminded all the Lost Boys of one. But hummingbirds don’t attack when you nag them about the pots and kettles, Tink remembered. And they certainly don’t have friends like Peter Pan.
She hovered slowly back into her house, mud having dripped on her floor in droplets the size of her feet. This would take all night to clean, she thought, pressing her hand against the sides of the pots. She could feel each crevasse, every imperfection with her small hands. Every scratch that one of the Lost Boys had ever made looked like a long scar – something they would never notice.
But Tinker Bell wasn’t a dishwasher. She was a tinker, after all. She mended these pots and kettles; she didn’t clean them. Besides, like every other day, the Lost Boys would find themselves another adventure and something else to think about and totally forget the pots had ever been sent up to her for repair in the first place.
Peter Pan was not an easy boy to disappoint, though. Confident and even cocky, he would speak his mind whenever Tinker Bell didn’t complete some task, or when she annoyed him in some way, or when he simply wanted to be alone. Leaving all of his pots and kettles muddied and dried up wouldn’t be a fun experience – especially if he’d be returning soon. She could barely push them off of her house. She certainly didn’t have the strength to lift them anywhere else so they could be someone else’s problem.
But just as Tinker Bell was ready to give up on the pots and watch the ocean until she fell asleep, she noticed something streaming across the western sky.
Neverland looked simple from these heights. There was the Lost Boys’ island, of course. There were the northern plains, where the people of the Piccaninny Tribe roamed and protected their animals. There was the harbor in the west, and right in the center was Mermaid Lagoon, opposite on the sea from the Lost Boys’ island – where the mermaids lived.
But Peter Pan was seeing it from new eyes. He had with him Wendy Darling and her younger brothers, John and Michael. Peter held Wendy and John’s hands, Michael holding on to Wendy’s – and Peter laughed as he looked and saw the astonishment on their faces. Their nightgowns all flapped constantly in the wind, and even in the faint moonlight Peter could make out all of their open mouths and eyes. They’d never seen Neverland before. Every island and every hill of it seemed to sparkle.
He swirled them around a bit, leading them higher and higher toward the moon and then back down toward the ocean. They nearly screamed with delight. Then he got down close enough to the island to see his house on the beach, beaming with the light of a fire the Lost Boys had lit. Diving straight down at the beach, he had the Darlings rapt in fear until he suddenly swerved upward and touched his feet gently on the firm sand for the softest landing possible.
“Peter!” Wendy shouted, nudging him playfully. “You gave me such a fright!”
“Just your standard Neverland landing,” he replied, skipping up the house steps. He put his hand on one of the porch beams and swung around to face the Darlings again. “Come on, everyone. I’ve got some people you should meet.”
But Michael and John were busy looking up at the moon, which was larger than they had ever seen it. “Look at this place,” said Michael. “Is this real?”
“I don’t know,” Wendy said. She was older than them all – even older than Peter – but she still had bright, young blond hair and a smattering of freckles across her cheeks. When she spoke, it was often with the maturity and wisdom only an older sister could have – even when she was talking to a complete stranger. “It seems real. Come on.”
Wendy took Michael by the hand – Michael being the youngest – and led them all up the beach when a single line of gold-silver dust suddenly streaked right in front of them. It looked like a shooting star had gone by right in front of them. Then Wendy heard a buzzing by her ear, followed by what sounded like little bells going off all around her.
“What!” Wendy shouted out of surprise. “Peter! What is this?”
“Don’t swat!” Peter, up on the porch, uncrossed his arms and came skipping back down to them. “Come on, Tink. They’re friends. Leave them alone.”
Tinker Bell fluttered around Wendy’s head, then John’s, then Michael’s, endlessly curious. But she wasn’t like a dog greeting strangers – she had a unusually specific purpose to her curiosity.
“Where’s my fairy dust?” she asked.
“Is it a hummingbird?” John said, his eyes following Tinker Bell as she flew around unpredictably.
“No, I’m a fairy,” Tinker Bell said. “Birds can’t speak.”
“You won’t be able to hear her,” Peter said to them. “This is Tinker Bell. She’s a fairy. She’s also my friend. And I believe this,” – he produced a small brown pouch from his pocket – “is what she’s been looking for.”
“You stole it!” Tink said, all the righteous indignation she had welling up throughout her body. If there was anything she could lift, it was Peter’s pouch – so she snatched it out of his hands and hovered at a safe distance so she could inspect its contents.
“A fairy?” Wendy asked.
“Yes. A tinker – she mends pots, kettles, pans, all that good stuff,” Peter replied. “That was her fairy dust I’ve been using.” He looked at John and Michael, who looked a little afraid of Tinker Bell. “Don’t worry. She’s not always this rude. She just doesn’t have any room in her body for more than one mood at a time.”
“Says you,” Tinker Bell replied. Ding, ding.
“What’s she saying?” Wendy asked.
“She said, ‘says you.’”
“You can understand that?”
“I’ve learned how to listen to her.” Then Peter smiled. “Come on. It’s time for you to meet the Lost Boys.”