“Here is Neverland”
Heat, that was the first thought that came to my head as I open my eyes, I was hot, burning in truth. Memories of last night seem to rush through my head and I wonder suddenly if I am dead. I take a minute to study my surroundings, directly in front of me the sea lapped against the sand, on an abandoned beach, behind me, forest.
“Where am I?” I whisper, surprised at the croak my voice produced. The thought that I may be dead had not fled from my head, I was still unsure of any other explanation. One minute I had been falling to my death, the next waking up here, wherever here is. “Hello,” I cry out in the hopes that someone will come and explain my predicament to me. My words are meet with a frightening silence. I sigh wiping the beads of sweat from my head, the sun attacking my skin mercilessly; I had never met with such heat before. Pushing myself up, I stagger as my weak body attempts to adjust to my standing position. Quickly I look down at myself, studying to see if there was evidence of any damage that the fall might have produced. My search is met with nothing; nothing appears out of place, not even a faint bruise. I sigh trying to work out where to go next, my answer is decided for me when through the forest I catch a strange glint. It is nothing worth following of course, but in my stranded state it is all I have. Reaching into my pockets I pull out my phone, but to my great annoyance it will not even turn on, I searched my brain wondering if it was low on battery but I couldn’t even recall.
As I walk the glint all but disappears, and I begin to question if I even saw it at all.
To be honest, by now, I was questioning my sanity. Was I losing it like my mother? As much as I hated to admit it, it was entirely possible. Just as I thought I couldn’t take another step, my skin literally burning, I saw someone. A lone figure wandering through the forest paths, it was enough to send a surge of hope through my chest. “Hello,” I scream out, hardly able to wait to have answers, answers about where I was, and how I got here.
The figure raised its head, sending me a wave across the place, before continuing to walk onwards. I groan, my throat was parched through lack of water and the effort it took to scream was almost too much. “Help,” I yelp, attempting to wipe some of the sweat away from me. The figure stops in its tracks, turns around and comes running over to my great relief.
It’s a man, he can’t be much older than me, he seems concerned, quickly pulling out a water flask and handing it to me. I drink the water thankfully glad he knew that was exactly what I wanted. “Thank you,” I tell him as I pass it back, pausing as he takes it before asking, “where am I?” The man stares at me with confusion and I can’t blame him, I’d be confused in his situation to.
“You don’t know?” he questions warily, his brown eyes studying me.
I shake my head, “No I just kind of woke up here, its,” I think about telling him about the boy but stop, I looked crazy enough, “complicated.” The man places a hand on his forehead and for a second he looks as though he wants to run, like he wants the distance between us to be as much as possible. “Please,” I beg, before he can act on his thoughts.
“You didn’t come here of you own accord?” he finally asks, his voice almost hopeful. By this time I’m getting angry, I don’t even understand what’s going on.
“Will you just tell me where here is?” I shout, wishing I could pull back the words as I say them.
The man sighs, “Here, this is Neverland,” he informs me.
His words are said in a tone of absolute certainty, that I’m almost ready to believe him, but I know better.
“What? Are you serious? Is there a Neverland club I don’t know about, bring all the crazy people together to discuss a fake imaginary place, I bet you and the red-headed boy planned this,” I snap, not believing where my luck had landed me. At my mention of the red-headed the man jumps back, taking tentative steps away from me. His eyes are wide, fear is written into every part of them.
“I’m sorry,” he says his voice desperate, “I wish I could help you but I can’t.” I stare at him, still trying to work out what was going on, but I did realize one thing he was my ticket to civilization and he was very fast backing up.
“No wait I’m sorry, you’re not crazy, this is Neverland,” I tell him, attempting to play into his insanity.
“I can’t,” he repeats, “I’ve been up against him before it nearly cost me my life, I won’t do it again. I want to live, live don’t you get it. I’m so sorry, but you’re on your own,” he says, throwing the water flask at my feet before sprinting off into the distance.
I gaze down at it and then back up to his retreating figure sighing, trying to figure out how things got so complicated. The one good thing I gained from this was that if he walked here, that means something had to be nearby, and for now that was a good thing. I pick up the water, glad that he at least had the decency to give me that, before I set off again.
Night was falling and my entire body ached, before I spotted anything. I was in no doubt that my skin was probably a beetroot red, a color that wasn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Yet I’ll deal with that when it came. The structure before me, quite literally didn’t belong, not in this time at least. It was almost like a castle, the very sight of it made me question if I was really gone in the head. There was a host of stairs leading up to it and as I stepped out of the forest, I turned back to make sure it was still there.
Was this all an odd dream, it had to be, or I had somehow been transported to one of those countries with castles everywhere. That almost made me feel sick, since it meant that nobody was going to be home, not that this could ever be called someone’s home. Despite that I still moved forward knowing that it would provide me shelter for the night, before I had to move on again. As I walk the steps, it strikes me for the first time how well kept this place is and I wonder if I might be wrong, that someone might be here after all.
A tiny bubble of hope makes its way into my heart once more and I am helpless to quell it. I knock the grand doors loudly, feeling somewhat silly while doing it. Everything about this entire day just seemed so wrong, like a bad dream that I desperately needed to wake up from. After a few minutes passed I decided that nobody was around so I attempted to open the door, to my dismay it was locked. I take a step back studying the structure before me, where there even locks in the time period this was built or was that a recent edition?
“Can I help you?” a voice questions from behind, causing me to jump in shock. A middle-aged man was eyeing me with suspicious eyes, moving from one foot to the other.
“Oh um I well I need help,” I mutter, unsure how to explain my predicament to him.
The man snorts, a look of displeasure passing his face, “Well you won’t get it,” he snaps, “I’m sick and tired of you lot, you made your choice you can bloody well live with the consequences I won’t lift a finger to help you, you greedy pigs.”
I am both shocked and confused by this man’s tirade, though he seems like a hard man, his soft voice does not seem to suit his words. “I don’t understand,” I try to explain to him, wondering who he thought I was.
The man takes another second to look at me, a look of realization passing over his features, “What’s your name?” he asks me urgently.
I pause, “Belle Darling,” I answer, though I doubted that meant anything to him.
The man seems to visibly crumple, like whatever held him up has been pulled from under him. “You’re Wendy’s daughter, aren’t you?” his voice is so low I can hardly hear him. I nod hesitantly, maybe the people around here really were part of a Neverland club, which kind of made him mad too. “I thought, I assumed, that he was going to leave you alone, I’m so sorry Belle, this never should have happened,” he tells me and his voice is sad and it shocks me. I’m not sure how to respond I don’t know how to, I just wanted answers. “You best come in,” he says when my lips stayed closed, “I’m Micheal by the way,” he tells me. The fact that him and my mother’s brother share a name makes me smile although I’m not entirely sure why.
The castle on the inside is nothing short of amazing, Micheal leads me to the kitchen sits me down and begins to prepare a meal. I can hardly argue, my hunger has finally set in. He hands me a bowl of a green mixture and when I give him a quizzical look he explains its crème for the sunburn. As I apply it Micheal talks to me, “So do you know where you are?” he questions me, focusing on the food he is preparing.
I pause, “I’m assuming you’re going to tell me this is Neverland,” I tell him, no doubt he believed that to, or was in on my capture for all I knew.
A ghost of a smile appeared on Micheal’s lips, “You don’t believe, good, it means you have a head on your shoulders, not a lot of people that come here do,” he informs me.
I sigh, “Look I don’t mean to be rude, but I really need to get home so maybe tomorrow if you can point me in the direction of the nearest town that would be helpful,” I say to him.
Micheal laughs, “My poor innocent girl, there is no going home for either of us though I wish in my heart of hearts there was a way,” he pauses looking at my face of extreme displeasure and doubt, “you need proof I suppose that this is Neverland.” I fight the urge to roll my eyes and argue there would be no proof that could convince me since this wasn’t Neverland.
“Look I’m sorry but you need help and I need to go,” I say placing down the bowl, all of a sudden afraid to be around a man so firm in his belief. For all I knew he couldn’t be trusted I could go to sleep here and enter up with a dagger in me. However there was another part of me whispering that this man could be trusted, that for some reason I sensed he was good.
“Take a walk with me tomorrow and if the destination we arrive at doesn’t convince you this is Neverland then you can walk away, but please take a chance its not safe out there,” Micheal says motioning his head to the outside world.
I watch him and the part that trusts him slowly wins out, “Fine I’ll go with you tomorrow,” I cave, a part of me a tad curious to see what he was certain would convince me.
Micheal eyes shine with relief, his entire countenance appearing relaxed, “Good, good,” he mutters to himself. I nod looking around and then down at my skin, a minute ago it was red and now it was as if the sun had never touched it. I gaze at the crème, putting some on my fingertips and sniffing it, it smelt like nature, this hard to identify luscious smell. I dab a bit on my red legs and watched as it soaked into the skin and the red disappeared. I’d never seen anything like it, it was like magic. I quickly chided myself it was obviously a very old mixture, that worked extremely well. Again I wondered what part of the world I was, where had the mysterious boy taken me. It worried me that Neverland was beginning to seem more possible than it had when it had first been suggested. I shake my head of the thoughts, soon enough I’d find out where I was and this would turn into a crazy story that I joked about, nothing more, nothing less.