By Julia Koslowsky
I hovered above the floor for a moment, savoring this last moment, the last time I would ever fly. I landed softly, but my heart was suddenly heavier than it had ever been. Turning back to the window, I saw his silhouette framed by the moonlight spilling into the room. His voice was quiet and sad when he finally spoke.
“So this is it.”
“I can’t stop it.”
“Yes, you can. You can come back to Neverland with me.” He turned, and though his eyes were now in shadow, I could still make out their glint of hopelessness. “You wouldn’t have to ever grow up.”
I closed my eyes, unable to look at him. “I can’t just leave my life behind.”
“Do you want to grow up?”
Opening my eyes again, I met his gaze. “Of course I don’t want to grow up. But I’m not a Lost Boy, or a Lost Girl, and I can’t leave the people who care about me. I can’t stay almost-grown-up for the rest of my life.”
“Then I guess this is the end of the adventures.”
A tear slipped down my cheek. “Not forever, I hope.”
“Once you grow up, I can never see you again.”
Both our faces were wet now.
“You know the rules. Only children can come to Neverland. Once you grow up–”
“–you can no longer fly,” I finished. “But eighteen isn’t so grown up, is it?”
He just shook his head, wiping his cheek with the back of his hand. I grabbed his other hand as he turned back to the window.
“Even if I grow up, I’ll never forget about Neverland. Or you.”
“Yes, you will. Everyone does eventually.”
His voice was soft, tinged with the bitterness of knowledge beyond his years.
“I won’t,” I said firmly.
“Tomorrow I’ll be part of your imagination, a friend you dreamed up to pass the time.”
“No, you won’t.”
His unbelief was clear. I stepped next to him so we were facing each other in front of the window.
“I may never be able to fly again, or go to Neverland, but every time I look out at the night sky, I will see the stars and think of you. I will search the heavens for the Second Star to the Right and dream of the days when I fought pirates and danced with Indians and told stories to the Lost Boys. I’ll think of the mermaids in the lagoon and Tinker Bell pulling my hair. I will never be too old to read fairy tales or have adventures.”
A clock tower echoed in the distance.
His expression was almost too much for me to bear as he gave a small, completely unhappy smile. “Happy birthday.”
I hugged him. My throat hurt from crying. “I will miss you so much.”
“I’ll miss you too.”
We stood there for what seemed like both an instant and a forever. He hopped lightly onto the windowsill, the ghost of his cheeky grin gracing his lips. He looked tired and sad without the laughter in his eyes.
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”*
I reached out and took his hand one last time.
“I will never forget and I will always believe.”