from Not Merely Because of the Unknown That Was Stalking Towards Them


The title of the piece as well as subsequent italicized portions that are followed by a page number are taken from J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. The title is excerpted from the following: “Of course she should have roused the children at once; not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, but because it was no longer good for them to sleep on a rock grown chilly” (72).

Hook pricks all over my spine I’ve. I’ll stay in bed and complain of a sickness; if asked, I’ll say that the Tinker Bell has done this. She did it out of jealously. Maybe he’ll think I’m gravely ill, that another thimble will save. Me. Maybe she’s too obsessed with something else to make the story what it should be. Why, yes, Tootles, I have noticed that lately, lately she’s taken to spinning heaps of wool from the Never sheep. And where have they come from, come from? New sheep done sprung? And a spinning wheel too has come from out of nowhere? Tis were imagined, imagined. Why take to spinning and leave your boys, and leave your boys to play baa baa black sheep? (I do say that something’s in the hay!) Ooh oooh oooh, says Tootles, do you think, do you think the

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The Home Under Ground

Hollyhocks blooming all up the side of the trellis, so heavy they need to be tied back lest they droop and break. Neverland earth so rich it will grow anything. Out to the heavens. And so I hold so tightly my little bean lest it escape, implant itself, and fly away from me. Something sinister washed up on the seashore saying too late, too late. What is a girl to do? One who is a very little one? Maybe a doctor, a real doctor, will come? Will come? Old Hook: all lying with his black bag and stethoscope: no real thermometer in there. I say, Hook, I say, I do think I’m coming down with something. A little bird; a little bird. Do you think that for this it’s possible for you to bake me a little cake? Or does it not work that way? Tell me: how do you tell time when your instruments, your landscape keeps changing? The astrolabe says something in conflict with the stars.

***

girl Wendy is spinning us suits,new sheep suits, and we can finally change out of these here old bear suits? Why, kill a sheep first and see if it fits, if it fits true, and then go and see what Peter will say to you; none of the boys, however, are quite that brave; none want to be chased out and away from the Neverland because chasing quite means a disappearance. Happened once to an old Never monarch; old butterfly never quite said the right words to the Peter bird, who quite made the thing disappear simply. OOoooohhhh, oooohhh, get this, get this, Tootles says, I asked her, and she says that she quite intends, she quite intends to stay on through the winter and to the spring, and that is why, that is why she’s a-spinning a Never cloak to wear for then, to meet the cold. We’ve bear suits; she does not; the Wendy bird will freeze, will freeze, and her Never house all slatty. And what has she there in her spinning basket there? Oh, mermaids’ hair, butterfly wings, locks from Hook’s hair, pixie dust, dead pixies’ wings, a myriad of sparkling things, a few stars here, a few Never leaves there; she’s spinning them right in; I daresay she’ll blend in and then what then? Will the Peter bird still love her? Because, as you know, he only loves them when they are quite different. But, Tootles, she will still have that thing. What thing? What thing? I hardly know what you mean by that thing. I complain of Wendy who has gone nights now without telling us a story. Wendy, she’s in to her elbows in the wash basin trying to demusk the sheep fleece. It’s a ram, you see, and it has a certain

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The Home Under Ground

Wendy, have you quite come to terms with what it means to fly home? I don’t quite think so; you see, I’ve a certain crick in my neck from all of that spinning, and the applying of various poultices—Tiger Lily’s pussy lard and Peter’s toe jam—haven’t quite been working, although Tiger Lily’s father quite said they would. So, no, I haven’t actually been thinking too much on what it means to fly home. Why don’t you tell me.

***

aroma; it’s ever-so-much stronger than you might think. The business trip will take eleven days; will you be quite lonesome without. Me? The doves all crying; why, yes, you’ve guessed it, Wendy! In the eaves. Don’t be. So sad. Isn’t this exactly the kind of life you imagined. For me? Oh, no. Oh, no. There will be no lovenotes sent to you in starcode; the boss simply won’t allow. It. If you like, maybe you could leave. A note with the secretary. She’ll be happy. To help. You. This, I know. For certain. She’s always so eager. To please. But you mustn’t. Cry, Wendy. That won’t do; that won’t do. At all. Oh, there! Will you look at. The time. It’s about time, really. It’s about time that. I got going. And what’s that, you say? The cradle? We’ll discuss it. Later. When I get back. Home. Isn’t it a wonder? Really. That belly of yours is really. A wonder. Quite.
The look in his eyes: it is delicious. His eyes say that he’d like to shred Hook to pieces with his good sword, the sword that cut Hook’s hand off, and not his hobby one. But sometimes he’ll mistake the good sword for the hobby sword: this can make a meeting with anything

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The Home Under Ground

Wendy, I daresay I think it’s about time that we let these things go now. Wolf has stopped crying; little lost egg yolk has stopped crying; centipede and caterpillar have stopped crying; old Smee, he of the lost marbles, even he, Wendy, has stopped crying. Old kite all tattered and soiled now—even it has stopped crying. It’s only you now who won’t stop crying. Good god, old lady, you must stop crying. See, see that old moon: close one eye and then two fists over between those two stars there: there you will fly.

***

quite dangerous. For him, it isn’t a matter of unknowing, but rather a matter of forgetting. Peter is the boy of forgetting. (Wendy would like to forget that.) Well, aren’t you clever; aren’t you just the part! For he is just the part, you know. That’s her! That’s my Wendy, he’ll say when he sees just the right girl. (The prop is only make-believe!) She is just the right girl. Oh, but won’t the real old lady be quite jealous? Won’t she just get all tinkerbell on us? Start pricking and plotting some sort of death for the girl? Won’t matter; won’t matter: something will save her; something always saves her. That’s how the story always ends. Nothing really happens when the Tinker Bell tries to kill anyone. Nor crocs; nor bearded men. Just the Peter bird, then? Just the Peter bird then.


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The Home Under Ground

Maybe everything’s just falling apart now: skeleton leaves showing their seams. I know how this will go: you’ll say that you don’t really love me. Here: take something. To remember me. By. That’s the way the story goes, right, Peter bird? And will you come for any gifts? I do fear that I’ve quite run dry of stories. You’ve heard them all before. Oh, yes, but you do forget. You’ll forget this one too I guess. No amount of reminding will get you to think of this one in a year’s time. Or maybe. Maybe if I can teach the Never birds to say my name. Maybe if I can get one of the Never boys to keep reminding—oh, but they die. They die, too. They die from the cuts and scrapes from wars with the braves with the wolves with the bears with the pirates too, and you’ll replace. Them. That, you’ll do. As is your fashion. And you’ll replace me, too. Replace; replace; replace. It’s such a funny word: replace.


***

Is it real, Peter, is it real that you have left me? I complain of Peter, who has left me. The leaving was not so make-believe. I too, like Tink, will spend the rest of the whole of my life glorying in being. Abandoned. Tink says she glories in being abandoned (92). Not so much as a sorry-to-lose-you between them! If she did not mind the parting, he was going to show her, was Peter, that neither did he. But of course he cared very much (97). Or so, that is the story that we tell ourselves, the story we want to believe. But doesn’t caring very much mean everything? As in: I’d do anything? No, we hadn’t thought so; we thought not. But oh, Wendy, is that there your manuscript all caught in the trees? Did the Peter bird get angry and wish it gone and it got all caught up in the branches there? There will be a story for you to leave, but your leaving will insist on it more that you. What’s that you say? You have a little papoose? A little cocoon to hang, too? Mother wolf all dead now: will your little whelps be going, too? Will they need a nursery room? Shall we, Wendy? Shall we turn your house into a whelp rumpus room?


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The Home Under Ground

The grown-ups again have spoilt everything. They too will take the girl Wendy away. Peter didn’t leave the room, and that is why it happened this way. If only he didn’t stay. But he did, and he told his story. And it was his story that made it so that the Wendy girl wished to go away. You see, it is story that takes them. The dread is what makes Wendy forgetful (97): Peter, will you make the necessary arrangements? (97). It’s quite like a funeral. This is what happens when Peter doesn’t forget. And oh don’t you wish he hadn’t?



Jenny Boully is the author of The Book of Beginnings and Endings, [one love affair]*, The Body: An Essay, and the chapbook Moveable Types. She teaches at Columbia College Chicago. She has just completed a new manuscript, not merely because of the unknown that was stalking towards them, which is excerpted in this issue. Other excerpts have appeared or are forthcoming in Shampoo, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, and Puerto del Sol.

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