Now that I’ve gotten more used to a quieter daily routine, I haven’t noticed any of my anxious younger selves popping up from distant corners of my subconscious. Still, this week I thought it might be a good idea to check on my often-troubled past self Queenie, along with her young companions Ella and Sara, in the imaginary village of Channelwood.

I arrived by sailing ship on a pleasant sunny day. After passing through the cool shade of the bayou’s wooden walkways, which Ella always kept tidy and in good repair, I came out of the trees beside a pond. A path, muddy in spots, curved around a tall stand of cattails.

Pond with cattails in foreground.

(Photo credit: Johan Neven)

Hearing a splash, I walked around the cattails and found a small boy standing at the pond’s edge, skimming stones. In keeping with Channelwood’s setting in the 1890s, the boy wore a plain cotton shirt and trousers with suspenders.

“Hello,” I greeted him. “Do you live here?”

The boy looked thoughtful, as if considering how best to answer. About a minute passed before he finally said, “Well, I suppose I do now, ever since Wendy and the Lost Boys left the Neverland and went back to London. Of course I don’t need a family, as I can take care of myself; but Sara wanted to be my mother, so I decided to stay for a while.”

By then I recognized this past self as my five-year-old Peter Pan wannabe. It took a moment for the recognition to set in, though, because in our previous encounter, the child had been dressed in the frilly girl’s clothing that I actually wore at that age.

“Did Sara make your clothes?” I asked.

“No, Ella made them. Ella’s very good at sewing. Sara tucks me in at night and tells me bedtime stories.”

A ripple disturbed the water near Peter’s feet, and a small turtle poked its head up out of the pond. It was holding a flat chip of stone in its mouth. Laboriously, it plodded up the muddy bank and dropped the stone in front of Peter.

“I’ve been teaching the turtle how to play fetch with stones,” Peter explained. He rummaged in a pocket for some squishy brownish blob that he fed to the turtle, telling it, “Nicely done! Good work!”

After eating its reward, the turtle started making its slow way back toward the pond.

“Ella gave me some dried apple,” Peter told me. “The turtle seems to like it pretty well.”

“I thought turtles ate worms and bugs,” I said.

“They’re not very particular. I have a few worms and bugs in my pocket too.” Evidently remembering his manners, Peter reached toward his pocket with grubby fingers and went on to say, “I have more dried apple. Would you like some?”

“No, thank you,” I replied, perhaps with a bit too much haste. “But it was kind of you to offer.”

“One must always,” Peter declared virtuously, “be kind to a lady.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.