Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Tinker’s Darling

 

Her hands were fairly sore from clapping, standing at her window every night in the hopes someone would respond. Peter had once told her clapping, the sharp retort caused by cupped flesh colliding, would revive a fairy’s dying light. Some nights she stood at her window, the shades open to overlook the thick fog of London. Wendy would hold her hands out into the thin air and clap until it hurt to, and then she would close the window and go back to bed disappointed.

Peter abandoned her when she grew up, but one part of Neverland had never been far away. She remembered the first night she woke to find what she thought was a firefly in her bedroom. She tried to swat it away, but then she recognized the tinkling bells of Peter’s fairy friend. Wendy had sat on the knees in the middle of her bed and held out her palm, and the tiny lady landed and stood arms akimbo on two of her fingers.

The language of fairies was difficult to understand, but not impossible. Carefully and patiently, Tinker Bell explained she left Neverland when she realized what Wendy had offered her. Lost Boys were fine, pirates and swordfights all had their place, but sometimes girls needed to be with other girls. Princess Tiger Lily was fine, but she could carry on a conversation with a stump and get much the same result.

Tinker Bell apologized for her jealousy and asked very politely if Wendy would be her friend. Wendy of course agreed. She was fifteen years old, and to have any reminder that Neverland was real was to be cherished. She crawled out of bed and sat on her knees by the window seat with Tinker Bell flitting around the sash. She was horribly fascinated by the idea of London, and Wendy struggled to explain the grown-up things that she saw during the day: barristers and bobbies, and she described the tower of Big Ben and London Bridge.

Over the next year, Tinker Bell visited Wendy nine times. At first Wendy didn’t notice the changes in her fairy friend, but soon they became evident. She was larger, for one thing, and her features were easily discernable even through the pale golden haze of fairy dust. Her voice became clearer, and she started speaking English rather than Fae. She explained it as a side effect of spending more time in London and less in Neverland. Peter hardly noticed her absence and there was just so much to see!

On Wendy’s eighteenth birthday, the windows opened by themselves and a cold, fresh gust of air blew into her room. As Wendy threw back the blankets to shut them, Tinker Bell alighted on the cushion of the window seat. At first Wendy withdrew in fright before she recognized her old friend. Tinker Bell was barely smaller than Wendy now, and the fairy dust that had once enveloped her entire tiny form was barely more than a glimmer. Her skin was dark, and her short blonde hair feathered over her cheeks and forehead like spider webs. She was lean, her arms and legs roped with strong muscles. She wore a dress fashioned from leaves, stitched in some manner that Wendy couldn’t discern. It left her shoulders and legs bare, the arms of the leaves clutching her small, high breasts just enough for modesty’s sake. Tinker Bell’s eyes were almond-shaped and a blue so pale that it was almost cold just to look at them.

She was barefoot. When she stepped onto the plush carpet of Wendy’s bedroom, she curled her toes. Wendy was stunned at her friend’s transformation. No longer the flittering fairy, no longer her secret confidant, Wendy was suddenly very aware she was in her thin nightgown with the shoulder straps. She was actually more clothed than Tinker Bell, but she crossed her arms over her chest and pressed her hands to her throat nevertheless.

Tinker Bell spoke haltingly, nervously forming the words. She spoke of everything she had seen since their last meeting and the last of Neverland’s magic had lost its grip on her. She was still able to fly, although for much shorter distances before she became tired, but she was more human now than she had ever been. She smiled when she said people feeding pigeons in the park called her their “birdwoman,” and she asked Wendy to call her that rather than fairy.

But now she was weary, and the streets were dangerous. She had tried to nap in an alley and woke to find frightening people lurking nearby. She had evaded them by going up, which scared the dickens out of them, she revealed with a laugh like the twittering of a bird, and she nervously looked around the bedroom. Wendy no longer lived with her parents and brothers, having long ago moved to a boarding school. The room was her dormitory, and Tinker Bell seemed to have finally noticed it was different.

She longed for a bed and asked Wendy if she could please share. Regardless of the changes they had both gone through, Wendy agreed readily. Tinker Bell was her friend. They had shared things Wendy had never told another living soul, not even John or Michael. Tinker Bell had taught Wendy how to kiss, or at least how she had seen people kissing during their travels. Wendy originally didn’t believe the tongue could possibly play such an important role in the act, but now she wasn’t so certain.

So she agreed, but she implored Tinker Bell to be silent. She pulled back her blankets and took another pillow from the linen closet. When she turned around, Tinker Bell had shed her wrap of leaves and was slipping nude under the blankets. Wendy blushed and hugged the pillow to her chest as she joined Tinker Bell. She hesitated by the bedside and then hooked her thumbs under the straps of her nightgown and let it fall. She didn’t want Tinker Bell to be embarrassed by her blunder.

Wendy joined Tinker Bell under the covers and realized the window was still open. She sat up again and pointed out the night would be cold, but Tinker Bell put her arms around Wendy’s waist and said they would keep each other warm. Wendy lay back down and rolled onto her side. Her nose bumped Tinker Bell’s. In the darkness, the birdwoman still seemed lit from within. Her eyes were like little sparklers, and Wendy leaned close to discover if she could actually see the fires. Tinker Bell misinterpreted, and pressed her lips to the spot just above Wendy’s top lip. Wendy gasped and pulled back, which aligned their mouths until they were kissing.

They both kept their eyes open until Tinker Bell withdrew. She smiled and pressed her body tighter against Wendy’s. “I knew it would be nice!” Tinker Bell said with a voice as light as a breath. Wendy’s face was hot, and she buried it against Tinker Bell’s shoulder. She didn’t think she was embarrassed, and she didn’t think she was ashamed, but she wasn’t sure what she was feeling. Whatever it was, she didn’t know if it was right.

She stayed awake most of the night while Tinker Bell slept. Just before dawn, Tinker Bell woke instantly with no signs of grogginess. She stepped out of bed and donned her skirt of leaves. Wendy tried to suggest a shower, but she wanted to be alone to consider what had happened. Tinker Bell, chipper as always, bid her goodbye and blew her a kiss before vanishing out the window once more.

Wendy left the bed and hurried across the floor, her naked flesh rising in gooseflesh as she pushed the windows shut and fastened them. She returned to the bed and donned her nightgown once more, smoothing the bodice as she sat on the edge of the bed with her knees together. She looked at the window and, her mind blank, began to smile.

She touched her cheeks; that decided it. Smiling meant happy. And happy was good.

Tinker Bell didn’t show up for a year. On her next birthday, Wendy began leaving her windows open even on the most frigid nights. She was scolded by the housemother who assured her she would catch her death of cold. But Wendy was more frightened for her friend. She remembered how pale Tinker Bell’s glow had been when last they met. What if it had gone out completely? What if Tinker Bell was too weak to save herself?

After a fruitless month of clapping out her open window, Wendy began to sneak out. She took to the streets in the dark hours, asking anyone who might help if they had seen her friend. A few recognized her, but they hadn’t seen her in a very long while. Wendy became disheartened and soon visited the police and any doctors she could find. Even the backroom physicians couldn’t help her and she was sent away with promises to call the constables if she was seen out on her own again.

The next time Wendy saw Tinker Bell, she understood why the search had been so arduous. She wore a heavy jacket layered on top of several sweaters. Her hair had grown long and tangled with twigs and branches. She was sitting with her back to a stone, looking at her hands as if stories were written upon the flesh. Wendy ran to her, gathering the frightened and confused birdwoman to her chest before Tinker Bell pushed her off with a cry of fear.

Wendy begged her to remember, but Tinker Bell simply covered her face and sobbed. Finally, Wendy rocked back on her feet and brought her hands up. She clapped her hands once, and Tinker Bell’s eyes widened as if the sound was a gunshot. Wendy took her friend’s hands and forced them to clap.

“Clap if you believe in fairies,” Wendy whispered. People were watching her now, and she implored them to be a bit ridiculous for a good cause. One man joined her clapping, and soon another had picked it up. There was no rhythm to the music they made. But Tinker Bell sat up straighter and a line formed between her eyebrows as if she was struggling to remember a song long forgotten.

Wendy clapped until her hands stung, and then until she could barely feel them anymore. She felt the tears dripping from her chin, however, and soon Tinker Bell’s skin glowed. It was like a lantern’s glow pushing through a bank of fog. Wendy clapped harder, and Tinker Bell’s light grew more intense until she grabbed Wendy’s wrists. Her eyes snapped open, wide and dancing, and she smiled.

“Wendy!”

Wendy hugged her tightly. The people who had brought Tinker Bell back to life applauded, unaware of what they had just seen, and went back about their business. Finally, Wendy released Tinker Bell and wiped the tears from her face. Wendy kissed both of Tinker Bell’s cheeks and then, without giving herself time to talk herself out of it, kissed Tinker Bell’s lips. Tinker Bell put her hands in Wendy’s hair and turned her head to one side.

After a slow and exploring kiss, their lips parted with a soft smack. Wendy licked her lips and severed the line of saliva that had joined her to Tinker Bell, and Tinker Bell looked down at herself in confusion. She looked at Wendy again, apology in her eyes.

“I forgot about you.” Her voice cracked as she brushed dirty thumbs over Wendy’s cheeks.

“That’s okay. I never forgot about you.” She took Tinker Bell’s hands and kissed the palms before she stood up. “Come with me. I will take you home and draw you a warm bath.”

“Thank you, Wendy.” Tinker Bell stood up and stretched tired legs, creaking slightly until the blood flowed more freely through her veins. She clutched to Wendy, and Wendy supported her old friend as they walked out of the park to whatever adventure awaited them next.

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