“Who is Wendy?” Lola asked.
The frost began to thaw. Pan’s chin rose. His eyes hadn’t regained colour, but the air was warmer. Lola half expected Pan to say Wendy was nobody, or that Lola should forget she’d ever heard the name because it wasn’t fun.
“She was the Lost Boys’ mother,” Pan said. His voice was quiet. She had to step closer to hear him better. “She told us stories. Then she wanted to grow up.”
“What happened to her?” A lump swelled in Lola’s throat. She’d heard this story, but not from him.
“I didn’t want her to forget me,” he said.
A minute went by without Pan saying anything. Lola didn’t care if he did say more. She had heard what she needed to know. Lola thought of Pan’s note—I will come back for your stories. Wendy had played house, told stories, acted as the lost boys’ mother. Maybe it had reminded her too much of what she was giving up and that’s why she decided to grow up. Pan had wanted her to stay, and it was exactly like Hiccup and Green had said. Wendy never left Neverland.
“Wendy…Moira Angela Darling,” he said. He closed his eyes a moment, trapping a portrait behind his eyelids. He sniffled, rubbed his eyes, and blinked until his eyes were clear.
“Darling?” Lola almost choked. There were Darlings on her Nana’s side. Was Wendy a long-lost relative? Lola tried to think of all the stories Nana had told her about their family. She’d never mentioned someone named Wendy going missing—or kidnapped by a mysterious flying boy. Was Wendy and her brothers the reason Nana had said never to follow the guiding star to Neverland?
Colour returned to Pan’s eyes. He flew directly up.
“Pan, wait, where…?” Lola watched him turn and fly away. “Are you leaving me?” She waved and ran after him. She ran into the field of frostbitten grass. Her chase lasted less than a few feet. He was headed back to the tree-town and his flying was fast. There was no way she’d catch him. She’d have to find her own way.
From ground level it was difficult to find her bearings. She knew which way the Mermaid Lagoon was—behind her, but more left. Pan had flown them from the Glittering East Towers to the lagoon. The towers were on the opposite side of the island if she wanted to find the Lost Boys’ tree-town—which she did. No way was she trusting that Jenson and Mason wouldn’t be turned into goblins. Lola scanned around. She could see the shining tips of the Glittering East Towers. She stood with her back to them and adjusted until the lagoon was at her absolute left. If she continued straight she would either hit the Lost Boys’ home or Pirate Cove. She knew she could make it back to the tree-town from Pirate Cove. Either way her trajectory depended on her following a straight line.
Lola had never been on a long walking trip. She’d walked long distances by city standards, but she’d never hiked through woods or through glens for more than an hour. The island was huge. If time passed normally—which she wasn’t sure it would—she probably wouldn’t make it back before nightfall. She’d seen goblins and mermaids, but what other creatures were waiting between her and the Lost Boys? Not to mention she was wearing slipper-socks. The bottoms were grey-black from walking already. They weren’t made for outdoors. How long before they wore through and she was barefoot? She wasn’t dressed for cross-island trekking. She had on light sweatpants and a t-shirt. She was in lounging clothes and not adventure clothes. She took a breath. At least she had on pants; Mason only had pajama shorts.
Lola rolled her sweatpants up from her ankles and used the spare hair-tie from her wrist. The air was summery again and the exercise was going to make her sweat enough without having her hair curtain steaming her neck. She started out with an even but up-tempo pace. She crossed the field with no problems. She found a stream with a lot of shrubbery around. The stream followed beside her for an hour and it was pleasant company. Her pace slowed and she watched her watery companion. It was clear with silver and pink fish jumping up and diving over the dips and turns. The softly tinkling stream curved away from her eventually and she was sad to see it go. The stream went left into a glen with small clumps of flowers. Lola had to continue straight.
The field in front of her had small mounds crowned with flowers and mushrooms grew in connecting pathways. Some of the mushrooms were one colour—blues and reds and browns—while others looked like tie-dye or a canvas that was paint-splattered. Lola followed these tie-dye patterns of mushrooms. They would form into a circle around small hills. There were doll-sized doors in the hills. Some were round, some were Victorian double-doors, and some were a mosaic of stones. Lola wondered if she knocked, would one of Tinker Bell’s relatives answer the door?
Lola was curious. She hopped inside the ring of tie-dye mushrooms and knocked on the mosaic door. No one answered. Lola knocked again. There were no windows; no one had peeked through curtains and decided not to answer. Maybe no one was home. Lola turned and walked to the ring of mushrooms. She stepped but she didn’t move. Lola reached but her hand was blocked. She traced the invisible force with her fingers. She followed it around the hill. It was springy, like a net, but strong. She couldn’t step out of the mushroom ring.
Lola paced around the hill twice, trying to punch or kick her way out. She couldn’t find a weak spot. She scowled and faced the hill. The door was bigger than before. Lola leaned back into the invisible wall. The hill was bigger too. Lola walked around the hill again. It was a longer trip. She looked at the moss and grass that had been crushed under her feet. She saw some remnants of her footprints and measured her feet next to them. Her feet were smaller. It wasn’t the hill growing; she was shrinking.
Lola climbed up the hill to the door. She was a perfect fit. She was doll-sized—Tinker Bell sized. She knocked on the door again. The mosaic rumbled. The door rolled aside.
There was a village inside the hill. The dome of the hill had layers of shimmering flowers and floating spores lit like bulbs. Small houses made of twigs, mud, and leaves made rows and rows. At the centre of the hill was a tower made of the same mosaic of stones as the door. There were pixies everywhere. Winged men, women, and children gleamed every colour of the rainbow. How big their eyes were compared to their pointed faces! They each glowed one colour at a time, but the colour of their eyes was constant and individual. Some of them were dressed casually with shorts or skirts; some of the men didn’t bother to wear shirts. Some of them were dressed like they were ready to attend a ball. The dresses were waterfalls of laced fabric and the men wore suits with long trains with embroidery. Lola was mesmerized. She walked into the pixie village.
The mosaic door rolled closed. Lola whipped around. She tried to push it open. She mumbled a curse at herself. She knocked and knocked. “Open up! I don’t want to live here! I just wanted to see…!”
“Excuse me, human girl.”
Lola stopped knocking. She glanced over her shoulder. A crowd had gathered. Lola put her back against the mosaic door. As far as she could see, even beyond the crowd, every pixie had stopped to stare at her.
The pixie that had spoken to her stood a few paces—no, flew a few paces in front of the crowd. The pixie’s skin was faintly blue with short scraggly hair and baggy clothes. Lola noted there was a crest woven into the shirt and the hem of the shorts had elaborate goldthread embroidery. Lola stared wide-eyed at the pixies with her mouth hanging open.
“Girl,” the pixie said. “Are you stupid or are you deaf?”
“Neither,” Lola said. "I heard you. I was, just, stunned." She stepped away from the door. “How come I can understand you—Tinker Bell only made, sort of, bell sounds.”
The fairies gasped at the mention of the name. The blue one in front waved them back. The farthest started to go about their day, but that didn’t stop them from stealing glances at her. The blue one flew closer and landed an arm’s length from Lola.
“You met Tinker Bell,” the pixie said.
“Is something wrong with that…?” Lola’s brows pinched.
“You’re a living girl,” the pixie observed. “You’re the new lost girl.”
Lola crossed her arms and hunched her shoulders nervously. “I guess I was. Now I’m not sure.”
“Blinker.” The blue pixie fluttered her wings.
Lola smiled weakly. “That’s your name?”
The pixie nodded.
Blinker fluttered into the air and grabbed Lola’s wrist. “Lola, you must meet with the queen.” He jerked Lola forward. “Come with me.”
Once again Lola found that fairies were much stronger than they looked. Blinker was able to tug Lola behind him without resistance. Lola had tried to pull back, but her heels only dragged in the dirt. She decided cooperating would extend the life of her slippers. Lola was going to meet the fairy queen.