Match Stick

All children, except one, grow up.

And he planned to keep it that way.

At first glance, Peter Pan looked like any average boy as he waltzed through the Enchanted Forest, his multicolored cloak flapping in the wind, but if one of townspeople of Hamelin took a second glance, he might notice the gleam of mischief that laid in the boy's eyes or his stiff posture. Or perhaps even the wooden pipe Peter clutched tight as it hung at his waist; all of which was evidence that the he was no average boy like they all thought, but something else entirely, something…unnatural. The very something that swept their children away at night with his melodic tunes. The pied piper.

Not a single one looked twice.

Boots crunching on the snow, Peter Pan walked through the small village, green eyes roaming over the parents calling back their children into their homes, where warm amber fires would melt off the snow that clung to their little bodies. The sun set behind the trees; its pinks and oranges filtering through the branches and pine leaves, casting shadows on the white blanket of ice.

He found a bench, sat down, and waited. It would be nighttime soon, and Pan would play his pipe and lure the children of the village to the bonfire he would build, including one special girl—the daughter of a certain one-handed pirate—who sold matches on the street.

Cold, Pan thought. She would be cold.

Fingers would latch onto her thin, rough cloak and would clutch it closer to her trembling form. Snow would continue to fall from the dark cloudy sky at a steady rate, packing the small town square with white layer of fluff. The people of the town would huddle inside their homes, gathered around the warm orange fires.

But not Adrian.

Her brown cloak would be tied around her neck as she strolled the barren streets. She would hold tight to a box of unused matches in her right palm. Her green eyes would scan her surroundings, looking for possible buyers.

She wouldn't find any. She would only find her father, drunk as the sailor he was, in the tavern. She would sigh heavily, drop any of the money she had earned earlier from selling matches to pay off some of the rum he had drank, and walk out of the crowded room. That's when she would hear it, her father would too, but by the time he would realize what had happened, it would be too late.

She would be a lost girl.