Chapter 1: Blowing Out the Candles

At sunset, a light could be seen flickering from within a window of the Darling house. If by chance one was walking down the darkened street and peeked into the window, he or she would have seen what was indeed a most tender moment.

All eleven members of the Darling family were in the dining room, gathered around a massive cherry-wood table. Sitting at the head of it was a young girl wearing a pretty blue bow in her hair, as well as a smile that could hardly be distinguished between anxiousness and excitement. She peered over a cake, and thirteen lit candles brightened her face, casting a strange and beautiful sort of illumination on her rosy lips and glimmering baby blue eyes.

For Wendy Moira Angela Darling, turning thirteen was bitter-sweet. Of course, birthdays always called for celebration, and who wouldn't have looked forward to that? Her mother had spent all morning in the kitchen, baking the celebratory cake and cookies that were quite necessary for the right party. Nana had spent hours cleaning, so that Wendy might enjoy a day without having to trip over one of her brothers' stray toys. Of course, the poor nanny-dog huffed at even more cleaning she'd have to do, seeing as the boys had decorated the entire house with banners and glitter and confetti. And Wendy's father—he'd even set aside enough pounds to buy Wendy the most stunning pearl necklace and earring set she'd ever seen.

Still, Wendy could not revel as much as she would have liked. Though she tried so admirably to be grateful for the effort her family had put into her birthday, a series of unwelcoming thoughts crept like poison into her mind. Thirteen meant that she was to become a lady; it meant that she would soon be moved from the nursery to the small and drafty room across the hall; it meant that she would receive her first corset, and she could hardly think of being bond in the stomach. And alas, she was to begin her instruction with Aunt Millicent, who seemed ever eager to transform her into the ideal grown-up and bride.

But even these worries were trifles compared to one other realization—the one that Wendy had struggled with every night as she sat by the nursery window, as she looked from the star-peppered sky to her sleeping brothers, as she fell asleep on the sill and shivered in accordance to the nightly cold. She was thirteen, and it was decided—she would no longer wait. Besides, the nursery window had been barred, for Mr. and Mrs. Darling had recently discovered Michael and the Twins trying to fly out of it. And though she'd promised never to forget, Wendy knew very well that she could not fight growing up. And growing up did mean forgetting.

So, even with these unsettling thoughts, she managed to plaster on a bright smile for her family. For her parents, who stood at the other end of the table, watching her admiringly; for her seven brothers, who were also looking on, pushing each other to get the best view of her; and for Nana, who sat watchfully on the floor next to her.

With one last look at the dancing lights on the cake, Wendy took in a deep breath and finally blew out the candles, and her hopes and memories of Peter Pan.