Setting the Record Straight: Peter Pan
Setting the Record Straight: Peter Pan (Part 2)
Peter started to speak when Harry gently placed his hand on Peter’s forearm and said, “I would like to tell this part of the story, if you don’t mind.”
Peter placed his hand on top of Harry’s and asked, “Are you sure?”
“I am quite sure. I hate that bitch and I am going to set the record straight once and for all. I just hope the cunt doesn’t change a word of the story, but I am willing to take my chances.” Turning to face Maggie, Harry continued. “As Peter said, we first met our freshman year at the Neverland fraternity party. I played football and Peter was a theater major. We kept our relationship a secret with the help of Tink, whom you met earlier. Tink was a pain in my ass. She was madly in love with Peter and thought she could ‘change’ him. Anytime Peter and I wanted to be alone, she was always there. She was the ultimate cock blocker. But I digress, the whole ordeal was entirely my fault.”
Reassuringly, Peter said, “Don’t blame yourself, Harry.”
“But it’s true and you know it! If I hadn’t turned Greta in for cheating on that test, things would have turned out much differently.”
Maggie’s head was swimming. What in the hell was Harry talking about? “Harry, you’ve lost me. What does Greta cheating on a test have to do with the Peter Pan fairy tale we know today?”
Harry threw his hands up in exasperation. He tried to speak but words failed him. Peter patted his arm and said, “It’s okay, honey. You can’t keep blaming yourself and getting this upset.”
Harry nodded in agreement but couldn’t manage to formulate the words, so Peter continued, “Harry was on work study while attending Tigertail University. As a freshman, he worked in the dean’s office at the School of Journalism. Greta was a senior when we were freshmen. She was up for a very prestigious and competitive fellowship studying abroad at a world-renowned journalism institute. She needed an almost perfect score on her written examination in order to become a finalist, so she cheated on the exam.”
Maggie had to make sure she had understood what Peter was saying, because if he said what she thought he just said, she was fucked. There was no way in hell her boss was going to allow her to plaster that across the front page of The Daily Mirror. Maggie now understood the complexity of Peter and Harry’s apprehensions. Maggie crossed her fingers, closed her eyes, and asked Peter, “Do you have proof she cheated on the exam?”
“Of course. Harry saw her and took pictures with his phone.”
Shit, of course they have proof, Maggie thought, as she continued her questioning. “How did Greta cheat?”
Peter replied, “She held crib notes in place under her tartan skirt with the large gold safety pin closer at the bottom. When she needed to refer to her notes, she would nonchalantly flip back the edge of her skirt. Harry went to the dean with the evidence. The dean was shocked and planned to take disciplinary action against Greta but agreed to keep Harry’s identity a secret.”
Maggie was pretty sure the secret got out. Knowing Greta turned a former adversary into a toad, she was fairly certain Greta went bat-shit crazy and concocted an elaborate scheme to destroy Harry.
“Did Greta find out it was Harry?”
“Yes, and her reaction was unprecedented. Harry and I were surprised we didn’t suffer her wrath as soon as it was announced she didn’t get the fellowship. But as the weeks passed without hearing a peep, we developed a false sense of security and dove head-first into planning our fraternity skit for Greek week. I wrote a play about a boy who didn’t want to grow up, who lived on an island called Neverland and lived with a group of misfit boys who had to be careful not to get captured by evil, sword-wielding pirates.”
“Wait a minute. You wrote the version of the fairy tale we know today?”
“Ironic, isn’t it? Harry played Hook, I played Peter Pan, and Tink played Tinkerbell. We had just enjoyed a third curtain call when I spotted Greta out of the corner of my eye. She was standing off stage and holding an ancient book with a leather cover. The book had a lock, like a diary, but this book was much thicker. Greta opened the book, held it out in front of her, and pointed it in our direction. The pages began swirling, creating a vortex. Harry, Tink, and I were sucked into the pages, trapped there to live out the fairy tale until the spell was broken.”
Maggie was perplexed. Knowing the toad story, Maggie had no trouble believing Greta cast a spell trapping Peter, Harry, and Tink in the pages of a book, but she was curious how the spell was broken. “How did you break the spell and escape the book?”
Harry jumped in, “We didn’t know how to break the spell. It was apparently broken by you.”
Expressionless, Maggie stared at Harry. She sat silently before replying, “What?”
Harry continued, “The book we were trapped in was tucked safely away in the resource section of the Fablecastle Library. Peter, Tink, and I were in the story one minute and the next thing we know, we are lying on the floor of the library. We were greeted by the librarian, Leo, who called us by name. He said we had been trapped in the fairy tale and the spell had finally been broken.”
Maggie was confused, “What does that have to do with me?”
Peter took over. “Leo said the spell was broken when ‘the ink of the enchanted pen corrected the record’.”
“You’re saying when I put pen to paper and set the record straight about the Big Bad Wolf, I somehow broke the spell?”
Harry and Peter replied in unison, “Yes!”
Maggie stared at her pen. Enchanted?
Peter cleared his throat. “The pen is a mystery, but I thank heaven for it.”
Maggie didn’t know how to respond and felt her cheeks blush with embarrassment. She was about to wrap up her questioning when she spotted Tink entering the restaurant, dangling a set of car keys from her forefinger. She approached the table and tossed the keys to Maggie. “Car’s good as new.”
Tink grabbed an empty chair from a nearby table and sat down next to Maggie. Maggie had a long drive home and was emotionally exhausted. “Final question, why are you wanting to set the record straight now?”
Peter immediately answered, “We want everyone to know where in the hell we have been for the past few decades. We need you to resurrect us from the dead.”
Tink and Harry nodded their agreement. Maggie needed to figure out how she was going to achieve that without pissing off her employer. Never in a million years did Maggie think writing her column would become so stressful. “Is there anyone who can corroborate your story?”
“Leo said you could reach out to him. I also suspect if you were able to ask Greta, she may be able to shed some light on what happened.”
Maggie would be happy to talk to Leo, but Greta? Not so much. Maggie was definitely going to need a Xanax when she got home.
After a fitful night’s sleep, Maggie awoke before dawn and couldn’t fall back to sleep. She decided to head to work early. Maggie went to the break room, poured herself a cup of black coffee, and began piecing together the details of the Peter Pan story. She was under a deadline and needed to have the piece to Greta that afternoon. Maggie returned to her office, turned on her computer, and began pecking away. By the time she finished her column, it was lunch time. Maggie called Andrew to see if he wanted to meet her for a quick bite to eat at the Tortoise and Hare Tavern. He answered on the third ring and said he would love to.
As always, Maggie got giddy as a schoolgirl when she was around Andrew. She was in awe that they had been dating for a little over two months. They were still at that stage in their relationship where they couldn’t keep their hands off one another, but Maggie was distracted, and Andrew could tell something was wrong.
“Okay, out with it.”
Maggie loved that Andrew noticed something was bothering her and cared enough to ask.
“I just finished my Peter Pan story and I have a conundrum.”
“I don’t know if it is or not. I have been imagining horrific worst-case scenarios.” “Tell me about the conundrum.”
Maggie was so glad she had someone to confide in and proceeded to tell Andrew everything. He understood her dilemma immediately. “You’re afraid Greta won’t let the true story be told.”
“You’re going to have to talk to her.”
Maggie didn’t want to confront Greta, but she knew Andrew was right. “Dammit, I hate it when you’re right.”
Andrew smiled, wiped the corner of his mouth with his paper napkin, and looked at his phone. “It’s almost one. You better head back to the office. I’ll take care of the check.”
“It’s the least you can do, considering it may be my last meal.”
“Don’t worry; if anything happens, I will be your knight in shining armor.”
“Not if Greta has anything to do with it. Wish me luck.” Maggie bent down and kissed Andrew good-bye.
Once she was back at The Daily Mirror, she put her things away and sat at her desk. In her head, she was repeatedly replaying the anticipated conversation with her editor, when she sensed someone watching her. She turned around and saw her boss standing at her office door. Greta made a slight motion with her head.
No time like the present, Maggie thought. She grabbed her pad and pen and headed toward Greta’s office. The door was open, but Maggie waited for permission to enter. Greta pointed to the chair across from her desk. Maggie entered and sat. Greta didn’t say a word. She just sat there, with her fingers forming an evil steeple that she used to prop up her chin. Maggie hated playing these fucking games with her boss, but forged ahead and made the bold move to speak first. “I have finished the Peter Pan story and will send it to you shortly. But before I do, I wanted to ask you a few questions.”
“Really?” Maggie had to hand it to her. Greta was one cool cucumber.
Maggie continued, “Peter and Harry claim you cast a spell that trapped them in the story of Peter Pan.”
“And?” Greta said, exaggerating the A. Maggie could almost hear her finish the thought... your point is?
“And, I wanted to share a concern Peter and Harry had about the story being portrayed accurately.”
In a gasp of feigned amazement, Greta quipped, “Are you planning on misrepresenting their story?”
Maggie remained calm and replied, “No, we were more concerned about the final edits.”
“Are you implying I would change the story?”
“Yes, that is exactly what I’m implying.”
“I should fire you, but your column is making the paper money, so it would behoove me to hang on to you a while longer.”
Maggie was enraged that Greta had just threatened her job and, before she knew it, she was going off on her boss. “The unmitigated gall, not to mention the audacity, of you threatening to fire me after expressing a concern that the story may suffer at the hands of your red pen. You, of all people! You locked Peter, Harry, and Tink away in a book for decades! Will you let the truth come out?”
Greta sat in her chair; her icy stare penetrating Maggie’s skin. Maggie was terrified. In a scolding tone, Greta spat, “I know what happened! I was there, remember? I also approved the story when you pitched it, knowing full well the truth behind the fairy tale would come out, you dimwitted twat! I knew once the spell was broken their whereabouts would have to be explained. What’s done is done. All I can do now is allow the record to be set straight.”
Maggie was stunned by Greta’s cold and calculating way of thinking. “Is there anything you want to add or clarify before I submit the story?”
“Leo confirmed the spell was broken when ‘the ink from the enchanted pen corrected the record.’ Is the pen referred to in the spell my fountain pen?”
Greta smiled a wicked grin and said, “I can’t help you. That one, fortunately, is not my story to set straight.”
Maggie tapped her pad with her pen, then silently turned and left the office. Maggie had no idea what Greta meant by her remarks, but she wasn’t ready to dig too deeply into the origins of her pen and decided to keep her focus on telling the true story of Peter Pan. Maggie returned to her desk and was reading through her story one last time, when the phone rang. She snatched it up with a gruff hello and was happy to hear Andrew’s voice on the other end, “Well, hello to you, too.”
Maggie stopped reading and replied, “I’m sorry. I was just finishing my edits.”
“Well, don’t keep me in suspense. What did Greta say when you confronted her?” “She said she knew the story had to come out after the spell was broken since Peter,
Harry, and Tink had been missing for so long. She assured me the story wouldn’t be altered and I was to write it as I see fit.”
“Wow, that is surprising. Good for you.”
“One thing, though. When I was looking over my notes, I was reminded that you were the one who initially suggested I contact Peter. Why was that?”
Andrew cleared his throat and almost whispered, “Leo called me the night the spell was broken so I could shuttle the trio home to Tigertail, where Harry still had family. I didn’t stay for the fireworks of their homecoming. I just dropped them off, but I knew their sudden reappearance was going to require an explanation, and who better than you to help them?”
“Well, I guess that makes sense, but I’ll have to confirm your account with Leo.” “I would expect nothing less from The Daily Mirror’s star reporter.”
“I wouldn’t go that far, but thanks for the compliment.”
“Stop by your place later tonight?”
“Sure, I’ll make spaghetti.”
Maggie hung up the phone, finished her edits, and sent the column to Greta. The story would hit the newsstands first thing in the morning. Maggie was preparing to leave for the day when the phone rang. She picked it up and was greeted with the voice of a soft-spoken woman. “Maggie, my name is Willow, and I would like to set the record straight about two beastly teens.”
Great, another teen-gone-wild story, thought Maggie.
“What story do you want to set straight?”
“It’s high time everyone in the four kingdoms is told the truth about Hansel and Gretel.” Maggie opened her Outlook calendar and asked, “When would you like to meet?”
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