I decide I want to be a Lost Girl, so on a cool summer night I leave the window wide open for Peter Pan. When my side of the world is finally fast asleep—and I am only half that—he flies in through my bedroom window. I see his shadow before I see him and wonder how it is that it is so visible even in the dark. I reach over and turn on the bedside lamp and his shadow is now somehow strangely less visible. I throw off the covers to reveal that I am all dressed up and ready to go. He doesn’t say anything. He simply does a quick glance around the room, looks me once in the eyes, and then turns his back and faces the window he came in through. He reaches his hand straight out behind him for me to take. Before we leave he says only one thing.
“Turn off all the lights.”
In Neverland I am a Lost Girl and my eyes turn a deeper shade of green. The trees are taller and stronger here. Their roots are wicked and play tricks on us in the night, but somehow no one ever twists an ankle. And there are always fireflies, but we are not allowed to catch them. Because even if you are here to be lost, sometimes you need something to help guide your way through the dark woods.
There are mostly Lost Boys here, but I meet another Lost Girl who reminds me of every girl I have ever known and loved and called a friend. She is somehow the embodiment of them all. She has her smile, her laugh, her sense of humor, her dancing feet, her big beating heart, her poor posture, her bravery but also her fear. And I can’t help but wonder if I am the same thing to her, an embodiment of all the girls she has ever known and loved and called a friend. I never ask her though, because I also never explain that to me she has dozens of names and faces. She is the one who introduces me to the others. Everyone here has different reasons for being lost, for wishing to be lost. I stay here for a while. I breathe in midnight blue air and sleep in warm patches of sunlight. My eyes grow even more accustomed to the bright and dark colors of the earth and even when it’s cold my hands and feet are always warm. They tell me that is a good sign. I don’t even have to look for anything anymore, because that is the privilege of being a Lost Girl. When you’re the one who is lost, you don’t have to waste your time looking for things. You just get lost, and the fireflies always find you.
But one day my eyes start to water and sting, and when I rub them they only sting more. And my friend, the girl who is every girl to me, tells me that thorns are starting to grow in place of my eyes. That this is a bad sign, and asks me what I’ve done? What did I do… I don’t know what I did.
That night we are sitting at the top of a small green hill, combing the grass with our fingers when she notices something funny. A new star? One of our fireflies? (No, our fireflies aren’t allowed outside of Neverland.)
“What is that?” she asks.
I follow her pointing finger until my eyes fall upon a distant shining light. I stare at it. It looks so familiar. Why does it look so familiar? I squint; it’s actually getting harder to see now, but soon it hits me. That isn’t a star at all. It’s the light I left on when Peter Pan told me not to. It’s the light I left on so that I could find my way back home.
“That’s not a star…” I explain.
“You’re going to be in so much trouble!” she panics: I’m going to be in so much trouble. I don’t completely trust in being Lost. Peter Pan will send me away. Not home, but away.
“You have to leave,” she insists. “Before he finds out it’s you.”
Then she takes my hand and leads me through tunnels I do not remember seeing. Because my eyesight is fading. Because if I don’t get out soon everything will go black. And then everything does go black, but only because I am asleep, and then seconds later I am awake and in my bed again. And when I open my eyes I see that my bedside lamp is on. And beside the bedside lamp is a single firefly buzzing around in circles, and just for a moment I swear that in its light I see every girl I have ever known and loved and called a friend.