Peter Pan Complex


"Shadow Tag!" a male voice echoed through the park, declaring a game had commenced. It caught her attention, distracting her from the two boys climbing a large oak tree.

She looked left in the direction of the shouting and saw figures charging into view, running from the person who was 'IT' She was expecting to see children aged around ten old, not people about her age- if not older.

She tutted at their behavior, looking away from the six boys and an extremely petite girl, focusing again on the boys who were high amongst the thicker branches and leaves. "Be careful!" she couldn't stop herself from calling up to her younger brothers.

"We are being careful, I promise" the little seven year old, Jamie, reassured her before taking a step up, holding tightly onto the trunk.

A large sigh expressed the worry that was knotted in her stomach. Waiting to spring into action if one of them slipped and was left hanging in potential danger. She bent down to stroke the top of the dogs head that was sitting obediently beside her, finding comfort that she needed.

"You'll never get me Matt, ever ever ever!" this was the warning she received before she was knocked forward into the damp grass, with a body pressing down on her. Nana began to bark beside them, growling in defense of her owner. The person made no attempt to move, all she could hear was hysterical laughing in her ear.

"Could you get off me please?" she asked, having enough patience to be calm.

"Yeah, hang on. Dude, I'm sorry." were words she managed to pick out between the giggles and then felt him roll off her so he was lying beside her on his back. She pushed up using her arms, snatching a glance at the boy as she did. A part of her was surprised that she hadn't realised sooner who the group were, having dealt with their immaturity through out the school years.

"Hi, I'm Alex." he grinned up at her and she had to prevent herself from replying with 'yeah, I know.'

"Well Alex, mind where you run before you seriously hurt someone or yourself." she scorned him, brushing her clothes clean of blades of grass that were clinging to her and checking for possible green stains. His eyebrows furrowed in complete confusion, been spoken to in such an adult manner by the girl.

"What's your name?" he asked, scrambling up without an ounce of grace.

"Harper Darling. Now if you'll excuse me I've got to go." she took a few steps away and stood below the canopy of the tree, eyes searching for the brightly coloured t-shirts that her siblings were wearing.

"Jacob! Jamie!" she called out, unsettled by their sudden disappearance, only to be met with silence. She didn't care that she was dressed in a pretty blue summer dress or dainty white ballet flats that had no grip, she ran towards the tree and swung herself up onto the lowest branch.

Alex watched in awe as she planned out her route up higher, but he could see how she lacked experience when it came to climbing based on the panic in her face. Eagerly, he raced forward and it didn't take him long to be on level with her.

"Who are you looking for? I'll do it instead." he offered, boyish grin not leaving his face.

"My brothers, they need to come down. I just can't believe I let them out of my sight." she stressed, pushing her light brown hair out of her face as it blew in the breeze along with a delicate daisy-chain that hung round her neck.

"Is one of them in a red t-shirt and the other wears glasses?"

She glanced at Alex after his bizarrely accurate question to notice his eyes were firmly on something below them. She followed his line of vision to see the innocent smiles of her brothers standing where she was previously beside Nana.

"Yes, that's them." she said, her cheeks growing hot with embarrassment.

"Need help getting down?" she knew he was quite aware that she did and was only asking to have her openly ask for his assistance.

"Thank you, Alex." she nodded curtly as one of his arms circled round her waist to support her. He guided her gently, acting as something for her to lean on as they descended together.

She was startled by the massive relief she felt once her feet were firmly resting on solid ground once again, still with the boys contact. Something she quickly shrugged out of to rush towards the two young boys.

"Come on, we need to go home. Jake, can you grab the dogs leash?" she said, with more authority than most sixteen year olds should possess. She took a hold of the smallest boys hand as they began to move together. A brief smile crossed her lips as they passed Alex, one of gratitude for how he helped her. He winked before sprinting back over to his group of friends, tackling the gangly one with badly dyed hair.


She stepped softly into the dimly light room with walls painted a royal navy. Checking that the boys were dressed into pyjamas and prepared to be tucked into bed. They were in flannel clothes- that at least was done- but they were jumping on their mattresses, waving toy swords around.

An amused smile crossed her face as she waited for them to notice her hovering in the door frame with arms folded across her chest.

"I am Captain Jake Sparrow. I rule the waters of the seven seas." Jacob declared, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. Taking a swipe at his younger brother with the plastic he had in his hand. Both still having imagination that allowed them to believe they were anything they wanted to be.

"I'm Captain Jamie Hook." the little one hopped over onto the other bed, weapon raised.

"And I am Harper the Horrid, here to get you pirates into bed." they fell down to feign innocence as they heard her voice. Diving under the sheets of Jacob's bed. "Come on, you need to say good night to Dad first."

The mood dropped from the care-free and happy one as she reminded them of this. Both boys getting onto their feet and walking reluctantly. Her own heart beating with what could only be called sorrow against her chest as she followed behind them along the corridor. Feeling the same fear they did every time they approached the door that was always closed. Knocking once to show they were there and awaiting the chesty cough that granted them entry.

Lying under heavy blankets, with eyes half open was their father. The person legally responsible for them who couldn't look after himself. Beads of sweat permanently dripped off his blotchy skin but would shiver the second his skin was exposed to the normal temperature of the household.

"Night Dad." they said together, eyes remaining on the floor. Scared to look up and shatter how they still perceived their father. They wanted to think of him as the strong, friendly giant that would lift them high above his head, rather than a man defeated by an illness that was taking away every reminder of who he used to be.

"I'll be back in your room in a few minutes boys. Go and pick a story out." she gave them their opportunity to leave, which they took instantly "How are you today Dad?"

"No change. Harper, come closer." he beckoned and she knew it was a lie about how he felt. She moved beside him, taking his hand in hers. He let go, however and raised his shaking hand- fore finger hooking on the daisy-chain she still had around her neck,

"Harper, you're sixteen years old," he croaked, pulling down with enough force to break the link "It's time you grew up and started to behave like a woman rather than a child."

She heard it, all too frequently for her liking. Never arguing or protesting, only accepting his scornful words.

"Father, I am too mature for my age. It's summer, I should be out with my friends, just hanging out. Instead I'm responsible for two children under the age of ten. I'm not being resentful or holding it against you, but you cannot tell me I need to grow up when I already have too soon."

"You've yet to prove it to me, Harper." he said dismissively, shutting his eyes.

Her body was shaking with shock and rage as she retreated from the room he barely took effort to leave anymore. She battled with tears, adamant that she wouldn't let them fall over something undeserving. She picked away the flower necklace and deposited it in the bin she stormed past. Taking three calming breaths before re-entering the boys room. This time they were sitting quietly under their matching sheets, Jamie clutching the book they had decided on.

She sat on the end of his bed as he passed her the worn book, smiling at the familiar cover of the story she would want to listen to every night before she drifted to sleep when she was younger. To a degree where she was certain she knew it inside out and could tell it without the aid of the black ink printed onto yellowing paper.

"I want to be like Peter Pan." Jacob yawned as she cracked the spine of the book "I don't ever want to grow up."

"Me either." the other brother agreed, curling into his pillow.

She shut the book she hadn't even began to read, knowing they wouldn't be awake to hear even to the bottom of the first page. Placing it on the bedside table and turning off the lamp at the same time. She leant down to kiss them both on their foreheads before leaving them to dream.

Before attending to her own, which contained the face of a real life Peter Pan and his own following of Lost Boys.