by Nikita Gill
Picture a sunset in a small port town by the sea. Two teenaged boys sitting on the docks watching the ships as they fly across the water. One reaches out and takes the other’s hand. In this brush of skin for skin, a thousand unspoken promises erupt between them, and both are determined to keep them. This is what youth is. The sheer belief that you will be able to keep every promise you made to someone else. That you will be able to love someone into a forever when you do not even understand what forever means.
An evening spent in the headiness of love, they go back to their respective homes. One boy helps his mother with cooking and cleaning and looking after his little sister. His father is a good man, a sailor who brings home with him meagre wages, but a heart full of love and a quicksilver tongue that tells stories of faraway lands to enthral them all. But this boy, despite his blessings, is not happy. He may have been blessed with a loving family, but that faraway look is made of unrest and wanderlust, something about him says fae, changeling, wearing the skin of a boy who was always destined to fly, to leave.
The other boy returns home to a father who drinks and a mother who works so hard that she is never there. He is the unwanted creature in this home, a beating waiting for him at every corner. His father’s temper is a beast so powerful that a boy made of paper bones barely held together cannot fight him. He hides in his room. He lives for a boy at sunset, hope made into a human being.
Now picture this. This boy of paper bones alone at the docks the next sunset. And this boy alone on the docks again on a rainy day. And this boy alone on the docks every day after, waiting for someone who promised him forevers he never intended to keep. This boy becoming a man, a heart wounded so young in youth that it never quite healed right. Imagine him becoming a sailor, searching land after land for a boy he once loved, thinking he was hurt, or stolen, just needing to know what happened to him.
Now see him finally finding out that the boy he loved in his boyhood ran away to a magical land where he never grew up. That without a second glance, he just forgot every promise of forever. Imagine his rage, that ancient pain turning to a terrible anger and escaping from the forgotten attic of his mangled heart. Think of what happens when immense love turns into immense hate. An anger so intense it cannot be controlled. What he would give up to avenge the boy he once was, paper-boned, standing on the docks, broken without a single person to love him, simply all alone. A hand is a small price to pay for a magical ship that will take him to Neverland, a place that lives on a star. Becoming a villain called Captain Hook is a small exchange to show Peter Pan that you cannot throw away love and think you will get away unscarred.