Pirates Sail & Lost Boys Fly This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   When she saw "Peter Pan," my friend wanted tofly. We saw it together and afterwards, considering ourselves grown up and trueart critics, we smoked our candy cigars and talked in fake French, "Ze playwas very exzellent'a, wazzit not?"

"Wee, wee, mademoiselle,wouldn't zit be exzellent'a if we could fly?" Puffing on my cigar, Iresponded haughtily (because French art critics never wish to fly), "My, my,we do have much to learn." We choked on our cigars, laughing, and decidednever to smoke.

We were so many other things, sometimes pirates (anotherPeter Pan-styled fantasy), sometimes mermaids splashing in the pool, wearing mydad's scuba fins. Those summers some people thought we were sisters, with ourdark blue eyes and our hair (so blond it was almost silver) cut short, our skinhorribly tan and peeling.

When we found an old ripped book at the back ofa used bookstore, we were sure it was magic. We called it The Book and tried todecode the symbols. One section had letters that looked somewhat like English. Itried to read it out loud, "Iska-za walnea wa'nea aehinry ... oh fudge, youtry." I handed her the book.

"Very foreign," she muttered,scanning the page a moment before tossing it aside. "Whatever." Shegrabbed my hairbrush and pointed it at me, "Isa-TOAD-alis," she said,and I was a toad.

"Well you're a SLUG-a-tosis," I shot back.This was our new game. My mom became a turtle, my dad a newt, the principal wasturned into a fly. The Book was placed on my shelf and forgotten; it still sitsthere today with a single feather pressed in its pages.

We had many goals.One was to read the whole library (we got halfway though the children's section),which wasn't an impossible dream because it was much smaller then. I love the bignew one; so would she. But I was sad when they tore down the little one becauseit was one of my last memories of her. Another goal we had was to see all themovies ever made, though we'd wait to see the R-rated ones in college.

One year we purchased a disposable camera and snapped pictures ofeverything and everyone. We never developed the film, though - too many peoplewould have been mad. While I tried to take meaningful pictures, she just snappedaway: the dog using the fire hydrant, the couple making out on the beach, themother screaming at her child, even the security guard in front of the jewelryshop. ("You take pictures of me. Why can't I take pictures of you?"she'd asked when he started to protest.) No one was safe from her ever-watchfulcamera. When they all came screaming after her, demanding the camera bedestroyed, she thanked them for their time, bowed, grabbed my hand, and draggedme down Main Street, laughing.

She wasn't afraid of anything, she said,and that was true. When Mrs. Rosa, the crazy lady who lived two doors down fromme gave us the evil eye, she marched right up to her and demanded to know why shewas looking at her that way. Later that day, she brought Mrs. Rosa a plate ofcookies we had baked. When I protested the waste, she hissed, "We'll bakemore. Now quiet!" Mrs. Rosa seemed surprised by the cookies and was sweet tous after that. When we were back sitting on her porch sipping limeade, I realizedthat speaking her mind no matter what, or not screaming when she saw somethingcreepy, crawly, wasn't what made her brave, it was the way she dealt withapologies.

Each day had a name. We would wake up and know what it was.Some days were Lazy Days, when everything was slow and we could stop to smell theroses. Other days were Spy Days, and with our walkie-talkies in tow, we wouldhide behind walls and convince each other that the man walking past was anex-con. If it were overcast, it was a Poem Day. We'd write random words and putthem in hats (one hat for verbs, another for nouns, the last one for adjectives).We would pull them out and piece them together. "A bashful hair spraypuking, what?" she read, "Well, okay. There once was a little hairspray it was a little shy / Every time you looked at it, it began to cry / Oneday it caught a horrible fever / It ... well. Hey, what rhymes with fever?Beaver. Okay then ..." These odd poems always gave us the giggles. Theall-time best was our love sonnet to Ronald McDonald.

Like all friends, wehad agreed favorites. We called them The Great and Wonderful List of ourBrilliant Thoughts on the Best Ice Cream (Which Everyone Knows is QuarterbackCrunch), Most Tragic Books, Worst Celebrity, Favorite Color, Best Book and OtherInsightful Opinions. We even laminated the sheet so changes could be made easily.The first Sunday of each month we had The Ceremony of Change and celebrated bywearing, eating, reading, singing, watching or insulting our choices.

Idon't know why I keep on using the past tense. It's not as though she is dead,she's just gone, like her wings are. Gone like her jaunty walk that was bestcompared to a crow, gone like her twinkling laugh, and gone like the weeds thatwere her garden. My new neighbors don't understand the beauty and art of messyyards; they think perfectly weeded fake-looking flowers are beautiful. How couldthese horribly neat people understand the magic of overgrown, wild gardens to twoyoung girls?

There is no noise at eleven when a drunken dad comes home,no bad words. It's almost as if they live in a movie script. It scares mesometimes. If she were still here instead of wherever she is, our life's goalwould be to get this family to say a bad word. The poor house would be T.P.ed andegged a thousand or more times in one summer alone.

Summer, isn't that apromising word? That was when we bought feather and paper and made wings. Wecould have made two pairs, but decided to buy glitter, sequins and ribbon to makeone beautiful pair to share. I let her have the wings first, as long as I got tokeep them for double the time she had them. The day after we finished our wings(oh, they were divine), her dad ripped them up in another late-night rage. I wentto her house the next morning to find glittery feathers and ribbon littering theyard, and the car and all her stuff gone.

I don't really understand howshe can be gone; I always expect her chubby elf face to pop into my window."Sorry I was gone so long," she'll say with a smile. "You can havethe wings today. You can fly!"




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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