Wendy Darling did not belong with anyone. Not with her parents, who argued all the time. Not with her brother John, known in the family as JJ, who crashed and thrashed like a thunderstorm. And not with her youngest brother, Michael, who one minute fixated on the crackle of a candy wrapper against his ear and the next minute tore through whatever room tried to hold him. There were times when he slipped into Wendy’s lap and they came close to belonging with each other, but those times didn’t happen often enough.
Most of all, Wendy didn’t belong with her classmates. They taunted her on the playground by flailing their arms about as they made whooshing noises. They puckered their lips—kiss kiss kiss—and yelled “Wen-dy! Dar-ling!” She just rolled her eyes and ignored them.
With all this noise, Wendy preferred to be alone. Those rare afternoons when she didn’t have to care for her brothers, she made her way to a small market for a little chocolate or fruit by taking the long route through a neighborhood of neat brick houses. She sensed old spirits pressed into the cracks of their brick walls as she passed them. And if she took her time and the night began to fall and the moon hung silver over them, something outside the world she lived in but not really frightening hovered near her. She didn’t need to look up to know it was there.
On her way back home, Wendy always passed the park where she had first arrived in this world as a baby nestled in a small box. The ground where the box appeared still buckled in the shadow of a gnarled willow tree. Eleven years ago, her mother and father lovingly lifted her into their arms, covering her with their woolen scarves and whispering their concerns that they could not afford to keep her, for they struggled to survive just the two of them. But they decided to take the chance anyway and did not return her to the small box in the buckled ground even after their two sons were born.
Wendy’s finding story, one she created from her imagination, relieved her of considering any other way she could have come to live with this family. No matter how much she thought about it, Wendy knew she didn’t belong with anyone. Not anyone. At least she didn’t belong with anyone in this world.