Daphne’s best friend always called Felix a “Peter Pan.” It was one of those characterizations she had picked up in some woo-woo Jungian archetype class at her school for transpersonal psychology. Daphne didn't even have to ask her friend for a translation in this case, though, because the comparison was so fitting. Felix was a little boy in a man’s body. As irresponsible as a sticky-faced toddler, but oh-so-charming. God, was he charming.
If Felix was Peter, Daphne was unquestionably Wendy. Responsible, fretful, and grounded by two feet that stuck as resolutely to the earth as a snail inching along the wet rim of a garden pot. She had always been that way: unsteady on bicycles, gnawing on her pencil while doing the crossword puzzle, diligent in her memorization of lines for the school plays. One time in elementary school, she had forgotten to bring in her homework and she nearly ripped her notebook in half from the stress of it all.
But Felix was the key to her release. Those sinewy fingers wielded the complicated bronze casting that unlocked the sky. He unlocked it for everyone, waving his long arms and blinking those laughing aquamarine eyes with their vivid streaks of auroral green, before somehow swinging open the painted attic door to the atmosphere. Then they would all float away, borne on the drifting residue of his pixie dust, weightless and spraying their happiness behind them like a wake.
Maybe it was because she was a Wendy - blue eyes, impotent dreams, and all - that made Daphne and Felix inevitably collide into one another, buoying each other in the comfortable, watery antigravity between the earth and the outer reaches of space. To their friends, it seemed destined; the twinkle of a disco ball over a dance floor, the breezy warmth of late spring. Euphoria rendered accessible and made real. For Daphne and Felix, though, the buoyancy was too comfortable. The comfort dangerous.
And so just as the collision was preordained, their uncoupling was equally ineluctable. Daphne’s garden feet tugged like a weight at the end of a string, and Felix bobbed and wheedled like a balloon towards the thinning air above. On those occasions when she was able to grasp the dirt below, her hand came away messy, smeared with specks of earth. The hand always looked wrong, later, against the blue of the sky: streaky and brown, the skin matted against the luminous light, fingernails crusted.
When she finally let go, she saw him arch and inflate with new breath, stretching then kicking then careering towards the horizon, towards those worlds beyond stars that only he could navigate. She floated for a moment, like a feather, drifting slowly towards the earth, lifting and falling until settling quietly on the ground, looking up at the sky.