Editors Note: We’re very proud to introduce a talented new writer, Kyla Goulet. At seventeen, she is also our youngest contributor. We asked how she came up with the idea of Peter Pan as a Kitsune, the mythological Japanese creature. She wrote: “Some powers of Kitsune are that they’re immortal and can fly, so…bingo. Peter Pan as a Kitsune? Telling his backstory and a life full of adventure, the ups and downs of being this mythical being? It sounded absolutely brilliant in my eyes.” Her writing is absolutely brilliant in our eyes. Here is the Preface and Chapter One from her novel-in-progress, Peter Pan Kitsune.
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The strain had just been too difficult, as if pins and needles were purposely launching themselves into his skin. He winced, and—by the looks of it—his stomach seemed to churn back and forth like a sailor abroad. There were no questions left unanswered, no comments left unmentioned, as he dangled over the side of the vessel, ready to leave in such a nobly justified way. This certainly wasn’t the end; endings held much greater potential for tragedy than this. An audience scavenged for more, like vultures and crows circling their paralyzed prey—no, Death wasn’t reasonable. If he had anything to say about it, he’d show them all who they had vastly underestimated just by kicking his heels upward, freeing himself from the claws of his mighty pursuer. No longer was he pinned down, a dusty end awaiting his arrival; no longer was he kept an unwilling prisoner.
He jumped overboard, practically twisting his ankle, but it was all for a grander purpose. He could swim. He could make it. He could fly.
Hook’s mouth hung agape, those reddened eyes masking envy and malice within the man’s set jaw. He had never seen such a sight before. It simply defied logic and reason. His confusion came out in a stretch of four bleeding words, sliced to death by the sound of waves crashing overhead, almost as sharp as a hook. Almost.
“Pan…is a Kitsune?”
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Chapter One: The Start
Yards beyond a speckled sky painted with an array of crimsons and silvers lay the justified North, all tucked in for a pleasant night’s rest. The East snuggled deep in its blankets trying to get the West to stop hogging the duvet which gently draped over the whole of the island, though it was no use—there was an escalating commotion keeping all three directions from settling down to the midnight hour’s soothing croak of bullfrogs and slithers of snakes coiling among the dried-up leaves.
A distinct portion of the island crossed paths with handmade tom-tom beats and guiros that made identical scratching noises identical to those of the animals in the thickets and undergrowth; other instruments played on continuously, like the small Click-Clack Leaves swaying in the hushed winds. Their sounds of musical rhythm drifted to the North, East and West territories, ricocheting a faint click-clack, click-clack, click-clack.
All this commotion could only mean one thing: He was back, and Princess Tiger Lily’s people were gloriously alive with jubilation and excitement. Too alive.
Never had there ever been such an ongoing celebratory occurrence, not even when the rain poured down from the Heavens or when a harsh winter had subsided—spring had sprung and it provided the occupants time to wind down, time to jump up in glee and bang those tom-toms loud and clear. Screw the West, screw the North, screw the East— nothing compared to the vast joy of the grass getting greener and greener all around the southern soil.
With the King back, once again anything was possible.
How long had it been since Tiger Lily had seen him, how many months and days had gone by, the seasons whirling to and fro from the mountaintops, the paint on her face transforming into crustier blues, greens, and blacks on her features? How long had it been since time stood still, so stagnant that aging wasn’t possible? These questions offered no room to worry—she couldn’t worry—now that everything had become clear again. She had to hear of the King’s whereabouts immediately.
The Piccaninny tribe was set in their ways of thinking, doing, and socializing by themselves; the people of the village took it upon their loyal oath towards their leader that they’d see the island divvied up between other inhabitants, big or small villagers, and for more than a hundred years that rule had never been broken. Previous brief debates over the Piccaninny, Long Rams and the Peep-Cheeps tribes wanting to raid the other’s land made for a massive political uprising throughout the southern side of the whole island. Benefitting the Piccaninny tribe, no actions were taken upon the threat of air raids or misdemeanors of any sort—it was said the Chief had met with the Rams and Peep-Cheeps, practically spitting in their faces and smashing boulders down on their dirtied toes if they made future attempts to attack. The riots and tribe conflicts had ceased once the King had gotten his curly chestnut hair tangled up in the mess of native life, secretly siding with the southerners who were closer to his home near the warped wood enveloping the whole isle. For that Tiger Lily had always remained grateful, a sliver of loyalty belonging to the single person she could speak to in her own tongue without their making a face of utter confusion. Of course the King knew every language one could speak; he was the King, their King, which had caused her to swear every ounce of her allegiance to him from the very beginning.
As the tom-tom drums’ rhythmic melodies grew louder and louder, the princess took her stand against the column of stone statues lined neatly in rows on top of rows to represent the Chief before her, her father who had sacrificed so much for their tribe to flourish to this day. Tiger Lily, a name inherited from her mother, wasn’t the necessary calling for the girl’s royalty, much less any reference symbolizing a graceful flower. The real orientation lay in the quality her mother had possessed: a single drop of poison permanently residing upon her lips, the lightest press of those lush cherry petals against another’s face enough to make the victim drop dead in a moment of pure bliss. This hereditary gene had been passed from generation to generation, thus bearing the name of a powerful, striped predator in such a delicate girl’s body, similar to a lily. She proudly wore a necklace fashioned from a dozen tiger’s teeth, even though they were an awful sickly yellow color. The facial paint was just another emblem of pride for the Piccaninny tribe, and Tiger Lily boasted it quite frequently by holding her head high, staring anyone down who dared question her authority. The fervid colors made a vast impression.
As the shouts of glee and passionate dances around her continued to boom and blast with fireworks of alternating adrenaline and contentment, the warrior princess pondered the records of her historic family and ancestral name, head held up high to please her father as if he were standing right beside her.
He was, in the sense of being a statue.
Giddy-Stomp festivities were ranked rather popular in the native community, and the princess fully participated. Each member of the Piccaninny left it up to their brethren, whether short or tall, skinny or round, to gather themselves around the camp’s main fire pit while the aroma of roasted duck feathers and fish bones harshly infected the air. As flickering flames yearned for more wood and smoke, heavily face-painted members of the tribe began their assault of dance around the contained inferno; stomping movements were practiced by all, even the children of the tribe. The little ones, stripped of cowardice from an early age, danced and danced, tom-tom drums echoing around the entire island. The playacting and cavorting would continue through dawn’s head poking out beneath the awakening sun’s rays and into midmorning.
The King would surely be pleased to hear the ongoing joyous yells and jubilation, surely want to be a part of the Giddy-Stomp tradition, but the princess knew the passionate festivities would ruin some downtime for the younglings taking part in the celebration. Especially her own.
Narrow Arrow, a decent boy at heart, was just the child to follow instructions and obey all laws of the Piccaninny, his mother teaching him the brilliancy of local Indian life and how to pay tribute to all creatures even if they never had the chance to live fulfilling lives. Tiger Lily was never able to slow Narrow’s rapid maturing; what knowledge the boy possessed, even as young as five or six years old, made his parents quite pleased. His father couldn’t be more proud of a son who shared tribal and cultural secrets with the entire wood around him; if someone didn’t know what Burgundy Berries to pick or when they had ripened into season, Narrow Arrow would be the ideal person to ask. If some stranger had stumbled across the south side in search of an argument or fight, Narrow Arrow was the first to send out an alert. Time and time again there had been events of strife and chaos which the Little Boy Wonder was able to prevent from spreading like a vile disease, all in all a great relief to his mother’s reputation and her anxieties of losing control of a community so tethered together with the spirits of the island. All in all there simply couldn’t have been a happier family of three, assuring order and structure in the Piccaninny with their smarts, ferocity, and inherently gentle nature.
Narrow Arrow’s beauty, created for a small prince, had his hands and feet naturally grabbing whatever he came into contact with (a tom-tom drum, in this case). His freckled face was illuminated by the fire pit. The Giddy-Stomp dance circled the child as he entered the frenzy with the other Indians, their bodies packing close against each other in an attempt to close the boy into the middle of the ovular crowd. On and on went the music from the mouths of savages so content and overjoyed with a new era about to begin that they never expected to see the light of day fan out upon the horizon.
Daybreak already seemed to signal a peculiar silence that sliced the crowd in half. Tiger Lily was finally able to speak out in a tranquil pause. Her words would further carry out the Native’s celebration.
“All stop! All sit!”
Each year—the exact season varying whether or not the King made it back in time for the warm sigh of spring—the rosebud season triggered a moment of silence from the entire Piccaninny tribe and the Chief to revel in the spirits of their ancestors by telling a tale to welcome the death of winter. As the frozen months had passed, it was now Tiger Lily’s turn to announce the theme of the much anticipated story, a story that would gather her child and the rest of the curious younglings together in a heap at her feet. Narrow Arrow’s eyes grew enormous at the mention of a familiar name he had heard now and again. He longed to match the familiar name up with a face, basically anything his little olive-skinned palms could quickly cling to.
Then Princess Tiger Lily spoke:
“I begin now to tell the story of our King. King Peter Pan.”
The bonfire seemed to reignite and flare higher at the mention of the familiar name.