“And what is your name?” The teacher asked in a stilted voice, as if she really had no desire to know the answer.
“Slightly.” He replied.
A wave of snickers and whispers swept through the class. Slightly’s face grew hot and he tilted his nose up a smidgen higher in an attempt to regain his dignity.
The teacher was glaring at him.
“’Slightly’ is not a name,” She said drily, with a look on her face that squelched all objections. “You may take your seat, young man.”
Slightly plopped into his seat with a scowl on his face.
Slightly is too a name. He said to himself. It is my name.
He could feel the curious and hostile stares throughout the morning, and when the lunch hour was announced, he burst from the room with a gasp of relief to get away from them. They were let into the schoolyard to eat their lunches. Slightly quickly finished his sandwiches, looking around him as he shoved the last bite into his mouth. Among the mass of students, Slightly spotted a familiar head of curls and followed it to one corner of the yard.
“Nibs!” He cried to get the boy’s attention.
“Hullo, Slightly,” The boy replied with a careless grin. “What do you think of school?”
Just then Tootles came running up, followed closely by the twins and Curly. All of them wore a look of terror and poor Tootles’ face was bright red. They were being closely pursued by a giant.
That was Slightly’s first impression, at least, of the gargantuan boy who was bearing down on the little group. By the time he realized it was not a giant, but only a large and very angry boy, it was too late to run.
“Save me!” Poor Tootles squeaked, ducking behind Nibs and curling up on the ground with his head covered. Tootles had missed so much of the action in Neverland, he was not used to excitement.
The other boys stood in front of him as the giant boy skidded to a halt, jabbing an angry finger in Tootles’ direction.
“Get out of my way!” He shouted in Slightly’s face.
“Why should I?”
The boy stared at him in shocked amazement. He had never had a victim stand up to him before.
“Because, because…” He stuttered. “If you don’t move, I… I’ll… make you move!”
Slightly smiled a cheeky grin, unconsciously imitating Peter Pan as he did so. He glanced at the other boys, who were taking their cues from him and smiling cheerfully.
“Well, I don’t know how you can make all of us move, do you Nibs?”
“No, Slightly, I don’t know how he will do that, do you, Curly?”
“No Nibs,” Curly began, “I don’t know how-“
“Cut it out!” The bully yelled.
The school bell rang in a melodious tune. The bully groaned and Slightly’s grin grew wider. They had stalled him just long enough.
“This isn’t over…” The bully said gruffly. He still looked a little bewildered at their happy expressions. He turned and disappeared back into the crowd of children, shaking his head in confusion.
Slightly turned to Tootles, who was peeking up at them through his fingers.
“You can get up now.” He said. Tootles scrambled to his feet, blushing wildly and trying to pretend he hadn’t been scared in the first place. Slightly laughed. “What did you do to him anyway?” He asked.
“I didn’t do anything.” He folded his arms in a defensive posture. “Curly put a tack in his chair and he thought I had done it.”
They all turned to look at Curly.
“I’m sorry!” He cried. “He said there was no such thing as fairies, and he called me a baby for believing in them.”
Slightly pondered this new information. What would Peter have done in this situation? Slightly wasn’t sure, but he knew that Peter wouldn’t let Tootles or Curly get beat up by a bully. He had to make a plan.
The next morning, he was ready. He whispered the plan to the other boys at breakfast and they tried not to laugh. On the way to school, Wendy kept staring at them curiously. They managed to keep their faces completely straight, which is perhaps what gave them away. On any other morning they would have been teasing and laughing all the way to school. She finally left them to go to her class with one last anxious glance over her shoulder, and they smirked at each other freely.
Slightly had to stand in the corner twice during the long morning for wiggling in his seat. He just couldn’t keep still. Finally the lunch bell rang and he ran out of the door before anyone else, with the teacher yelling after him to slow down.
Nibs, Tootles and Curly were waiting for him in the same corner of the schoolyard.
“Are you ready?” He asked them.
They nodded just as the bully pushed his way through the crowd with a determined look on his face. He was quickly bearing down on them. Nibs and Slightly took their places in front of Tootles and Curly to protect them from being crushed. Nibs was looking a little nervous so Slightly stepped a little closer.
“Stand your ground, hold his gaze, the twins will come through.” He whispered.
Once again the giant boy came to a sudden stop in front of them. He was blinking rapidly in apparent amazement at the fact that they were defying him a second time. He took a deep breath and opened his mouth, but before he could speak a hullabaloo drowned out his unformed words from the other side of the yard. The bully spun around to see the twins wrestling on the ground. The rest of the children were starting to gather around them, cheering and yelling. Some of them were placing bets on who would win, although Slightly had no idea how they could tell which twin was which.
When the rest of the students and teachers were gathered around the twins, Slightly tugged on the bully’s sleeve to get his attention again.
The bully grinned at them maliciously. “Now there aren’t any teachers watching,” He said. “Now move, so I can teach your friend a lesson.”
“Okay,” Slightly said. “We’ll move for you.”
Slightly nodded at the other boys and they all simultaneously shot a few feet into the air. Slightly gave the boy an ornery grin and raised his eyebrows at him. The boy’s eyes went as wide as saucers and his mouth dropped open. He fell to the ground and began to stutter about something. Tootles giggled and they flew smoothly over his head and dropped to the ground at the back of the crowd. The twins were watching for this and immediately got up and walked away from each other, to the complete confusion of the rest of the students.
As the lost boys got lost in the crowd and went inside the building, the last thing Slightly heard was the bully yelling about flying boys and fairies and someone else laughing at him.
He never teased anyone again.