All children, except one, grow up.

Many years back I took a module on creative writing and as part of the assignments, we had to write a variety of stories based on different requirements. Today, I’m going to share with you one of them.

In this assignment, I was to create a story based on 1 line of words which we could choose from a list. In the end, I chose to work with the starting line “All children, except one, grow up.”

Here is my take on the line “All children, except one, grow up.”

All children, except one, grow up. 

That would be Peter, born Pan Wei De, a normal child before he became what he was.  

At age 11, he suddenly had a very high fever and after that,  he stopped growing. 

No one realised he had stopped growing initially; it just seemed he had stunted growth. 

One by one, everyone in his school hit puberty. Everyone, except one. 

You might think that not growing old is a gift. He would tell you, it was a curse.

In secondary school, he was always bullied and teased.  The girl he liked shunned him because he was short. He had no friends and he ate alone.

The problem with all that, was that he remembered; he remembered every single thing that happened to him. This was due to the fact that he had an eidetic memory. The good thing about it was that it helped him ace every exam, but that only made the bullying worse because nobody likes a teacher’s pet. 

Things took an unexpected turn in the year that he was 16 while he was taking his A-Levels. His parents had sent him for further medical examination and the results revealed that his cells had stopped aging. That explained his perfect memory and his growth, or lack thereof. 

Suddenly he became the darling of the medical world–everyone wanted a piece of him to study– the cosmetic world and very soon the media. He became Peter, Peter Pan.  It was an apt nickname, as apt as nicknames can be. 

For a while, he enjoyed the attention, or at least he prefers it to the constant bullying and teasing.

Then his fame got out of control; random strangers would recognise him and come up to touch him. He was too small to protect himself, so he would run; he would run with a mob of people chasing him till he was cold with sweat and fear, hiding in some dark corner until they were all gone. 

The worst part of it was that he remembered; he remembered his gasping breaths and his trembling hands.

After one too many such incidents, he decided to hide forever. 

So he had to come and see me, or rather, I, had to go and see him. I did the best I could for him but I never had a patient like him before. You see, for many of my patients, the best cure for their problem was time, for time really heals all wounds. For him, time only made the wounds deeper. 

One thing I could do for him was to listen. He was guarded at first but as the sessions went by, he began to open up. He began to share his experiences and his secrets. 

His greatest wish was to find a cure for himself; to grow old like the people around him; to be normal again. 

It was unfortunate that he never got around to doing that. 

On this day, as we mourn the loss of one extraordinary life, let us also remember for he would have remembered: the kidnappers who broke into his house; the  rich tycoon who would spare no expense to eat his flesh. And Peter would have thanked him for setting him free. And forgive him. For Peter always remembered to forgive.

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