Continuing Tales


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 2 of 40

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She cringed every time she heard the chime, alerting her to someone entering the store. David wasn't scheduled to work today, but she still couldn't help but cringe every time the door opened.

Mrs. Miller had noticed a change in her attitude. "Dearie, you seem so quiet today. Is everything all right? Would you like a cup of tea? A muffin?"

Sarah had declined her offer and brushed off her quietness as being tired. Mrs. Miller had not pushed the matter further.

She was considering taking tomorrow off so that she didn't have to work with David. Oh grow up Sarah! You're going to let a man do this to you? What are you never going to work another day with him again? Mrs. Miller had been a wonderful boss and a friend thus far. She wouldn't abandon her suddenly because she didn't want to see David.

She heard the chime again and ignored it this time. It was dead right now, so she curled up in a cushioned seat at the rear of the store and opened a book.

"She's in the back, dear." She heard Mrs. Miller say. She heard the floor creaking as if someone was coming and her heart was suddenly in her throat. What if that was David coming? She froze not quite sure what to do. She hated herself for letting this guy get to her. She was shaking, her heart thundering in her chest. The creaking grew louder as someone walked over the old wooden floor. She sucked in a breath.

"There you are."

She let the breath come out loudly and sighed. "Karen." she acknowledged.

Karen stood with her hands on her hips. Toby was behind her, gazing around at all the books in amazement as if he had never seen them before. "Your friend Lee called 4 times this morning looking for you."

"I didn't hear the phone ring."

"Or didn't want to hear it ring. You left her alone at the club. How could you be so heartless Sarah? Really."

Sarah's eyes widened. "Heartless?"

"She was only trying to show you a good time, and was so nice for inviting you. And you left her there, made her drive home alone, under the influence no less. How would you have felt if she got into a car accident? It would have been your fault. You were the designated driver."

'You...don't understand. Ok!" She wasn't about to tell Karen how she had her heart broken, how terrible she fit in with the crowd, the noise. Maybe she was a freak after all.

"I understand perfectly. You're a selfish, spoiled brat. You're 24 and you haven't grown up at all."

"How dare you!" Sarah shot at her. "How dare you show up at my job and degrade me. If you knew what was going on at the club, you might have been proud that I left. But no, you're hell bent on bringing me down."

"Really Sarah. You're so childish. Anyway, I came by to tell you that we're having a family meeting tonight, so try to be home early. No staying late with your nose in your silly books."

Sarah was ready to fire back a comment but Karen was already gone, dragging Toby with her.

"Bye Sarah." He called to her. She sighed and felt more miserable than she felt before. A family meeting.what the hell did that mean?

"Are you all right dear?" Mrs. Miller was suddenly standing by one bookcase.

Sarah opened her mouth, ready to brush this conversation aside. "" Her hair fell into her face as she lowered it.

"You haven't been yourself today."

"No.I guess I haven't. Then again.I don't know who I am today." She realized that was the truth. She didn't know who she was anymore.

"You were so happy when you were younger.what happened?" She offered Sarah a cup of tea, complete in its' porcelain cup and saucer with flowers on it. Sarah accepted it gracefully, sipping the warm liquid. Mrs. Miller had known her since she was 16. So much had happened in those years between now and then. More sadness and heart break than joy or love.

"You were carefree and happy when we first met." Mrs. Miller told her. It was almost as if she was reading her thoughts. "What happened?"

"Real life." Sarah told her bitterly. "Real life."

"Real life happens to us all, dearie. We all go through difficult times. Yet you seem to have lost the joy in your life and it hasn't come back. What made you so happy when you were a teenager? Was there someone you met, some place you went on vacation to that made you happy?"

'Mrs. Miller, I really don't want to-"

"Sarah dear, I don't like to see you like this and I don't like to see your step mother come in here and treat you like she just did. She tries to walk all over you and you let her. Don't be doing that, dear. She hasn't earned the right to get the better of you. She is NOT better than you."

Sarah blinked and then a small smile spread on your face.

"That's what I like to see. Now, what was it that made you happy as a youngster? Perhaps if you found it again, you would be happy." She suggested.

Sarah shook her head. " That's not a good idea. Besides, I can't go back."

"Why not? It was a place then?"

Sarah nodded slowly. She had not thought about the Labyrinth in years. Not since her friends had stopped coming to see her. A mystery that never unfolded, answers she never received for her questions. She'd put her Labyrinth book away long ago."Yes it was a place and no I can't go back. Besides, I don't think they would want to see me."


"Um.old friends." She looked away.

"Ah, so it was old friends and a place with them that made you happy." Sarah nodded slowly. "Well then you should go back! Perhaps you need a vacation from here. Go out and see your friends, or go somewhere new. Can't stay here forever. You went to college, graduated with good grades, you're a smart girl. It bothers me to see you here so unhappy."

Sarah smiled. It was nice to know that someone cared. Mrs. Miller cared more then her mother, her father and of course her step mother. "I..I don't know." The labyrinth was out of the question, as exciting as the thought of it was to her. Maybe a vacation was what she needed. "Maybe a small trip somewhere."

Mrs. Miller smiled warmly. "That's a girl. Now you wait here a minute. I have something for you."

Sarah watched with growing curiosity as the older woman scurried off to the back office. She returned a few moments later with an envelope and what looked like a book wrapped in brown paper.

"Now, I wanted to give you these things to you for your birthday, but I think they would come in handy now."

'Mrs. Miller." Sarah started.

"Now now, dearie. I don't want to hear it. I have no children of my own and you are the closest thing I have to a daughter. It's just a little something. Why don't you sweep the side aisles and then go home early, hmm?"

"Are.are you sure?"

"Of course."

Sarah stood, placing the teacup on a nearby table. She gently hugged the older woman. "Thank you Mrs. Miller. Thank you for everything."

She hugged the young woman in return. "Anything for you, dearie. You're a sweet girl, never forget that. No matter what that step mother of yours says."

Sarah smiled.

* * *

"Sarah, you're home early." Her father commented, looking up from the paper as she walked through the front door.

"Mrs. Miller let me go early today."

Her father nodded and then went back to reading the paper. She sighed. He never had time for her anymore. A few friendly words, usually 'hello and goodbye' and not much else. She started for the stairs, the envelope and the package in her hands.

"Sarah, dinner will be ready in an hour." Karen called from the kitchen. "Perhaps now is a good time for the meeting?" She peeked her head around the corner of the kitchen door. "Robert?" she called when no one answered.

'Hmm? Oh yes. Sarah, we need to have a family meeting." Her father peered at her over the rims of his reading glasses.

She sighed. "Does it have to be right this minute? I just walked through the door." She wanted to see what Mrs. Miller had given her and she definitely didn't want to hear what Karen had to say. A hot shower would also be nice.

"See what I mean Robert! She's 24 and she still takes an offensive, rude tone of voice with me!" Sarah's jaw dropped. She had not even been talking directly to Karen.

"Sit down, Sarah." Her father told her.

Sarah frowned. She didn't like where this was headed. She was 24 and they still insisted on treating her like a child. She sat on the couch, placing the things Mrs. Miller had given her, on her lap. She never liked when her father gave into Karen. He could be so spineless.

Her father folded the paper and put it by the side of the chair. Karen walked into the room, taking off her apron and standing behind Robert's chair.

"Sarah, Karen and I have been doing some talking." He looked up at Karen.

"Yes and we've decided that it is time for you to move out and find your own place." She smiled as if she had just told Sarah something delightful.

Shock hit Sarah first, followed by raw anger. "You mean YOU want me to move out and find my own place." She cried out at Karen.

Karen ignored her remark. "You're 24 Sarah. It's time for you to grow up and stop trying to live off your father. He works so hard for his money and you don't contribute any funds to the house. Toby needs a bigger room."

"I don't believe this..I do not believe this!" Sarah cried out. "I don't contribute any funds but I also don't 'live off my father'. I take care of my own needs, buy my own clothes, shoes, even my own shampoo and laundry detergent. And if Toby NEEDS a bigger room, then he can have mine. I'll switch and take his."

"Sarah." her father started quietly. "It isn't so much about the money. Karen is right that you are an adult now. You can't live here with us forever. You don't even have a car.."

"So you're just going to cast me out on the streets, just like that?"

"We'll help you find a place." Her father told her.

"I don't have enough money for my own place. All of the money in my bank account went to pay for college."

"Yes.which is why I raised some money for you." Karen told her smugly.

"You raised money for me?" She stared in disbelief. Now this didn't seem right.

"Yes. You never look at those old toys anymore or those old books. I sold them and put the money aside. You should have enough for the first month of rent."

Sarah's eyes widened. "You sold my toys and books?" Karen nodded. "How dare you! Those were my things! You had no right!" She could feel her face turning red from anger. "I can't believe you let her do this dad!" she cried angrily at her father.

"Sarah, it was a good idea and you need to start off on your own. Why not use the money from the sale to give you a new start on life? It's a good way to put your past behind you."

"Maybe I don't want to put my past behind me!" she cried out, jumping to her feet. She held the things that Mrs. Miller had given her tightly in her hands. She suddenly wondered if her Labyrinth book was among the things sold. She cringed.

"Sarah, it's time to grow up. You don't have a boyfriend, don't have a car, don't have your own place. Your friends are turning away from you and I can't say I blame them when you ditch them at a concert." Karen told her.

Sarah clenched her eyes shut and ground her teeth together. She wouldn't cry and she wouldn't scream. "What exactly did you sell of mine?"

"You see!" Karen threw her hands up in the air. "She cares more about her childhood knickknacks then she does about her future as an adult!"

"What did you sell of mine!" Sarah shouted, ignoring the last comment completely.

"I sold that box at the bottom of the cellar stairs, you ungrateful brat!"

"Karen." Robert warned gently.

"No." Sarah let out softly. Her Labyrinth book had been in that box..her past.her happiness. She had not looked at those things in years, but they still meant something to her. She dropped the things Mrs. Miller had given her on the floor and made a mad dash for her room.

She rushed into her room and checked her bookshelf 3 times, praying the book was still there. It wasn't. Looking at an old shelf where her music box, her old bear and her fantasy books had once been, she realized those too had been in the box at the bottom of the stairs.. Her favorite childhood things, gone.just like that. For the second time in two days, she fell onto her bed and sobbed herself to sleep.


A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 2 of 40

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