Continuing Tales

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 12 of 20

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Please Come Home

"Bah! She's not his mother," said Hoggle, waving his hand around impatiently.

"Regardless, Sir Hoggle," said Didymus. "She is all he has ever known as his mother, isn't she?"

"What are you both talking about?" asked Sarah, even more bewildered than before. "Is she his mom or not."

"Well, technically, no," said Hoggle. "She's just his godmother. She raised him, but he ain't hers."

"You mean like a foster mother?" said Sarah. "What happened to his real parents?"

"No idea," said Hoggle. "Probably lost in the war, weren't they? Oh, but you wouldn't know about the Age of Lovely Blood, would you?"

"There was a war among Fae, right?" said Sarah. "And now there aren't many of them left."

"How do you learn these things?" said Hoggle, looking astounded. "Where Jareth's going, what the Age of Lovely Blood is, how is it you know all this stuff."

"I just do," said Sarah, dismissively.

"Yes," said Didymus as the group resumed walking. "Well, during the Age of Lovely Blood, many of tribes were lost completely, and now very few remain. His Majesty was but a wee lad when it all ended, but Madam Limstella probably witnessed the entire war."

"Really?" said Sarah. "Didn't she fight in the war too?"

"Heh!" Hoggle gave a derisive snort of laughter. "As if. She stayed cooped up in that tower of hers and waited the whole thing out. Nobody wanted to get the Fae Witch involved. Didn't want her on their side or their enemy's side. If she was fighting against you, there ain't no chance of getting away. If she fought with you, odds are she'd turn against you the second she saw a better offer."

"Horrible," said Sarah. "I hope you're right when you said the Goblin King wouldn't go to see her, Hoggle."

"I'm sure I'm right," said Hoggle. "Jareth banned Limstella from ever setting foot in the Goblin City. In fact, the whole labyrinth is a defense against her."

"It is?"

"Most certainly, my lady," said Didymus. "Despite her great magic powers, Madam Limstella has one serious flaw. She is known for having the most awful sense of direction."

"Which means she's about as likely to make it through the labyrinth in one piece as I do of becoming the next Goblin King," said Hoggle, humorlessly. "Not likely at all."

Sarah walked on with her friends, playing with the drawstring bag Rin had given her. So, Jareth had been brought up by a foster mother who happened to be a terrible witch. Well, that explained a lot of things. His mean streak and his powers had all come from her. And then there was this foster mother herself. Limstella. She seemed to scare the living daylights out of Hoggle and had earned herself the title of a witch. She hoped that Limstella didn't know that the Goblin King was ill, and that she, Sarah, had beaten the labyrinth and her foster son all in thirteen hours. She doubted it would go down well with her.

They traveled through the wasteland for the rest of the day. Darkness soon fell upon them and they lacked a means for light. Just when it was getting so dark they could hardly see within an inch of their noses did Ludo voice another problem that had been bothering all of them for awhile, but nobody had dared to mention.

"Hungry," Ludo mumbled.

"Yeah," said Sarah, rubbing her stomach wearily. "Well, I can't think of anywhere we can stop to find food. Unless you have more peaches, eh Hoggle?"

"Shut up," grumbled the dwarf.

Suddenly, Ambrosius stopped and Sir Didymus sniffed at the air. "My lady, a strange scent lingers in the air. It is . . . oh my . . . it is quite heavenly."

The others sniffed, but found nothing.

"I think it may be a means for food, my lady," said Didymus, excitedly.

"Just forget it," said Hoggle. "I don't want anything that Didymus smells. Let's not forget this is the one who thinks the Bog of Eternal Stench is sweet and fragrant."

"But if it's a means of food," said Sarah. "We ought to at least check it out. We can't keep walking in this darkness and we don't have any food with us."

"This way, my lady," said Didymus, waving his staff to try and get the attention of the others through the darkness. He and Ambrosius rode off, with Sarah, Hoggle, and Ludo following. They only just managed to keep up in the dark, but Ambrosius's white fur still stood out in the star and moonlight coming from above them. In the distance, they saw an orange glow that looked like it might be firelight.

Now they could smell what Didymus had been talking about. But, in this case, his olfactory acuity proved correct. Something delicious was up ahead, coming from the glow up ahead.

"Smells like meat," said Hoggle, longingly. "Whoever's up ahead, I hope they're willing to share.

They came upon the source of the smell and halted. A small, rickety wagon pulled by a puny looking mule sat beside a roaring fire, over which there was what appeared to be an entire wild boar cooking. Next to the flames sat a slumped, hooded figure. Sarah walked toward the figure, but Hoggle grabbed her hand.

"Watch it!" he breathed. "It could be dangerous."

"We won't know until I try," said Sarah, pulling free from Hoggle's grip. She walked over to the figure and cleared her throat. "Excuse me?"

"Oh ho!" said the figure. "What villains are these that trespass upon old Jinx? What business do you have with old Jinx, eh?"

"Please," said Sarah, stepping into the firelight. "My friends and I are traveling through this wasteland and we don't have anything to eat. Could you please share with us?"

"Pretty girlie asks Jinx politely," said the figure. She raised her head and lowered her hood. She looked a little like a cross between a turtle and a Junk Lady, wrinkled and white haired, but there was something more human in her pale eyes and her squashed nose. "It is amazing the things you can accomplish in this world by simply asking politely. Jinx would like to share with pretty girlie and her friends-ies. There is plenty of boar for you all. Eat up, eat up."

They carved into the roasted beast and ate gratefully.

"So," said Jinx, eyeing Sarah in a motherly fashion. "What brings a pretty girlie to the Waste? Wouldn't a pretty girlie rather go to the labyrinth? Pretty girlie might get to meet the handsome king, oh ho ho! He might catch your eye and fall in love, oh ho ho!"

"Actually," said Sarah, glad that nobody had seen her blush in the light of the fire. "It's the king we're looking for. He's walked by this way, but we don't know where he's going. Do you think you might know?"

Jinx shook her head. "Never a good sign, when a Fae travels the Waste alone," she said. "Oh no. Sounds to old Jinx that he's gone and headed for the Shadow Temple, it does."

"Shadow Temple?" The four companions all said together, some with meat still in their mouths.

"Sacred place, the Shadow Temple," said Jinx, nodding seriously. "Sacred place for the Fae race, it is. No Fae goes in there and comes back out again, no they don't."

"What?" Sarah cried in alarm. "Why not?"

"Shadow Temple is a sacred place," repeated Jinx. "A place of silence. A place of death. Fae go in there to end their lives or wait for life to leave them, they do. 'Tis the price for immortality, it is. Live forever, age for never, but live in bodies fragile as glass. Hearts that tremble at the thought of breaking. No Fae can last long with a broken heart, they can't."

Sarah stared at the old woman, feeling sick. No Fae could live with a broken heart? What did that mean? Was the Goblin King sick because of his heart? Did he think his heart was going to kill him, so he traveled to this Shadow Temple to end his pain?

"Is pretty girlie worried about a dying Fae?" Jinx asked, gently.

Sarah stared at the crackling flames. "Y-yes," she admitted. "Yes. I . . . I've seen him before. We were enemies at the time, but even so, he came to me recently and he helped me."

Jinx blinked. "Helped you, eh? So you wish to help him, now?"

"Yes," said Sarah.

"What will you say to him once you find him, pretty girlie?" asked Jinx.

Sarah thought. What on earth was she going to say to the Goblin King when she saw him again? She thought for a moment, then said, "I'm going to tell him that I forgive him. I'll forgive him for taking Toby. Then I, in turn, will apologize. I think I might have done something to hurt him, but I didn't realize it at the time. So, I'll apologize."

Hoggle, Ludo, and Sir Didymus stared fondly at Sarah. They knew her answer would be kind and forgiving. After reducing the entire boar to bones and as the fire started to die down, Jinx allowed them to spend the night with there with her.

"Not safe traveling in the Waste in the dark," she said, shaking her old head. "No, not safe at all." Sarah's three friends fell asleep quickly, but she stayed awake.

"Pretty girlie has her mind full of thoughts," said Jinx, smiling at her.

"Yeah," Sarah admitted. "I can't sleep."

"Too many thoughts aren't good for the health," said Jinx. "Taxing, it is. Mind, body, and soul all feel the effect of too much thinking, they do. Talk to Jinx, pretty girlie. Twill make you feel better."

Sarah looked over at her three friends. Hoggle was snoring loudly, his large nose twitching with every snort, Ludo slept in a sitting up position and was surprisingly silent, Sir Didymus yipped and occasionally mumbling things like, "I shall fight you all to the death," and "But of coarse I have feelings for you."

"It had something to do with me," Sarah said, quietly. "I know it did."

"What did?" asked Jinx.

"The Goblin King," said Sarah. "Why he's sick, why he's gone to this Shadow Temple place, it all has something to do with me. I know it does."

"Why would you think that, pretty girlie?"

"I don't know," said Sarah, burying her face in her hands. "I just know it has something to do with me. I know it, I really do. And I can't bear the thought. I don't want anything to happen to him. I don't want anything to change in this place. I don't want anyone to touch this place. Nobody is to ruin this place. This beautiful, beautiful world. I want it to stay the way it is, always. The labyrinth, my friends, the Goblin King, everything. Nobody is to touch it. Nobody is to ruin it. Not even me."

Jinx smiled. "So, pretty girlie is a human from the Aboveground, eh? Jinx guessed right about you."

"Yes," said Sarah, feeling tears coming on. "I came down here once before. That's where I met my friends and the Goblin King. I had something to do then. The Goblin King took something from me and I had to win it back. I . . . I thought I was doing the right thing. I was doing everything I knew I had to do. I played my part, he played his. That's the way it's done. But I've made a mistake somewhere. A horrible mistake. I've done something to hurt him. I don't really understand, but I hurt him. And now he's going to same temple to die. No! No I won't let it happen."

"Why won't you let it happen?" asked Jinx, gently.

Tears slid down Sarah's cheeks as she gazed at Jinx. "Because this world, the Underground, it saved me. The labyrinth saved me. The Goblin King . . . saved me, too. Not just at Shawna's party. Before that. Long ago. When everything was dark."


How was I supposed to know that this would happen? How could anyone have possibly known? Who could have predicted it? Not me. Never me. I didn't understand what was happening around me. I was just a little kid, how could I know? In the beginning all seemed so serene. I had all I needed. I had something that not many of the kids in my class had. I had them both. Daddy and Mom.

Mom. I guess she started it, really. She was a actress, you know? She lived for the theater. She loved the spotlight, but she wanted more. She wanted to be a star. She couldn't get that with a husband who worked in stocks and a little daughter, could she? But I thought she was happy. I really did. We always seemed happy. The three of us, together, we seemed happy. They'd smile a lot and laugh and play with me and we'd eat together. We always had fun. We were always happy. But, what I didn't realize, is that I was just in another of Mom's plays.

She and Daddy were the stars in that play. They pretended everything was alright. They pretended that everything was going well. I think they even managed to convince themselves, just a little bit. But they couldn't turn away from the truth. The truth was that Mom loved the theater more than she loved being a wife and a mother. She loved being an actress more than her entire family combined.

And she was in love with a man . . . who wasn't my dad.

She hardly said goodbye to me. I was only seven at the time when she and dad sat me down at the table. Daddy went first.

"Sarah," he said. "First off, I want you to know that your mother and I love you very much. But, some things have come up and some things have happened in our marriage and we've decided to get a divorce."

Divorce. I knew what it was, but I still had a hard time understanding what was going on.

"We still love you, Sarah," Daddy reassured me. "The problem is, Mommy and Daddy don't love each other anymore."

That day was just so blurry. But I don't remember yelling or fighting or harsh words. I guess I was just numb. I couldn't believe what was happening. Until about a week later. Mom had been packing all week. But then the taxi arrived, along with her lover.

I panicked. I ran to Mom and I held on as tightly as I could. "Mommy, you're gonna come home, right?" I remember asking. "You're gonna come back, right? You and Daddy are gonna stop the divorce thing, right? Things are gonna be okay again, right? They have to be okay. I . . . I don't want you to go away, Mommy. Please, don't go! Mommy, stay with me!"

Mom turned around smiled and patted me on the head as if I was someone else's child.

"Why the long face, Sarah? Come on, it isn't good for that cute little face. I'll give you a call as soon as I can. See you later."

That was the last thing she'd ever said to me, face-to-face. She climbed in the taxi with her boyfriend, and they drove away. And just like that, she was gone. There were some phone calls at first, but then they were just letters, and then silence. She'd left. No regrets. No strings attached.

I couldn't blame her. I couldn't blame Daddy. I couldn't blame her boyfriend. I couldn't even blame myself. I didn't know who to blame. So, I didn't blame anyone. I just waited. I tried to convince myself that there was still hope. That there was still a chance that she would come home and everything would be okay again. I held onto that. I clung to that hope desperately. I waited for my fairytale ending. Where she would return, where Daddy would forgive her and love her again, where I'd run into her arms, which would suddenly become warm and motherly.

I waited and waited for her. My eyes and ears pricked for any sign that she would return. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, and still no sign that Mom would come home. But I kept waiting for her. Quietly and patiently, I'd wait. Without any sign of emotion, I waited for my fairytale to come true. She was the one who bought me all those fairytale books, who filled my head with imagination and wonder. I knew she would come back, because she'd planted that belief in my head that fairytales were real. I'd wait at the park where we used to play together. But she never showed.

But my endless waiting was in vain. She didn't come back. If I'd have known that, I probably would have paid more attention to what was happening to around me. I don't know if it would have changed anything, but I wouldn't have been so surprised.

Shortly after Mom left, Daddy started hiring a lot of babysitters to look after me while he went out at night. It was easy money for them, I expect. All I did was stay in my room and wait for my mother to return. But, when I turned ten, it finally occurred to me what was going on. Where Daddy was going every night and why he kept hiring babysitters.

He was dating other women.

Sometimes, he'd introduce me to the women he went out with. They all seemed nice, but I wasn't fooled. I knew what they were there for. Now my anticipation for my mother to return was greater than ever. She had to come back before it was too late. Daddy was looking for a new wife, but he couldn't have one. Mom was his wife. They were meant to be together. They had to be together. That was how it was meant to be. If they weren't together again, what would happen to me?

But it was too late. Daddy came home one day and sat me down at the same table where he told me about him and mom getting a divorce. "Sarah," he said. "You remember Irene, right? I've introduced her to you and we've had dinner together sometimes. Do you like her?"

I don't think I answered. I guess I just kinda shrugged.

"Well," Daddy went on. "Irene is very special to me, Sarah. Now, I've done a lot of thinking about this, and I've made a very important decision. I'm going to ask Irene to marry me."

My world froze over. I hadn't heard what I thought I heard.

"If she says yes," said Daddy, looking happy and excited. Happy and excited! "She's going to live with us from now on. She's going to be your new mother. Won't that just be great, Sarah?"

I definitely answered that one. "But, what about Mommy?" I asked. "What are you going to do when Mommy comes home? What'll she say if she sees another lady in here? You can't replace her. She still has to come home!"

Daddy sighed and shook his head. I knew what he was thinking. He thought I was foolish. That my pint-sized brain couldn't cope with new information. "Sarah, Linda isn't going to come home. She has a new home now. She lives in New York now, remember? She's not coming back here. Now Irene is going to be your mother. Won't it be nice to have a mother again, Sarah?"

"Irene isn't my mommy!" I cried, the tears falling. "Mommy is my mommy!"

I ran. I ran clear out of the house. I ran all the way to the park, found a bench and cried. I cried forever. Daddy had betrayed me. He'd betrayed Mom. He hadn't waited. He hadn't had faith, like I did. Yeah. I think that was it. I think that was the first time I'd ever said them. As I cried there on the bench in the park. Those words.

"It's not fair. It's not fair!"

Daddy married Irene. I couldn't get along with her. I was her husband's daughter from another marriage. I was the stain upon her new life with Dad. I was terrified of Irene. She was the stepmother. The wicked symbol of a broken family in all my stories. Stepmothers always bode ill for the hero or heroine in the stories. But as scared of her as I was, it was nothing compared to someone else. Someone who was coming. By now I was desperate for Mom to come home. If she didn't come soon and steal Dad away from Irene, then all would be lost. But then he came. The real villain. The one person who shattered all my hope of things going back to the way they were.

"Sarah, I'd like to introduce you to your new baby brother. Toby Robert Williams."

Toby. I piled it all on Toby. At last, I had someone I could blame for ruining everything. I made it all Toby's fault. He was just a baby. He didn't do anything. I realize that now, but I didn't know then. With Toby around, Dad would never want Mom back if she ever did come. He'd moved on completely. He had a new family. He'd forgotten everything.

That was what terrified me. He didn't need me anymore. He had a new child. I was just the permanent reminder of something that once was, but was no more. I was what was left of a past mistake. I went to the park nearly everyday after Toby was born. I didn't go there to wait for Mom anymore. I went there to cry. To unleash my feelings in privacy.

That's right. I remember now. That's when I found it. The book. I'd gone to the park to cry one day and I looked up and there it was, right next to me on the stone bench. I wondered where it had come from. I was just a kid, so I didn't know what to do with it. I picked it up and read the story inside. It cheered me up. Everything about it cheered me up. I fell in love with the story. The beautiful young girl, the villainous Goblin King, the wild and magical labyrinth, it made me feel happy again. I was able to escape from the life I lived now. I memorized the whole story. I dress up in costumes and acted out my favorite bits. I didn't go to the park to cry anymore, I went to escape into the world of the labyrinth.

I still haven't had much contact with Mom. I never got the news that she remarried, but whenever I did hear from her, she was still with her boyfriend. I guess she figured out that marriage wasn't the way to go for her. She and her boyfriend live together, but aren't planning on marriage. I never heard that I had any other siblings other than Toby either. She's been on Broadway, you know. She's got everything she wanted that she couldn't have with Daddy and me. At home, I felt so empty. I felt like Daddy's new life would be perfect if only he didn't have me around. He had his new wife and Toby had taken my place as his rightful child. That's what made me hate Toby so much. Irene had replaced Mom and Toby had replaced me. With Toby around, Daddy didn't need me anymore. I thought . . . that if he just . . . disappeared . . .

Then I said those words.


Sarah was now lying on her side while Jinx stroked her hair soothingly. "I wished that the goblins would take Toby away," she said, her voice choked with emotion. "And he answered me. He took Toby to the Goblin City and I had to run through the whole labyrinth to get him back. I realized too late that I didn't want Toby taken away. I still loved my brother. It wasn't as deep a bond as it is now, but it was there. I realized that Toby didn't have anything to do with Mom and Daddy splitting up and for me to blame him for everything that happened, it wasn't fair.

"As for the Goblin King, I made him an enemy because he was meant to be an enemy. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate what he was trying to do for me, but if I let him keep Toby, that would make me a bad person. I didn't want to be a bad person. But he wouldn't give him back, so I made him the bad person. He was . . . just trying to do what I asked. He was granting my wish . . . but I . . . held it against him. Now . . . something's wrong with him. If it really was . . . my fault . . . I'm gonna be the one . . . to set . . . things . . ." with a yawn and a sigh, Sarah was asleep along with her friends.

The old woman stared down at the sleeping girl. She got to her feet, gazed around at the sleeping companions, and then removed her cloak. The magical disguise came off as well, revealing her true self.

"Sarah of the Aboveground," said Ena, looking down at Sarah. "I wonder if there is still room for hope in the Pandora's Box you've opened for yourself."

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 12 of 20

<< Previous     Home     Next >>