Continuing Tales

Return to the Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by ArtemisFallen

Part 1 of 24

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Leverage: A Christmas Tale

Sarah sighed heavily as she stared out into the bleak and dreary day. She found it fitting that the weather matched her mood.

"So, that's it, then?" She asked, the words scarcely audible as they left her throat.

A sigh echoed hers. "I don't know what else you want me to say, Sarah." Steven's voice was contrite with exasperation.

Sarah chewed mercilessly on her lower lip. She watched the rain bead lazily upon the window and trickle down against her ghostly reflection. She wondered if in fact she was seeing the rain or her own tears.

"I don't understand." She swallowed, trying to suppress the sad whine that wanted to enter her voice. "How is it so easy for you to walk away from me?"

"It's not that it's easy, Sarah," Steven quipped almost angrily. "Just don't do this, okay? Please don't make this harder than it already is."

Sarah scoffed ruefully at the statement, blinking away her tears. She continued to watch the falling rain. "I love you, but it's not enough, is it?" She glanced down at her hand, her engagement band taunting her with happy memories.

"Sarah," Steven sighed again with exasperation. It seemed as if everything she did anymore annoyed him.

"When did you stop loving me?" She asked, knowing that the answer, if he chose to give it, would devastate her.

She could hear Steven shift uncomfortably and begin to pace. She was upsetting him.

"Why are you doing this, Sarah?" He asked. "What's the point?"

"Just answer me," Sarah pressed, glancing back down at the engagement band.

"For once in your life, just leave it!" Steven snapped. "This is hard enough as it is."

"Is it?" Sarah asked hollowly, rotating the band around her finger mindlessly. "It didn't seem hard for you at all."

"Sarah," Steven warned.

"People change their minds about what they want to wear or what they want to have for dinner," Sarah continued, ignoring the tone in Steven's voice. "They don't change about wanting to get married overnight. So, you owe me an answer. It's the least you can give me. When did you stop loving me?"

Steven stopped pacing. "Fine, you want it to go down like this? Then here it goes." His voice was filled with bitterness and anger. Sarah braced herself for the tirade. "I never should've proposed to you in the first place. It was a whim. A mistake. I thought it would bring back that spark I felt for you when we first met. It didn't. Alright? I haven't been in love with you since before I proposed. I was caught up in you, your life, your stories. You seemed so different and I wanted to be part of your world." He hesitated for a moment. "But that magic is gone and it has been for a long time." He confessed. "Don't lie to me and say you don't feel the same way."

Sarah closed her eyes against the harsh words and the pain they brought. It was not so much the words themselves that hurt her, but the fact that they were true. He was right, after all. The magic, that spark of their first year had all but extinguished. She had striven against the waning of his affections for some time. It had taken every ounce of her imagination to keep the passion and romance in their relationship alive. His proposal led her to believe that they would overcome the stagnation. However, his late nights and continual distance had begun to wear heavily on her suspicions. That is until now, as his true feelings had finally come to fruition, leaving Sarah to wonder why she had tried so ardently to save their love in the first place. But in the end, Steven was right. Every thrill in their relationship had truly gone.

"Just because we're not the exciting couple we once were doesn't mean that I don't still love you," she whispered.

Steven scoffed. "Oh, there she is!" He derided. "There's the Sarah Williams I know. There always has to be a bad guy, doesn't there, Sarah? You can never admit to any fault, you cling to your high virtues. The world's just so unfair to you, isn't it? Well, this is life, sweetheart, and you need to wake up. You may want to live in a dream the rest of your life, but I'm not about to sleep through the rest of mine."

And there it was, the explanation that she had asked for, but knew would destroy her. "No, it's not fair," she whispered, a distant memory stirring at the words. "But that's how it is." A tear slid down her cheek as she rolled the ring from her finger and placed it on the window ledge next to her. She continued to gaze through her ghostly reflection out at the dark and ominous clouds, feeling a sense of longing to be part of them, to just wisp away into nothing.

"Goodbye, Steven," she whispered, lost in the haze of melancholy that devoured her.

"You're not even going to look at me?" He asked.

Sarah continued to stare out at the dismal gray, her silence seemingly serving as the most fitting answer. She could hear Steven's footsteps approach. It took all her willpower to continue her gaze out the window as he snatched the discarded ring.

"I'll send for my things," he said brusquely, walking away and slamming the door for embellishment as he left. Sarah braced her palms on the window ledge, lost within herself. A cold shiver washed over her, setting a chill to her skin and penetrating her heart.

She dismally reflected back on her life and the loves that had come and gone. Each had ended in heartache and sorrow unsurpassed. Each had left her in desolate isolation that threatened to swallow her very being.

Was there something wrong with her? Why did everyone she love leave her? Why was she never good enough, no matter how hard she tried? These and many questions like it plagued Sarah's mind until she could no longer stand the sound of her own thoughts tormenting her. Eventually, she found herself wandering through the apartment. It now felt empty, bleak and lonely, despite the presence of the furniture and several shelves filled with books. The feeling of isolation gripped Sarah, consuming her to the point where she felt suffocated.

She had to leave. She had to get out of the apartment and go somewhere far away from the memories that danced along the periphery of her mind.

Hurriedly, she ran to the bedroom and entered the closet, searching for a bag. She groaned in frustration as she realized that Steven had taken all the suitcases for his own clothes and belongings. Sara emerged from the closet, frustrated and close to hysterics. Her breath hitched unevenly as she tried to calm herself. As Sarah struggled to remain composed, she spotted her trunk in the corner of the room. She nearly dove for the old trunk, banging her knees against the weathered, scuffed wood. She flung it open and was greeted by many things she had kept from childhood. Among the items was an old fur worn bear, a diary, some blankets, and an old creased backpack. She grabbed the backpack and returned to the closet. She began to unceremoniously toss clothes into it, giving little thought to what she was actually packing. After she emerged from the closet, she went to the bathroom, gathering up the necessary toiletries and shoving them into a zippered pocket.

In her frenzy, Sarah managed to gather a few more supplies before grabbing her keys and wallet. She stalked towards the door and opened it, throwing a regrettable glance back over her shoulder. Memories began to tickle her mind once again and she angrily slammed the door on them, running out into the torrential downpour that cascaded from the sky. She stopped under the surge of rain, raising her face up to the Heavens, allowing the water to cleanse her. She hoped that somewhere outside in the storm that she would find her escape. Sarah longed for any kind of peace, even if it was for the briefest moment.

Sarah found herself sitting on the bed of her motel room some time later. She was cold and soaked to the bone. The staff had given her a fair share of concerned and suspicious looks, but had rented her a room anyway. To her surprise, she was on the top floor and had a small balcony. She wondered if the woman at the front desk had given her a better room at a discount. She had kindly asked Sarah if she was visiting the city.

Sarah had barely replied, simply stating that she had to get away. The lady was courteous and understanding, clicking a few buttons on the computer before smiling brightly and handing Sarah a keycard and wishing her a wonderful stay.

Sarah peered around the room. It was a nicely decorated room with neutral brown and tan colors. There was small flat screen television and refrigerator by the dresser as well as a small table and chair. A coffee maker with various coffees and teas sat on the long sink counter. Sarah considered making herself a cup of hot tea. She stood up, walking over to the thermostat and cranking it up several degrees before filling the coffee pot with water and setting it on the burner. Sarah shivered again and considered taking a hot shower while she waited for the water to boil for her tea. The idea of the hot, scalding water was too tempting to turn down and soon Sarah found herself under the cathartic blast of the shower nozzle. As her body began to warm, her core began to numb as she unwillingly rehashed her encounter with Steven over and over in her head. It seemed that no matter how far she ran, she could not escape the sadness that patiently awaited her.

Even though she was clean, warm and nursing a cup of piping hot tea, Sarah still felt the dismal hollowness threatening to spread through her once more. Sarah sat down her unfinished tea and began to rifle through her backpack, pulling out her most comfortable pair of worn, but soft jeans and a black tank top. After she slipped these on, she wove herself into her black long sleeved cardigan, nestling down against its softness for comfort. She was thankful that part of her had still been in the right mind to pack sensibly. She sat in the large chair near the desk, pulling her feet up onto the cushion with her. She reached for her mug of tea and sat huddled in the chair, reflecting upon a great many things.

How do I keep falling for the wrong guy? She asked herself petulantly. She was twenty eight years old and she never seemed to find the one true love she had always dreamed of. She cursed her books and romantic movies for putting the notion of the perfect man in her head. She'd finally come to the conclusion that it was all bullshit.

There was no such thing as a perfect man and no such thing as a perfect love. Simple as that.

Sarah drained the rest of her cooling tea, sad and burdened. She stood up and reached into her bag, searching for her toothbrush. She rifled through it, unable to find it even though she was sure she had packed it. In a rush of unfounded rage, she tipped the backpack and shook it violently. The contents of the bag spilled out onto the floor. Sara gave the bag another shake and out fell her toothbrush, followed by a small red, leather bound book.

Sarah gazed at the book in confusion before recognition finally set in. She reached down and gathered up the book lovingly, as if picking up a small, wounded animal.

"I thought I lost you!" She exclaimed. "Have you been hiding in this bag all these years?"

Sarah distractedly threw some items back into the backpack, including her toothbrush, and then discarded it beside the bed. She crawled under the fluffy comforter, feeling surprisingly light spirited. She clutched the book to her chest, a true smile of happiness on her lips.

"Wow, it's been so long. I remember," she mused quietly, stroking her fingers lovingly over the pressed golden letters on the front of the book. "The Labyrinth."

She had loved this book since she was a teenager. She had used to act it out in the park when no one was watching. Well, not no one. There was always a beautiful white owl who would come watch her perform.

She smiled at the memories. She had had so many adventures in the Labyrinth! They had been so real to her at the time. But over time, her memories had faded and as she grew up, she had convinced herself that her adventure was nothing more than a fantastic dream. She concentrated on the distant memories, recalling how she had beseeched the Goblin King to take her brother in the dream and how she had then journeyed into the Labyrinth to reclaim him. The dream, which Sarah had all but forgotten after so many years, came flooding back to her in crisp detail. She remembered her friends and the trials she had to face in the Labyrinth. Then she remembered the ballroom and the dance, and how the Goblin King, Jareth, had taken her hand, singing to her in mesmerizing, dulcet tones.

Her heart fluttered at the memory and she blinked in confusion. His tone, his words came spiraling back to her. I move the stars for no one. How you turn my world, you precious thing. The memory of the dream was powerful, as if she were watching it play out in front of her at that exact moment. The memory of his eyes upon her, his hand firmly grasping hers flooded through her with newfound clarity. As a young girl, she had not been able to understand the meaning of his looks and his words.

"He loved me," she mumbled to herself, awestruck by the revelation. "He loved me and I turned him away."

She closed her eyes, thinking back to the words he had said to her before she had awoken.

"'Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave,'" she recited softly. The words now, to her adult mind, had a much deeper meaning. It was a plea. A plea for her love.

Disappointment weighed heavily on Sarah's mind. There had been something about him, Jareth, that had frightened her when she was younger. But now, as she thought back on him, there was only a man who wanted, needed, her love so desperately. Sure, he had been cruel to her in the dream, but she had also been cruel and indignant. Now the memory of his eyes, those fantastically multi-colored eyes haunted Sarah in the most exquisite way. She closed her eyes, conjuring up an image of the Goblin King in her mind. He smiled at her, his lips tilting wickedly and playfully. His eyes flashed with mischief and desire. In every sense, he was beautiful to her. She imagined herself with him. He reached out for her hand, pulling her close. His gloved fingers sang lovingly across her cheek and his lips brushed featherlight over hers, teasing her with what promised to be the most fantastic kiss of her life. Sarah breathed in deep and she imagined how his lips would feel against hers in that final caress. How his hands would pull her into his form and they would be locked together in a passionate embrace.

Sarah sighed, opening her eyes. An indescribable longing and utter loss began to fill her chest and she regretted having never kissed Jareth in her dream.

Too bad I didn't know what he was offering me then, she thought whimsically. I would've liked to beheld such a love once, even if it was just in a dream.

"Hmm," she mused softly as she thumbed through the pages of the book. It just further proved her point. Only in a dream could something so wonderful ever happen.

Sarah shook her head, her dark thoughts returning to the devastation of her past relationships as she skimmed through the lines of the book.

But what no one knew is that the king of the goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and he had given her certain powers…

A sad smile tugged at the side of her mouth. "If that were true," Sarah whispered to the book, "then I would beg your forgiveness and ask to be granted another chance."

Sarah sighed again, shaking her head at her ludicrous behavior. This was why Steven and all the others had left. She forever had one foot in reality and the other in a world of fantasy.

"Time to grow up," she said to the air as she closed the book. She nestled against the comforter, switching the light on the nightstand off. She held the book close, suddenly very tired from the day's events. "But what I wouldn't give," she mumbled sadly as grief began to overwhelm her. "I wish the Goblin King would take me away...right now."

A part of Sarah pined for the idea to be swept away into such a world again, but nothing changed. Fighting against the rage of tears and the sobs that grew in her chest, Sarah curled up in the bed and cried herself to sleep.

Return to the Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by ArtemisFallen

Part 1 of 24

     Home     Next >>