Continuing Tales

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 2 of 14

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
What You Wish For

The crowd erupted with applause and laughs, catcalls and whistles. The cake was wheeled back to the caterer to be sliced and passed around to the guests. People drifted back to the bar to refill their glasses, and the band stationed at the other end of the room struck up a cover of some popular song.

And Sarah sat, frozen, and wondered if it mattered that she hadn’t said it out loud.

Say your right words, the goblins said...”

But she hadn’t said them. She’d only thought them. Right?

“Sarah?” Jen, her old roommate, who had kindly offered to put her up for the week and a half she’d be in town, was elegantly costumed as the Queen of Hearts. She put her hand on Sarah’s shoulder and shook her a little. “You alright?”

Sarah blinked up at her, and tried on a smile. It wobbled a little, but she hoped Jen wouldn’t notice. “Yeah,” she said. There was no thunder. No lightning. No owls soaring in through the open doors to the patio. “I’m just... it’s a little...claustrophobic... in here.”

“C’mon. We’ll get a drink and go find a spot outside to sit. Thank god for Florida winters,” Jen patted her shoulder comfortingly. She knew how Sarah felt about closed in spaces, although she’d never asked why. Together they wended their way through the crowds around the dance floor, and stopped to pick up a bottle of water for Sarah and a daiquiri for Jen.

“You,” she told Sarah, as they finally found an empty table in a dark corner of the patio, “are a walking tragedy. Imagine, being your age and never had a drink. I’m sure it’s illegal.”

Sarah cracked the cap on her bottled water and took a long, soothing swallow. “I never saw the need.” And I never trusted myself not to get drunk and start wishing for things best not wished for, she thought.

Like I just did, she added reproachfully, while stone cold sober.

“Still, there’s something not right about being a designated driver for your own birthday party,” Jen continued, poking at the candle votive in the middle of the table absently.

“It’s not really,” Sarah said.

“Not what? Your birthday?”

“No. I mean, yes, it’s my birthday. But this isn’t really my birthday party, is it?” She gestured at the half dozen people sitting near them. “It never really is. People just use my birthday as an excuse to have a big cake.”

“That’s a rather cynical way of looking at it,” Jen said. Then she paused as she looked at the people around them again. “Do you know,” she said after a minute, “I have no bloody clue who any of these people are?”

“Neither do I,” Sarah said dryly, and they both laughed.

“Look at that guy,” Jen said, pointing with her chin. “What’s he supposed to be? A transformer?”

“I think he’s supposed to be the Tin Man. That brunette drooling all over him is wearing ruby slippers.”

“Doesn’t she know that the Tin Man is gay?” Jen said, smirking.

“No, but the Scarecrow does,” Sarah observed, “he’s got his hand on the other thigh.”

“Oh, ew,” Jen laughed, but she watched a little longer.

Sarah relaxed a little as they giggled over the different guests. She hadn’t said it. It didn’t count. Besides, what was the real likelihood of something happening anyway? Maybe she’d used up her quota of magic. Maybe most people get their magic in little ways, all throughout their life, so small they never even notice it, but Sarah had burned all hers up in one shot when she was fourteen. The most magic she would have to worry about was whether or not her next show came together in time for opening night.

“Ah, there we go. That’s more like it,” Jen murmured approvingly. “Prince Charming, three o’clock.”

“Hmm?” Sarah looked up from the flickering candle flame, into a pair of bright blue eyes that were not so subtly checking her out over the rim of a martini glass. Prince Charming, indeed, he looked like he’d stepped out of a Disney cartoon: perfect blonde hair, strong jaw, sensual lips that smiled a little when he caught her looking at him, revealing perfect white teeth. Broad shoulders, trim hips. Hell, he even had on a crown. And a cape. And a pair of very snug fitting pants.

Sarah fought a flashback to another pair of rather tight pants. Growup, she admonished herself sternly.

“Oh, god, he’s coming over here.” Jen was actually fanning herself. Sarah tried not to wince. She pretended as though the ingredient list on her water bottle was suddenly very intriguing. Actually, she thought, why are there so many ingredients? It’s just wa...

“Hi,” said the blonde Adonis who had finally made his way to their table.

Sarah thought she heard Jen squeak. “Hi,” Sarah said, smiling up at him and trying not to look at his pants. “My friend’s drink went down the wrong way.” Prince Charming frowned and patted Jen on the back a couple of times.

“Better?” he asked. Jen squeaked out a yes. He smiled. It was like vanilla ice cream. “Two such pretty girls shouldn’t be sitting over here all alone. I thought I’d come over and keep you company.”

“Please,” Jen managed. “Sit!” She gestured to an empty chair nearby. He gave Sarah a melting smile, then turned to fetch the chair. Jen started shooting meaningful glances at her friend behind his back, mouthing he likes you, flirt with him doofus! Sarah laughed.

“Oh! Sorry!,” Prince Charming said. “I didn’t see you there!”

“Obviously,” drawled a low, gravely voice to Sarah’s right. “Most people don’t.” A shiver trickled down her spine. That voice, the slight accent, the clipped consonants, was strangely familiar. The butterflies she’d thought gone suddenly swarmed in her stomach. She turned to see Charming staring at what had previously been an unoccupied chair at a nearby empty table (she was sure of it) a little confusedly. He glanced around until he found another chair, and pulled it up a bit sheepishly, flipping his cape out of his way as he sat.

Sarah wasn’t paying much attention; she was too busy trying to see the man at the next table. All she could see was his back, the back of his neck, and his short, pale blonde hair, which was layered in a little bit of a punk cut that left it sticking up all over, and a little longer in the front than in the back. She studied the edge of his ears, which looked normal enough, if a bit pinched at the tips. He was wearing a very expensive looking black tuxedo coat, and she could just make out the edge of a gray silk shirt. He was turned away from her, looking through the glass windows at the dancers inside.

It couldn’t be him? Could it? A hint of fear brushed her, then. No. Surely not.

“...Sarah?” Jen said, touching her arm and bringing her back to reality. “This is Chester. Chet.” She nudged her in the ribs. “He’s an actor.” Now Jen’s eyebrows were wriggling like drunken caterpillars trying to navigate across a highway.

“Oh,” Sarah said, disappointment settling over her. “What have you done?” Chet (what an unfortunate name, she thought) pulled his chair a little closer to her and settled in for a long list. Sarah watched his animated face as he listed the shows he’d done and where. He really did have a great face, she thought. A little Brendan Frasier, with the same sort of vacuous eyes. His voice was nice, too, if a bit percussive.

“...heard you were going to be doing Phantom, and I thought, wow, this is my chance. You know, that’s such a great part for me. I was like, born to play that part.”

Sarah frowned. “You definitely have the look for Raoul.”

“Raoul?” Now Chet was frowning. “Yes, but, I’ve really got a much better voice for the Phantom. We could put some makeup on me, and you know, die my hair or something.”

“Mmmm,” Sarah said, noncommittally. There were times being careful with what you said could come in handy. In her peripheral vision she saw an elegant black clad shoulder shake a little, as if with silent laughter. Inside, the band was leading into a slow song. “Oh,” she said, “I love this song. It’s so romantic to dance to.”

“I’d be honored to dance with someone as gorgeous as you,” he said, flashing what Sarah figured were probably porcelain veneers.

“Oh, I’m still a little claustrophobic from before. But Jen hasn’t danced yet tonight,” Which was a lie, but how would he know? “I bet you two would dance stunningly together. Did I tell you she sometimes choreographs for my shows?”

“Really?” Chet’s face lit up. “Well, never let it be said that I left a lovely lady without a dance.” He offered Jen one of his hands and, blushing, she let him lead her inside.

Sarah frowned at his back. “That didn’t even make sense,” she muttered.

“Now, now, Sarah,” that cultured voice murmured in her ear. “Mocking the mortals? Tsk, tsk.”

She hadn’t seen him get up, hadn’t heard his chair move, but he was behind her now, moving to take the seat Jen had just vacated. Her heart was somewhere in the vicinity of her vocal cords as she slowly turned to watch him slide into the chair with the grace of a long limbed cat.

She thought she knew what to expect. She thought she knew him. But she hadn’t known him at all.

What You Wish For

A Labyrinth Story
by KnifeEdge

Part 2 of 14

<< Previous     Home     Next >>