Hiding So Close
Disclaimer: All characters from the movie are not mine! Anyone else is.
Summary: Sarah, bored with life, is hungry for more of the magical adventure she tasted during her trip through the Labyrinth. She manages to find a way to return to the Underground without the Goblin King's knowledge; can she keep her existence there a secret? If not, what will he do if he finds her?
Thank You Ma'am, For My Ticket Back
Sarah's was about to wake up to her first day as a high school graduate, and she would be filled with a sense of dread. Her family would begin the 'going away to college' summer countdown that would tick each day away, anticipation rising, until vacation's end, but there was a hitch. Sarah hadn't applied to any schools. A misstep she'd kept all to herself through distraction and skillful subject shifts during suspicious conversations. The reasons for such a blunder were these, she had been so indecisive about which school she wanted to attend, and what field of study she might pursue that she decided to ease her stress and simply - not decide. Her stress avoidance technique had worked; Sarah wasn't worried at all. There was always community college, or she could use the year to 'find herself'.
She did, nevertheless, feel guilty about keeping it from her family. Her father was the quiet type, but glowed with pride for his daughter over any little achievement, of which there had been few in the recent years. Teenage hormones were his excuse for the new, striking listlessness he saw in his daughter. He was sure she'd return to her old self eventually. Karen, her step-mother, constantly clucked generous praises, though perhaps a little too often and too zealously in Sarah's opinion. The little ray-of-sunshine Toby, however, reserved his commendations for when she bestowed treats and trinkets, since the concept of college was many years off.
When her stepmother wasn't chattering about Sarah's 'bright future', she had her mind set on thoughts of summer employment, and the paychecks that accompany such activities. Sarah finding a job was Karen's most desired activity for her stepdaughter since 'college doesn't pay for itself'. If only the woman knew there were no such fees to worry about.
But that was all beside the point as far as Sarah was concerned. An idea was on the horizon, waiting and ready to crash down upon her. It would be perfect, once she realized what it was. Sarah had sunk into a nasty funk over the past few years. Fate, or whatever was out there, had decided to torture her, or so it would soon seem to her.
A couple months before her graduation, the school's drama department, of which Sarah was an active member even after the change in her that her father had noticed, had decided the final performance of the year would be the widely unknown and unanticipated story 'Labyrinth'.
Bull, she'd thought upon reading the pale blue flyer tacked to the school notice board. Since when did fantasy stories stray near enough her dull, classics addicted drama teacher's list of 'crowd pleasing' play ideas? After all, the man was infamous in town for his sometimes quirky, but unceasingly drab stage adaptations of classic, well known romances.
Sarah stood staring in a numb state of shock when someone spoke from behind her.
"Laby-what? Aw man. I was set on doing the Count of Monte Cristo this year like always!" the voice protested.
Sarah chuckled as she turned to the light-eyed boy. "Still think Mr. Rowe would ever let you play lead after last year's catastrophe Erin?"
A sheepish shrug was his only response.
"Anyway, Labyrinth will be better fare than the usual I think. The story is about this girl â€¦" She spent the next five minutes excitedly retelling the story while they moseyed their way to the school's exit. She stopped only when she realized that under his coal black hair he had a thoughtful look on his face.
"Youâ€¦ don't like it?"
He shook his head clear and heaved his shoulders skyward, leaving them stuck by his ears. "I feel like I know what you're talking about but I've never heard of this story. Anyway," he dismissed, "it's kinda, I dunno, weird sounding don't ya think? "
Sarah deflated. "Sure."
"By the way, I heard today that someoneâ€¦"
She spent the rest of the walk home feigning interest in talk of school scandals, nodding her head vaguely when his voice lilted upwards in a question, but never actually hearing what he'd asked. Gushing about the story to Erin had been her first attempt at talking about that particular topic to any of her few friends and it had felt good. She'd been desperately hoping for, and laughably expecting, a better reception.
After that day, a distracted Sarah pushed away thoughts of the play and resolved not to audition for it, maybe she'd focus solely on decorations for once. So when she'd walked into the auditorium one afternoon only to glance up and find the stage crew painting the familiar image of a twisting Labyrinth. She'd just about fainted. Sarah learned that she had been cast in the wretched production. It seemed that no auditions were necessary; the drama teacher knew exactly who he wanted playing what, and there was absolutely no getting out of it without failing the class. She'd been relieved, however, to scan the posted cast list the following day and discover that she was only a lowly heckling goblin. A casting choice that, while a stinging insult to her pride as an actor, was a welcome relief to her tortured mind since it meant fewer instances of painful dÃ©jÃ vu. The fortunate casting, however, was no help in stopping the seed of memory long repressed from being planted in her subconscious. The seed would soon grow in her mind like only something from the Underground could. Eventually becoming a nasty, inky shadow in the back of her mind that would spiral her thoughts back to that night three years ago. Old fears, pains and desires would swell up from where she had beaten them into submission so long ago.
Further examination of the cast list informed her that Erin had, contrary to popular expectations, landed a leading role. A gasp of shock escaped her when she saw who he would play.
"Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for!" A poorly attempted regal, and only faintly English, accent complained from the stage behind her.
Sarah spun to face Erin who stood in full costume with blond wig and make up, on stage with hands on hips and doing his best to look intimidating as he puffed out his chest. He was pleased with the expression that spread onto Sarah's face, horror and heat fused into one. Exactly the reaction he believed someone should sport when gazing upon the admirable Goblin King. What he didn't know was that it was in reality, precisely the expression Sarah would have worn if standing before the man himself, because at that moment Sarah saw not her quirky younger friend, but an image of Jareth.
A cold shudder trickled through her body as she spun on her heals, stumbling dizzily as she ran out of the auditorium. A befuddled Erin was left behind to interpret the action the best he could.
Sarah rushed home and hastily retrieved a few boxes from the basement, lugging them to her room with the 'help' of her cutely clumsy baby brother who had been excited by his sister's frantic energy. After gently shooing him from the room with assurances that there was nothing fun and exciting in the boxes, she unpacked the contents like a mad woman as the memories they breathed back into her left her dazed. The colorful dolls and fantastical drawings of her youth were spread out before her hungry eyes, and nestled among them was an innocent ruby book. She picked it up and fingered the frayed corners, shaking her head and sighing as she released the tension in her body and mind.
"I really can't escape you can I?" she whispered, pressing her hand to its cover as if she could dash away the memories with the heel of her palm.
As months passed and the play took shape, Sarah eventually embraced it, a less exhausting choice, and began looking forward to the few hours after school when she could surround herself with old friends, albeit in poorly costumed, human form. It was enough for awhile. It wasn't until the last curtain call was a week gone and Sarah had returned to life as she had known it for the past three years when she finally became aware of her growing misery. She was bored and lonely. The feelings heightened by the impending departure of her friends to the campuses of the colleges she had failed to apply for. She now yearned for the sights, sounds and company she'd had such a short glimpse of and found so satisfying those many years prior.
Her mind swam with thoughts of that world. The Underground must be a vast, thrilling place beyond the shifting, sly walls of the Labyrinth and the Goblin City, she was sure of it. The thought of safe adventures in such places made her desire stronger. She had spent hours of her class time imagining what could possibly exist beyond those walls. She had dwindled away her last weeks of school in that manner.
Soon those daily imaginings would be shattered by a very enticing possibility.
All of that would have to wait, however, because back in the here and now, Sarah was sleeping like normally only a hibernating bear could.
Her alarm clock shrilled to life but accomplished nothing more than irritating her father enough to propel him to bang on her door and shatter any of her hopes of ignoring the wake-up call. She grudgingly pushed out of bed and silenced it.
Staggering out of her bedroom and down to the kitchen, she dropped into a chair beside her brother who giggled a good morning to her. She made a goofy grin back at him as she dug into her breakfast.
Karen turned from where she had been pouring juice at the counter and spotted Sarah. "Oh, there you are. I circled a few job openings I saw in the paper. You need to apply for them today."
Sarah rolled her eyes as she accepted the apple juice and heavily marked classified section of the newspaper Karen handed her. She ignored the paper completely once she'd set it next to her plate. Sarah quickly finished her breakfast and was up and washing her dishes when Karen spoke again.
"Make sure you're back from your day of job hunting early tonight. Your father and I are going to the theater. Understood?"
Nodding dutifully she set her dishes onto the drying rack. Jogging up the stairs she showered and dressed while everyone else headed out on various chores.
Sarah, having absolutely no intention of looking for a job and feeling very disinterested in life in general, took advantage of her time alone and settled into bed and began to read a little red book.
That evening, Sarah peeked out from the kitchen where she had been preparing a dinner of chicken parmesan for herself and her brother when she heard her father and Karen out in the foyer preparing to leave for the theater.
Karen spotted her immediately and didn't waste a second to inquire about how Sarah's job search had gone. "I hope you at least applied to all of those places I circled Sarah," Karen sighed as she slipped on a silk shall.
Sarah resisted rolling her eyes, something she found herself doing a lot when near her stepmother, despite both of their best intentions. "What else would I have been doing all day Karen?" she questioned sarcastically.
Her father sent her a warning glance.
Karen simply nodded. "I don't know. Sometimes it's like you'reâ€¦ you're living in another world in that mind of yours. You're so preoccupied."
Sarah quirked an eyebrow at the odd comment as the couple turned to leave. Something about the declaration had struck her, leaving her with an uncomfortable feeling in her stomach. She hastily brushed it off as she scooped the wriggling Toby into her embrace and bounced with him into the kitchen.
That night, after a successful dinner and movie night with her now sleeping baby brother, a drowsy Sarah was just relaxing into bed when an idea - no, the idea, the one that had been waiting oh so patiently for its chance to advance, finally broke past the horizon and swept into her with every ounce of its power, leaving her gasping and beaming.
'It's like you're living in another world...'
Thank you ma'am, for my ticket back.