[Note added 03/22/04] Each of the 'chapters' is actually a self-contained story (or vignette); they are neither related nor meant to follow any particular order, and have been collected under the title Dropping Thimbles to keep from spamming the just-in section. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused.
Glass: a vignette
The nightmares did not come in the twisted and hungry form of the Labyrinth, stone and earth whispering at her back as the world steadily, ominously rearranged itself as if to swallow her into the unknown depths of some maw. No, those nightmares – those familiar memories – came rarely, in the form of a dark supply closet with an old, sticky door (it became an oubliette, infinite and yet so compact her breath caught at her chest in the blackness); or, sometimes, they came in the shape of a disoriented plunge into a pool where the deep end was suddenly far too deep, and she was disoriented in the water, drugged by the shock and light glittering everywhere (as if she fell upwards into the sky).
The real nightmares, those that murmured in her ear as she slept, they wrapped themselves in an effervescent gauze of glitter and shadows, and a beautiful, delicate crystal that burst in her hand.
It was suiting, and still jarring, that he always existed in her dark nighttime unease, slender and fine as he smiled sharply and offered his hand in elegant demand; never an offer, oh, never anything but a silent razor command in the ghastly pallor of a crumbling ballroom, its ivory and silver now decadent and broken. The tremor in her knees as, helpless to do anything as the nightmare pushed her to take his hand, she was pulled in her jeans and vest to the warped marble of the dance floor; the eerie and frightening glitter of a ballroom cracked like the staircase during that last confrontation; the utterly unexplainable stroke of gloved fingers over the trembling pulse in her thin wrists: sensation turned an odd dream to startled fear.
And when in the nightmares he sang, pressing his palm gently to the stiff small of her back as she hated him (but could not draw away), his song was brittle; it was hollow with loss and some stirring regret that stung her until she wept silently as they danced, with tears to fall onto the white feathers and brocade he wore when she shook her head once.
Inevitably the fingertips light at her wrist would leave to touch her chin.
"Such a pity," he said, in his layered voice. "Why must you waste tears now, when you have victory?"
She would close her eyes, and feel dread and a strange, fluttering longing when those fingers touched her lips with all the edged pain of his song. She would close her eyes, yes, and feel that horrible, proud despair he sang of until she could bear opening her eyes again; now it was to see the cruel, wanting face he had shown her in the room once painted by Escher.
She stood on the precipice of a vast and awful darkness, a crystal held fragile in her cupped hands. It glittered silver, cold and brilliant, reflecting his face up at her as he stood, now, at her back, one hand loose at her waist and terrible mouth at her ear.
"Will you see your dreams, my cruel Sarah?" he asked, amused and cruel as well. "Will you see what I offer before you deny me?"
A low softness to his voice that was nonetheless harsh, and she had no words for what she felt – but she knew she could not look at what was offered to her by the crystal and the dark tone in his voice, promising cruel and wondrous things.
The crystal would burst, staining her fingers with moonlight.
He would be before her, then, as the crystal died and the wind pushed a thousand lost (corrupt) dreams into her. His mouth on hers, hungry and fierce and bitter, as the dreams filled her lungs:
She had wanted to be a princess.
I would make you a queen.
She had longed for unwavering affection.
I would love you in my way.
But in the end, even as she felt a whimper in her throat and his hands in her hair, his longing song still echoing distantly, she rejected him again – and the ballroom was dashed like glass.
When she woke in the morning, her fingers glittered silver.
Disclaimer: Jareth, Sarah, and the Labyrinth are the property of Henson, Froud, etc.
Feedback: Concrit is always welcomed.