A/N and Explanation: This is an old fanfic I wrote that I thought I'd share. A few years ago I was creating a Labyrinth painting based on the ballroom scene. I was having a hard time with one of the women on Jareth's arm - she just wasn't "coming to life" the way I wanted her to. Taking a break, I wondered what I could do to give her life…and did the only thing I could do. I wrote her a story in my head. I gave her a life, a history, something that I could paint into her features. After that, I was able to finish the painting. Later that night, I wrote down her story – this story.
Thank you for reading, and I'd be honored if you'd share your thoughts.
recent A/N: I recently re-read this story and realized that it is filled with little errors and run-on words, so I gave it a bit of a touch-up. It's still one of my favorites, I hope you enjoy it.
Reach Out and Touch Me
She is there - standing amidst the pulsing fans and coarse laughter. Turning, the hem of her full skirt brushes against the floor, the swirl of swaying fabric fanning from the stiff bodice that tightly hugs her soft, heaving chest. Spiraling red curls have been nestled artfully on the top of her head, spilling gracefully down onto her bare pale shoulders.
The deep mauve mask she wears holds her back from being real.
Her movements are strange –every turn of the head and flick of the wrist seems caught in a flow of motion beyond her control, like a marionette on thick, slow strings.
These careful, deliberate movements are echoed by the others who surround her. Others as finely dressed, others all trapped behind masks - their false faces grotesque caricatures depicting exaggerated goblin faces and demonic grins.
The Ballroom is airy and beautiful and their movements are as thick as the dream.
Her pale lips curl in a smile of sinister savor, and her dark eyes shift. She is looking, watching, waiting.
Soon He would come.
She seems wrapped deeply in the layers of voices and chatter, but the waiting wears heavy on her hidden heart. She can sense the waiting in the others, too. Under the lustful teasing and the swirling fabric, it reflects in the shining eyes behind each mask.
The seconds ticking like years. Waiting.
Then the music begins. She smiles again, but she is alone now and it is a true smile. A simple, hopeful smile. It holds place on her features only for a brief moment.
Then the moment is gone, and she is again swallowed by the shifting masses.
The volume of the melody increases, the music filling the room. Anxiously, curiously, behind each mask the eyes are searching.
They did not need search long. There.
The Girl is there, standing quietly off to the side of the large Ballroom. In the strange candlelight she seems to glow softly, shining with the light of the innocent heart beating within her chest. Her face is not burdened with a mask- she is free.
This is The Girl from the outside. The Girl that could save them all.
And Him? She looks around now, not caring to gaze too long at the silvery white of the Girl's dress. The brightness of the virgin hue is almost painful to look upon. The soft, shy expression of the Girl's face is strange and unfamiliar, uncomfortable to take in. Uncomfortable for one who is not used to seeing bare, timid innocence.
The Girl could save them, but one other was needed . . .
Her eyes fix on Him and linger. She fights against the force that controls her, catches them all in its current – she focuses everything on keeping her gaze on Him. She can not move, cannot even breathe for effort of concentration she dedicates to her stare. He is one of them, one of the many who belong in this ballroom. But He is different. He is also from the outside, like the Girl. His bare face holds the truth of His solidity, the fact of His constant existence and free will.
Her existence...the existence and will of all those in this Ballroom had been taken. He. . .and this Girl are their only hope.
She can no longer fight – the terrible flow tears her eyes from Him. She is again a puppet: speaking words that are not her own, hissing offers of pleasure that hold no heart or feeling. Caught in a tide of nonsensical laws and meanings along with the other masqueraders.
Caught here, in this dream. Or more, this nightmare - one that mocks the reality the masqueraders had all once lived.
The Girl curiously begins to move through the Ballroom and He sings to her. Come and find me, He sings, Come and I'll give you the world . . . just understand. Just understand what so many before you have not. Faces turn and look at The Girl as she passes. For an instant their expressions show the traces of a hope as worn as the frayed edges of their gowns and jackets. The Girl looks lost in the crowd, pushing uncertainly through the mass of people. Trying to find Her way while not quite sure where exactly She is going.
In the blink of an eye He is here and gone again, constantly ebbing and flowing from view. In silence she watches, watches from the corner of her eye as He draws closer. His eyes are constantly on The Girl, watching Her every move.
Now He catches a woman in His arms. Together they spin across the ballroom floor, but His eyes are only for The Girl as He continues to call to Her with the voice of song. The Girl looks so lost . . .could the She possibly understand? Would this Girl and Her purity save them?
They couldn't help but hope.
Now a different woman, a different dance –yet His watchfulness is the same.
There is laughter, her voice joining the harsh, awkward sound. A man leans forward, the large nose of his mask brushing against her hair, and he whispers in her ear. The dark smile returns and she looks appreciably at him, licking her lips. He smiles back and laughs, wrapping his arms around her and suggestively dragging his fingers across her hips and torso. . . she laughs again and spins out of the reach of his wandering hands.
The sweet, beckoning words of His song continues to echo around the ballroom, around the low-hanging chandeliers and flickering candles. The Girl looks, but He has vanished again.
The Girl spins around, lost, curious but frightened at the sneers and chuckles. Could The Girl not hear the silent cry behind the hollow acts performed as if rehearsed a thousand times until all meaning and significance were lost? Could She not see the desperation, even if it was only as fleeting in their expressions as a flicker of candlelight?
The Girl has to be stronger than they had been. The Girl had to understand. Please understand.
Then, He knows the chase is ended. It is time for the Two to dance.
Turning, she catches Him standing alone with bare emotion on His face. There is worry. There is uncertainty. Be strong, she silently urges, be strong . The Girl has come . . . You will free us from this spell. I know you will.
She catches His eye now, draws closer to Him. Yes, she knows Him, and there is a spark of recognition in His expression. It seems like so long ago . . . so long ago she was able to be herself without fighting. To control her words, her movements, her deeds. If only she could speak now. His eyes are so desperate, so worried.
The flow brings her toward Him, and throws her up against His shoulder. She caresses His back in a teasingly seductive way. Another woman is drawn to his other side and reflects His face in her mirror.
At least now she could be near Him. Her head rests against His shoulder and her eyes wander, looking glazed and bored. But her mind is working furiously, hoping, silently pleading. That part of herself she can still control, that part of her is still real - even if it is veiled by this puppet exterior. Even if it is masked by this lie of an existence.
Then, there is a movement, and suddenly The Girl is standing before them.
Beneath the weight of her head, she feels Him stiffen slightly. He is meeting The Girl's eyes, preparing Himself for Their dance. For words, oh, for words of her own! For control of her tongue again! She longed to, ached to softly whisper to Him:
"Reach out and touch me. Reach out, and I will be your strength - and you can be my faith."
In her heart, she prayed it. Reach out and touch me.
Somehow, then everything would be alright.
But He moves forward, steps toward The Girl, and the crowd swallows the Two from view. Both she and the other woman move away into another careless circle. Even though she could not watch, she felt Them dancing.
She felt Them.
The Girl stares into His eyes, and the beginnings of understanding are slowly dawning on Her face. They spin around and anxious faces press in. The bright eyes of those trapped in a lie peer into the face of their possible savior.
They have become nothing more than hollow echoes, forced to live this masquerade as punishment for the masquerade they made of their lives. This existence mirrors the one they chose to lead -until the day they were changed. Until the day they were torn from their parties and decadence and cursed to darkness. Cursed to exist only as scattered thoughts and empty feelings. It seemed whenever they began to lose their existences to the nothingness, they would be gathered for a ball. Again they would be solid and almost real -but with no control over their bodies or actions. If it was a choice, they would have chosen the slow torture of losing their existence to shadow rather than suffer this mockery of life.
He hadn't been changed, like them. He had been saved to save them – and this was His curse. One that was, perhaps, even worse than theirs.
But that would all change if The Girl understood.
He smiles a relieved smile. This Girl would understand.
The Girl looks at the faces around her, the many masked faces, and then back at His face in a dizzying swirl. The understanding is slowly being replaced by fear.
And then a clock chimes.
The Girl suddenly tears away from Him, tears in a maddened frenzy from all the hands that reach and beg for Her to come back.
The Girl moves toward one of the mirrored walls, searching for a way out. A way to escape.
No! - although not heard, it is a collective cry from each heart, from behind each horrible mask -No! Come back and understand and set us free!
Everyone is fighting to bring her back, to make her understand. Everyone is trying desperately to defeat the failure in His eyes.
Except her. No, she fights only to hold His gaze. His broken gaze.
Please, she begs inside, Please reach out and touch me. Please tell me there is still hope.
But there is no hope left in His eyes. He is defeated. All His hope is dead. And she feels a part of herself die silently with it.
He backs away and disappears. Back to the plane of true existence. She watches Him go, her eyes pleading for some sort of reassurance. But there is none for Him to give.
The Girl raises a chair, and swings it back.
She isn't looking at The Girl, but she senses her impending return to the darkness. In a whirl of emotion she tries to collect herself, tries to understand.
One day He will come, and the masquerade will be over.
But this thought feels hollow now, empty. So terribly empty.
She closes her eyes and a tear forms. It begins to carve its way down her cheek.
It clings to her face for a moment and then falls . . .
The chair crashes through the mirror. A sucking, ripping wind begins tearing the illusion away.
The tear is gone, torn away before it could hit the floor. She is gone. They all are vanishing back into the nothingness they have been banished to.
The wind rips the masqueraders from the Ball and returns The Girl back to the world of light.
They now no longer exist. They now no longer feel or touch. And they will not - not until He brings another.
She loses herself to the blackness with one last lingering thought:
What if . . .