'10:01' read the old clock and it was brilliant in the shades of growing darkness. She stared it, burning the numbers into her mind, the glowing red dashes formed in lines and squarish circles as they filled her brain. A moment passed and then it read '10:02' brightly.

She closed her eyes.

The clock changed again.

*
Clock

Written by PallaPlease.

© May 15, 2001.
*

How, she wondered blankly, do you forget everything? How could she do as Karen - the not-so-evil-stepmother - often bid her pleadingly? What were the words...?

"Act your age," she would scold, "Behave like a proper young lady."

She rolled over onto her back and, instead of staring emptily at the digital clock, she found herself staring emptily at the white-washed ceiling above her head. Act...why must Karen constantly scold her for play-acting as a queen...and then turn right around and ask her to 'act' like an adult? Much as she was beginning to like the woman, she had to admit...that was rather hypocrital of her. And whoever said she wanted to be proper young lady? How boring that would be! Although she had to admit to herself - rather reluctantly - that most everything seemed boring compared to the Underground, with its eerily lovely king and his twisted, scheming labyrinth. No, she corrected mentally and with a frown, Labyrinth - capitalized, for it was not some sort of simple maze. It was Labyrinth and that was that.

Often she was caught daydreaming, as Karen put it, and the woman would grin, saying something about cute boys. It was those moments that she actually realized that Karen would never be a mother - but, perhaps, she could be a friend. And sometimes she would be thinking of a boy, but he was not a boy...no, indeed, a far cry from that. He was a mystery...almost...what was that word? She frowned at the ceiling until she heard it whisper in her mind. An enigma. He was strange, but compelling. Sixteen-year olds, she quickly reminded herself, are far too young to even consider having crushes on adults, or whatever.

But then again, sixteen-year olds don't defeat Labyrinth, now, do they?

Grabbing her pillow from beneath her head and forcefully smashing it against her face before letting her arms fall loosely to the sides of her body, she sighed grievously, sound muffled and arms sinking into the puff of her mattress' comforter, being absorbed by the softness. Bite your tongue, she snarled at herself, for even thinking about, of all people (or whatever), that arrogant bastard Jareth! Stupid Goblin King, befuddling her brain and mixing her emotions into a nice, smooth confusion.

Nice. God, she hated that word. It was such a bland, meaningless word. Yet it seemed to perfectly describe her current mental state. Nice. Empty, confused, hurt, panicky, perfect. Nice. Nice, nice, nice, nice.

She could call Hoggle and Ludo and Sir Didymus and silly Ambrosius to keep her company. That she knew. Maybe that was the only thing that could keep her from feeling so utterly miserable. Why was she feeling this way? It couldn't be because of that cruel King of the Goblins. It simply couldn't...

Though she opened her mouth to call them, she thought better of it when, out of the hallway, a soft crying sound emerged from Toby's nursery, the wailing wafting almost soundlessly below her door. She was fully aware that she could just permit her parents the joy of caring for his late-night fears. He was only an infant, and the recent Labyrinth experiences made her feel...attached to the child, as if they weren't brother and sister, but something more - perhaps son and mother by spirit.

The clock changed again and she wasn't in her room; she was hovering by Toby's crib, then on the floor with the weeping toddler cradled in her arms, legs crossed at the shins, knees bent and folded. He was still crying, and his tears slowed as she sang something she remembered. She was only partially startled to realize she was singing the song Jareth had told her at the make-believe ball; the one promising her mornings painted of gold and a thousand other things. Toby ceased his sobbing.

He fell asleep against her as the minutes drifted dreamily away, and then she was singing the other song, and then she was repeating them both, over and over, until they stopped being individual songs and blended into one lullaby that tasted of love and emotions once foreign to her heart.

Something stirred by the large windows and she glanced up to see the flash of a white owl's wing.

Back in her room, the time shifted sadly.

* * * ~ ~ ~ * * *