I don't own Labyrinth.
I've tried to catch all spelling errors. Excuse the minor ones? Danke.
Edit, April 28, 2007: I did actually notice a mistake I made. Originally I had Anna at age seven in the beginning, and when she was explaining her parents to Merlin, the photo was taken when she was five, and she said it was taken two years before her parents died, going on to say it happened a month prior to getting Merlin. That wouldn't make sense, considering in the final cut she's nine when she gets Merlin. Whoops?
Girl's Best Friend
He remembered the day that his family-two senior citizens and their recently orphaned granddaughter-had picked him up. The girl, a pretty young thing of nine years old, with flowing hair of a hue so gold Goldilocks would tremble, had smiled politely at the smaller, fluffier puppies giving her the sweet eye. She would nod her head when the peppy receptionist who had opted to accompany the family would show her another dog, open another cage, read another name tag. All were adorable, that was undeniable, but they didn't have it.
And then, coming to the very end of the line with no best friend in sight, the girl's big blue eyes landed on a pair of round black ones.
Immediately, she ran the way to the cage, falling to her khaki-covered knees and, much to the annoyance of the receptionist, pulled the cage door open, motioning for the small sheep-dog to come. He did, and it was love at first sniff.
And so the family-grandparents, granddaughter, and dog-left the Liberty Mills Dog Pound, a list of helpful tips and a standard black collar their companions.
It seems the instant the family all settled themselves into the car, rain begin to pour heavily from the sky. And despite the fact that gray clouds and pounding rain drops usually reminded the young girl of the day she lost her parents, today was a day of celebration. She smiled widely at her new friend, both buckled safely in the back seat, and lifted her small hand to gently ruffle the fur on his head.
"Hi," She said, her still-present smile showing two missing teeth, "I'm Anna. Do you have a name?"
Did he have a name? In his short, year long life, the dog hadn't been called anything, really. He remembered being born, seeing the larger dog that nursed him, and then being dropped off at that cold place in a cold cage on a cold day. He remembered being referred to as the "nameless one" by the workers in green Polo shirts and high-waisted black pants. He remembered three solid months of Hell.
But no name?
In his own little doggy way, he had rested his head on Anna's lap, gently licking her hand. The way her stomach shook with giggles brought him joy, and he barked merrily. The grandmother had turned around to face him, from her spot in the passenger seat, and had flashed him a truly loving smile. She shook her head side to side, murmuring words of love and admiration, despite only knowing him for fifteen minutes.
"Granma," Anna had begun, her palm resting lightly on the dog's head, "What's the name of that guy from that story you told me? Marvin?"
The older woman covered her mouth with her hand, laughing joyfully, before shaking her head. "No Anna," She had replied, reaching over to scratch the dog's ear, "His name was Merlin. How many times have I told you that story and you still call him Marvin?" She was only toying with the young girl, of course, as her husband of forty-two years kept his hands on the wheel, joining in on the laughter.
"Merlin." Anna repeated, locking eyes with the puppy in her lap, "I'll call you Merlin. How do you like that?"
He responded with a lick of her cheek.
It hadn't taken long for the newly christened Merlin to settle in to life at the Worshire household. The framed photographs lined Anna's wall became friendly, and on the third night of Merlin's life with her, she had reached above her bed, and taken down a black-and-white photo. Patting the bed so that Merlin would jump up and sit with her, she held the picture close to both of their faces, smiling.
"That's my Momma," She had whispered, pointing to a beautiful blonde woman with a dazzling smile, "And that's my Dad." At this, Merlin noticed a tall, handsome man with dark brown hair. His arm was draped lovingly around his wife's shoulders, and Anna, a mere five years old, was seated between the two. "This was taken four years before..." She paused, looking deep into Merlin's eyes. "It happened a month ago, I'm still not use to telling it. But, we were driving on the highway, coming here to visit my grandparents. It was dark and raining and we didn't see the driver heading down the wrong lane, straight to us."
She paused again, allowing Merlin to lick her hand encouragingly.
"My parents were in the front seats, and I was in the back. The doctor told Granma that's the only reason I'm alive. He hit us," Here she demonstrated, hitting her left hand hard against her right hand, "And ruined the front of our car. Nobody knows that I heard, but the doctor said my Daddy died in the car and Momma died at the hospital. So I came to live here." Looking to her door, Anna wiped at her eyes, before releasing a sigh. "I really love my grandparents, but I miss my parents a lot."
Merlin had his head resting in her lap, as he took in the story, but Anna jumped up, smiling.
"Oh look at me!" She exclaimed, straightening the white shirt she wore. "Forget this depressing stuff; let's go get some orange juice!"
Merlin complied readily.
And so the years went on. Merlin stayed by Anna's side as she transitioned from elementary to junior high, and finally became a freshman in high school. He watched as dozens of boys tried to court Anna, newly fifteen and gorgeous as ever. And he watched as Anna longed for a relationship with her absentee mother, something all girls should have.
Being a dog, Merlin wasn't too frightened when Anna became weak, or when she started playing soccer less, or even when she would spend whole days under the comforter on her bed. But when Anna started to become sick at all hours of the night, and finally had to leave the house, sobbing and begging for mercy from God, he knew something was wrong.
She had left early with her grandmother and arrived late, and Merlin had spent the day with her grandfather, watching the news and both staring hungry-eyed at the black phone. When the phone would jump with noise, Anna's grandfather would jump higher to answer it, and Merlin's own shoulders sagged as the old man's did, when he realized it was not Anna or her grandmother.
Merlin went to sleep that night, his first night without Anna, and dreaded the morning. Because, in his own doggy way, he knew something was wrong.
It's such an ugly word, isn't it? Someone says cancer, and you probably get a bad mental image, a sour taste in your mouth, don't you?
When Merlin first heard the term, he was confused at best, but he knew by the way Granma said it and the way Granpa received it, that 'cancer' was not a good word. Not a good word at all.
He didn't see much of Anna for a few weeks; only when she came every now and again with Granma to collect magazines, books, puzzles-anything to distract her. Then one day, Granpa put the bright red collar around Merlin's usually bare neck, and hooked on the orange leesh, taking Merlin to the car and setting him up in the passenger seat. It was a special day, Granpa had told the dog encouragingly, for it was Anna's sixteenth birthday, and the doctors allowed Merlin to visit her.
When Merlin found Anna, he didn't like what he saw. His free-spirited Anna lay limp in a cold room, tubes going in an out of her. Her eyelids sagged and her skin was thin and sallow. Despite the nurse's objections, Anna motioned for Merlin to join her on the bed, and when he did is when he noticed Anna's beautiful golden locks were no longer present. Anna laughed as Merlin licked her small hand, but the sound wasn't joyous and merry. It was a grim sound, a sound of which the owner knew she would not be able to experience for much longer.
The funeral was held on a lovely spring day, with bluebirds chirping and the sun shining.
It was uncoventional, yes, but Merlin was invited to the whole service. He was as quiet as a mouse in the church, only being a disruption when he walked up to the casket, sniffing sadly, and pawwed at the wood. Granpa Worshire, holding back his tears, brought the seven year old pup back to the pew, where he jumped up and sat next to Granma, licking her cheek lovingly.
At the burial site, as everyone was preparing to leave, Merlin stayed behind, scratching at the ground below him. In his own doggy way, he knew Anna was gone, but in his own doggy way, he wasn't ready to accept that fact.
The Worshires were getting older, Merlin knew that, so it wasn't as much as a suprise to him when the man with the salt-and-pepper hair came with a beautiful raven haired woman to pick him up.
The Williams' are very nice people, Granma explained, while Granpa handed Merlin's bagged belongings to the man, with a lovely daughter, the one Anna used to baby-sit, remember?
And as the Williams' family car drove away from the Worshire household, Merlin alone in the back, the dog couldn't help but hang his head and silently weap for Anna.
Granma was right. Sarah Williams was a lovely girl.
Not only did thirteen year old Sarah understand the history of Merlin's name, she celebrated it, as she did with most things fantasy. Her mother was an actress, she had told Merlin, and that's where she developed her love of fantasy and adventure.
And so Merlin and Sarah became fast friends. Sarah always gave Merlin a lick of her ice cream, and Merlin turned out to be the perfect shoulder to cry on when Linda Williams packed a leather suitcase and left the household for good. He listened to Sarah silently scream about Robert's new girlfriend, who turned into Robert's new wife, who produced Robert's new son.
And even though Karen made Merlin stay in the garage, he still couldn't see why Sarah despised her so much. And the baby boy was a real sweetheart, Merlin thought.
It was just another rainy night, when Merlin was stuck in the garage. Robert and Karen were going out, and just before Robert got in the car, he made sure Merlin could slip back into the warm house, undetected by Karen.
When Merlin joyfully padded up the stairs, he stopped suddenly just before the adults' room. Lifting his wet, black nose into the air, he sniffed, as quietly as he could.
There was someone in the house.
Turning the corner just slightly, Merlin peaked into the bedroom. Sarah was there, her back turned to him, and Merlin could tell by the way she stood that she was scared. Adjusting himself a bit more, Merlin's eyes fell onto the figure. A tall man, with wild blonde hair and a flowing cape, stood before Sarah. He cocked his head, twirled a crystal (of which Merlin was tempted to chew), and finally, pointed Sarah in the direction of the window. Merlin watched as both the man and Sarah walked through the window, and as Merlin tried to catch up, he found that the window became just that. A window.
Sarah and the man were gone.
Frantic, Merlin ran around the room, going to Toby's crib. Upon inspection, he realized that the baby was gone as well. He knew.
The man had Toby, and Sarah wanted him back.
It was a few hours until Merlin heard Sarah calling for Toby. Merlin had been asleep under the adults' bed, and stayed put until the morning, when Karen was gone and he could sneak out to Sarah's room. When he got to Sarah's room, he found her aimlessly flipping through the red book, of which she had read to Merlin quite a lot. Her gray-green eyes were rimmed with tears, and she kept repeating the same words to herself, under her breath.
'Oh, what have I done?'
And Merlin watched as his new owner's actions mimicked that of his old owner's actions. Spirited to weak, happy to sad, energetic to reserved. When Sarah became too overwhelmed, Merlin would watch as she called into her mirror, watch as creatures filled her bedroom; a dwarf, a beast, a valiant knight. They all sang praises of the "girl who bested the King", and Sarah would join them, but as soon as they left, she would break down again.
This carried on for two more years, until the night of Sarah's high school graduation. She sat in front of her mirror, with a bold look on her face, and spoke the one name Merlin had recognized from the book, but not in the way Sarah said it at that moment. She spoke that name with a mixture of love and hate, and when the man, who Merlin remembered as the one from that night when everyone disappeared, came into Sarah's room, Merlin watched as he teased, as he mocked Sarah. Then Merlin watched as both parties warmed up to the idea of each other. And Merlin watched as the man kissed Sarah, before they both disappeared.
The window in Sarah's room suddenly broke, and a trace of blood appeared on the carpet. Footprints were left, and Merlin barked loudly, on instinct. When Robert and Karen Williams ran up to Sarah's room, all that was left was planted evidence, and a barking, broken-hearted dog, abandoned for the third time in his life.
As Sarah Williams was pronounced a missing person, and the case was left unanswered, before finally being put away, Merlin was the only person left in the realm of the mortals that knew the truth. And on rainy nights-much like the one that Anna lost her parents, that Sarah lost her mortality-, Merlin would sneak into Sarah's old room, now a study that Robert avoided sternly, and wait. Five minutes would pass. The shimmer of light would appear where Sarah's mirror used to sit. A minute or two was all it took for the figure to come into view.
Sarah would tap her two fingers against her thigh, and Merlin would rush over happily. They would share a moment or two of love and memories, when the man, now Sarah's husband and friend, would appear, ready to take Sarah back. The silver band on her left ring finger would shine in the light, and on this visit, she would place her hand to her stomach and smile knowingly, as Merlin sniffed at the life forming inside her. She would kiss the top of his head, before the couple would disappear once again, much like they did those three years ago.
Seven year old Toby would come into the study, ignoring the odd feeling he got, and he would call the aging canine to his side, and they would both head to Toby's room, where Merlin was now allowed to sleep, dirty paws or not.
And whenever Merlin saw the two owls flying around the neighborhhod, he would smile to himself, in his own doggy way.
For Anna. For Sarah. For Jareth.