Midsummer's Nightmare





It's not mine; we all know who owns it.

So what?

Sentiments of the prologue are taken from

The AC Smith novel

The Labyrinth.



"She's in the oubliette," Jareth observed. No one had gotten as far as this disturbing girl, who was too old to be turned into a goblin. Jareth examined her face in his crystal. She was too old to be turned to a goblin; too young to be kept by him damn her innocent eyes. Too young to keep, he kept telling himself. Too young, too young…

She had outwitted him, for he had underestimated her. He would not make that same mistake twice. He had watched her when she celebrated her victory, there in her room with her compatriots. Time was on his side, and he could afford to allow her this small celebration. After all, she had done what no other had. She had reached the center of the Labyrinth. There would be time enough to clarify to the girl the penalties she would have to pay for having incurred the wrath of the Goblin King.

He watched the girl, too old to be turned to a goblin, too young to keep. He would remain as he was for now, and she would be given time… time to grow old enough….


Chapter 1. Living arrangements

For a casting call, things were going pretty normally. There had been one fainting, one retching, and one girl went blank even though she had the script in her shaking hands. If the director had not insisted on an unknown for the part, the casting director would have hired a soap opera actress who'd shown interest. Sarah Williams was the only girl on the stage that didn't look ready to leap out a window at the first opportunity. The casting director had only allowed her to read as a favor to her mother, he had not expected her to be poised. He had not expected her to be talented. He had not expected her to be capable of moving him. Yet she had. She had moved his soul as she glided, seemingly on air, across the stage speaking the lines without the aide of the script. Her voice was resonant, holding the attention of even stagehands on hand. She was the only person on the stage who seemed completely relaxed with the language of the play; "Very nice, Miss Williams, who represents you?"

Linda seated next to him and watching as well whispered; "My agent." She already had the agent's card in her hand ready to hand over to the casting director.

The casting director nodded, made a notation and stood up. "I want to thank you all for coming out. Miss Williams, if you would stay, the rest of you are dismissed. Again, thank you." He waited while the disappointed actresses and would be actresses departed. When only Sarah was left on stage he turned to Linda. "Looks like I've got my two queens." He said with a broad grin.

Linda smiled from the front row to her daughter on the stage.


Linda stood beside Sarah as she dialed the number to her father's office. It had been unplanned, but she was still enjoying the turn of events and the fact that Sarah, a novice, had beaten out more expirecanced actresses in snagging a prime role. Linda had been so pleased that Robert had consented for Sarah to take her spring break in New York with her, it was her fist year in collage, and the actress had seen so many wonderful changes in her daughter. Being between shows, Linda had time to show Sarah the sites of what she called, "The Real New York." She had received the casting call the day after Sarah had arrived, and had almost refused to go to the reading, but Jeremy had prevailed. He'd been right, Sarah would return to Robert's and school, and Linda had bill that she needed a paycheck to meet. That and it was perhaps the last chance to work with a very special director, one whom most actors admired. She'd known that she and Jeremy were a shoe in for the roles of Theseus and Hippolyta. That had been a forgone conclusion, as they always seemed to get the parts they were after. When the casting director had said he was having an open casting reading for Tatiana, Linda had only been half serious when she suggested that he allow Sarah to read the part, saying the girl did have a SAG card. Even she had been taken by surprise with Sarah's delivery and stage presences. Still breaking the news to Robert was unnerving at best for poor Sarah and Linda wanted her to know she supported her. The phone booth in the busy deli seemed like a strange place to give the news to Robert, but then it was a strange day. Sarah would have loved to have glass door to close and converse in private to her father. Linda would have none of that. She wanted to crow and was standing at the partition waiting.

"Robert Williams' office," the voice over the line barked.

"Molly, its Sarah, is my father in?" She asked with polite timidity, her father's secretary put the fear of God into her. She'd much rather stand on a stage, totally naked, before a house of total strangers, than face Molly McDermott.

"Are you in trouble? Did that lousy excuse of a mother of yours get your can tossed in jail?" The gravely voice barked, demanding answers.

Linda heard the disparaging remark, pulled the phone out of Sarah's hand and barked back. "No, I got her a job you hag."

The line was quiet. Linda winced, and whispered. "Hello Robert." She changed her tone to honey sweet.

"Linda," Robert's voice was tense. "Put Sarah back on the line."

Linda handed the phone back to her daughter and mouthed. 'Sorry.' There had been a long war that seemed to be waged between Linda and Molly. It had begun long before Linda had left Robert, sometime after Sarah had been born. Molly had never cared for Linda, and Linda reciprocated the feelings. Every chance they got, they would resort to calling names and acting like battling tots in a playpen.

"Hi, Daddy," Sarah greeted him keeping her tone calm and pleasant.

"What kind of job?" he asked not wasting time on small talk and pleasantries. Robert Williams had made his fortune on being a no nonsense lawyer. He was known to get to the point quickly and sort things out.

"A role in a play," she felt the quiver in her voice and worked at keeping it under control.

"What role?" His voice was stern. "What Play? What happened to going to school? You were only going to be in New York for Spring break, or was I mistaken?"

Sarah licked her lips that had gone dry, "Tatiana; in Midsummer's Night Dream." She waited while the quiet filled the space she was seated in. "Daddy? Say something."

"Put your mother on the line." He said.

Sarah held the phone out to Linda, who made a face and took the phone; "Yes, dear?" She listened, and waited while the man she'd once been wed to read her the riot act. She rolled her eyes, and Sarah snickered thinking how alike mother and daughter were. That was exactly the reaction she'd had over the years to most of Karen's tantrums. "Robert, your blood pressure," she sighed. When there was a lull she quickly said. "Sarah can stay with me, and I'll get her enrolled in NYC! Her credits will transfer," she held the receiver out as there was a second barrage of noise coming from Robert.

Sarah could hear him cursing them both out.

"Robert!" Linda admonished. "Be reasonable, she's got the part others couldn't! And she did it on a first reading," she softened her voice. "Robert, give her a chance. She's really good, and this is a break that most other young actresses would kill to get. You should have heard her Robert; darling…she's better than I am! This could be her first real break; it's an opportunity of a life time." She put the receiver close to her ear, listened and began to smile. Sarah knew that look, Linda had once again wore Robert down, and he had surrendered. Linda giggled. "Don't worry, I'll have Manny represent her, you know what a lovely little shark he is. Yes, she'll live with me, and when the season is over, she'll begin classes at NYC and live in the dorms if she wants to. I'm only a few blocks away. Will that make you happy?" She growled lightly and whispered. "Robert, I don't think that would make your little wify-kins happy to hear you make that kind of suggestion to me." She giggled girlishly. "Fine, have it your way, any time you're in town." She flirted outrageously with her ex-husband. Handing the phone to her daughter she said, "Robert wants a final word."

Sarah took the phone, "Daddy?"

"Promise me you'll be a good girl, not go wild. I don't want to come to New York and bail you out of jail." He said. "Why make Molly's day?"

"I love you too, Daddy." Sarah smiled. She listened to five more minutes of lecture and then said her good byes. Turning to her mother she giggled. "You've got a roomie for the summer!"

Linda nodded, "I am only too happy to play host to you." She pulled her daughter out of the phone booth, and headed back to their seats and lunch. "We'll have a great time."

Looking at her sandwich, Sarah cleared her throat. "Won't it make things rather awkward with Jeremy?"

Licking potato salad off her lips, Linda shook her head. "I don't see why it should." She winked at the girl seated across from her. "Maybe we can double date."

Sarah took a relieved breath. "I was worried you were going to suggest something a little more risqué."

"A threesome?" Linda whispered with a wicked gleam in her big green eyes. "Maybe when you're a tad older," she teased. "I don't think my leather boustie will fit you as yet."

Not certain if her mother was kidding or not, Sarah tired to eat again. As if cued, Jeremy entered the deli and moved swiftly to sit next to Sarah and took a bite of her raised sandwich. "What did I miss?"

"Daddy yelling," Sarah said pulling her sandwich back.

Linda however was not through teasing the girl. "Sarah suggesting we do a threesome."

Nearly spritzing her gulp of soda, Sarah blurted out, "I did not!"

Jeremy, knowing how warped Linda could get smiled at the girl and crooned to her. "Come on baby light my fire."

"You two are sick," Sarah pushed the rest of her sandwich and French fries away.

Jeremy pulled it toward himself snickering, as he took a large bite out of the uneaten half of sandwich he mouthed to her. "I know she's kidding, kid." He swallowed down the mouthful of turkey on rye. "You're too smart to get pulled into that kind of game. And your mother is not nearly as hep as she'd like the world to think."

Sarah changed the subject, quickly and quietly. "Well that SAG card you got me for my birthday is going to come in handy."

"Told you," Linda said batting her pretty lashes. "And your father thought I was being silly."

Jeremy pilfered a fry from Sarah's order. "So is the kid going stay with you, Luv?"

"That's what we were just discussing," Sarah sighed. "Won't it," she looked for the right phrase. "Crimp your style?"

Both older actors chuckled softly, however it was Linda who reached over and took Sarah's hands. "Baby, during rehearsals and the run of a play we're too dogged tired to do anything more than give each other a warm handshake."

Jeremy nodded; "It's sad but true, Sarah. We are not as young as we pretend to be, and if we want no dark circles under our eyes, it's early to bed and early to rise, hard work and classes to keep fit." He looked over at Linda. "They announced Oberon after you left." He said with a swagger having information that they didn't.

"Who?" Both women asked.

Jeremy wiggled his brows and Linda laughed. "They picked Robin Hayden! I knew they would." She smiled at Sarah, "Daddy won't have anything to worry about. You're not Robin's type."

Sarah thought her mother had lost her mind; she turned to Jeremy who whispered. "I am."

"Oh." Sarah sipped her soda.

"What else did you learn?" Linda picked up a fry. "Did you learn who's doing the costuming?" She stopped just before the fry went into her mouth, and dropped it down. "Oh no, not her!"

"I'm afraid so, I've signed us all up for dance classes to keep our figures." Jeremy sighed. "But if I were you , darling, I'd lay off the fries."

"Dido," Linda pushed the fries out of her reach.

"Dido," Jeremy said and then smiled. "She's going to love Sarah."

Linda smiled. "Yes, she loves young nubile and nimble bodies." Her voice had gone wistful, her eyes held a moment of sadness at the passage of time. Though she was slender, she was unmistakably no longer an ingénue. She had to take the role of the Amazon Queen instead of a role as one of the young lovers, not that she minded. She'd had a turn playing Helena and now it was someone else's turn, and that was as it should be. Still looking at her daughter she envied her the firm young body that she'd been graced with.

Jeremy reached over, clasped the hand of the woman across from him. "I love your body."

Sarah felt a bit like a fifth wheel at that moment. She'd witnessed many such moments between the two actors over the years. Whenever things seemed to get tense, Jeremy would come in and smooth things out for Linda. He'd shown his devotion countless times; so many that Sarah had to wonder why it was they had not married as the world had expected them to.

Linda whispered, "I'm not fooling myself, darling. I'm not a kid anymore. Soon I'll be playing older aunts and grandmothers', while you'll still be a strong male leading man. My leading lady days are drawing to an end, and that is as it should be."

"You will always be my leading lady." He murmured; "Always." He raised her hand and kissed it.

"Jeremy," Linda's eyes were shinning with admiration and love. "You're a good man."

"I'm a smart man," He countered. "You and I fit; I enjoy doing plays that you're in as well. You make me look damned good."

Linda smiled, pulled her hand back and scolded him. "You fool." She picked up one last fry, "I swear, my last until the play run is finished."

Jeremy picked up one as well smiling at her as they both took a bite of the soon to be forbidden food.


Linda's apartment was actually an old brownstone in the village, only five short blocks to Washington Square Park. It was in an old brownstone building that had seen better days, but Linda loved it. It was large and airy, a rarity in the village, and filled with the mementos of her career. She once teased Sarah that being on the third floor was how she kept her figure, having to walk up the flights. The apartment had once been part of the house below, but had become a rental in the early seventies. Linda kept telling Sarah that some day she was going to just buy the entire building! So far that had not happened, and Sarah knew it likely would not unless Linda's fortunes changed. While her mother made a decent living as an actress, she'd never become rich for her efforts.

Sarah loved her mother's apartment almost as much as Linda did. She loved the sounds and smells of New York. It was exciting and new and adventurous, and if there was one thing Sarah Williams loved it was having adventures. The room that she'd used over the years when she came to visit was filled now with things that belonged to Sarah. It was different from her room back at the Victorian her father had. Her room back home had been the same for years, and made her feel babyish sometimes. She'd put her toys and games away not too many years ago, after one stormy night. But the room just held onto its youthful aura. This room was more grownup and gave the young woman a feeling of being more on an adult footing. Even the bed was more grown up; it was full-sized instead of a tiny little twin bed. Instead of a myriad of stuffed toys on the bed, this one had pillows of every shape and size. On the walls were playbill photos, and posters from the plays she'd seen with her mother or that her mother and Jeremy had stared in.

Sarah found her mother sitting in the parlor, on the phone with Manny the agent. She was laughing and flirting playfully with him as was her custom. Manny had been her agent from the time she first came to New York, and would be until one of them dropped dead, Sarah was sure. She knew better than to disturb her mother during one of these calls and went to the window overlooking the street below. There were children milling about and young people strolling on the lane, holding hands. Sarah felt at home.

Linda enfolded the girl, her cheek to that of her daughter. She smiled and whispered, "Manny could not be happier, he said representing you will give him great pleasure. He's absolutely crowing about now representing two generations of Williams' actresses."

"I'm glad; I know he'll protect my interests the way he does yours." Sarah commented.

"I know he'll make sure you are seen by the best in the business. You're on your way now, baby." She gave the girl a squeeze.

Sarah was still watching the children on the street playing games. "I'm on my way." 'Where,' she asked herself.

Linda nodded, "In a week we start rehearsal, and then in two weeks Dido will descend upon us like the locus." Linda closed her eyes. "I'm so happy. You and I in a play together, it's my dream come true." Linda hugged her daughter closer.

Until that moment Sarah had been happy, she had been content. She'd heard her mother brag to others that Sarah would follow in her footsteps to the footlights. It had been her dream; she'd been telling Sarah this for years. Her dream, but was it Sarah's?