DISCLAIMER: I. own. nothing.
NOTES OF AN AUTHORESS: Sorry for the delay and the very short chapter. But next one will be better! Now remember, reviewers get a free Jareth!
Spring was in full swing, with daffodils and tulips blossoming in every garden and birds flying in from the south.
Three weeks, four days, fourteen hours and twenty one minutes.
Sarah watched the clock on her bedside table tick and heard the church tower chime the new hour.
Three weeks, four days, thirteen hours and twenty-something minutes.
The wedding was looming closer and closer and although her father did all he could to get Sarah to accept the idea of a new woman in his life Sarah just couldn't grasp it. She had always nurtured a secret hope that her father and mother would get back together and the wedding would stop that possibility for good.
Three weeks, four days, thirteen hours and fifteen minutes.
The clock ticked and Sarah, tired of moping around in her bedroom, leapt out of bed and ran downstairs, out of the front door and into the spring sunlight. Karen was there, working in the garden wearing a silly wide brimmed straw hat, a pink blouse and a white sweater knotted around her shoulders. Her face was red from the effort of weeding the garden and beads of sweat gleamed on her forehead. Still she smiled at Sarah as she approached who merely glared at her resentfully. "Can I go to the park?" Sarah asked.
"No, sweetie I think that you need to wait for your father to be able to take you."
Sarah shot her soon-to-be-stepmother a hate filled glance and stomped around to the side of the house, out of her range of sight. She got to her usual playing spot and sat down, taking out her battered copy of Labyrinth, settling down to read. But this time the words failed to soothe her as they usually did, this time she was burning with infant rage. How dare she? How dare Karen come into her life, into her home and take her father from her? And more than that, Sarah was old enough to see that since Karen arrived her mother's visits were less frequent.
It was all her fault.
And so, without thinking Sarah jumped to her feet and shoved the book into one of the deep pockets of her red dress. Checking to make sure her stepmother wasn't watching she slipped through a gap in the garden fence and ran for the park.
It was exhilerating. Sarah revelled in her new-found freedom as she ran through the green park, unfettered by her father and that...Karen. She kicked leaves and chased dogs and swung on the swings and played all on her own.
It was brilliant.
Finally tiring she ran away from the gatherings of children and parents and ran to the wooded, more secluded area of the park where she sat at the base of a giant oak, reading her book and utterly content with the world.
Then the acorn fell on her head.
Her hand flew to where it had struck and she looked up, expecting to see a squirrel but instead she saw a blond haired boy sitting on one of the higher branches. Sarah stared, open mouthed with shock wondering how on earth he had got up there. "Hello Sarah!" Jareth called down, standing up on the branch, sticking his arms out for balance.
Sarah wheeled around and craned her neck to look at him. "Careful! You'll fall!" She cried, unconsciously echoing the warning that Karen had given her so many times.
"Don't be silly! I don't fall." And with this he rose onto the balls of his feet like a diver and jumped. Sarah screamed as he fell, expecting him to splatter on the ground but he didn't. He seemed to fall in slow motion, having plenty of time to do several mid-air somersaults before landing neatly in front of her, a broad, knowing grin on his face.
"Jareth!" Sarah squealed with a nervous giggle. Then suddenly, inexplicaply tears welled up in her eyes and she sobbed out, "You could have died!"
Jareth looked very disconcerted at this and, as Sarah doubled over as more sobs wracked her body he put an arm around her shoulders. "What's going on Sarah?"
"KAREN!" Sarah screamed. "Karen and Daddy are, are getting married!"
"What's wrong with that?" Jareth enquired, bemused.
Sarah wheeled around and shoved him away from her with such force that he almost fell over. "EVERYTHING!" she howled. "Mummy never comes to visit anymore, Daddy never pays me any attention; it's Karen this, Karen that. And Karen! Karen ruins everything." She took a few deep breaths to steady herself and continued in a quiet whisper. "She says that I should be with children my own age. She says that it's not healthy that I spend so much time pretending."
"She said that to you?" Jareth asked, his voice low.
Sarah shook her head, turning away from him and hugging herself. "To Daddy. I heard them one night."
Sarah kept her gaze on the grass, fighting back tears as Jareth came and put his arms around her. "There's nothing wrong with pretending Sarah."
"I know. I know."
Then a voice blared out across the park, a frantic and desperate voice. A very familiar voice.
"Sarah? Sarah? Sarah answer me!"
"Daddy?" Sarah called, pulling herself free of Jareth and moving into the sunlight.
"Oh God Sarah, thank heavens you're all right! We were were worried sick." Her father took her hand and led her home.
When she looked back Jareth was gone.