A Place To Forget

Chapter 1

"This is an oubliette, Labyrinth's full of 'em. It's a place you put people… to forget about 'em!"

Sarah snapped her book shut and blinked into the glaring sunlight of the park sprawling in front of her. As her eyes adjusted to the bright, glittering waters of the lake, she heard a sigh, and felt her current pillow steal the book out of her hand.

"Hey…" Sarah protested half-heartedly as her boyfriend of more than a year, Alex, thumbed through the well-used novel. He brushed his short, sandy hair away from his gray eyes so he could skim without obstruction.

"I don't understand why you read this over and over," he shrugged, still looking at the pages flipping past, as if expecting an answer to fall out from between the binding and into his lap.

"It's a good story," Sarah explained. While this might be true, she didn't dare include the reason of 6 years past for why it caught her attention so.

Alex raised a brow. "And pizza's pretty great, but I don't eat it every day," he rationalized, flipping to somewhere in the middle and reading a few lines.

"That's hardly a fair comparison." She rolled her eyes and made a grab for the book but Alex held it up, still reading bits and pieces as he kept it at arm's length.

After a few minutes, Sarah huffed and moved back into a comfortable position as Alex continued skipping forward and back through the pages, reading snippets. Somewhere near the beginning of the book, he fell into a fit of laughter.

"What's so funny?" Sarah asked, bewildered. She couldn't find anything that hilariously funny with any part of the book. Maybe because it all hit too close to home.

"So this girl wishes away her brother to goblins, of all things, and they actually come and get him? I know you're into this kinda stuff, but isn't this a bit on the kiddy side?" Alex snorted a little in humor and continued to scan the page.

Sarah bristled. So maybe she had been a spoiled brat at 15, but he didn't have a right to call her out on it. She about opened her mouth to retort when she realized that he had no clue what his words meant by that. And words have power… Sarah mused. She forced herself to think of it just as a book and see his point of view before she answered. "Maybe. She didn't know it was really going to do anything. She didn't mean it. And as far as goblins coming to take her brother, well, it's fantasy, so it fits." She still sounded a little too defensive.

Alex grimaced at her tone. "Sorry honey. That came out wrong. I'm sure it's a great book," he placated, kissing her on the cheek. This was not the way this afternoon was supposed to go. He glanced over at the now empty picnic basket. He took her on a picnic, as he did on occasion on the weekends when studying wasn't too much in the way. When he reclined against the oak tree and she had leaned up against him, he was hoping they'd cuddle, kiss some, and just chat idly as the afternoon passed by. However, Sarah seemed completely content with cuddling up to him and then keeping her sole attention on her book. The silence had been causing the little box in his pocket to press deeper against his leg, keeping him agonizingly aware of what he had planned to do and how his perfect day wasn't quite what he had planned. And after that tiff, she had snuck the damned book back and continued to read.

He sighed again and tried to bring her attention back to him. "Did you enjoy the picnic?" he ventured, his hand slowly inching its way into his pocket.

Sarah smiled up at him. "Yes, it was very good, thank you." He almost didn't remember why he was mad at her when she looked at him like that, but her attention went back to the well-worn pages and he made a face in agitation. He released his grip on the little box and eased his hand back out of his pocket. Maybe later, he slumped in disappointment. She was undisturbed by the movement.

Still attempting to spend some actual time with his love, he requested, albeit a little grudgingly, "Read to me?" He might as well find out what had her attention better than he had.

As her lips quirked in surprised amusement, Sarah nodded and flipped back to the beginning, reading from the start. Alex smiled a little back, relaxing to the sweet melody that was her voice. He even managed to pay attention to the story, although he continued to think it was a little juvenile.

It was well into the evening when Sarah began to read of the masquerade. Her voice caught as she started, sounding a little strained after. Her cheeks looked flushed. Alex caught the obvious change and rolled his eyes a little when the reason soon fell from her lips as the ball progressed.

"Sarah," he interrupted. The box was in his hand. He shifted so that she was forced to sit up and he moved so he could face her. The book shifted in her hands as she peered questioningly at him and then looked struck as she saw the dark blue, velvet box in his hands. He opened it to reveal a simple gold ring with a round diamond set in it. Any jewelry he had ever given her, earrings for Christmas, a necklace for her birthday, had been gold, and she hadn't the heart to tell him that she preferred silver. She stared at the ring as if it might jump up and bite her.

"Sarah, will you marry me?" Alex asked, searching her face, hoping she would look back up at him with a smile.

She looked back up, looking more shocked than willing to smile. "Alex… I… I don't know what to say…" she hesitated.

"Say yes," he smiled, starting to second-guess himself.

"I love you, Alex, I really do," she began, "but don't you think we should wait for school to finish? Isn't this a little fast?"

"You moved fast enough through courses, through decisions, even our own relationship…" Alex mumbled, not liking where this was going.

Sarah looked down at the book in her hands. She wasn't sure if she was just ready for another big adventure. Marriage without a real job might even prove more daunting than the Labyrinth.

Alex followed her gaze. "You're not waiting for a prince to come sweep you off your feet to some castle and a fairytale ending, are you?" he half-sneered, feeling hurt at her quiet rejection of his proposal, of him.

"No! Of course not!" she gasped. She grew indignant. "Can't I just be a little worried at such a big change?"

"But you won't marry me?" Alex persisted, standing to tower over her. "You sure you wouldn't jump at the chance for someone to sweep you off your feet at some ball?" He gestured with a jab at the book. "I'm sure you'd find that type of change to your life just fine!"

"You're not being fair!" she cringed at her choice of wording there, standing to look at him squarely. "Just give me a chance to explain-"

"No, I get it. You don't want to marry me. You're happier with your stupid fantasy," Alex said vehemently.

"Alex, would you just shut up and let me-"

"I don't want to hear it, Sarah!" he shouted. With his face set in a glower, he snatched the book out of her hand. The sunset, which was once a beautiful sight, was quickly being covered by dark storm clouds. "What's his name again?" He flipped a few pages. "Jareth. I suppose you'd say yes to him."

Sarah couldn't help herself. She sputtered and then laughed. The though of her saying yes to anything he offered when she had refused him over and over was very hilarious to her. "Alex, that's ridiculous," she said between laughs.

Alex turned red with fury, believing she was laughing at him. "Oh, is it now?" He flipped to the front pages.

"Yes, it is," she said resolutely, still smiling at the silly thought. Raindrops started appearing intermittently now and the sky was quite dark with clouds and approaching nightfall. "Alex, we should really just go back…."

He was still angry and hurt from her refusal and mocking laughter. "Yeah, so you can continue to read this garbage."

Sarah had enough and blurted, "I'd just about rather run the Labyrinth right now than deal with your unfair anger towards me!"

"Oh yeah? Well I think I'd like to see that! And what was that line again?" He had found what he was looking for. "Here it is! I wish the goblins would come take you away, right now!"

Sarah gasped in rage and horror. A blinding flash of lightning struck a tree in the distance behind Sarah and caused Alex to blink rapidly until his eyes adjusted to the darkness again. His heart jumped in his throat at the crashing thunder and began to think going inside was a good idea.

"You're right, we should go inside before we get struck by lightning," he said, his anger ebbing at his growing fear for their safety. His childish retort echoed in his ears and he felt stupid. "Sarah?" As his eyes became accustomed to the dark, he failed to see the rain, the lightning, or even the smoldering tree. He only noticed one thing.

Sarah was gone.

AN: I plan on making this a fairly lengthy story, however I'm very sketchy on the details as of yet. This idea popped into my head and I plan to run with it and see where it leads me. And Labyrinth and its characters belong to Jim Henson but Alex is my creation.