Every year the ground dies. It grows cold and the world retreats. A blank slate of purity is given to us. Reminding us, that we have another chance.
Sarah Williams hated spring. She hated the way it was always raining, she hated the way it was teasingly hot and cold at the same time and she hated the fact that her birthday happened to be in the spring. She had never liked her birthday as it had become something of a tradition for unfortunate things to happen on her birthday. There was the year her grandmother had died on her birthday, then the year her father had announced his engagement and the year she had broken her ankle. She spent the entire day on guard waiting for something to happen. Hopefully this year it would just be something small like the year her birthday cake had accidentally gotten lost at the bakery.
But then there were the birthday cards. There was nothing worse she thought to herself, than birthday cards. These days a card cost over five dollars only to contain the most trite and useless statements. Their purpose was to prove the receiver wasn't forgotten in this world and that, she thought to herself, was horribly depressing. She'd rather be forgotten then reminded that the only time people did remember her was her birthday. The only cards she ever got were from people who did so out of obligation. With the exception of the card her now thirteen year old brother sent her every year.
Sarah didn't have anybody in her life that she'd really call a friend. She'd always had a group of kids she hung out with growing up but around the time she was fifteen they'd all drifted apart. After that Sarah spent a lot of time alone. She had never really been able to make any new friends afterwards. She'd tried of course, but she could never really connect with people. They said she made them uncomfortable. This didn't really bother her as much as others assumed it did. Sure, oftentimes she would think that it might be nice to have someone to go out with once in a while but for the most part she was content with solitude. She had always been a child who'd spent a great deal of time in her own head and as she'd grown up this had remained the case.
Luckily this year had so far passed without incident. She had gone to work avoiding as many people as possible, eating lunch quietly in her office instead of going out like she normally did, and then driving home where she had an early dinner before eventually retiring to bed.
Sarah now worked as a junior editor for a moderately sized publishing company. She would get stacks of books sent to her department every week and would often volunteer to read through them. She had always loved books, but there was one in particular she was looking for. An idea that had always festered at the back of her mind of a story that she was certain had to exist. She had tried writing it down but she didn't even know what the story was about exactly, just that it existed. So every time she'd tried to sit down and describe anything about it at all, she'd only come up with her bored maze doodles.
There had been a bouquet of tiger lilies waiting for her when she'd returned home from her father which were currently resting on her dresser. She peered at them over the top of her book. She sighed as she looked at them, they were quite lovely, it was a shame they'd likely be dead before long. For some reason, flowers never seemed to live long around her. She actually found the less she touched or even came close to them, the better they faired. Thankfully her father remembered that she didn't really like to handle flowers and had sent them already done up in a vase but she knew they'd still be gone before the weekend.
She idly flipped the page of her book when the page accidentally caught her skin leaving a thin cut.
"Damn." She cursed and put the finger to her mouth climbing out of bed to look through her dresser drawers for a band-aid. She pulled out the box but something underneath it caught her eye. A deep red cover, well worn. She reached for the book curiously. The Labyrinth. Odd, she thought to herself, she didn't recognize this book. She flipped absently to the opening page.
She saw the words on the page but they all began to blur together and her head began to spin. She gripped the side of the dresser to steady herself and in the process accidentally knocked over her flowers. The vase shattered on the floor spilling water and glass everywhere.
"Oh no!" She let the book drop, forgotten as if it was never really there. She reached to pick up a flower but as soon as she touched it, the flower seemed to almost wilt before her eyes.
Sarah looked at what was only moments ago a healthy flower in shock. Sure flowers had never liked her but they never seemed to shrivel at her touch before. This was a new and creepy twist. Sarah turned her hand over examining it. Her index finger was still bleeding from where she had cut it. She ran her other index finger over the abrasion thoughtfully.
"No." she said aloud firmly. That was easily the stupidest idea she'd ever had. Her blood was not toxic to flowers.
Sarah knelt down and picked up all the pieces of glass she could see. She was careful to avoid touching anymore flowers with her cut hand however. Not for any real reason, she told herself, just because. When all the glass had been taken care of she noticed the red book lying where she'd dropped it. She picked it up running her hand over the cover. She couldn't say why exactly but something about this particular book unnerved her.
She took the book and climbed back into bed once again opening the book to its first page.
After about an hour she had read the book cover to cover. She couldn't of stopped if she had wanted to. There was something about it that pulled at her senses. She was certain she must have read it before as there were passages that had seemed so familiar she could have quoted them word for word but at the same time she was equally positive she'd never laid eyes on this book before.
She pulled out a pen from her bedside table and began making markings in the margins of the book. It had become something of a habit of hers to edit already published pieces thinking about how they could have been improved and where some of the flaws in the writing were. She would think carefully about the words they'd chosen and what they really meant. Her colleagues would tease her telling her that she should just read these books instead of tearing through them with her pen. She would always tell them the same thing, never take anything for granted. Published pieces were no exception.
The passages that were giving her the most trouble were the ones with the Goblin King. She kept circling every instance of Goblin King wondering why he was never given another name. Somehow she knew that he had a name beyond "Goblin King". The scene in the tunnels, the girl looks away when confronted with the Goblin King out of fear but that wasn't right. It wasn't fear it was a reaction to him and his intensity. Then of course there was the first scene. The book had forgotten something. She wrote in the margins next to the girl's speech "What nobody knew was that the Goblin King had fallen in love with the girl". She didn't know how but she knew this to be true.
She spent another good hour re-reading the book for a second time, trying to see if perhaps she'd missed an instance of his name. She didn't know why it was bothering her so much but she knew that he had one so it had to be in there somewhere.
So she read it a third time. Then a fourth time. By this point Sarah was flipping through the pages agitatedly growling in frustration. It was at the tip of her tongue trying to get out but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't reach it.
Furiously she threw the book across the room hitting the mirror atop her dresser. She flopped onto her back and threw her pillow over her head. She took two deep breaths and then pulled her head out from under it. She groaned when she looked at the clock. It was past 1am and she had to be up early for work in the morning. So now not only was she going to be annoyed but sleep deprived as well. She sighed and dragged her hands across her face. She reached for her bedside light and flicked it off.
She spoke aloud to no one in particular "I just wish you could tell me your name Goblin King."
She closed her eyes and laughed to herself. "Oh but what no one knew was that the junior editor had gone completely mental and clearly the fictional Goblin King would be waiting to cart her off to the crazy house."
"Well, I wouldn't call it a crazy house exactly although certainly the Goblins do try their best."
Sarah gasped and bolted upright. She glanced furiously around her room for the intruder hoping to God she had imagined that. Given the man leaning casually against her dresser running one of her tiger lilies through his hand she figured not. She pulled the covers up close to her and and tried to slow her breathing. This was definitely a dream. She closed her eyes and counted to three. When she opened them he was still there.
She couldn't see his face but she felt certain that he was smirking at her. Sarah's eyes darted to the cordless phone currently sitting across the room on her vanity. She silently cursed herself for not having enough sense to have it by her bedside. She tried to regain her voice best she was able.
"Who are you and what are you doing in my house? How did you get in here?"
At this he stepped forward into the light coming from her bedroom window. She saw that she was right, he was smirking at her. His hair was wild and large, a white blonde that Sarah had never seen in nature. His face was full of sharp angles and he was wearing head to toe black which almost looked like armor. But what caught her eye the most was the horned pendant he wore around his neck. He was incredibly handsome there was no doubt about that, but the pendant…the pendant was something else. Sarah had the inexplicable urge to grab it. She forced herself to tear her eyes away from the pendant and look at him. She would show no fear. If he was going to harm her then she wanted him to know she would put up a fight.
He twirled the lily between his fingers gracefully seemingly unaware of the girl giving him a once over.
"Come now Sarah." He met her gaze. Two different eyes she noticed.
"You know very well who I am. You always have."
"You're him aren't you? You're the Goblin King!" She hadn't realized she'd spoken until the words had already left her mouth. Where had that come from? As soon as she heard it however, she realized it was true. This was the Goblin King, nevermind that he was supposed to be fictional, she knew who it was just the same she knew her own name.
He smiled at her. Not a smirk but a genuine smile. She noticed that his canines had a definite point to them. He stepped closer extending his hand to offer her the lily. She reached out her left hand to take it but he pulled it back slightly.
"Ah ah, other hand precious."
She furrowed her brow in confusions then remembered the cut on her index finger which still hadn't been bandaged. She took the flower with her right. The left side of his mouth twitched at her confusion.
"Well now that we've established who I am, the how should be rather obvious don't you agree Sarah love?"
Sarah looked at the flower currently between her fingers. The petals had already started to droop. She placed it delicately on top of her comforter staring at it. She didn't look at him.
"You're here because I made a wish aren't you?"
Just as before the words left her mouth before she'd had time to consider them. Knowing she was correct.
He placed a gloved hand underneath her chin pulling it slightly forcing her to meet his gaze. He wasn't smiling any longer. The way he was looking at her, touching her, she felt all the air go out of her. This wasn't right. The world was wrong. Something was horribly and desperately wrong with the world. She reached out a hand to touch his pendant. There was something there. She knew there was something there. He grabbed her hand with his free one as she moved to reach for it his eyes never leaving her face.
He let her hand go and she moved to touch his face. He watched her hand trace the angles of his cheekbones. Running her thumb over his arched brows and then down his jaw line. He didn't say a word. Content to let her examine and explore.
"Jareth" she whispered it under her breath. That was his name. He nodded curtly but he didn't need to confirm it to her.
She let her hand drop away from his face but continued to stare at him.
"Why did I know that?"
Something was pushing at the back of her mind. It was getting painful now.
"Everything else I could have learned or inferred from that book. But I searched it for your name it was never in there. So how could I know it?"
She pulled her blankets closer to her chest. She wasn't scared before but she was now. This wasn't right. Nothing about this was right. She wasn't sure if she was more frightened of him or herself in that moment.
He dropped his hand from her chin and twisted his wrist. A perfectly shaped bloom-down cheeked peach appeared there. He considered it for a moment running it along the back of his hand. Sarah figured on any other day an armored man in her bedroom at 1am producing a peach out of thin air would have given her serious pause. Today however, it seemed almost ordinary.
"Sarah Williams. The girl who ate the peach and forgot everything."
He let the peach roll to the centre of his palm and stretched it out towards her.
She stared at the peach. She reached her hand out to take it. But he pulled back slightly.
"Sarah think carefully. This is not a gift that I can take back once freely accepted. There is no going back from this. You made a wish. I can offer but I cannot force you to take it."
Sarah was still focused on the peach.
"Sarah." At her name she snapped her head up to look at him. "Do you want to know?"
Every ounce of sense she had was telling her not to take anything from strange men who appeared in her bedroom bearing fruit and he certainly was strange. The thing clawing at the back of her mind was telling her he wasn't new, to take the peach. To know.
She didn't even hesitate. She reached her hand out further for the peach. This time he allowed her to take it. He smiled at her as she bit into it.
She felt like she was on fire. Every part of her was burning up. The air had left her lungs and she gasped trying to take in a breath. Her body went slack letting the peach fall from her hand to the floor. Her head hit the pillow and her eyes began to blur. She could see the Goblin King watching her making no move to help.
"What…have you…done…" she was able to choke out before the real world seemed to dissolve before her eyes. A million and one images flashed before her eyes.
Her little brother and a harmless wish…thirteen hours…Hogwart…no he wasn't the name was Hoggle…a great beast…no a rock caller…Ludo…a little white dog and his knight…the valiant Sir Didymus…valiant from valere…to have power…
And just like that she remembered.