Jareth draped himself on the window ledge, overlooking the kingdom stretched out before him, collecting each crystal from one hand and blowing them into delicate bubbles one by one, watching them float into the distance towards you.
You expected to clatter to the earth beneath you, but you landed in strong arms and a kind, familiar face peering down at you.
“You” you mumbled, becoming more aware of your surroundings. The man guided you to stand gently against him, you felt drowsy with sleep. You rubbed your eyes groggily, beginning to recognise him at the back of your mind.
Something told you that you felt like you should be angry with him, deeply, but you couldn’t think why as you held eye-contact. You blinked at him trying to remember…something. The feel of his hands on you were clouding your thoughts.
You glanced away briefly to see if you could work out who he was by where you were.
The room was illuminated by crystal white lighting. A grand ballroom, everything champagne, salmon pinks and ice coloured, silky gold streamers and chandeliers hung from the grand ceiling it was all so breathtakingly beautiful. The masses below twirled in pairs in perfect, creepy unison.
Beside him, you gasped, covering your hand over your mouth, clearly recognising this scene well. You were standing upright by yourself now, stronger.
You laughed loudly clutching his shoulder looking from the balcony to the dancers below. Jareth watched your delight fondly, the way your eyes lit up, your smile.
“My dream” you smiled brightly under the chandelier’s crystal light “I’m in my wonderful dream!” you laughed looking down at yourself and yes there it was the dress. Your dress. Your hands flew to your hair, feeling it pinned up in places, the annoying strays were back, framing your face delicately.
You could have been Cinderella herself.
The man who caught you had vanished from your side.
You looked around you but he was nowhere. Your stomach dropped, where was he? You wanted him to come back so badly. How could he leave?
“How do you like games?” a rich voice murmured, entering your mind
You frowned “I’ve never been a fan” you answered back in your head.
Your heels clicked with every footstep down the grand staircase. When you got to the end you swept to the crowd immediately. You knew what you were looking for, who you were looking for. You just let your feet wander pushing and squirming through the crowd. You felt like a magnet was pulling you in.
Collecting the silky puffy dress in your hands, you turned this way and that just searching, desperately searching. You pushed through the masses, feeling an invisible force graze your shoulders, navigating you towards something.
You flickered your eyes from figure to figure trying to spot his face in the crowd of bizarre masks, the laughing and leering around you seemed to get louder.
You felt a soft hand graze your forearm, tug at your hair, a fleeting graze on your waist, but when you swivelled around every teasing contact the force was nowhere to be seen. Was he playing with you?
You lowered your eyes to the floor feeling hopeless but then flicked them up to see him striding towards you, almost parting the crowd like the Red Sea. It wasn't hard to see why, he stood out from them, like a beacon of light held to the shadows. He breezed past the leers and outstretched hands, eyes focusing on you only, despite the hundreds in the room.
He was so gorgeous, so benevolent. More so than you'd ever seen.
Your heart was stammering in your chest as he got closer, under the trained eyes.
“Goblin King” you murmured so only he could hear, standing directly in front of him.
Jareth waited for you to run away, to recoil or curse him.
You did none of these, but instead said stood plainly before him.
“Dance with me,” he commanded taking you by the hand “pretend that everything else doesn’t exist for a while”
You looked between his poker face and the gloved hand entwined with yours. You nodded with a smile, shyly at first but then as you were whirled into his arms you began to relax, the butterflies subsiding. You slid your arm up to cup his shoulder seemingly on auto-pilot.
This is exactly how you'd dreamt it, for what felt like the thousandth time, but this was sacred.
You could feel his voice’s vibrations as the Goblin King sang with the music, quietly at first and then a few words that were by your ear making your skin tingle then to singing aloud.
“wasn’t too much fun at all, but I’ll be there for you…”
You rested your head against the crook of his shoulder not caring how he would react anymore. It just felt right. You briefly closed your eyes, lulled by his gentle hold, so at peace in this moment. There was that woozy scent emanating from him again, like you had inhaled from the cloak earlier.
His chin came to rest on the crown of your head.
“You remember now, don’t you?” the Goblin King murmured into your hair “remember this dream I created for you, how happy I made you”
You nodded, eyes still closed, resting against him, because you did. You remembered waking up every morning missing this exact moment, the one, it seemed, you were throwing away.
“You needn't run from me” Jareth murmured, holding you as close and snug as possible by his arm around your back as if you might suddenly vanish from him again. His sudden confident tone change put you on edge.
“I don’t -want to” you forced out letting your fingers fiddle with the ruffles on his collar, your hold on his shoulder with the other hand loosened.
You tried to put the fragmented pieces together in your mind. Why were you running? Was it from him or something else? There was a reason. You just needed to remember.
“I just…something to do with a book, and my…life…”
It was apparent that you could sense something was wrong. He felt you tense up against him.
You lifted your head from his shoulder to look at him, withdrawing from the embrace slightly. Your large round eyes…they swelled with anguish, you looked hurt.
The Goblin King looked like he wanted to say something but the grand clock behind his ear chimed the 6th hour. With every toll the fabrication of this world began to waver.
The time! How had so much time passed!
You let go of him immediately as if he burnt you and rushed to the clock.
You had to wake up, wherever you were you had to leave.
You could see your reflection in one of the walls it curved like you were inside a bubble. Wake up, Sloane, wake up! You willed yourself.
Your eyes glanced for something to smash the bubble with and landed on a chair. You picked it up, your arms were beginning to feel heavy and drowsy and smashed it again and again at the reflection, willing the pieces to tumble down.
The spell was broken.
The Goblin King kept his eyes ahead where he had just been looking at you. He was frozen to the spot, hands still out where they had been embracing you a second ago. They lowered slowly, his tranquil expression crushed.
You lifted the chair to swing again, one more should do it.
Jareth was beside you, you saw in the cracked reflection. You veered your head only slightly, unable to come face to face with him properly.
It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real. You chanted in your head.
The Goblin King lowered the chair in your hands, momentarily begging you with his expression to look in his direction.
The realism of his touch began to fade as he brushed his gloved hand against your cheek.
You lifted the chair without looking at him and swung once more, hearing the glass burst .
You were floating, your hair sticking out behind you as well as the cloak , which acted like a parachute. You dare not touch the bubble walls. You had your arms up covering your face, scared it would suddenly pop .
When nothing happened you let your arms drop cautiously.
The bubble slows until it stops, the light emitting from it allowed you to see a dusty ground beneath you, thank god. You lightly kicked the bubble, bracing yourself. It popped easily and you landed lightly on your feet.
You woke with a start, lying against something uncomfortable digging into your back. You groggily peered down at yourself, checking for injuries. You were seemingly okay and back in your own clothes, thank god. You tried to sit up loudly wincing at the pain in your shoulders and back.
Your eyes fluttered open.
“What was I doing?” you clambered down from the heap of junk you had been stiffly lying against. You tied the cloak around your neck further, like it would act as protection.
“Ah! Get off my back!”
You leapt off, seeing the mound you had stood on shift as an ancient scruffy old woman turned promptly revealing a worn and pinched face
“why don’t ya look where you’re going young woman! Hmmm?”
“I…was looking” you mumbled dazed neither to her or yourself.
“huh? huh? and where are ya going hmm?” you climbed around various heaps of junk, rocking horses, bicycles, furniture. Was this where you were supposed to be? Perhaps...
“I don’t remember “
“Ya can’t look where ya going if ya don’t know where ya going”
“I was searching for something” maybe it was in here- the thing you were searching for.
“Well look here! Hmmm!” her grubby hand raised to show you what she was clasping. You accepted the small circular porcelain box into your hands.
You flicked the clasp off, watching the lid rise and reveal two dancers inside, twirling around and around together to the tinned melody of a song you felt you knew.
You held it curiously, mulling over the thought that you should know this object somehow.
“thank you” you held it to your chest, relaxing
“that’s what you were looking for wasn’t it, my dear?”
“…yes. I forgot” you smiled down at the trinket closing the lid.
“now why don’t ya come in here and see if there’s anything else ya’d like” she ducked down under the hoard and chuckled.
You whipped back the tent curtain tailing behind her.
You whirled around, looking up and around admiringly before flopping on the bed.
You lie back for a minute, clutching the music box to your chest . And then sit up promptly.
“It was just a dream!” you looked around propping yourself up by your elbows.
It… wasn’t real. The Goblin King wasn’t real. You'd read the silly book and fallen asleep! What an intense dream!
“I dreamed it all, Moore” you said sadly to the bird who was no doubt home by now, sitting in his scarf nest as usual.
“But it was so real, I dreamed that you were a man and you…I felt…” you sighed. "better see if Kari and Brian are home now" you’d completely forgotten do to the things Kari had said. Did you have assignments due? You thought you did. Great. Another 2am marathon.
You left the music box on your bed. You cross the room to open your bedroom door. "Is anyone ho-"
The wind catches the door, throwing it open. The Junk Yard was still outside, the sky bleached orange and scratched with angry, black clouds.
It was still here! The Labyrinth!
The Junk lady burst through the door “Better to stay in here, dear, yes! There’s nothing ya want out there, no! oh-ho-ho-no!” she gave a coo "Ooh now what have we got here?”
You shut the door behind her thudding against it.
“Oh look! Ya paints! Ya love your pretty paints don’t ya! Yes, yes there you go! Oooh!”
You took the paints she shoved into your hands, your mouth gaping open but no sound coming out.
“now then what else have we got, let’s see!”
The Junky Lady twisted around so that her heavy load of items strung to her back brushed the ceiling. Her nimble fingers snatching something from your desk “Oooh your pencil box- got lots of pencils and oohh-“
You slumped onto your stool.
“Here’s your camera! Ya know how much you like your camera – you never wanted that far away did ya? There is it! Okay! Now then what else!”
The hunch-back admired your lipstick handing it to you “now go on make yourself up like the very grown up lady you are!”
Kari’s words echoed in your head “maybe- we need –a chat, about growing up – for one “
You were struggling to hold all of the items in your hands, barely able to see your reflection in the vanity mirror.
“There was something else I was looking for” you murmured to yourself
She scoffed at you “don’t talk nonsense – it’s all here! Everything in the world you’ve ever cared about is all right here! Look here-”
A rectangular red object catches your eye , you clumsily grab the book, flipping over the pages , remember dammit! Remember what you forgot! You scanned the pages.
“Dangers untold, hardships unnumbered…I’ve fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city…to take back…the freedom you have stolen…” you raised your head staring directly at yourself in the mirror.
The Junk Lady narrowed her eyes from behind you. “What’s the matter dear, don’t you like your things?”
You looked down at yourself, covered in your objects, “it’s all junk!”
“Huh, uh well, w- what about this !” the junk lady waved it “this is not junk!”
You accepted the rectangular object pushed into your hand.
You held the Walkman, turning it over in your hands so that the polished plastic shimmered under the light. You knew it wasn’t yours. Because yours had busted.
“yes it is!” you threw it at the mirror and it splintered , the walls and ceiling collapsed and crumbled around you “I have to get to the castle!” you yelled, pulling down the walls so you could climb out back to the junkyard.
You climbed out standing on the piles of junk. You could see the entrance to the Goblin City and began to scurry towards it but your foot was sinking into the piles like sinking sand.
“Augh! Help! Help!"
Shit. You ran your hand through your hair. You’d need a miracle to get through here now. You tried to cling onto the surface and pull yourself up “Hoggle! Help! Someone help!” you sank quicker. “Hoggle !”
He threw his hands up dismissively, signifying he had firmly washed them of you.
Huh! Humans! Girls! Human girls! He passed the stone mumbling curses to himself.
He stopped in his tracks at the sound of your cries. “Hang on Sloane, I’m coming!” he turned on his heel to rush back the way he had came.
The Goblin King appeared in front of him. Hoggle gulped.
“Well, if it isn’t you” The Goblin King leant against the stone in front of him, hands behind his back “And, uh, where- are you- going?” he leaned forward emphasising each word.
Hoggle spluttered “uh, um, well I gave the little lady the slip like you told me to- I was uh, just checkin’ she hadn’t followed me back or nuttin’ ”
The Goblin King pushed himself off the rock. He bobbed his head “I see” looked around the isolated scene airily “for one moment I thought you were running to help her but, uh, no, not after my warnings, that would be stupid” he tilted his head at Hoggle pointedly .
Hoggle waved his hand “oh-ho you bet it would! Me? Help her after your warnings?” he doubled over with an over-the-top uproar of laughter turning around only to come face to face with the Goblin King who crouched in front of him cynically “ooh!”
“Oh dear, poor Hoghead-”
“I’ve just noticed your lovely jewels are missing” the Goblin King held his shoulder with false empathy.
“Uh…Oh yes, so they are, my lovely jewels…missing- ” Hoggle laughed nervously pretending to search himself for his bag “I’ll have to find them “
“That you will, but I’m not finished with you yet, Hogspew you see, I have one more plan in mind for you” the king grinned mischievously.
“Wh-what? This ain’t to do with the girl is it- I quit!”
“Oh Higgle, I sincerely doubt it-” the King seized his ear causing Hoggle to cry out. “you’ll do it or so help me gods, I’ll tip you straight in the bog!” he hissed to the dwarf.
Hoggle tried to swerve the King “but she’s- bright, she’ll never- listen t’ me!” he pointed out, squirming under the burning grasp.
Between the wincing, Hoggle thought he had seen something flash across the king’s face, something he did not recognise on him. “That she is, Hattle, that she is, but she is also fair of heart, she will trust again”
He leaned forward to Hoggle his voice dangerously light. “You’ll do exactly as I say...”