There are some things that are better left unsaid. Sarah knows this. Knows this like the taste of blood on a split lip. Some things... some things should just not be spoken. Not aloud. For there are always prying ears, spying eyes, waiting to suck up the syllables. Dirty water for a parched throat.
I wish ...
But that doesn't stop her from rolling them around on her tongue. From flirting with disaster. Visualizing the ways that she could tear her carefully constructed world down. Letter by letter.
I wish ...
She would never do it of course. Not again. It's a fantasy. Nothing more. But it's vibrant, and blinding, and parts of her ache for the want of it. Her soul sings out with need. Pleads with the desperation of one long denied.
Yet she manages. Time and time and time again. To just. Not. Speak.
I wish ...
And to her infinite disappointment, that iron-clad will of hers? Has led to a terribly dull life. One which – judging by the trajectory of the speeding truck fishtailing down the iced-over road she is currently walking across, arms laden with packages – is about to come to an abrupt end.
I wish ...
As her pupils dilate from both fear and the glare of the headlights, Sarah has just enough time to change her mind. Sadly, that decision comes a fraction of a second too late, and the only words that manage to pass her lips the moment before impact are: "Oh, shit."
She rather hopes her epitaph is a tad more eloquent.
Belief. Conviction. Can imbue even the most mundane and nonsensical of words with possibility. Any stage magician can tell you this. Alakazam and Abracadabra, when spoken at the right moment and when combined with the right energy and style, can mesmerize an audience, and lead them to believe that the rabbit you have just produced from your top hat really did materialize from the ether.
But no matter how convincing the act may be, it still can not change the fact that the magician has to contend with a cage full of fur and fecal matter when he returns home for the evening. (And typically, an irritable rabbit.)
For the sad truth is that very few humans possess enough conviction in anything to truly make the fantastical, a reality. And so the sale of rabbits to hopeful amateurs continues to bring a steady profit to many a pet shop.
But there are those few, unique and altogether lucky souls, whose strength of will and utter faith in the power of words can produce amazing (if unexpected) results.
Sarah Williams is one such person.
Which is what has led to her falling straight through the icy-pavement of a city street, limbs flailing about her and packages scattering in all directions (one plops with a large splash into a specific, and altogether smelly bog; another clatters down a mountain of lost things, right into the greedy hands of one Agnes T. Goblin; while the rest find homes in a variety places - to the gleeful delight of a ramshackle city of goblins and a plethora of bored hands lining a poorly traveled tunnel) – and down through the ceiling of the castle beyond the Goblin City, and onto the heads of a small horde of dancing goblins (and at least one angry chicken).
All of which happen to be located at the foot of the throne housing a very surprised Goblin King.
Sarah isn't certain what is less dignified, the squeak of surprise that she makes upon landing, or the yelp that she releases upon being bitten in a sensitive place by the aforementioned chicken. (Admittedly, she is grateful to be capable of making any noises, since mere moments ago she had resigned herself to the state of permanent silence that proceeds a closed-casket funeral.) Still, she has had a long and close relationship with dignity, and she isn't eager to see it go.
The voice that issues her name is the same as she remembers, the timber of it managing to sweep through her with a pleasant, tingling sensation. But the inflection that infuses the word is one that she has never before heard from the man sitting in front of her. (And one that he is not certain himself that he has ever before had cause to use.) Neither has she previously seen the look that he is giving her. Eyes all scrunched up so that a line of flesh puckers between them, and mouth gaping open unattractively - like a fish.
For Jareth - King of the Goblins, Master of the Labyrinth, Purveyor of Dreams, Giver of Tainted Peaches, and Wearer of Too Tight Pants - is completely gobsmacked by Sarah's sudden arrival in his domain.
Well, that makes two of them.
Sarah takes a moment to stand, muttering out apologies to the goblins she squished - while surreptitiously rubbing the spot on her lower body where a beak shaped bruise is blooming - and giving herself a bit of time to compose herself. She hopes that if she tries very, very hard, that she'll be able to will away the embarrassed blush highlighting her cheeks.
She is not successful in this endeavor. In the end, she gives up the battle with her fleeing dignity (promising retribution later), and turns to face the King with a weak smile and a limp wave of her hand. "Hello."
"Hello? Hello? Years have passed since you've had any kind of contact with my realm. Even longer since we've parted ways. Since you refused my offer, tore down my world, and fled to your home with your friends. And here you stand, having just fallen through the veil between our worlds, an act that is entirely impossible by the way, and all you have to say is: 'hello?'" Indignation colors Jareth's rant, but beneath that his disorientation at the strange turn of events is obvious. If Sarah hadn't already been certain that he wasn't responsible for her sudden arrival, she would be now.
Sarah scans the throne room. The place is a mess. All around her are strewn pots and tankards with sweet-smelling liquids pouring out of them. Feathers and glitter sprinkle the air like confetti, and tickle her nose. (One particularly persistent feather attacks her ear, and refuses to leave when swatted.) In one corner a pack of goblins are tearing into the new set of sheets that she'd just purchased, while in another, a new pair of workout pants have quickly been converted into a slingshot (much to the annoyance of a collective of chickens if their squawking is anything to go by). But still, the majority of the room's inhabitants are focused solely on Sarah and whatever it is that she is about to say. Including the now frowning King.
She considers for a minute throwing a fit. Pretending not to know how she managed to arrive, or why. She ponders demanding that Jareth send her home immediately. Thinks about invoking the words - those oh so important, and never to be forgotten again, words - so that he'll have no choice but to obey.
But then she remembers the truck racing towards her, and thinks about how banal her life has been. Right up until what should have rightfully been the end of it all. And she thinks: there are some things that are better left unsaid. So she chooses a different tactic.
Instead, Sarah gives him her most dazzling smile (well, as dazzling of a smile as one can manage when their hair is sticking up and out in several directions, feathers and hay are decorating their clothes, and a chicken is pecking at their feet) and says: "Would you believe me if I said that I was bored, and decided to drop in for a visit?"
The look of complete and utter confusion on Jareth's face smooths out to something more closely resembling delighted surprise - but which could also be eager mischief. Sarah can't be certain, not with the way his already highly arched eyebrows make a beeline for the top of his head, or the way his downturned lips slide upwards at the edge to reveal pointy teeth.
But both options carry the promise of a more interesting future than the one awaiting her on Tenth and Market in the world above. And she can't help but think that there are worse things in the world than a couple of unspoken words.
Like, for instance, never having the chance to say them again.
And really, now that she's here? What's the worse that could happen?
I wish ...