It's only forever
Not long at all
Sarah woke up in the witching hour with a terrible feeling something was wrong. Sitting up in bed she tried to calm her beating heart, telling herself it had only been a bad dream. But the sense of wrongness didn’t feel like she had dreamt it, and fully awake the feeling of dread grew instead of fading away. She sat there, listening to the slow breathing of her partner. The night air felt cool and she shivered and thought she should to crawl back under the covers, cuddling close to the warm body next to her. But instead she looked out into the darkness, fighting a sudden urge to cry.
Out of nowhere a crystal sphere rolled past her and without thinking, she followed it out of the bedroom and down the stairs, the house dimly lit by the full moon. The hall mirror loomed large, larger than usual in front of her, and Sarah could see her reflection. But it was not her usual face, she saw, but a reflection she hadn’t seen in thirty years. Her sixteen year old self was running towards her in a billowing white dress and with silver leaves in her long hair. Sarah walked up to the mirror to meet herself, but then it wasn’t herself she saw anymore, but Jareth. The goblin king had not changed in all the years since she had seen him last, and her heart seemed to be racing in her breast, and it was suddenly hard to breath. Her hand stretched out to meet his, but her fingertips only touched the cold glass. When he spoke his voice sounded faint, as if it came from far away.
“I’m here to bid you farewell, Sarah.”
“You have been gone for thirty years and now you come to say you are leaving?”
There was a trace of a smile on his lips.
“I was never gone, I was only unseen. I was bound by your wish, and you never called for me. But I’m not bound by anything anymore.”
And Sarah knew what had happened. When she had been very young her mind had conjured up an enchanted man to fall in love with. She might have rejected him, but her heart had not forgotten. She had woke up stricken by grief because Jareth was dead.
“If I had chosen to stay with you, would it have changed anything? Would you still be alive?”
“Everything will pass, Sarah. Even for a goblin king. My destiny was never ruled by any other choices than those I made myself. As your choices has shaped yours. Only you know if they were the right ones. ”
Sarah thought of her life, of all the mistakes she had made, and everything she regretted, but also of all the decisions which had been just right, and of the joy and love she had.
“They were. I have been happy most of the time. It’s been more ordinary than I had hoped once, but I am happy. I don’t regret my choices.”
“There is your answer, then.”
“Were you always this wise?”
“Of course. But I was also always what you wanted the most. Young girls don’t care much for wisdom.”
She smiled at him, but unshed tears made his shape blurred.
“Don’t cry, Sarah. It’s only forever.”
Sarah closed her eyes in an effort to stop the tears and as she did so the glass was gone and his hand closed around hers. She took a step forward and wasn’t surprised when his lips found her mouth. He kissed her slowly, tasting of tears which might not only be hers. But when Sarah opened her eyes again, she only saw herself, her middle age, ordinary self, in the mirror.
She picked up the crystal ball and whispered.
“I wish, I wish you come back to me, Jareth.”
But the ball only lay heavy and cold in her hand and no one answered.