Emily stood beneath a black umbrella watching as her beloved mother was slowly lowered into the dark cold earth. The rain fell heavily and it disguised the tears that fell unchecked down her face. The priest said a few words about how life did not end with death, but it all fell unheard on her. All she could think about was how she would never see her mother’s smiling face, or hear her laugh echoing through their home. Sarah, the newest addition to the household, let out an ear piercing scream and Emily rolled her eyes. Leave it to now for the baby to make herself known and to have all the attention turned on her. She’d been doing that since the day she was born, almost a year ago.
Father tried to shush the baby but it was obvious that she was having none of it. Emily clutched a story that her mother had always read to her when she’d had a particular bad day. It was entitled Labyrinth and a certain phrase came to mind as Emily gave her sister a hard stare. Not that the baby would have any recollection of this in five minutes, but it did give her some sort of satisfaction.
The mourners soon left, and Father went about putting Sarah into her car seat. Emily just stood there, staring at her mother’s grave. She’d been killed in an auto accident and she felt cheated and wronged at not being able to say goodbye. She took her time doing so, despite the fact that she was being ushered into the car and driven away. She said nothing to her father during the car ride home, or when she reached the sanctity of her bedroom. Not even bothering to take off her black dress, she climbed up into her bed and opened up Labyrinth to her favorite part.
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City. To take back the child that you have stolen. Though my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom is as great…” A clap of thunder sounded and the lights in her room flickered. She shrieked and dove under her covers. She closed her eyes, the last sentence falling from her lips as pure memory as opposed to anything else. “You have no power over me.”
A resounding knock came from her door. “Em, I’m going out back for a few minutes. Sarah is down for a nap, but if she needs anything just come and get me.”
Emily chose not to answer. What was she, some babysitter? Instead, she went back to reading, and started the book over. Memories of late nights sitting up with her mother as they read this came back afresh and tears pricked her eyes. She looked up and gave her room a once over. She and her mother had redecorated this room when they had gotten the news that there would be a new addition to the family. Mother hadn’t wanted her to feel excluded and had wanted her to know how much she still loved her. The room was painted a soft blue, and gave off the impression that a young lady lived in here. Everything was classic looking from the elegant furniture to the clothes that hung in the closet.
Sarah’s crying interrupted Emily’s perusal of her room and she grimaced. Of course she’d wake up when Emily wanted some alone time. But she was not going to get up and take care of her. That wasn’t her responsibility. Come to think of it, it would have all been better if Sarah had never been born. If she’d not been born, she wouldn’t have gotten sick last week, and then Mama would not have needed to go to the pharmacy to get medicine and she wouldn’t have died in that accident.
Feeling tired from all of her own tears, Emily laid down and closed her eyes. Sarah’s crying could still be heard but just before sleep took her, she said only one thing. “I wish the goblins wouldcome and take you away…right now.”
Emily sat up in her bed and whipped the covers off. She ran down the hall to the master bedroom where Sarah’s crib was. Her heart raced as she flipped on the light and threw back the covers. There Sarah was, sleeping quietly as if nothing had happened. Emily fell to her knees wondering what exactly had happened. There was no way that any of that could have been real. Could it? The Goblin King, the Bog of Stench…it was all just a vivid dream brought on by the memory of her mother and that story she had been reading. Right?