It was the night of Carrie Ng’s birthday bash. School was almost out, you know, and it was spring and everyone was itchy to get wild. The entire school was there, I think, and of course, Brian and his friends were going which meant I had to go. I didn’t want to, but Jareth said he thought it was a good idea…and he promised he’d do something for me if I went.

Brian and his friends got out of the car, and I had to wait for Eddie to get out of the passenger seat so I could crawl out of the back…yeah, I know, what a loser, making his girlfriend ride in the back. But that was Brian all around.

We got into the party and I grabbed a drink and snuck off as quickly as I could. Brian didn’t care; I think he was more concerned about hanging out with his friends and getting wasted. Fine by me. I was looking for Jareth.

I wandered out by the side of the house, and there, lo and behold, were Jareth and Hoggle and Didymus, standing in the rather thick flora that grew around Carrie’s monster of a house.

"Oh my gosh!" I cried. "J, you’re the best!"

"I know," he said. He’s unbelievably vain, but he really does deserve the credit sometimes. I was just beside myself to meet Didy and Hoggle.

We said how do you do and all that, and Didymus bowed and took off his hat and kissed my hand. Hoggle was really very shy. I think all he said was hello, and left me and Jareth and Didy to talking.

"Oh, dear," Jareth sighed suddenly. He was looking past me, over my head. I turned around.

Amanda Sommers. She was walking around the corner.

Think Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The remake, with Daryl Hannah. That’s Amanda Sommers. Very tall, blonde, likes to crush people like ants underneath her shoe…

She was wearing this tight little mint dress. Her hair was done up with little glittery butterfly pins and she wore matching shoes with rhinestone buckles. Fashion plate. Belonged in a Jennifer Love Hewitt flick. I kid you not. But she always looked like that. Sort of like she stepped off the pages of a magazine.

Except just then she was hopelessly drunk.

She staggered around the corner, giggling, her hair beginning to come down from the little butterflies. It was truly something amazing to see. One of her heels got stuck in the mud. She yanked it up.

She didn’t see me, just sort of walked right past us, going back towards the backyard. Nathan Greene met her around the corner and laid a big kiss on her and dragged her off into the darkness, with her giggling and stumbling the whole way.

"Now that," Jareth murmured, "was interesting."

"’Twas your great foe," Didymus said wonderingly. "Why dids’t thou not challenge her?"

"Challenge her?" I demanded. "To what?"

"To battle!" He pronounced it ‘beyattle’. "A duel, Lady Melanie!"

"Forget it. She’d stomp me like the merciless ice queen she is."

Hoggle agreed. "She sounds almost as scary as Jareth."

"Hedgewort," Jareth began.

"Hoggle."

"Whatever, did you dare compare that pitiful bully to your lord and sovereign?"

"Eh…"

I stepped in. "Jareth, I wouldn’t call her pitiful. She’s every bit as bad I said she was."

Jareth looked out into the darkness, where she had vanished with Nathan. "The ice queen seems to have her weaknesses," he said thoughtfully.

"What are you going to do?"

"Nothing." I didn’t hear him add, "yet" under his breath.

*****

"Melanie," Rosenbaum went on to ask, "What do you mean yet?"

"I don’t mean anything, it’s what *he* meant. I think Jareth intended to fix my life, but he wanted to have some real fun in the process. Everyone has an Amanda Sommers somewhere in their life; it’s not like she was a real problem. Not like Brian, certainly. But Jareth just especially selected her."

"Did he do anything that night?"

"Of course not. Amanda was still a month away. That night was Brian."

"Okay, let’s go back to that night and Brian, then."

 

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