“Sarah, darling,” came the excited, yet cultured, voice.
Sarah had barely enough time to register her name when she was pulled into a hug. The smell of expensive perfume assaulted her senses and she pulled away from the embrace. A pair of lips flew at her, dropping two air kisses near each of her cheeks. Sarah was nearly dizzy from the whirlwind greeting. When her eyes finally focused, they settled on a woman with the same dark hair and green eyes as her own.
“Hello, mother,” Sarah sighed. “How was your flight?”
“Perfectly exhausting,” Linda complained. “Oh Sarah, sweetie, have you met Pablo?”
Sarah turned to the young man beside her mother. “No, I don’t believe so.”
Linda rolled her eyes. “Oh, of course you haven’t. I just met him last month. This is Pablo. I met him when we were filming in Venezuela.”
“What about Jeremy?” Sarah asked.
“Who?” Linda asked, before realization dawned. “Oh, him. I moved on from him a long time ago.” She looked around, noticing, for the first time, they were alone. “So, where’s Gerald?”
“It’s Jareth, actually,” Sarah replied. “He had some business to attend to. We’ll see him later. Ready to go?”
The ride to the hotel was so long, Sarah could almost believe that time had stopped. She was almost tempted to reorder time to be done with this visit. It was always like this when spending time with her mother. Linda spent the entire ride speaking about her life, as if Sarah were the host of some late night talk show. She was always on. Sarah wondered if this was a side effect of the fame. Relief flooded her as the grand looking hotel came into sight.
“Mother, I will have to leave you here for a couple of hours,” Sarah explained.
Linda looked at her daughter in confusion. “Oh?”
“I have an appointment,” Sarah replied. “I’ll be back tonight at five to pick you up for dinner.”
“That’s fine, darling,” Linda sighed. “I’m sure Pablo can keep me busy.”
Sarah barely managed to withhold the grimace at that thought as she pulled over to the curb. Linda waited for Pablo to open the door for her before exiting the car. Sarah watched in her rear view mirror as she ordered the attendant to carry her heavy bags. With a shake of her head, she pulled away. As her mother, Sarah loved Linda. However, that didn’t mean she had to like the narcissistic woman.
Looking at the clock, Sarah realized that she was going to be right on time for her appointment. She pulled into the small lot and parked next to the unremarkable brown brick building. Entering, she gave her name to the receptionist and took a seat. Grabbing a magazine, Sarah prepared herself for the long wait. A half hour later, her reading was interrupted by the voice of the nurse.
“Miss Williams, the doctor can see you now.”
Familial issues weren’t just plaguing Sarah alone. Jareth was dealing with his own parental interaction.
“Hello, son,” greeted his father.
“Jareth,” came the cool voice of his mother.
Jareth had the distinct feeling that he was in trouble. “It’s good to see you.”
As Jareth bent to give his mother a kiss, she moved her head away and narrowed her eyes at her son. “Is it?”
“Alright, mother. What have I done this time?”
Jana walked past her son and looked at the room he had procured for them. “I don’t know what you are talking about, dear.”
His father gave Jareth a look of sympathy. “Your mother was just concerned about your recent marriage.”
“Oh, is that all,” Jareth sighed.
Jana turned and glared at her son. “Is that all? That’s what you have to say for yourself? Jareth, you bonded with someone and didn’t even tell your mother. I’ve never even met this girl. Is she nice? I don’t know. Is she smart? I don’t know. Is she beautiful? I don’t know; I don’t know; I DON’T KNOW!”
Jareth watched as his mother’s eyes filled with tears. His shoulders slumped from the weight of her emotions. “I’m sorry, mother.”
“Why don’t we sit down and let Jareth tell you all about his new bride?” asked Gareth, guiding his wife to have a seat on the ornate settee.
Jareth gave a grateful smile to his father as he sat down in the rocker to face his mother. “Where should I begin?”
“The beginning is usually best,” urged his father.
“Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl whose stepmother always made her stay home with the baby. And the baby was a spoiled child, and wanted everything to himself, and the young girl was practically a slave. But what no one knew is that the king of the goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and he had given her certain powers. So one night, when the baby had been particularly cruel to her, she called on the goblins for help.”
“And then he sent the cleaners after me,” laughed Sarah.
“Oh, Jareth. You didn’t,” giggled Jana.
Jareth had the good sense to look sheepish. “Guilty.”
Happy laughter floated through the restaurant. Dinner was going smoothly and Sarah barely felt the absence of her mother. In true Linda fashion, she had decided that her career was more of a priority than her daughter. She’d called Sarah and told her that “something” had come up and she’d be a little late. She and Pablo would find their way to the restaurant and meet them there. Sarah rolled her eyes as she tasted her chocolate torte. ‘A little late, my ass.’ Jareth caught the stray thought and put a supportive arm around his queen.
Just as they were about to call it a night, Linda strolled into the restaurant flanked by the ever present Pablo. “I’m sorry, darlings. My phone call to Spielberg took a little longer than I thought.”
“Please, join us for coffee,” invited Gareth.
Sarah quickly made the introductions as her mother made a big show of sitting down. Instantly, the air changed around the table. Tension replaced the relaxed conversation. Jareth tried to remain supportive, but his patience was about to lose the good fight. He looked to Sarah and thought, ‘she’s so different. Maybe maternal instinct skips a generation.’ His thoughts turned to a castle filled with the sounds of children.
Sarah felt his thoughts and her smile turned secretive. Her hand slid from her lap to her stomach and she thought, ‘maybe it does.’