How to go about this...
See, I had a deal with myself that if these were still oozing out by month's end, they'd be posted. Somewhere. Admittedly, this potential embarrassment was negotiated under the assumption I'd lose interest by last Tuesday.
Likewise it's nearly certain that this is partly dmacabre's fault. I forget how exactly, but am fairly sure pills and gross amount of meringue were involved. (The majority of prompts, however, are courtesy of 64damn_prompts.)
These...drippings are the story of a magical childhood that Sarah Williams never had. True plot is mainly absent. Silliness is frequent. There are Oreos and brainwashed babysitters and a distinct lack of princesses. There will
Because, really, this is a story about a King and a Fool...and growing up goblin.
Sarah’s babysitters never lasted long.
It wasn’t that the Williams house was a hard job exactly, because it wasn’t; the fridge was always loaded, cable was available, Mr. Williams tended to overpay and Mrs. Williams was glamorously oblivious to messy countertops and scattered magazines. And Sarah, of course, was a very sweet little kid. A little...spacey, but sweet. She kept all fingers out of electric sockets and finished her milk. In fact, Sarah hardly required attention at all; she was perfectly happy to find a spot out of sight and play quietly for hours.
...which was the problem, really. Because despite the very definite memory of Sarah calmly playing in the basement—which was also a little odd when you thought about it—it was hard to remember exactly her doing so. Certainly, any sitter worth her skinny paycheck would check up on their charge, regardless of how quiet their fun, but with Sarah...well, one minute you were coming in as the parents were going out and then...then you must’ve done something, must’ve made her a sandwich...a lot of sandwiches, actually...all those crusts and marmalade smears...and maybe, maybe you two took a walk around the neighborhood or park because there were nettles...or petals...in Sarah’s hair...in December...and then, well, then you must’ve watched her color or read a book or dress her dolls or whatever it was she did downstairs in the dark because you had, you had to have seen her do something, you couldn’t have just sat there like a spellbound dummy for five hours without noticing anything.
Mr. and Mrs. Williams noted the turnover with vague puzzlement, chalking it up to fickle adolescence. Sweet little Sarah could’ve provided a better explanation, but was usually too busy juggling a plateful of sandwiches on the basement steps to do so.
There were probably many other childhoods wherein waking up in the middle of the night to find a tall, Martian figure peering down at your tiny, pajama-and-cowlick-bang’ed self is weird.
Frankly, Sarah wouldn’t know the first thing to say to such people.
She pulled the Oreos package from its comfy niche behind the coloring books and scooted up towards the headboard. After a moment, the bed sagged just a little on the other end. Paper crinkled.
There were probably many other childhoods without as many crumbs and stains to apologize for.
But that wasn’t the only thing they were missing.
It wouldn’t be so bad, Sarah thought, if only there were honest about it. Like, it’s one thing to ask how was your day honey when Mom’s obviously waiting for the phone to ring, but it’s worse to ask and then smile all throughout the story she’s obviously not listening to.
Or sorry did we wake you sweetie mommy and daddy were just watching the news when the television is off and you’ve got ears and a brain.
The Goblin King always means what he says—even if what’s said isn’t always (ever) what you thought was meant.
Cloud watching Underground is a risky business. First off, goblins’ descriptive powers are...lacking; there are only so many repetitions of “fluffy”, “poofy”, and “chicken” a creative mind can take. Second, if a goblin thinks it looks like a chicken, they immediately think it is a chicken, and will just as quickly chase after—usually right out the window and into the moat below.
Thirdly, and most importantly—meaning most annoyingly—there’s always the possibility that every cloud will look like a chicken, no matter what, and that the Goblin King is grinning smugly somewhere behind you all the while.
To find the Goblin King’s mood, seek his Fool.
If the Fool is vexed, the King is laughing. If the Fool is curious, the King is worried. If the Fool is stubborn, the King is angry. If the Fool is baffled, the King is content. If the Fool is shocked, the King is unconvinced.
But if the Fool is hurt, if she’s wounded by word or hand or measure of any being within the Goblin King’s reach—if she weeps—his wrath will make itself known.
For the Fool’s heart is under the King’s hand, and he’ll tolerate no interference.
1) To be given land as a gift from the king. Also means to be given the right to wear a lord livery (modified form of his coat of arms). (MEDIEV-L. Medieval Terms)
2) The tunic worn by a servant or follower of a lord, being in the colours of the lord's arms and bearing his badge. (Wise, Terence. Medieval Warfare, 249)
Tra la la, here comes the King in gray and white, gold at his throat. And there goes his Fool, yellow patches up her heron legs and down her fair sleeves, ash-dark boots racing ahead. The King's black gloves; the Fool's dark cuffs. He swirls a crimson cloak, scowling; she doffs a red-peaked cap, laughing. Crystal spheres trap the Labyrinth in a glance; tiny bells echo down the curly paths.
(She asks why do I always look like you? He claims you never could.)
The thorns on his lapels bloom into posy buttons under her chin.
Tra la la, indeed.
lull and storm
In the Labyrinth if you have a problem, seek the King.
This is (typically) because goblin's problems are (usually) caused by goblins, and it's safer to own up to the trouble before it reaches the King—and his boot reaches your arse.
If your problem needs mending—not kicking—seek the Fool.
Nobody doubts she’s without magic. But she'll find vinegar for a rotten belly, and staple closed rips, and cajole willful fleas out of itchy ears. Nobody doubts her words have power.
Because in the Labyrinth nobody but the Fool can talk the King into lowering his hand...gently.
He could've done it differently.
He could've had her in silk and lace instead of motley. He could've taught dance first, juggling not at all. He could've made her sing and bow, not grin and caper. He could've forbade even the tiniest mote of dust to touch her. He could've put a gold ring on every toe, hung unfathomable jewels on each lobe, twined peerless silver ‘round each lock.
He could've given the Labyrinth a princess.
"'Kay, I oiled the Cleaners. Thanks for actually turning them off this time. Next?"
Yes, he could've made quite a mess of it.
What nobody tells about once upon a time is how long it actually takes.
Once isn't one thing alone; it’s the one thing that happens again and again, and thrice after that. It's the smile that never quite crumbles in face of regal scorn. It's the strand of hair that tangles its tail around a button on the chest pillowing a too-young, drowsy head. It's the too-small scuff mark on the throne arm that speaks of one boot heel propped in nearly perfect imitation of another.
What—almost—nobody understands is that ever after happens one day at a time.
A house is a body; a home is a dream.
A house can be injured, can grow scars like spots on furniture—Grandmother's armoire that Mommy hates—or shiver at the bone, like an argument—work, work, he works, she works, but they can't work it out—resonating past the kitchen ceiling into the bedroom floor above. A house can be saved, can be fixed, can be treated with new paint and roses, and sticky words—Sarah, darling, be good, good night, goodbye—like frosting that won’t get off the cake.
A dream, once broken, can never be the same.
Eels kiss her toes. Oaks and aspens giggle, bony branch-tips fondly tapping the cap's bells. Roots trip her for the grass to catch; weeds cuddle her wrists. The library stepladder trails her like a besotted hound. One afternoon half the city's teacups hop to the castle, the wind having spilled the Fool's request for cocoa. The same week the King's pillow wiggles into her lap—and refuses to leave. Wax oozes down the dungeon steps in anticipation, wicks dragging along. The cobblestones listen for her footsteps.
Amused and aghast, the King watches his kingdom crumble into love with his Fool.