...             ...


            Sarah opened her eyes once Leah was asleep. The truth was, she hadn't wanted to talk about the issue with Jareth because her twin was beginning to remind her of her stepmother, who would always ask her to work out her feelings with her when she was troubled. She had always despised her stepmother doing that, because, most of the time, all she had felt for her stepmother was a seething dislike; a dislike she did not want to talk about with the subject of her resentment. She had just wanted her to go away and bring her real mother back.

            Things were different now between she and her stepmother, but she didn't want to be reminded of past conversations by her cohort.

            Sarah stood up and brushed herself off, feeling restless with all of the day's new questions. She wandered off somewhat into the forest, nearly expecting to trip over Sage the way she had the last time she had left the campsite.  Suddenly, she stopped in her tracks and cocked her head to the side, as if listening for something.  The sound of chirping grew steadily as she stood there. Once the sound was close enough to hear, she detected one voice, high and squeaky above the rest, proclaiming with excitement, "There she is!"

            Sarah looked up as the vibrant Magicmockers landed in the clearing around her. The red-breasted Rattlebeak perched himself atop her shoulder while the others surrounded the friends.  "Rattlebeak!" Sarah exclaimed happily. "Why are you here?"

            "We bring some very important news from Sage!" he rasped, his little chest heaving with the struggle to catch his breath.

            Leah emerged from the forest. "What's all the commotion about?" she called from her far-off position.

            Rattlebeak didn't get to tell her about Sage's message. Sarah looked up from the red bird to find the other Magicmockers gone, and walls flanking her on all sides. Leah was closed out to the world beyond.

            "Oh my, God! Rattlebeak! Look!"

            The walls made a closed-in chamber about the size of a palace room, its walls covered with a geometrical, repeating pattern of birds. Each bird was differently colored and represented an individual block of stone, but with each passing second the birds' colors were fading to different shades of grey.  It was just like Eschers repeating bird design.

            "Your friends, Rattlebeak! They've turned into a wall!"

            Rattlebeak flew into the wall and beat madly against it, as if trying to shatter it. "Peaseblossom!" he cried desperately. "Oh, Peaseblossom! I shouldn't have let her come! She was the only girl in the group!"

            Sarah approached a wall quickly and did her best to knock it down. It was useless.

            "There must be a way to break the spell," she mumbled, biting her lip. She stood back and gazed at the wall. One blue, sapphire stone was much more conspicuous than the rest. "Aha!" She rushed to the stone and pressed down on it with all of her strength and the wall collapsed into its individual stones, the birds returning to their normal forms. She sighed and wiped the sweat from her brow.

            "Leah?" she called. She looked around. "Leah?" Her twin was nowhere to be found.

            Rattlebeak scudded impatiently across the ground. "Peaseblossom?" he called fearfully. "Has anyone seen Peaseblossom?"  He stopped over a motionless orange figure.

            Sarah came to observe. "Is she all right?" she asked.

            "She's still stone," Rattlebeak replied with consternation, his eyes widening with fear. He finally lost all control and fell over the paling figure. "Oh, Peaseblossom! Why didn't you change back?"

            Sarah closed her eyes and concentrated. "Jareth wants something more out of me," she muttered reflectively. "He doesn't want me to know what you came here to tell me!" she concluded with a shout. "Promise me you won't tell me what Sage's message was, Rattlebeak."

            "What?" Rattlebeak declared tearfully with muddled confusion.

            "Don't tell me what Sage said."

            "Alright, I promise!" he replied in a squeaky chirp.

            With a burst of magic, Peaseblossom was no longer made of stone, but was instead flesh and bone. Being deprived of oxygen for so long had obviously not been good for her, because she was no longer breathing.

            "Oh! She's dead!" Rattlebeak yelled as he spread his wings mournfully across her breast again.

            Sarah chewed at her lip. "Not yet. Let's try CPR on her."

            "Teepee what?" Rattlebeak asked, sniffling.

            Sarah rolled her eyes upward. "I can't believe I'm about to do CPR on a bird." She bent over and pressed lightly against the little bird's chest a couple of times.

            "Teepee what?" Rattlebeak asked again, hysterically.

            "Okay, now Rattlebeak, you have to breathe into her mouth a couple of times," Sarah explained.

            Rattlebeak nodded his head and complied.

            Sarah pressed against Peaseblosom's chest again, and again Rattlebeak breathed into her mouth. After doing this a couple more times, Peaseblossom's chest heaved suddenly upward and she opened her eyes.

            "Peaseblossom!" Rattlebeak said happily. "You're alright!" He wrapped his wings around her and gave her a tight squeeze.

            "Not so hard," she rasped.

            By now the other birds had begun to surround them, looking on as the two lovebirds were reunited.

            Sarah carefully stepped over the band of birds and went back to the campsite. Rattlebeak looked up from the business at hand, said a few words to Peaseblossom who duly nodded her head, and flew over to Sarah's side.

            "What're you doin' right now?" he asked.

            "First, I'm going to check and see if a friend of mine is back at the campsite. Then, if she's not, I'm going to finish my quest."

            "What? You mean, right now?" Rattlebeak queried with wonder.

            "Right now."

            Sarah stepped onto the campsite and, upon finding that Leah was missing, she promptly dumped out the contents of each knapsack and put only the most necessary of her supplies into one of the bags. Rattlebeak perched himself atop a branch and watched her actions in silence.

            Her expression was stern and purposeful as she reached for a canteen of water and dumped it onto the campfire. The wood sizzled and shot out a few last dying embers before becoming completely hushed.

            "What does this friend of yours look like?" Rattlebeak asked.

            "Me," Sarah replied curtly as she walked out of the clearing.

            "You mean, you you? You're not saying that your friend is you, but that"

            "She looks just like me," Sarah cut him off.

            "Do you want me to come with you?" Rattlebeak asked her timidly.

            "No," she said, not even glancing in his direction to answer. She just continued to walk, past the huddled group of birds and into the forest. "Peaseblossom needs you."

            "Can I do... anything for you? You saved my girlfriend's life."

            "Thank you, Rattlebeak, but, no, I'll be fine. Please don't come with me."

            Rattlebeak stopped his straight-pathed flying and turned back around, only glancing back once at the enraged Sarah.

Jennifer Connelly     David Bowie    Jim Henson            C    C