It was late when she realized that he was not coming. She had been waiting for ages, and now she was truly alone. Her Prince Charming was not running away with her. She could not go back. That was not how this worked. With or without him, she was not going back to that City with all those selfish, hurtful people. Each one of them thinking that they were the main character and abusing her shamelessly. No, she would make it on her own and he would be no part of her fairytale.
She felt silly wearing her pretty little dress–he had always liked it–and changed it for her black one. There was no one to care about this all the way out here in the Forest. She thought she would wear black from now. It was more practical.
She turned and, lugging her bag, walked deeper into the wild Forest. She would make her home somewhere in there. Maybe she would make it out of gingerbread and candyfloss? Her mother had passed on the Gift to her, after all, and should she not use it for her own benefit? Rather that than waste it on those self-absorbed monsters in the City. Who knows and who cares, because she was on her own now and she would write her own fairytale.
While she was all alone in her house and had no neighbours for miles, there were other beings that lived around her. Over time, she got to know a few of them.
She would help the Wolf get thorns out of his paws and brush the tangle and grass out of his fur. They got on well and he would bring her rabbits and, sometimes, fowl for her pot. On the other side of the Forest, the Three Bears lived and she would from time to time visit them. They loved their tea parties. Likewise, there was a Beast that lived in his castle deeper into the Forest than her. He would sometimes come to her house or she to his dusty castle. He was actually well-read and fantastic conversationalist. She would put the pot of tea on and they would discuss the classic fairytales and how flimsy the plot hooks and one-dimensional the main characters were.
Those were good times for her. She really felt like she was amongst friends then, or, at least, amongst more genuine beings that back in the City.
But, nothing lasts forever.
Suddenly, the Wolf was murdered by a Huntsman. The Huntsman threw around many vicious accusations for why he did it. She did not believe any of them. The Major did, though, and he got off with little more than a warning. This hurt her deeply and she and the Beast had cried about it together. The Wolf had been a wonderful, wild being.
Then the Three Bears got burgled and decided to move elsewhere to where the crime was less. She did not know where there could be less crime than out here where there were no people. But, they said that after they were burgled and liberties were taken with their most intimate stuff, they no longer felt safe in their own home. Thus, they left too.
Finally, her Beast in his ancient, rundown castle broke his curse and moved back into the City. He did come for a goodbye before then, but it was awkward and it ended. He was moving back into his townhouse in the City and was going to get a job as a teacher. The lady that was now his wife insisted on this, as she was from the City.
She was alone in her Forest again.
Yes, occasionally, someone from the City wandered in. Once it was a girl in a red hood and another time it was a spoilt brother and sister exploring the woods. Once, a rather fanciful long-haired blonde girl even lived with her for a while before her own Prince Charming found her and took her back. That was fine, as she had been quite irritating and rather infatuated with her own looks. What a shallow girl, she had thought as she saw her leaving, bundles of hair wrapped around her.
None of these one-dimensional characters stuck, and she remained alone in her Forest.
One morning, she woke up and knew it was time for a change. She packed her bag lightly and put her black dress on. She could not find her walking stick, so she grabbed a broom to help her walk, and she left her home in the Forest. She did not even look back as she left. It was time for a big change.
Her Gift was tingling and she knew she needed to be elsewhere. Besides, the Forest was quite empty these days. The City kept encroaching on it and most of the wonderful animals had all been hunted or moved out by then.
She was going to the desert. She was heading West. That was where the City would never follow her.
While she was walking along, she ran into a rather out-of-place looking girl. The girl had a crazed expression on her face with dilated pupils–perhaps she had been nibbling the mushrooms down by the river a bit too much?–and asked where “Kansas” was.
Of course, she did not know what “Kansas” was and told the girl this. At which the spoilt little brat had giggled, thrown water in her face and run away laughing. How rude!
She was too old to chase after her and give her a spanking. So, she merely flicked an irritated little curse after her. The girl would see the world only in shades of green for quite a while now. She wondered how that would interact with the girl’s mushroom-fuelled trip? She had a good chuckle to herself and then set off back down the road.
It had been many, many years now since she had built her little house in the Desert. She now lay in bed, too frail to stand up. Around her stood her Desert friends and, even, some of the surviving friends from the Forest that made the journey. The Beast came alone–his wife has left him for a Prince Charming–and the Three Bears were there too, softly crying. Morgiana, the poor little slave girl that she had helped set free from Ali Baba, and the Genie, she had also freed from his prison-lamp were there.
She was surrounded by those that loved her and she, in turn, loved back.
But, nothing lasts forever.
Her health was failing. Although those with the Gift lived longer than those without it, no one lives forever. She had already been old when she had moved to the Forest. Now she was ancient and time was running out. Goodbyes were being said through tears and soft sobbing, but she smiled back at all of them. Her life had been lost all those years ago in the City and this rag-tag bunch of outcasts and vilified beings had helped her find her way back to happiness. She owed them far more than they owed her.
She knew she did not have much time. The Gift told her that much. And, so, after the teary goodbyes, she looked around her and cast one last subtle spell.
She did not know when or how it would happen, but one day someone would tell their story. The world would know what wonderful, beautiful and complex beings they all were. They were not villains or plot devices, but complex, living souls with real, feelings and huge, loving hearts. Many of them had suffered tragedies or loss, but they kept going forward as best they could. They were as strong as they were incredible. One day, the world would see all of this. One day, the world would know all of this. One day, the world would love them all the same way that she did. One day, their story would be written.
And then, the Desert was all alone again.