A Heart in Disguise

Chapter 7

"How much longer?" I groaned, the bottoms of my feet sore and most likely bleeding if I were to peel off my boots.

"I dare say, I'm not sure."

"What do you mean you're not sure?" my head twisted with break-neck speed as I snapped vehemently at her, yet she didn't flinch.

"I could say one thing, yet it could be changed with the oncoming weather."

I rolled my eyes and picked up my pace. There was a sudden rush of wind before I felt her hand trying to stop me.

"Wilma, I'm sorry."

"For dragging me out into this frozen oblivion? So you should be! If you had any idea who I was then you would have never even dared to cross my path."

"You wish that I would have let you die?"

"You should have."

I shoved her hand away

"That wasn't what I asked."

I turned around so that I was nose to nose with the brunette woman, staring directly into her eyes, my head held high. My hand flexed on instinct and if I had the ability I would have set her flesh ablaze. If I had my magic I wouldn't be stuck in this godforsaken hell in the first place.

"I don't want your pity."

Her hazel eyes captured mine, laced with confusion as well as something I couldn't comprehend. Her brow was pulled together and her lips moved to say something else. However, I didn't allow such a thing.

I stormed off into the woods as far away from Snow as I possibly could, for I would have done something dire; I would have hurt her, perhaps killed her and therefore left myself stuck without a way home. My mind began swirling with the images from last night. The lost, frozen hole inside of my chest became prominent once more as that overwhelming sickness overtook me.

Before I even had the chance to stop myself, there was a burning pain in my knuckles, yet I didn't stop. My fist hit into the bark of the innocent tree once again with as much force as I could muster, imagining it to be everyone in my life that I hated. It was my mother; she was the reason I became this way. It was Rumpelstiltskin; he taught me how to possess this darkness. And then it was me; I let the darkness creep in and I let it overtake me. I let it wrap its seductive smoke around me until there was no more light, until all that was left was a charred heart inside of my chest that hardly possessed a beat.

I was so out of character, but I wasn't the Evil Queen. I wasn't even Regina. I was Wilma without a last name. Without a true story. I was nothing but a lie.

I missed my clothes. My castle. My bed…

Yet not the loneliness, a voice whispered inside of my head and I tried to push it away. However, those words caused the fire flicker, the light inside of me dim. My anger dissipated like a snuffed out candle flowing through the air.

"Wilma!" I heard from afar, yet I refused to move, "My god. There you are."

There wasn't even energy left inside of me to roll my eyes. I squeezed my eyes shut while clutching onto my hand, the intense pulse the only reason I knew I had a heartbeat, and begged just to vanish away from here. What was this woman doing to me?

Her hand was touching my shoulder once again, the gesture I had acquainted with comfort, yet it burned this time as if embers were sinking into my flesh. It wasn't painful; there was no exact word for it, but I knew I had to get away from it. Whenever she...whenever I felt her hand upon me, there was a lasting sensation when she pulled away. If I let it grow, if I unlocked what it truly meant, I feared I would never turn around. I would lose everything that I ever worked for. My kingdom. My power. My self.

She was speaking to me, trying to get me to understand that this journey was never meant to cause suffering, but the words went in one ear and right out the other.

"We better get moving," I muttered, looking towards the sky with a knowing that something bad was ahead. As if it would make any difference, I wanted to get as far as possible before it came.

She looked at me once again with concern, but kept her lips sealed.

This ebb and flow of events between Snow and I was becoming unbearable and my mind was becoming a lethal bomb, ready to detonate at any time. What would happen in the event of such was unknown.

It was nearing time, once again, to settle down for the night. In a way I wished that we would just keep walking to get this over with, yet at the same time my feet begged otherwise. Besides, what was to come when we reached the other side? I didn't have much of plan anymore, for every time I would delve into the depths of my mind I would find the visual dreadful to the point in which I could not stand.

What if I couldn't get back home once I ridded myself of the former princess? I had to look on the bright side which was odd in itself to say. That must have been the imps plan. He wanted me to find out all I could and rid Snow by myself before my disguise was blown. But what was in it for him?

An unappealing waft passed through the air jerking my thoughts to a halt as well as alerting me that the woman beside me had been speaking the entire time.

"What is that god awful stench," I blatantly interrupted some story about a run-in with bandits. I pinched my nose together with my fingers trying to rid my nostrils of something that was similar to rotting eggs.

"I don't know," she replied, "but I think it's time we settle down."

"Why now?"

"As much as you'd like to think you can travel on a bit longer, I think you have hit your mark."

"Excuse me?"

"Wilma, you're tired. You can try to hide it all you want, but I know you are. You've been rubbing at your feet every time we stop so for your sake let's just camp here."

In fact, tired wasn't the word for my current predicament. I was absolutely exhausted to the point where I wanted to fall on my face. All I wanted to do was crawl into our tent and sleep. Our tent…What an odd way to put it…

"Must we here?" I paused for a moment to scrunch up my nose.

She held my gaze hard and long. I should have been able to keep my mask, yet it came crumbling down into the dirt. She was looking at me with the same face from only a few hours ago filled with such deep concern. Why couldn't I hide anymore? I gave a burlesque eye roll and let out a sigh before wrinkling my nose at the ever growing smell that surrounded us.

"Can you set up while I go grab some wood?"

Even though I thought I had made it fairly clear I could go on, she read me like an open book. Without waiting for a response, she headed out into the vast foliage leaving me to my thoughts once more.

I sighed and let the supply bag fall lazily onto the grass. I'd get to unpacking in just a second. For the moment I lifted my hand to examine my knuckles carefully, now being the only time I was truly alone; a frown formed upon my lips at the array of dark colors that marred my skin along with several scrapes from hitting the bark with a heavy amount of force. It had been so long since I used actual force rather than magic and I wasn't welcoming the ache.

I sighed and slouched against a nearby tree, my back making a thud as it came in contact with the bark. I just want to go home. I didn't want to think about what I was doing. Never had I had such trouble ripping out someone's heart. Never had I actually have to stop and think whether it was right or not…at least not since the first time I tried to take the heart of my steed.

I was just about to push myself into action and set up camp, but then there came a sudden rustling in the bushes. My hand slipped onto the hilt of my sword, but before I had the chance to even draw it, I heard a familiar voice.

"Wilma!" it wasn't a sense of alarm as one would expect when someone comes flying into your camp even though I was fairly certain only a few minutes had passed. Therefore, Snow hadn't gotten nearly enough wood if any at all. So why was she back? "Wilma," she shouted again and for a second again I forgot that was me. There was a bright smile on her face as if she had just walked into a cavern of diamonds, "You have to come see what I found."

Her hand was unexpectedly wrapped around my bruises causing me to flinch as she pulled me through the bushes. The weird smell grew as we approached whatever it was she had found and when we finally arrived, my eyes grew wide.

"Is that a…?"

"Natural hot springs? Yea it is."

Suddenly I was smiling like an idiot. When was the last time I had washed this filthy grime off? Come to think of it, I never had. The dirt had built up under my nails and my hair was greasy to no end.

I pulled my hand away from hers as I took a step forward, leaning down to dip my hand into the all-too-soothing water, but not before I jumped at my reflection. There was a woman with raggedy, dark dreads and barely pink lips staring back at me. Her eyes were dark, but not from charcoal or shadow; my insomnia had really taken its toll on me. I watched a pale hand raise and press against her cheek, fingers now warm from the water. She was me. That was me.

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