Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Fourteen: Letters) Wuthering Nights: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Fourteen 
From Kate to Heath  
Dearest Heath
    It’s the night after the dance and I’ve been told to pack and be ready to leave in an hour. No one will tell me why I’m wanted at The Hall. It may be something to do with Harrison.  No one can find you. I think you must be out hunting. Father insists I am to return home on the next train. My bags are packed and I’m writing this to you in case you don’t arrive in time to catch the train with me. I want you to know what I have never told you enough - how much I love you. I am leaving this under your door to read when you return.
    I keep thinking of the events that led to me being separated from you and wanted to clear up the misunderstanding that occurred… I’m going back to the beginning…
     Annabelle stopped by (such a swat) on her way from the school library, to show me her dress. Don’t ask me how we’ve become friends but I suppose that’s what you could call us, until tonight. Anyway, I’d been trying to get her to wear contacts for ages, and finally she’d agreed. It was like a new person greeted me at the door.
    ‘Kate, you look beautiful,’ she said. I felt it was my turn to repay her compliment.
     We sat together at my dresser, me in my pink satin slip, bought especially to go with my dress for the occasion (I can’t believe I’m writing this down!) to impress you later as we planned!  Annabelle had draped my dressing gown over her clothes and was trying on my slippers. We painted our nails to match our dresses. Afterwards, I did Annabelle’s makeup. I was quite thrilled to have made Belle my personal project as I felt her transformation on the surface would lead to a more profound transformation of her personality.
     I was so excited to see your band play in front of a real audience for the first time. I knew you’d rock the place out; you’re so hot and talented, how could you be anything but amazing? And you were amazing, Heath. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel different, just because you are. 
      When Annabelle emerged from my bathroom transformed in a cream and silver tasselled dress, I was surprised. Then I complimented my new friend.
   ‘Wow,’ I said, ‘you look completely amazing!’
   ‘Do you think so? Do you think anyone will notice?’
    By “anyone” I was pretty sure she meant you and I ignored the insinuation.
   ‘Of course, you look beautiful Annabelle,’ I said, and meant it.
    Annabelle smiled. She said she knew her pale, icy prettiness wouldn’t last. ‘I have a slim figure but I know I lack the… specialness that would make a boy like Heath, for example, sit up and take notice.’
    I knew she wanted me to disagree, but I could never just let her think you were hers for the taking. Instead, I told her any guy would be lucky to have her. And I believed it, (unless that guy was you, of course). Annabelle was, or rather is, perfect girlfriend material, more perfect than me. She’s perfectly boring, perfectly spoken and perfectly nice. How could you not like her Heath? Tell me what I saw never happened!  Do you remember how much we hated the Hunts as children? How we used to laugh at them?
    Of course, Edmund has always disliked you because you were braver than him – or so I thought. He called you “rough” but I know Annabelle secretly had a crush on you from the time we all met up at Hareton Hall during summer holidays and I put on a fashion show. Remember?
    The fashion show began and ended with me showing off my new sports uniform. All of our school friends came and it was my idea to donate the door money to charity! Annabelle was invited to model also, but I went first. Edmund and Annabelle took their seats, open mouthed, on the floor. I’d set up the old ballroom like a theatre and forced you to grudgingly hold the curtains and shine the spotlight. You studied our neighbouring friends without hiding your irritation. You still hadn’t forgiven their father for accusing you of harming their dog when we were small, and I don’t blame you. You looked like you wanted to be anywhere but inside The Hall that day but this was a chance to “let bygones be bygones,” as Greta once said.
   ‘May I take your coat, Annabelle?’ I remember Greta asking.
   ‘Yes, thank you very much,’ the girl with milk skin answered. You must have found her vaguely pretty, I’m sure, even though you barely showed her any attention when she modelled and clapped loudly when I did. If both she and her brother hadn’t irritated us so much with their bland, insipid privilege, perhaps we would all have been friends, earlier. But we always preferred being outside when we were children, didn’t we? Playing on Hampstead Heath in the wind, remember?
  Anyway, earlier tonight Annabelle continued to blabber on as we got ready…
    ‘I honestly think Heath is the most handsome boy I’ve ever met…’
    I couldn’t disagree. I sometimes wonder if Annabelle’s plan to befriend me had something to do with wanting to be near you. She stood up and hovered at the entrance to my room when she was nearly ready as if she wanted to share more unasked for information.
     I turned around from my dressing table.
    ‘You look like… a princess,’ she gasped. It was her turn to flatter me. Annabelle was still gawping at my darkly made up eyes, long gloves, low-cut dress and glitter eye shadow.  ‘Although I’m not sure the school…’ 
     ‘Oh, I couldn’t care less if I get a stupid demerit for wearing a revealing outfit…’ I said.    ‘Don’t look so shocked, Annabelle. Come over here and help me tease my hair. It is a 1960’s theme after all!’
   ‘You look…amazing,’ she said as I applied my pale, pink lipstick.
    It was eight in the evening and the Battle of the Bands Dance had been going for at least half an hour when we arrived. We stood at the top of the stairs surveying the scene we helped create, glitter ball and all. It was spectacular. I knew you were on last and your band was the only one I wanted to cheer for Heath. I thought the school hall, lit up with disco lights, looked amazing, didn’t you? I took Annabelle’s cream gloved hand in my pink gloved one as we casually walked down the staircase towards the cloak room and saw the whole school lit up with a banner that read Sixth Form Dance.
   When your band played, you guys were awesome. We clapped wildly so you would hear us but you looked straight past me and smiled at Annabelle! She smiled back! I happen to know you’d barely said more than two words to her in all your life, yet she was convinced you were in love with her after that. How could this be so, Heath? I am sorry for doubting you but as her obsession seemed to know no limits. I couldn’t help but wonder if you had ever done anything at all to encourage her.
    The lights were lowered as the heating and the energy in the room warmed and I noticed you pour something from a flask into your water bottle. I think, maybe, you had forgotten your Magenta. You looked hungry.
    The band started playing again and you were amazing as I always knew you would be. Annabelle’s face lit up and I would have started laughing if it wasn’t so annoying. I suppose I just decided to fight fire with fire.
     Soon I was surrounded by a group of boys and some of them started dancing and thrashing to the music and I was caught up in the throng of activity. Food was passed around, teachers stood back and hovered, talking amongst themselves, finally letting everyone dance without bothering to interrupt.
      The set stopped and afterwards, I saw you attempt to move towards me as Annabelle headed in the opposite direction. You didn’t push past her as I expected you to and I refused to show anyone I’d noticed.  You looked embarrassed when she clutched your arm and told you how great you were but perhaps you had matured too much to be openly rude as you once might have been. I could barely hear your voices above the dance music but the conversation went something like this:  
    ‘Hi. The band was amazing,’ Annabelle said.
     You were flattered. I could tell by the careful way you smiled and said, ‘Thanks Annabelle.’      
      ‘It reminds me of the music we played when Kate and I used to make up dances and modelling shows… remember when we lived next door to each other...’
      How interesting, I thought, when Annabelle knew the dances and fashion shows were entirely directed by me.
     ‘Of course,’ you said, ‘how could I forget? You were always so creative,’ I could not believe what I was hearing. I also couldn’t believe any girl could be quite so…obvious or that you could flatter her so easily. You started packing your guitar in its case and you didn’t even give me a second glance.
      I admit I was occupied with a group of friends by this point but that was because I was so annoyed that you had all but ignored me. How could you, Heath? Finally, you glanced over at me but I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction of realising that I’d noticed. I realise now, you were mad at me for not telling you I loved you in return in the cottage the day before. But did you have to pay me back by flirting with Annabelle? It worked.
    In fact, I barely gave a second to look in your direction. The look on your face said it all. I admit, I was wondering if you were having second thoughts about us. It is true that you are from another world but that is not why I love you, I know that. I know that you would love me even if we’d been brought up together on the street. Games are for other people, Heath, not us.
     You only have to be yourself with me and I love you completely, for that alone. You once told me you could do anything you wanted, be anyone you wanted and so could I. I am so much like you; I am you. You left too early from the dance, if you heard my reply to Edmund’s question but not my true answer. Please come back to me. Save me from whatever fate has in store for me without you.  If you are reading this, I am on the train alone and you did not return in time to come with me. I shall wait for you at Hareton Hall…almost as if, although separate, we are one.
I love you more than words can ever say.
Yours forever,
The second letter was in Heath’s handwriting, dated that night:

    Dearest Kate
    Love and loyalty forever, without one the other doesn’t exist! How could you imagine otherwise?  I have not stopped thinking about you since we parted tonight and I’m writing this now, to give to you in the morning since the house mistress said you could not see me tonight. I walked over to the girls’ school to find you but the teachers wouldn’t tell me where you had gone. Someone said you had been taken back to London and that because no one could locate me, I am to leave on the morning train. They won’t tell me why either, just that I am wanted at home.
     I feel the need to set things straight between us, since this is our first quarrel and I could not go to sleep angry – or go to sleep at all knowing you are on your way to Hareton Hall without me. I shall give this to you when I see you since it will be easier than spoken words.
     I hope father is okay. You know I love him as if he were my own, and I have a strange feeling something is up from the way the school counsellor has been speaking to me with added empathy. No one will tell me anything. 
    I hope you at least decide to open this because I know you were angry with me last night. In light of what has happened, our quarrel seems pointless, so please, when you receive this, don’t just throw it out the window. You know I never write letters, never, but I am making the exception for you, because you are special Kate and always will be, because I love you forever and you know I always will.
    I’m going to start at the beginning and I’m warning you, this letter is going to be more than a few pages long…
     Okay, it’s true that I was deeply embarrassed by Annabelle being “all over me” as you put it. In my defence, it was past eight and I hadn’t been able to get to my supplies and I felt strangely weakened, my desire for blood stronger than ever. I am sorry to have to tell you this, but it is the truth. I won’t go on about it but I was feeling less than my best which may have added to the perception that I was ignoring you. Remember Kate, it is hard to be the one saying “I love you,” and not hearing those words in return.  
     As for the Band Battle, I think we were attracting a few fans (this bit is supposed to make you laugh!) but I admit Annabelle was very obvious tonight. Even our drummer noticed her behaviour. She credited you with her makeover! Perhaps you should have given her a make-under - just kidding.  Yes, I smiled back at her as I glanced around the room, waiting for YOU who seemed to be ignoring me! We had agreed to meet outside after the set had finished, to continue the party…elsewhere. But the scout from London was here and the band wanted me to put in an appearance. After he left, Mr Jones was on the war path trying to round up the boys who spiked the punch …guess who? Annabelle was a decoy, someone to hide behind. I am ashamed to say that is why I went outside with her and this is what happened next…
    Annabelle sipped her drink and tried to make conversation, thrilling lines such as:
    ‘Do you have plans, Heath, for when school ends?’
    I replied, ‘yes,’ wondering how long before it would be safe to go inside.
    ‘I don’t… not really. Father wants me to apply for university. I thought I might like to go to Art College in London instead.’
    I nodded, still waiting for you, feigning interest in her vapid conversation. I glanced through the glass doors and saw you and the moronic Edmund Hunt, dancing. Great choice if you wanted to make me jealous Kate, it worked.
    Annabelle looked up and said, ‘My brother seems to have taken a shine to…your sister.’
    I gulped my drink as one of the band made a secretive gesture in his direction indicating more alcohol would be forthcoming.
   ‘She’s… not my sister,’ I said quickly (because you aren’t!)
   ‘No… I’m sorry, of course not, but you were raised together…’ Annabelle added, more annoyingly than ever.
    ‘Only until we came here…almost six years ago now,’ I replied, setting the record straight.
     Annabelle then changed the subject.
    ‘I thought I’d hate it here but sometimes I prefer the school to home. I like having friends of my own.’
    (I’m not sure what you said to her that afternoon, Kate, but she was under the impression you were her new best friend!)
     I admit, it’s true, this next part makes me seem inconsiderate but I was bored by her conversation and looked around the room. I became even more annoyed by your flirty behaviour with rich boy Edmund. Annabelle was all…wobbly by then. I think she’d been drinking too much punch even though it was never designed for her! She kept putting her hand on my shoulder to steady herself and at one point I returned the gesture to hold her up!
     I looked across the room and there you were, beautiful in your pink dress, glaring at me. You turned your head (to listen to Edmund’s scintillating conversation, no doubt).
     Annabelle said, ‘Oh look, Kate’s dress fans out in waves across the floor, in waves at her feet like the ocean…’
     And at that moment, that’s exactly where I wanted to be with you. As far away from that school and our families and all the people who ever knew us, because I only want you, Kate, forever.
     Then, the music reached a fever pitch and Annabelle was jumping up and down and you were in the middle of the group and I was watching you and then you…fell down.
     ‘Oh,’ Annabelle said, suddenly still, ‘I hope Kate’s okay.’
     I moved towards you but Edmund Hunt got there first.
     Annabelle looked at me all gaga by then.  It’s true that I glanced at her, but more like she was a consolation prize! This was just as you turned heads paying Edmund your undivided attention!  (One of my teammates once walked in on the pair of them – brother and sister – trying to teach each other to dance in the student common room!) Honestly, Kate, we should never let either of them get between us. They are not worth it! (Jealous? Yes, at least I admit it!) I turned away as Edmund was helping you up.
   ‘Do you want to go outside?’ Annabelle asked me, unexpectedly.
     What was I supposed to say? I suppose I could have declined and stormed off like a girl but I wanted to make you pay. I’m sorry, I know that love is patient and kind; I know that is what we are taught but you and I are different. Words are not enough. I just want to be with you…impatiently, all the time. And sometimes I want to suck the vein in your wrist but I hold back because I’m trying to be better than that for you Kate, I’m trying not to have to be what I was born to be. You make me try to be a better man. Tonight I was less than my best, I know…
    The balcony was divided into sections for groups to talk and socialize.
    I made sure rich boy saw me as you told Edmund you were okay while he helped you outside.  I wanted to make you jealous so I put my arm around Annabelle then released her moments later.
     ‘Wait here,’ I told Annabelle, ‘I’m going to get you some water. I’ll be back in a moment.’ That’s when I heard you. Rich boy spoke first.
     ‘Are you sure you’re okay?’
     ‘Ah, I think it might be some kind of… minor sprain,’ you said.
     ‘Do you… need me to help you back to… ?’
     ‘No, I like the fresh air.’
     I could hear your words clearly Kate as I went to get Annabelle’s drink. 
     ‘Do you… need me to help you back to your room? Or would you like me to get…your friend, the one you’re always hanging out with,’ Edmund said jealously I might add.
     ‘That is not necessary, I do some things by myself you know… and we are not always together.’ I could hear those words Kate! You spoke them!
     ‘Well, certainly, people don’t see you together but I’ve heard…’ he went on.
     ‘Perhaps you listen to too much student gossip…’ you sounded mortified that people might guess we were together!
    ‘No…not at all,’ Edmund said, ‘I just thought you were with…’
     I was standing outside the balcony tent by then, hidden from view, but once I heard the topic of conversation I couldn’t resist pausing. Trust is fragile Kate!  You need to explain the rest to me because I never stop loving you no matter what you do…you added these words:
     ‘There is nothing to think… I’m my own person. I’m not with…anyone. I don’t have a boyfriend…’
      I admit I freaked out standing there in the shadows like a stranger to your life. Hadn’t we just spent the morning together? Hadn’t we been closer to each other than anyone else in this life? I wanted to teach you a lesson for being disloyal, so I stormed off through the crowd.
      By now you must know, Annabelle means nothing to me, nothing. YOU ARE MY LIFE KATE SPENCER.
     Then I woke up this morning to hear your father had died suddenly. I am on the morning train to London, drinking my supply. Honestly, I feel completely lost and only want to see your face again. Our petty argument seems just that. He was the only father I ever knew, too, Kate. I never met a kinder more sincere man in my life. I’m so sorry, Kate.
     I will be at Hareton Hall as soon as possible
     Hxxxxxxxxxxxx. (and here the page was smothered in at least a dozen kisses and hugs and what looked like the smudge of tears…)

   I read over the childish letters in the dark. It seemed plausible that Kate and Heath were separated as part of a plan Harrison was forming.
   Soon after, Kate was sent to Finishing School in Switzerland, where she stayed for three months until her eighteenth birthday.  Both sets of school fees were cancelled and Heath was thrown out of the house, onto the street, his inheritance “absorbed” in the family trust and expenditure – justified by Harrison’s appointment as the executor of the family estate. Neither of the younger Spencers appears to have completed secondary school in Scotland.  A final letter from Kate (written in Switzerland) filled me in on some of the missing details.

     Dear Heath
     By now you will know where I am and why and I wait patiently to join you.
     How typical of Harrison to have tricked the school into separating us, and how alone and terrible I feel without you now. I wait for you and please know everything that happened at the dance is ancient history; it all means nothing in light of recent events.  I still cannot believe father is gone. 
     Greta is taking this with her and has promised to give it only to you. Harrison, as you know, confined me to my room before I was packed off to Switzerland. He locked the door and barred the window after he dragged me from your path and would not let me leave this room. He says my place is with my family and not with “a freak”. But you are my family Heath, and if that makes us freaks together, so be it. We will meet as planned and Harrison will never separate us again.
    You won’t believe what he has done! His new girlfriend, Frances (we call her Franny and so far she is a good natured sort of person, trying to bring me food and drink when Harrison is not about) is soon to be his wife! The little boy (a mere toddler) is her brother. His name is Hinton. They allowed him into my room to give me company before I was packed off to Finishing School. How kind of them. He too is a good natured little boy, with a face like a cherub. He likes to play with his toys and offers them to me to “make me better”. I hate to imagine how Harrison’s influence could change him since he is such a sweet child. I have tried to warn Frances but she is so “in love” she refuses to listen, and so far, Harrison has only presented his nicer side. He insists I am in my room for my own good and I barely have the energy to resist any more. With you gone, I have nowhere to turn. I have enclosed half the money we saved together in my piggy bank as children. I’d hidden it and you will need it more than me. Please don’t send it back!
     This will be shorter than the last letter. I just want to clear up what happened at the stupid Battle of the Bands and we can talk when I finally see you. Greta has promised to send you the details and I know you will contact her; I just know it.
    Our school days seem pretty aimless in light of what has happened. Father died in my arms just before you arrived home. It was horrible, Heath. I miss him so much. I think he was our only ally.
     Back to our stupid misunderstanding; I know my thoughtless behaviour hurt you more than any beating or withdrawal of privileges we ever received from Harrison, just as yours did me; so not worth it. I love you, too, more than anything or anyone else. You should know, before we make plans, that this is what happened after you left the ball room that night. 
     I told Edmund that I couldn’t ever go out with him. He asked me if I was “attached” to anyone (which I found old fashioned and funny although I hardly imagine myself laughing ever again right now…)
     ‘I…can’t go out with you Edmund,’ I said.
     ‘But, you just told me you are not attached to anyone,’ he replied.
     That’s because I’m… more than attached. Those were my exact words, but you didn’t stay in the room long enough to hear them.
      I added, ‘It is true that you don’t see Heath and I together… in public or at school much but… we are more than attached. We are together in secret. We plan to move to London next year but of course my older brother would never approve so we just keep it to ourselves. It is true we are young but we are like, the same person. I could never imagine being without… Heath.’ And blah blah blah I went on, embarrassed to be relaying those words now, but they are TRUE.
    ‘I see,’ Edmund replied. Pale and dorky though he is; I think he meant us both well. ‘I knew you were close… Anyway, I’m going up to Cambridge next year….’ And after I had assured him there was no hope we would ever be more than friends, Edmund looked away, hurt. So please don’t hate him for liking me because I think he is actually a good person. He seemed to understand and asked if we could remain friends. I didn’t know what else to say so I said “yes”, but truly, it all meant nothing. I tried to get up but the pain in my ankle made me hesitate. I looked for you but you were NOWHERE. That night I dreamt that we were parted and I begged you to come back to me.
Tell me this isn’t true!
Love Kate (sealed with a thousand kisses)