Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Nineteen: Promises) Wuthering Nights by Summer Day: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Nineteen

     Meanwhile, Kate was unreasonably cold in the Alps.
     Her roommates were chattering away by the fire, three to a room. They’d only known each other for a few months but already they were friendly, Kate thought, especially after she’d shown them the picture of her and Heath. On cold afternoons after deportment class and flower arranging and French cooking and “How to Entertain Diplomats” or “How to Behave When Greeting the Royal Family” tutorials were over, the girls socialized.
     They turned their iron upside down, pulled out the small milk pan they hoarded for this very occasion, and made hot chocolates by pouring milk into the pan and sitting the pan on the underside of the iron to heat the milk. Their drinks were laced with the cream and marsh mellows they bought in the tiny convenience store in town. The girls sipped hot chocolate as they talked. The topic of discussion was usually Kate, Heath and their “everlasting love”.
     One of Kate’s roommates, Tracey, was from California. She spoke in an accent Kate loved and made LA seem like a place Kate would definitely like to go one day. Daisy, the shorter one with dark hair, was from London.
    ‘Oh, he’s really cute,’ Daisy said.
    ‘Yes, he’s hot. I would…definitely,’ Trace replied with a wicked smile.
    Kate smiled. ‘Well, neither of you can have him, he’s all mine,’ Kate said, snatching the photograph, knowing she’d probably never have the pleasure of another image now that Heath was in the process of transition.
    ‘Are you sure?’ Tracey asked mischievously. ‘All alone in London after your brother treated him so…scandalously?’
    ‘Yes, it really was terrible to throw the foster child…out like that,’ Daisy added. ‘My mother would never treat a foundling that way. It just looks really bad to the outside world…’
      Kate had told them the whole story (well, the parts she could repeat – nothing about Heath’s transition) but they somehow always got the details wrong.
      ‘Heath is so hot,’ Daisy said, glancing at the photograph of Kate and Heath taken just days before they ran away from Hareton Hall. Kate looked at the picture nostalgically.
   ‘Gosh your house sounds so romantic, tucked away opposite a frozen park…’ Daisy added.
    Kate unfolded the letter she had received from Heath by way of Annabelle and re-read it as she stirred the milk pan, making sure a plastic skin didn’t form.
    ‘Only one more week,’ she thought ‘…before I’m free of this place forever.’
     The girls had been sworn to secrecy and Kate had worked out the route she would take from the school, down to the convenience store across the sleet road to the bus stop, down the mountain road to the train station, through the tunnel in the mountain…across the channel then on to London.     
     The cafĂ© was in Dean Street. From the corner table you could see the cobbled pathway that led towards Covent Garden. Art students and opera singers busked there in the hub of shops and cafes and people. 
    It had been a long three months and in that time Heath and Kate had communicated using letters and postcards. 
     In the pre-internet nineties, Kate and Heath needed Annabelle as their intermediary.
     The cards and letters Kate wrote Heath during their enforced separation lined the wall of the tiny room he’d taken. They began to arrive less than a week after Heath and Kate   separated. Kate found a local bakery near the school where she walked to in her lunch hours and religiously posted a card to Heath using Annabelle’s address. Sometimes at night after Heath had eaten food brought home with him from the pub (always some kind of red meat or chicken), he fell asleep reading the names of the cards on the wall.
     The words: holiday, skiing and Switzerland became a kind of pattern in his mind; a pathway out of the daily grind he told himself was only temporary. He recognised a stronger desire for blood (and always the desire for revenge on Harrison) the closer he got to midnight.
      His love for Kate tempered him. He was sure it made him a better person to know he had to be the best he could, for her. He resisted the evils lurking in St James. Daily, he was tempted by the homeless people on the street, the women in expensive coats, business men in even more expensive suits. Their veins pulsed at him like light if he was even a few minutes late taking his medication. He’d explained all of this to Kate in a letter; the one in ten thousand chance he’d had of being born a hybrid, then turning into a vampire; how his biological father must have carried the gene but not necessarily suffered from its affliction.
    The night he was due to see Kate, Annabelle and some of her Art School friends took Heath out to celebrate the fact that he had applied and been accepted into a training program at the firm where he cleaned. His brilliance with numbers and ability to stay up all night studying ensured him the highest marks in the exam. They went to a restaurant in the centre of town where Annabelle, who had pretty much given up on Heath as anything but a friend, had arranged a surprise for Heath. Kate’s arrival was not supposed to be until the next day, Saturday, but she’d managed to “escape” early, as she put it.
    Kate waited for Heath expectantly. She wore a scarlet coat and a matching scarf and her hair was swept up in a winter woollen cap, making her appear sophisticated beyond her years. Annabelle arrived with a group of friends from Art School and headed to the reserved table.
    ‘Kate! It’s so wonderful to see you. I cannot believe you are back in London for good! Don’t worry; everyone thinks you are staying with me. They won’t notice you’ve gone missing until Tuesday - plenty of time for you and Heath…’
    ‘I can’t thank you enough, Annabelle.’ Kate said.
    ‘Well,’ Annabelle replied, ‘I hope we can be friends now, as we were always meant to be.’ Annabelle glanced over at the handsome Art School student she was dating and Kate realised Annabelle was finally over Heath. Maybe it was true they could at last be friendly. Without her cover, she would never have been able to escape the day before her birthday. 
     ‘Thank you so much for being such a true friend to me Annabelle.’
     ‘Not at all, it’s about time Harrison got some of his own medicine. I’ve always liked Heath… as you know, but let’s face it, he only ever had eyes for you,’ Anne added.
   When Heath arrived, expecting to see Annabelle and her other friends (who were now his friends) he was completely floored.
   ‘Kate! You changed your mind and arrived early!’ he said as she shyly kissed him on both cheeks.
   ‘I wish. Tomorrow,’ she whispered in his ear, ‘I’m yours forever.’
   Kate flung her arms around him and together they sat with the group while they all decided where to go for dinner. Something cheap but cheerful in Soho was the general consensus. Heath chatted excitedly about his new job opportunity and Kate told him about her plans to enrol in Art College with Annabelle.
   Kate leaned in toward Heath and took his hand under the table. ‘I don’t care what happens now as long as I’m with you,’ she said. ‘Finishing School was a nightmare.’
   Heath smiled back with his eyes and whispered to her, ‘I love you.’ He had invested his stock market winnings and had managed to double the money in a month. It was enough for them to have their deposit on a flat.
    ‘The room in Covent Garden, it’s tiny, it’s not much, but soon I’ll be making so much money. In a few years you’ll be able to choose the finest house in London - or, who knows, we could move to America. I’ve always wanted to go there.’
   They talked this way all night, making plans for their future. They couldn’t tell anyone about their plans for the next morning, not even Annabelle. It was too risky to involve others. They intended to stay up all night until their wedding day which would be the following morning.
   ‘New York is supposed to be brilliant,’ Kate said as she ate the salad off her plate and passed Heath the chicken.
    ‘It is for artists,’ Toby said. Kate was keen to meet Toby, Annabelle’s boyfriend. Belle had been secretly seeing him for months. It was the reason for her move to London. Annabelle’s father didn’t approve of her dating an artist. In defiance Annabelle had run away from home. Her father had not dared to cut her off financially though, as Heath and Kate had been. Annabelle was in love (for the second time, Kate thought with a smile). Belle’s new passion finally took the heat off Heath, although he’d obviously grown to like Annabelle. They’d made better friends than he’d anticipated.  Unexpectedly, Annabelle dragged Toby up off his seat and they began to dance to some random eighties song together.
    Kate leant in, ‘Wow Art School has certainly changed Annabelle …”
    Heath replied, ‘For the better, I’d say. By the way, how long before they notice you’re missing and phone the authorities?’
    Kate said, ‘You mean Harrison …’
   ‘Well, they think I’m staying with Annabelle until Tuesday. By tomorrow, I’ll be eighteen and they won’t have any say in the matter.’   
     Kate leant in and Heath kissed her, the strobe lighting played tricks with their shadows as he whispered, ‘I’m under control... I just thought you should know…I’ve been to the specialist and he says I may not devolve any further as long as I stay on my…’
     Kate put her finger to his lips, ‘We love each other. That is all that matters.’
      At midnight, Heath replayed those words many times in his head. He could see Kate’s expectant face as Annabelle and Toby wandered off to another club. Heath and Kate hailed a taxi. 
    ‘I want you so much,’ Kate whispered to Heath in the back of the London cab.
    ‘Me too, but we should wait until morning.’
    ‘What do you mean?’ Kate smiled.
     ‘By morning, the transition for me will be almost complete. My specialist told me the first phase takes three months, unless there is a relapse. I’ve been taking my medication now for almost three months and I’m… stable. I won’t be tempted to…drain you…’ Heath then looked away as he said this and pulled out of his jacket the ring he’d been carrying in his pocket since his first pay cheque. He’d lived on nothing and saved every cent to buy Kate the style of ring that he thought she deserved. The diamond was larger and more expensive than a young man in his position would have been able to afford, but it was a token of his trust in their future and his faith in Kate’s complete love. The diamond shone.
   ‘Oh, Heath, it’s beautiful.’
   Kate slipped it on her finger.
   ‘Happy birthday Kate.’
   ‘It fits perfectly,’ Kate said as she slid her arms around Heath’s broad shoulders and kissed him passionately.
   ‘Oh, we need to do this properly,’ Kate whispered, coming up for breath.
   ‘Driver, pull over please,’ Heath said.
    The cab pulled up on the curb near the well-heeled part of Kensington where the shops were freshly painted. 
     Heath asked the driver to wait, while he opened the door and helped Kate out.
     In the street lights, Kate walked with Heath towards a clothing shop.
     ‘Wait outside,’ she warned, ‘I had access to some money for the ski trip I’m meant to go on. I ordered something from this store in Switzerland.  The store had it packed up and sent to the London shop. You’re not allowed to see it yet.’
     Kate returned with a large bag. Inside was her wedding dress. It had been packaged up for her collection, all arranged weeks ago.
    Before she could add anything in words, Heath kissed her.
   ‘Kate, you have made me the happiest person in London.’
   ‘And you have made me the happiest woman in the world, in the universe,’ Kate said. It was first light as they drove towards the tiny church in Chelsea; Kate recalled scrawling the words Katherine & Heath own the universe…all over her school texts when she was younger. Soon those words would be a reality. Kate knew they belonged together - her dream was coming true. 
    It was freezing; flakes of snow began to fall from the sky as they walked up the steps. Kate emerged from a side room dressed in her cream lace vintage gown. Heath was talking with the vicar. They’d bought flowers from a street seller on the way and Kate held a large bouquet of tulips.
    Together they said their traditional vows and both embraced on their promise. Kate shivered as they kissed.
    They exchanged words of thanks with the vicar who remarked on their youth. After the promise of their love, they signed the registry.
    Outside as they hailed a cab, Kate and Heath kissed again with an intensity that made people on the footpath stare.
    Heath smiled, filled with love for his beautiful new wife. He had wanted her from the first moment they had kissed, yet they had waited to be free. They reached for each other in the back seat of the London cab as they headed towards Soho. Heath had spent his whole pay cheque on a suite at the best hotel in Covent Garden. The exquisite room with the Queen sized double bed and fresh sheets was strewn with the petals of Kate’s favourite flowers as Heath carried his young wife over the threshold. For the first time in months, as they kissed passionately and undid the buttons on lace and silk, their lives seemed rich with possibility.

      The afternoon had been perfect. The transitions occurred in the shadows, in the early hours, as Kate lay sleeping. She woke and hugged Heath to her, nursing him through his night terrors, checking they had all the necessary supplies of Type A, plasma, elixir, medication. The final part of the six-month process was the worst, they’d been told. Kate soothed Heath as he fell back into a trancelike sleep.
     In the early morning, a knock at the door woke Heath. Kate had risen earlier and was using the hair dryer. A messenger delivered a note addressed to Heath who read it quickly.
     ‘I’m just going outside for a moment,’ he said through the gap in the bathroom door.
     ‘Uh, okay,’ she called out to him. Silence was the response.
      Kate wrapped her dressing gown around her and padded into the room with wet feet. She searched the hallway of the hotel; nothing. It worried her that the messenger and Heath had disappeared into dawn.
      Heath had hastily scribbled a note for her and left it on the bed.
     Forget me until I find you. Wait for me, I’ll return. I’m sorry H.
     Kate was shocked. It couldn’t be Heath’s writing, but it was. Kate dropped the note on the floor, pulled on her clothes hastily and ran out onto the street, bare foot, to look for him. After an hour on the street, searching through the crowds, it was hopeless. Her feet, bloodied and bruised, were the least of her troubles. Heath had disappeared into thin air. All Kate had left was the memory of the first night they’d spent together, blissfully entwined in each other’s arms.