Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Thirty-two: Birth) Wuthering Nights: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Thirty-two
    Nights later, Kate woke in the dark. Her stomach grumbled as she listened to the rain lick the roof.  It was two in the morning. Hunt was sleeping soundly, as Kate crept silently to the wardrobe and removed her long, winter coat, her woollen hat, scarf and gloves. Instead of slippers she slid on her waterproof boots as she prepared for the winter night after many months of clear weather. Kate could hardly breathe she felt so cooped up. She couldn’t explain her need to get out of the house. Her mind was overworked. She was not thinking clearly. Kate wished she had told Heath about Katarina. She woke up, dreaming of Heath and thought if she didn’t get a breath of fresh air there was no way she’d have the strength to deliver the child that kicked inside her. She knew Heath had rejected her, yet she was compelled to find him.  
     Kate grabbed the keys to her car then realized she probably shouldn’t drive. Besides, her car was at the garage getting serviced. She knew Edmund’s Range Rover would make a loud scraping noise coming out of the gravel driveway. Instead, Kate walked quietly downstairs, found the keys to the house in the kitchen and walked very quietly out the door.   It was a good distance from the Grange yet she knew a shortcut across the heath towards Hareton Hall that she hadn’t used in months. She needed to see Heath again; she would wait for him - forever, if she had to. Tell him it was a mistake, that they belonged side by side, that she never wished to be parted from him again.
   Kate was not prepared for the cold air that slapped her face as she stepped into the night. She wasn’t far from the beginning of the trail that led between the two houses and she was sure she could find it. Rain started to spit down and the irrational part of Kate did not think about the stupidity of walking in the dark, alone, in her condition.
     The manicured garden formed a pattern - a maze that she remembered from childhood -and led the exact way across the heath towards Hareton Hall. The lone house was filled with secrets and lies. Kate was determined to find Heath, to talk to him about Katarina, to make him understand that she had made a stupid mistake. She knew this track, knew the way by dark and from memory. 
    Kate peered through the midnight air. She caught her breath for the first time in hours and pulled her overcoat tight around her. Kate knew she shouldn’t do it, but she thought, if she could just get a glimpse of her old home, the place she now missed, the only place she really belonged to, everything would be all right. She’d had a bad dream, about herself, about Heath and the baby. She needed to know that Heath was alright, needed to tell him about Katarina and wanted to see him again. It had been almost a week since they’d talked. Kate walked on.
     The baby stirred inside her and the rain spat down suddenly but softly from the sky. Kate kept going as crystal tears, like the ones from her childhood, began to roll down her cheeks. She put one foot in front of the other, driven. The wind howled, the night closed in on her. She stumbled and hit her head on the rocks. Kate was as far from The Grange as she was close to The Hall. The pain was unbearable as she screamed into the dark. 
   Hunt woke, restless in the night.
  ‘Kate,’ he called.
   He wondered which part of the house his beautiful, thankless wife had roamed off to. He saw that her cream dressing gown lay crumpled on a chair and something about the emptiness of the room, the silence in the hallway, bothered him. Hunt got out of bed, put on his slippers in his ordered way and walked downstairs to the kitchen.
   ‘Kate,’ he called again, ‘Kate.’
    In response, there was howling wind and an open window. He walked over to pull it down and latch it shut as the rain fell and the wind seemed to gather momentum. Then he noticed his keys were missing, which meant his wife had gone out driving (a ridiculous notion given that she could barely fit behind the wheel) or walking in the rain. Hunt was beside himself with worry and looked at the telephone. He knew where she had gone just as surely as if she had told him herself. Although the last thing he wanted was to talk to his sister, he picked up the receiver and dialled Hareton Hall.
    Heath never expected a call in the middle of the night so he hadn’t bothered to take the telephone off the hook. He couldn’t believe someone would bother to ring so he tried to ignore the noise until, restless and unable to sleep himself, he picked up the telephone.
    ‘Yes,’ he said, sleepily and irritated. Annabelle was asleep at the other end of the hall but woke when she heard raised voices. Belle wandered into the room, wrapped in a blanket.
    Heath had spoken only a few sentences before he handed the phone to Annabelle and left the room. He dragged on his boots, riding britches and a long coat. He’d had barely any time to dress because he knew, as surely as if Hunt had told him, where Kate was.
   ‘Is it Kate? What’s wrong?’
   ‘She’s gone missing. Your brother said she’d been acting strange. She’s been cooped up. He’s worried she was coming here and something’s happened…here, you talk to him…’
    ‘Shouldn’t you ring the police?’
    ‘It will be hours before they do anything, but yes, you do that. I’m going out, I think I know where she might have gone - it will be quicker.’
    It was moments later that Annabelle realised Heath had picked all of this information up from one sentence. If Annabelle hadn’t known better she would have said her husband was a mind reader. Annabelle looked both put out and worried as she walked over to the telephone. 
    Heath could read Hunt’s mind but he’d also dreamt about her. He dreamt about Kate every night. 
    In his dream they were running along Hampstead Heath together. They were children, again. It was summer. They were bare footed and laughing as the sun shone. Heath only needed a hat and sunglasses. His dream became a nightmare as the sky darkened and the rain came down and Kate, older, turned to him with rain on her face and said, ‘Remember…when I’m missing...when we  are parted…look harder…I’ll be there… I love you…I’ll always love you…When you find me we’ll be together…forever…’
    Then he must have woken and fallen asleep again and in the next dream he was lying in Kate’s old room with all her photographs on the dressing table where she’d left them, trying to sleep but constantly woken up by a tap at the window. Rain poured down and the rattle of her tiny fingers became harder and louder until the glass shattered and a voice, Kate’s voice snarled, ‘Let me in, let me in!’ Her neck was red with blood, her skin white as snow. Venom-filled fangs were bared as she hissed…I’ve been away for eighteen years…’
     Heath had woken and gone to touch the small hand of his beloved but just as her icy fingertips moved on the broken glass of the window pane, cut and bloody, she disappeared.
    Rain poured down as Heath walked, ran, and then merged speedily through the park. The meadow was becoming an ocean of water and mud.
    ‘Kate! Katherine!’ Heath yelled, shining a torch into the mist. ‘Katherine!’ He merged faster then ran towards the glass house. A bundle of shawl, overcoat, boots and wet hair lay waiting for him, shivering in the shelter. There was a gash on her forehead. Heath walked to her and put his arms around her, holding her in an embrace that locked them together like one person.
   ‘Kate, my darling Kate, what have you done? No one knew where you were. You shouldn’t have gone out on a night like tonight…’
   Kate looked pale and her face was wet from the rain and cold which was perhaps even worse. He knew he had to normalize her body temperature and although he was getting colder by the day, his coat would warm her. He bundled her up inside it.
  ‘I’m taking you to the car, Kate. I parked it not far from here. I knew where you would be.’
   Kate stumbled to her feet as Heath helped her. ‘You wouldn’t speak to me, Heath. You stopped talking to me…’
   ‘I was desperate. I tried to forget you.’
  ‘I know. We’ve both made mistakes…’
  ‘I should never have left you. It’s all my fault…’  
   ‘No, it’s mine,’ Kate said, half delirious. ‘Oh Heath, I came back to you…’ She put her arms around his neck. He leant in and whispered, ‘I never stopped loving you’. Her voice was fading. Then she curled up in pain and cried. Heath scooped her up and lifted her from the ground. Normally, carrying a heavily pregnant woman would be difficult but Kate was surprisingly light.
   ‘We have to get you home, get you warm,’ Heath said.
   ‘I’m…I’m sorry. Forgive me for what I did. I made a mistake, should never have married Hunt…but Katarina…’
    ‘Hush,’ Heath said, ‘I know, you’re delirious.’ He placed his hand on her brow, worried that her skin was burning. ‘None of that matters now…’
    ‘It is…as if we are the same person…I cannot exist without my love…I cannot exist without you…’
   ‘Nor I you,’ Heath whispered but it wasn’t clear if Kate could hear him. He knew he had to get her to a doctor, quickly.
    Heath bundled her into the car and rang emergency.
    ‘Kate, you’re not thinking straight. Try to stay awake. We’re almost…there,’ Heath looked over, and touched her forehead which was still warm but Kate’s eyes were closed, she was slumped into the seat belt and her breath was laboured.