Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Twenty: London) Wuthering Nights by Summer Day: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Twenty
Three Years Later
    Heath was walking home from work after he’d been photographed for the cover of New Business Magazine. The journalist was writing about Financial Whizz Kids – the title chosen for the article. Heath tried to remain himself but the art director had insisted on having his hair messed, his tie skewed and his jacket open, giving him the appearance of a rock star and making him more famous amongst his colleagues in a week than he had been in a year.  Women he’d never met messaged him. Heath told them he was married and most of them stopped.  He was too young to be married but then he explained he’d met his wife when they were teenagers and they just raised their eyebrows.
     Soho on Friday night was lit up with music and lights, like a buzzing carnival act. The West End was busy every night of the week. Heath had been working in the City making more money in his first year as a stock trader than he’d dreamt possible. Through extreme luck and, some might say, mathematical genius, financial fortune came his way. He was a mystery to his co-workers, but Heath knew the truth; that he never slept, that he was able to do in one day what took others a week; he could stay awake and trade in every time zone.
     After trawling the usual after-work bars with work colleagues (referred to euphemistically as “friends”), Heath often ended up near his home in Chelsea at a small cafe, drinking elixir from a flask and checking the Asian markets as he waited for his supper of rare roasted lamb, occasionally fish, sometimes chicken – always protein. He usually arrived at his house in the early hours of the morning and was up again and seated at his desk by six in the morning.
    He was aware that more than a decade of living this lifestyle would take its toll on his family, yet he existed in the moment. Money markets and stockbroking firms were where traders like him could make a huge profit and get out by the time they hit thirty, which gave him about nine years until burn out. And then some, because he’d been warned now, he wouldn’t appear to age more than twenty-six years. He had made a full transition, immortality beckoned. He loved the feeling money and this new vampirical power gave him. It had taken him less than a year to turn his life around and he couldn’t help but congratulate himself on his good fortune. He never had any doubt that he was as good as anyone else, as capable as any person.
     Heath stayed out late to avoid going home. It was true their house was envied in a street full of beautiful homes and families, but it was all surface. To the outside world, they seemed so perfect. Still, he knew he’d made this “fast money” by doing things he never dreamt he’d do – marrying into wealth, identifying the weaknesses of other men and preying on them. As he made money, others lost it.
     When the waiter brought the tall, striking young man in the dark suit another coffee as he’d requested, Heath remembered the request from his wife. She had asked him to bring groceries home - milk, bread, mundane things, nothing special. The message had been given to him in his office six hours ago. She’s added love and kisses as she always did, revealing her true self with each forgotten word. It had all become a bit old to Heath. He flinched when he recalled the embarrassing note.   
    Familiar music played in the cafĂ©; a beautiful song, sung by a band Kate had liked, all about the perfection of a day. For evening, it couldn’t have been a more inappropriate song. Nevertheless, the music played as Heath drank his coffee and went over the business transactions on his laptop as the wait staff began to clear up and wonder when the last customer would leave.
   The words of the song played over and over in his mind.
   Heath sighed, wondering why Kate always came back to him when he was alone. He wished she could be erased from his memory, forever. Any good psychologist would tell him he was better off without her. Heath finished his drink, and then went to the street to hail a cab. Of course, he wasn’t far from the bedsit they’d shared briefly after they’d married. The West End was filled with his memory of her.
    Meanwhile, Kate was at home at The Grange wondering how it had all gone so wrong. She sat in the window seat in the moonlight, doing some sketches under a lamp for the theatre design she was drafting. The drawings were a welcome distraction from her personal life and she’d grown to enjoy the drawing and planning along with the productions she worked on at the theatre with Annabelle; at twenty-one, she felt old.
    Two years previously
    Kate gave birth to a girl, Katarina.
   The baby’s birth was premature, yet she survived. Kate and the baby’s nanny were waving toys above Katarina’s crib in the nursery at The Grange, six months later. It was a lighter, airier room than the one at Hareton Hall, decorated with pink curtains at Annabelle’s insistence. There was a familiarity at The Grange which led to a certain type of contentment as Kate soothed her baby.  Just as she was about to sing Katarina her favourite lullaby, Annabelle ran breathlessly into the room.
    ‘Kate, I have to tell you something,’ Belle whispered. ‘The detective contacted me this morning; he’s discovered money being deposited into Heath’s bank account; they traced it to New York. Heath’s been living over there.’
    Kate was silent. 
   ‘Don’t you see what that means, Kate?’ she whispered. ‘He’s alive! We thought the worst when his bank account hadn’t been touched.’
   ‘Yes,’ Kate said. ‘I felt he was alive. What am I supposed to say? He abandoned me.’ She turned and walked purposefully up the stairs. The wild haired girl she had once been was prematurely replaced by a grown up wife. Kate looked at herself in the mirror as she dressed in her old jeans, red sweater and expensive winter coat. All she saw in the reflection was a miserable young woman, a terrible mistake. What choice did she have? Kate had wanted a father for her child.
    Months of wondering and searching for Heath who was untraceable had been hard on her. The man she loved had proved himself worse than unreliable. She knew she should be forgiving as Annabelle would no doubt be, yet she found it difficult to smile. If Heath did return, he was sure to be angry.
    ‘He’ll come to visit you, I know he will,’ Annabelle said as she walked into Kate’s room.
    Kate just looked at her, barely smiling. They walked downstairs. 
    ‘Well it won’t do much good now, will it? I’m going to see what Greta has made for lunch.’ Kate glanced briefly at the parcel Annabelle had left for her on the dining room table.   
     ‘These are the photographs I took,’ Annabelle added.
      Annabelle had taken photography as one of her core subjects at Art College. She had a job as a gallery assistant in a Soho studio. Her photographs were artistically lit but practically framed, perfect for advertising a production such as the one Kate was now co-designing in the West End.
   Kate’s passion for painting had not subsided. She’d also completed a theatre design course and her sketches were much in demand. Motherhood, and the beginnings of her artistic  career, had gone part way to rectifying the monotony of her days.  Katarina and painting made her focus on the future.
   That week, Harrison, his wife Frances and her young brother Hinton, had gone to Ireland to visit the premises of a new company. Edmund Hunt, Kate’s husband, was spending the day at his office in the City. Kate had agreed to house sit at Hareton Hall that night with the baby and her nanny, but only to satisfy her sister-in-law’s wishes.  
    Kate was working on one of her final designs for the play due to open the following month, and feeding Katarina, when she rushed up to the kitchen and hung her head over the sink. Though her stomach was flat, she felt unsettled and nauseated, again. The thought of bringing a new life into her world was quite shocking although she knew Edmund would be happy about it. Kate put the symptoms of pregnancy out of her mind. After Katarina and her nanny were settled upstairs, Kate decided to explore. 
    It was strange to pad around Hareton Hall in bare feet and her dressing gown for the first time in years. The memories were provoking a strong reaction in her.
     The mansion was quiet but it still felt more like home than The Grange. She felt the absence of Heath and her father, everywhere she wandered.  The usual staff had Sunday afternoon off, including Greta. Kate had turned all the chandelier lights on (the electricity bill was sure to annoy Harrison) and turned the downstairs music up. She wasn’t that far away from being a teenager even though she was now a mother; she felt like softly dancing the roof off, if only to forget how much of a mess she’d made of everything.
     When she finished moving to the music, she decided to explore the upper floors. She peeked into the playroom where Katarina was soundly asleep. The nanny, whom Edmund had insisted on employing (she had raised both him and Annabelle), was knitting a cardigan in the comfortable arm chair and placed her fingers to her lips. Kate quietly shut the door. Although the nanny was brilliant, Kate sometimes thought the woman considered her too young to be an adequate mother.
     Wandering alone through the top floors, she was surprised to find her former bedroom was similar to the way she had left it. Her school mementos had been placed in boxes high in the cupboard and labelled in Franny’s neat, clear, handwriting.  Photographs from every year of her childhood and adolescence, as well as old videos, were stacked side by side. 
      It was kind of Frances not to have thrown them out, Kate thought. Previously, she’d had   little to do with her sister-in-law though they now lived ten minutes apart. There was even a box of old school uniforms. Kate took out her blue blazer with red piping around the edges, the one she’d worn to boarding school in Scotland. Then she pulled a large, woven basket towards her. She intended to have a huge throw out, to leave the past behind her once and for all.
      Cleaning up was busy work and mid-morning; half way through throwing out her old clothes, Kate became bored. She checked on Katarina, kissed her precious face, fed her, and then considered her clothing options. Kate dragged her old riding clothes from her wardrobe and pulled on high, polished black boots that matched her long, curly dark hair. Kate twisted her curls into a loose bun and grabbed her coat. It was true that Harrison had maintained the house but it was sure to be chaotic again soon with the imminent return of the rambunctious yet adorable Hinton.   
     On occasion she had found Hinton, a few years older than Katarina, standing by her cot and attempting to hold hands with the baby or teach her words she didn’t know. He was a very protective, sweet natured child, although Kate constantly worried for his future in the care of Harrison. Yet Hinton’s good nature seemed to bring out the best in everyone around him, including her brother.
     Thirsty, she stomped to the kitchen, aware of her noisy feet on the polished floors. The music had stopped and the place was almost eerie. Kate missed her father, but not enough to live in the house that held the memory of him, Heath and of their shared childhood. Kate poured herself a large glass of water and drank it quickly. Almost as quickly, she grabbed her scarf and went outside to the stables, pulling the door shut behind her.  The wind, which was rising across the Heath in the distance, along the walking tracks and riding trails, was harsh. Her lips were red and her cheeks flushed with cold and exercise. 
      Kate patted, brushed and saddled her horse but she decided to walk alongside Hero through the park trail. It was not a great day for riding in her possible condition. Although it started out sunny, it became cool, windy and overcast. Kate knew exactly where to find shelter when the storm that had earlier threatened to interrupt her afternoon, finally arrived, after she’d been walking Hero for half an hour. Kate removed her wedding ring, the one that rubbed on her finger with the reigns and placed it in her pocket. She wore her first one around her neck, close to her heart.