Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Twenty-seven: The Girl in The Attic) Wuthering Nights: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Twenty-seven
 The Girl in The Attic
      Hinton had a bad feeling. He texted Katarina and they agreed to meet in the Glass House. They could go to dinner at The Grange after they’d had a chance to speak.  At least outside was safer and, still needing more external shots of the heath in twilight, Kat lifted the latch of the iron gate. The entrance to the private garden was the exact place she had read about in her mother’s journal.
     The gate led to a maze that in turn spilt into an abandoned part of the heath. Katarina wore her walking boots as she rambled in her rolled up jeans, a long coat and scarf draped around her shoulders. As the winter evening closed in on her, Katarina buttoned up her coat and pulled the belt tight around her tiny waist. The young girl walked towards the now private arboretum, largely abandoned in winter and known only to those who lived close by. The directions had been detailed in her mother’s journal. Her father had taken her there, only once, as a child.
    The wind howled and Katarina’s camera tossed and whipped around her wrist. She suddenly wished she’d modernized her instrument. If she’d had a passion for digital, the camera would not be so heavy or so much trouble.
    Almost immediately and without warning, the air had turned to pre-snow iciness. Katarina could see her breath and soft flecks of powder fell around her feet.  Autumn had been so unpredictable this year. As ice began to spit from the sky, Katarina stumbled inside the shelter.
    The glass house, located behind a woodland meadow, had been restored in recent years. It was so beautiful that she resolved to take Hinton here. When Katarina thought of Hinton, she smiled. Their tutoring sessions had started playfully enough but then Hinton seemed to improve exponentially. She was certain his initial unfriendliness towards her had been related to his secrets and not his arrogance. It was a wonder Hinton was the person he was, when she considered how many challenges he had had - the loss of his parents, the discovery of his rare needs.  She was proud of him. Hinton had the courage to seek acceptance however weird and bizarre his lineage.
      Somehow, everything would work out. There was a quote from a Shakespearean sonnet she had read at school that came to mind: Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds… O no! It is an ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken…
     The deep thrill she felt inside at the merest thought of seeing him again was unlike anything she had experienced. She wondered if he felt the same and hoped that he did.
      Katarina knew for certain that her father would not be happy about her connection to the Spencers, and would never have encouraged their meeting in the first place. In just a few weeks, the course of her life had altered completely. Katarina felt sure of her decision to support Hinton as she sat in the garden seat waiting for him.
     Her breath was visible on the glass now. It was heating up as Katarina waited patiently for Hinton who had just texted her to say he was on his way. She unwound her scarf, took off her woollen snood and pulled off her gloves. As she did so, she dropped one of them on the ground and reached to pick it up.
     Hadn’t Linus, taking into account his stupid theatrical superstitions, once told her, that, “in the theatre a lady should never retrieve her own glove. Instead, she should wait for another to pick it up for her.” Katarina, knowing how silly this seemed, reached down for the glove but couldn’t find it in the shadows.
     Finally, hunched under the chair and looking for the glove, she was confronted with the words of ancient lovers - or they seemed ancient to her.
      At the base of the tree, behind the arboretum chair were the words HEATH & KATE 1988 carved into the growing wood. Like a child, Kate wound her fingers over the engraving, forgetting all about her missing glove in the process. An onlooker might have thought the glove had simply disappeared or been taken by a ghost. Outside, the wind drove  a branch into the glass wall which frightened Katarina and made her turn around suddenly to see a grown man in a long coat, standing, illuminated by lightening in the darkness.
    ‘Hinton can't come,’ Heath said.
     Katarina looked up so quickly she slipped and Heath moved and caught her by the arm.
    ‘I came home from the city to collect a file I left. George said you’d be here.’
    ‘I…I was just…’
    ‘Tutoring Hinton? Yes, he told me. He’s certainly improving. Well, anything would be an improvement. That boy’s spelling is atrocious and no tutor I’ve paid has ever done anything for him.’ Heath seemed annoyed. ‘George told me you’ve been…inside the attic, taking photographs. Good luck, the images won’t develop.’
    It was time for a little bit of honesty, Katarina thought, as they both walked outside to her Uncle’s sleek, waiting car.
    ‘Never mind, there is honour in the attempt,’ Katarina said. Heath walked quickly and Katarina asked directly, ‘Who is the girl in the attic?’
    Heath paused for a moment and then responded. ‘She is a hybrid, a human transitioning into a vampire who has lived at Hareton Hall longer than me. There were complications with her transition. It has taken longer than expected. You must know there is strangeness in this… family’   
     ‘Yes. So I’ve gathered. I’ve been told some things... about Hinton. But, I’m not just his tutor…I…I’m his friend. And it’s pretty obvious Hareton Hall… is haunted.’
    Heath smiled at the use of her old fashioned word.
   ‘The house has always attracted comment,’ was all he added. 
    The sleek Jaguar was waiting on the other side of the park and they seemed to reach the car in double quick time as Heath hurried Katarina along. 
    ‘Get in,’ Heath said as he reversed the car. ‘Listen to me. Hinton is a player. He doesn’t have friends who are girls.’
    Katarina looked at him sharply. ‘Well, he does now.’
    There was silence for a moment as Heath digested this.
    Katarina changed the subject. ‘Is that why I can’t see your breath?’
    Heath was lost for words for the first time as they drove through the winding road towards her house. He did not answer her question directly. ‘Now, there’s a bit more of your mother in you,’ he responded. ‘You can’t see my breath… because it’s not cold enough.’
    ‘You could see mine. Why is there a… girl in the attic?’
     Katarina looked down, jealous that he knew so much more about the cocooned hybrid than she did.
    ‘What do you mean?’
     ‘She looked like me, sleeping on the ledge, and I look like my mother.’
    ‘Katarina… you’re imagining things. I can take you there now and the attic will be empty. Yes, it has been said the girl haunts the house but you have to forget this. It will bring you no comfort. You can never touch her or speak to her… or even see her properly. I know Linus took you to one of his wild parties. I can only imagine what they get up to there. You’re not…on anything are you? I mean anything that might make you hallucinate.’
     ‘No,’ Katarina said quickly.
     ‘Ah… there’s the fire.’
     ‘What do you mean?’
      ‘…The fire that your mother had in her personality.’
     Kat cringed. ‘…Is that why you…liked her?’
     ‘I… I suppose so,’ Heath said.
     ‘Are you going to tell me the truth?’
      ‘I’m going to try…but not now.’ he responded.
      ‘Soon. In the meantime, read your mother’s journal. I know you have it.’
       Katarina glanced at Heath incredulously.
       The man didn’t want to talk any more tonight. This girl was half his age, far too young to understand the depth of his feelings for her mother. He was in no mood for explaining the supernatural. Not now. He was tired; a long day trading stocks and shares will do that to a man.
     He was also concerned that the cousins were getting close. It wasn’t meant to happen like this, so far out of his control. His son had been given instructions to befriend then dump her, and it wasn’t really going to plan now that Hinton had taken it further and just left it at “befriend her”. Didn’t he realise how much Heath hated her father? How little they owed the Hunts? It was time to end this stupid game.
    Heath pulled up suddenly.
   ‘Where are we going?’ Katarina asked.
    ‘To The Grange, your father is expecting you. I called him. The dinner date has been cancelled. Hinton and Linus sent me to tell you. Neither of them could get away from having to work late.’
    They drove in silence, the short way, before arriving at the gravel driveway of The Grange.
    ‘Would you like to come inside?’ Katarina offered. ‘It’s very warm and cosy compared to The Hall.’
      Heath contemplated her offer for a moment. ‘I suppose you would think that. But I went to dinner at The Grange once and the atmosphere just about froze ice.’
       Katarina looked startled.
      ‘The snow seems to have settled, go on then. You’re safe to walk up the path. I’ll stay here until you’ve gone inside.’
    Katarina slammed the door loudly as she got out of Heath’s car.
    Heath was quite annoyed at himself. This young girl was making him less brash, kinder. It didn’t suit him at all, and she’d discovered Kate’s hiding place and the glass house, which was irritating. How long before she discovered even more secrets?
     Once again, Heath didn’t like the thought of her becoming too close, though it was his desire that she and Hinton… well, ultimately he wanted The Grange and it hadn’t been on the market, ever. Katarina was heir. It was important his plan proceed. Heath was glad she hadn’t acknowledged the tree markings he and Kate had carved on that bitterly cold afternoon. It was so long ago now. The girl must have seen them. He longed for a return to those days, for Kate to come back to him. He had waited so long to unlock the past.
    In the distance, The Grange reminded him of Annabelle.