Sunday, May 19, 2013
(#Thirty-six: Birthday Party) Wuthering Nights by Summer Day: Inspired by Wuthering Heights
Almost twenty years had passed since the night she was born, and Heath remembered it was Katarina’s birthday. He’d had the gift wrapped. A gold necklace with diamonds tastefully worked into swans on the pendant. A fine piece of jewellery, new, not from the family crypt, Heath mused. He also had another gift, the deeds to Hareton Hall, made out to Linus, Katarina and Hinton. He placed inside the envelope the gift of a round the world plane ticket, and access to the shares he had set aside for her since she was born. It was the least he could do, with all his money. He knew it would never be enough to make up for the neglect she’d suffered from him. The gift was merely a gesture and he expected nothing in return. Her desire to be friendly surprised him, given that there were so many unanswered questions about their... family.
Katarina was surprised that Heath remembered her birthday since he had ignored every other one and had refused an invitation to the party that evening. Instead, he had driven over to The Grange to see her. He explained he didn’t “do” parties anymore, especially ones with a Great Gatsby theme. Instead, he asked her to go walking with him across Hampstead Heath. Katarina smiled and said, ‘I’ll get my coat.’
They walked in tandem across the meadow in the mild winter light.
“I need to get some more decorations for tonight in Hampstead High Street,’ Katarina said, making small talk. ‘Linus will be there, you know. And Hinton would love to see you again. You never replied to my invitation, so I just assumed you…forgot.’
‘Do you honestly think I could forget the day you were born?’
‘No,’ Katarina said, ‘I suppose not.’
‘What was she like, my mother? People say you were both… inseparable. They talk of a ghostly teenaged girl…like the girl I saw in the rafters that day. Tell me what she was like…’
‘Well, at first I thought she was nothing like you, but I have changed my mind. You share the same curiosity about things you should not… and there is a determination in your manner that is similar.’
Heath looked down at his feet.
Katarina could hardly believe that this stranger was actually her father. After discovering her mother’s old journals she had always suspected there was a story she was never allowed to know. She did not understood her need to reach out to this strange, alone man, who hadn’t really shown her any love. Only her mother’s journals filled in the blanks, shocking though they were to her. Deep down, there had always been something missing from her family history, something that she’d always suspected. Now she knew there was a vampire in the bloodline. She wanted to go far away from here, at least for a while.
‘Your eyes are the same,’ Heath said, reaching out to Katarina. He touched her hair when she stood in front of him, overlooking the meadow. Katarina could not feel or sense the touch. The man’s fingers were like the air.
‘And you look, almost identical - so similar that it was hard for me, at first.’
Then she understood, even slightly, that her mother had been right to let Hunt raise her. Her real father knew nothing about selflessness and love, or did he? He seemed to feel he owed her an explanation, however, and she was interested to hear it.
Heath admitted he’d always known she was his.
‘I used to check on you from time to time. It was the reason I never left The Hall. Your mother thought Hunt should raise you and I did not object. I thought raising you in a house full of memories of your mother would not be in your best interests. Your mother and I were meant to be together, always…and I have never truly loved another…’
‘I know,’ Kate said.
‘Then you know, everything?’ he asked.
‘I read her journals. I know what she wrote in them. It made me understand her…and you, more. But I don’t love you. I don’t think I even like you. I have forgiven you. That is all.’
‘I understand,’ Heath said. ‘I owed you an explanation…but you found it yourself. I thought I was not fit to be your father…with the boys, I barely had a choice. It was…perhaps wrong of me not to claim you. It was Kate’s wish that you be raised at The Grange. I think she thought it was less…haunted than Hareton Hall.’
Heath touched his daughter’s cheek and walked on. He wandered further ahead of Katarina, ending the brief moment of rare and unexpected closeness between them.
He added as an afterthought, ‘Your mother would be very proud to see you as you are.’
Heath moved quickly and deliberately. Katarina was left standing alone in silence once again.