Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Thirty-seven) Wuthering Nights: Eternal by Summer Day: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Thirty-seven
    The Grange was decorated like something out of the 1920s. Light filled the room. It was surprising to Katarina that she felt so happy. Hinton had not expected her acceptance. Together they worked.
        Though she could only recall the length of her mother’s hair, her large, pretty eyes and the warmth of her touch – barely – Kate’s writing brought her back to Katarina. She could not, of course, detail her transformation into the girl in the attic that day and Katarina resolved that the more fantastical elements of her visit to The Hall might have been a terrible dream or vision.
      Katarina had each of the journals stored in a locked drawer of her desk. They represented a year of Kate’s life on this earth, and Katarina had read all of them. The words began in large, childish letters, written in an unsophisticated way. Kate had skipped forward to the good parts, and that was how she knew that Heath was her father, although she never thought of him as that. Not yet. Not ever. They were how she had learnt of the existence of hybrids and humans and vampires and bloodsucking and night terrors. It was where she began to believe in the secrets of the impossible.
     The day in the mist, the last time Katarina had seen him, had been the day he started to disappear. Heath had begun to move faster, some say at the speed of light. His powers were so diverse now. He thought they might have brought him happiness but eternity without the one he loved was…worthless. He waited for her.
      It was not meant to be that way. He’d been waiting for a long time. But a vampire turned by a hybrid is the longest hibernation of all. Twenty years, he’d been told. And even then, she’d need another eight to reach maturity (girl hybrids aged until twenty-eight when they sometimes attained immortality). It was a risk. There was a chance.  
     For twenty years the teenage girl had hidden and grown, showing herself only in the early dawn of first light. She could not speak to him or any other person, let alone touch them. Recently, she began to attain human form, as she had been the day she saw Katarina.
      For the past month, Kate had come to him in the night, older, not translucent anymore, still talkative, like a child. Her skin had transformed from see through to pale. She no longer took the form of a ghost.
     Heath was preparing their first moments together. Their first trip to Italy, where he intended to take her, was to coincide with Kate’s twenty-first birthday as a hybrid. He’d been told it was different for women. She’d take longer to emerge.
    Tomorrow would be the day. Tomorrow eternity began.
    Kate had writhed in pain for months in her attic space, hidden in corners, curled up in blankets. Heath had wandered the heath in the evening to spare himself the pain of her suffering. No one else could hear or see her and he couldn’t help her, could not even touch her. He was sure she must regret her choice but when her memory returned, from the wild dark spirit she had become, she reminded him constantly, how much she loved him. It was the pain of seeing Katarina for the first time that rendered her silent. Unable to speak to her grown child, or touch her, she’d disappeared for a long time into the dark. No one could ever find her when they went looking, not even Heath. Kate languished in a ghostly form, pined to hold her daughter, longed to take human shape. It was no use.
    Tomorrow, however, they would be free to roam together. Heath would give up his human form for now and they would no longer be seen by the rest of the world, at least until her transition was complete. One day hybrids and vampires would be accepted by the human race but that day had not yet arrived and it would not be safe for them to reveal themselves. Those were the rules. Being hybrid, Heath could only turn one human and that human, being part vampire, had had to wait two decades for restoration. Kate’s form would be human, her body hybrid, with all the term implied. Neither of them would ever look older than their mid-twenties. Heath would be there to help her final transition, to encourage her, to love her.
     He had been travelling, on a tour of his European offices as she had languished in hibernation in The Hall. Over the years she looked on in agony as the children grew. They were her greatest joy. On occasion she visited Katarina at night, resting her face on the child’s cheek, mindful she could never actually touch her. Eventually, she hoped they would discover an elixir; that instead of vanishing together, (the price Heath would pay for her complete transformation), they would be revealed simultaneously. 
     Heath had told no one he was winding up the companies in America and selling most of his property. It took many weeks. When he returned to London he only left the house to go riding on his favourite horse and sometimes he went for long walks across Hampstead, through the park, and back again. Kate was transforming. Her image appeared to him more than briefly, for moments, and in daylight, not just dreams. He’d become more and more silent to the point where even Greta, who had long ago realized that Heath was not like other men, had taken to worrying constantly about him.
    He would miss Greta and the children, who were now grown but they would not miss him. He knew it.
   He’d stopped pestering the boys about study or work, stopped worrying about the future of his companies (they would cease to exist soon enough and the cash signed over to Katarina, Linus and Hinton). Heath had long ago stopped asking about any of his old rivals and acquaintances, stopped being interested in the world around him.
    That night, before the morning of change, when Hinton, Linus and Katarina came to see him, he was congratulatory but distant. Linus seemed more terse than usual and Katarina and Hinton were blissful in each other’s company. The general malaise which Heath had embraced now seemed to affect all areas of his life. He had long since ceased trying to control the younger generation around him. He even congratulated Linus on his new start at University, he told him he was ‘extremely proud of him, whatever he chose to do but that “enjoying life” was just as important as a formal education.’
      It was all very out of character, according to Greta, who left early after the party that night. Heath had relented and made a brief appearance after Katarina left another invitation at The Hall. Hinton insisted on kissing her goodbye on the cheek and hugged her. His body was cool, his breath light. He assured her he was feeling perfectly alright.
     The next morning, Greta noticed Heath’s bed had not been slept in and he’d lost weight, so much weight that suits hung off him, but he’d stopped wearing them, anyway. Greta had long since stopped suggesting he take anti-depressants. Heath just laughed and told her he didn’t need her help or anyone else’s.
     Something strange happened in the silence and emptiness of Hareton Hall when he returned. These days, it wasn’t just when he slept. The attic was inhabited by a young girl, there was no question. Greta invaded the attic one day and found packets of lollies, uneaten crisps, shoes, socks, dresses, ancient dolls and ribbons. Then there were the strange, empty vials of elixir which looked like…blood.
   The first time Kate came to him in human form, he’d been in the drawing room attending to the paperwork on his latest company acquisition. He looked up to see some birds flying beyond where Hareton Hall was situated. They looked so free, so wild.
    It was three in the afternoon and a clear day. No one was in the house, on the floor where the study was, yet all his pens and papers had been sorted into neat piles when he walked back to his desk.
    It had been eighteen human years since he’d seen her. He sat on his favourite chair and felt a reach on his shoulder, like a whisper, the touch of her hands was so light, so transient.
    ‘I knew you’d come back to me,’ he said.
    He held her hand for a moment and looked at her perfect face until she was gone.
    From that moment, he searched for her with some hope of finding her transitioned and whole. He was reminded of the night he begged her as she lay lifeless on her bed, ‘Come back to me, Kate. Haunt me, drive me mad…’
   ‘Only if you turn me, change me…make me yours forever.’ Somehow the timing was wrong. Somehow they’d met in the middle and once again, they’d been kept apart, made to wait. Both of them like ghosts, only one of them real.
    That day, she must have heard him.
    He tried to put the image of her from his mind, at first, because it interfered with work, with his day. For many years, she only visited at night in what he tried to believe were his dreams.
    When Hinton came to stay, permanently, after Harrison had drunk himself stupid and wished to stay in the cottage, I insisted Hinton should stay in the main house and Heath should hire more help (he did, without question or interest). Heath always seemed distracted and secretive, for a reason, Greta wrote in the journals I read that night, after my final visit to Hareton Hall. I had as soft a spot for Hareton as I had for Heath, she wrote. Although I know I helped to raise a wolfish man, you must understand how difficult life had been for him and how his ambition had been fuelled by his loss and his early life and his…condition. Both Heath and Kate, both young and headstrong, helped to create the adult paths their lives had taken, but they deserved better. They deserved to be together, it is just a shame they managed to hurt so many people in the process. Although Annabelle remarried and found happiness at last - becoming the manager of her own gallery…’ Greta added as an afterthought.
     Heath wandered up the stairs that final night, with a copy of Kate’s favourite novel, Jane Eyre, in his hands. He placed it by the bed next to her photograph. He’d removed the photograph when Annabelle had lived with him here, but it hadn’t helped him forget Kate. He’d read Jane Eyre when he was younger, at Kate’s insistence, unable to see the parallels to their own isolated existence and the seeking of great love.