Sunday, May 19, 2013
(#Twenty-one: Revenge) Wuthering Nights by Summer Day: Inspired by Wuthering Heights
Hampstead Heath had a thin film of lavender mist hanging over it during winter as she headed for the Glass House. There were very few people in the meadow at this hour of the day. Kate was invigorated from the cool air in a way she wouldn’t have been had she stayed inside. Her usual routine - a light lunch, nurse Katarina, read or do some yoga - before wading through the play script that lay in wait for her had been replaced by her ramble. She had more ideas about the design of the play she was working on and had brought paper with her to sketch the arboretum. The garden was the central motif in the play and she wanted to take another look at the architecture.
Kate tied her horse up and got him some water. As she did this, a familiar horse rode towards her, or maybe she just thought his markings were familiar. As she looked closer through the clearing, it was the rider she recognised. He was slightly older, leaner, yet unmistakably the man who had filled her every waking dream and now her nightmares.
Heath alighted from his horse in the easy manner of a country squire.
Kate looked over at him. Even from a distance, she could hardly believe he was real.
He walked towards her, slowly, with purpose.
Before they spoke she reached over when he paused to touch his face as if to ask the vision before her if he even existed.
‘Heath?’ She whispered.
‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘It’s me.’
‘But…you’ve been gone…for three years. I tried to find you. What happened? How did you come to be here?’
‘Perhaps I should be the one asking questions. I saw your marriage notice in the paper not long after we parted.’
Kate was silent for a moment.
‘You left me,’ she said.
Heath’s face displayed a knowing, hardened expression with more than a twinge of anger.
‘I am staying at the pub. I have business with Harrison in relation to Hareton Hall. I went around looking for him but there was no one at home. I saw your car in the driveway and I didn’t think you’d be far. The horses were there - all except Hero. One of them was practically biting his way out of the stable, so I thought I’d take him out. He seems to remember me.’
Heath patted the animal and went to tie the reigns.
‘Business… with Harrison?’
‘Yes. Greta told me you’d be here. You might be interested to know that I am soon to be the new owner of Hareton Hall.’
‘Harrison mortgaged it to my company; he lost his money gambling. The house was going cheap and I put a down payment on it. I officially own it as of…about three minutes ago. ’
Heath smiled. Kate knew she didn’t have the full details of the matter but suddenly realized how good he must feel.
She visibly shivered as Heath took her gloved hand in his.
‘I am to be your new neighbour Mrs Hunt.’
Kate sighed, never having doubted, in the faint possibility if he ever revealed himself to her again, Heath would one day be the stronger of them.
‘And what of Harrison?’
‘Oh, he can remain in the guest cottage until he’s found another place to stay. It’s all arranged.’
Together they walked in breathless silence towards the glass house where they had met as children. There were overgrown hothouse flowers and benches and comfortable chairs for lovers. The chairs had been unused all winter until Kate and Heath rested upon them, side by side. Again they sat in silence for what seemed the longest stretch of time. Actually it was only a few minutes.
Both former lovers were angry. Kate was almost speechless.
‘Did you read the note I left?’
‘Yes, you said you’d find me,’ Kate replied softly. ‘It wasn’t enough. All those legal terms…none of them true.’
‘I needed proof. Harrison told me we shared the same biological father…’ He showed Kate the note.
Forget your unnatural desires, it read. Apart from the fact that you are a monster there are few grounds for an annulment and marrying a close relative is one of them. I tried to keep you both apart for a reason. Kate is your half-sister. Mother left because she knew! That’s what they were fighting about that night, more than ten years ago. I heard them! You are father’s biological child. He said so himself…Do Kate a favour and leave her. I’ll arrange an annulment at this end. We’ll tell her you changed your mind. I’m sure she’ll understand once she knows the truth. I tried to warn you. Thank me later, Harrison.
Kate shook her head after she read it.
‘I am not surprise. Harrison told me of the supposed connection. I suspected he was lying.’
Heath was silent. Kate tore the letter up.
‘Later, after I married Edmund he admitted it was another of his lies, designed to tear us apart - only this one worked,’ Kate said regretfully.
Heath noticed Kate’s scarlet riding jacket. It contrasted with her black riding boots and reminded him of blood. The colours suited her well. Blood reminded him of betrayal.
He would never admit that he envied her marriage and longed for revenge upon her family that went further than just the ownership of Hareton Hall. In any case, Kate must have expected the foreclosure on her childhood home since there had been talk all over town for months that Harrison was going broke and had dragged the family name into disrepute. Then he remembered that it was likely Kate barely knew anything. She rarely spoke to her brother.
‘What have we done Heath?’ she said after a long silence.
He could see her breath, cold in the air and longed more than ever to do what he’d always resisted doing; to do what he’d done in the endless nights of travel, parks and animal blood. Then, after he had money, there had been the empty living of hotel suites, women and elixir to help drown his misery. It had taken him months to trace his mother, to find out the truth. The specialist had told him he could be fairly sure Harrison’s allegation was untrue but for total confirmation he’d have to locate his biological mother and trace some evidence of his biological father. It had all taken so much longer than he’d expected, several weeks. He’d been in virtual limbo in the meantime, not wanting to burden Kate with his misery after he’d tried to find her. He’d seen her through the windows of The Grange that night, looking so content.
He felt more empowered inside than ever since he’d allowed his true nature to emerge. Once he’d stopped worrying about Kate’s thoughts he could begin to live the life he was born to live. He looked at her again, the veins in her wrist and neck, thumping, tormenting him.
Her hand moved to his and she looked at him pleadingly. In that moment, he was sure he hated her unfairly. The glimpse of the wedding ring near her neck convinced him he was right. His plan for vengeance had stirred in him ever since he’d seen Edmund kissing Kate in the window seat that night. Weeks after Heath and Kate married; Heath’s transition phase began to stabilize. He wanted her back.
Kate looked at him accusingly.
‘How can you look at me like that? You married another. You didn’t wait as I asked you to. Harrison had drained the family funds and I now see what a good idea it was for you to marry richly and quickly and…to that spoilt brat Hunt. I see how easily an annulment was arranged, given the feigned reasoning that we were biologically…related. I can’t believe you actually went through with the new marriage. Of course, it all makes perfect sense, given the way you were raised and your brother’s distorted value system…’
‘In my defence, there was a good reason. You abandoned me. Harrison finally admitted it wasn’t true but by then I couldn’t…locate you.’
‘I came to find you, weeks later, after I’d made sure…everything was as it needed to be.’
‘I was dragged to Verbier to recover from my broken heart. I had a skiing accident. I was unconscious for three days! I couldn’t get a message to you. I looked for you everywhere. I tried to find you but you had…disappeared. I waited for you… long enough. You had simply, vanished. It was…logical for me to…marry Edmund, I had no choice…I never believed you would ever come back to me. Not after the note Harrison wrote.’
‘I said I would return. Love is not logical Kate. I’m sure your mother taught you that…’ He coughed into the sleeve of his jacket as he said this. Kate was alarmed by his thinness and pallor. He looked hungry.
‘You are so cruel Heath. You know my mother taught me very little except how to leave.’ The woman stood, but she did not move away from him. Just being near him gave her strength and courage. The scent of Kate’s perfume was an elixir to Heath, as magical as her blood which he longed to drink. He moved closer.
‘Stay,’ Heath said. ‘Please stay. No piece of paper should separate us.’ He took her gloved hand, looking desperate for the first time and slumped into her shoulder. ‘Please, get me my…drink. It’s in the saddle bag.’
Kate got up and grabbed a flask, taking off the top and poured Heath some amber liquid.
‘How is your…condition?’
Heath took a sip and looked at her as if he might eat her.
He’d torn the leg off a turkey and eaten it before he’d come to find her. At least the leg was cooked. He hadn’t stooped to raw meat yet, unless it was a fresh animal kill.
By then, from the look on her face, Heath knew he had gone too far. Kate, like him, had had very little parental guidance. The girl turned on him as he regained his strength, lashing out…
‘You don’t know everything…you don’t know anything! You went missing after our wedding, remember? I thought you’d abandoned me or worse, that you were dead! What did you expect?’
‘I… I didn’t want to hurt you with the truth about our family… what I’ve since learnt was false. I went for a walk to clear my head but the transition caused me to collapse in a gutter. I woke up three days later in a police station…’
‘You should have known…Harrison would do anything to separate us.’
Kate looked away.
‘I know… for that I owe you an apology.’ Heath said. ‘Harrison’s lie was a shock to say the least. Something I wanted to spare you. To do that, I needed the truth. I needed to find my…birth mother.’
He did not wish to elaborate upon the murkier details of the conversation he’d had when Harrison had inferred Kate was a blood relation.
Kate looked away, ‘I know,’ was all she said.
‘When I had proof, I contacted Greta. She begged me not to make trouble but I had to find you anyway. Then I learnt you’d gone skiing…with the Hunts.’
‘You had disappeared. Annabelle offered comfort and support…’
‘Yes, I know, and her brother…’ Heath said sarcastically, ‘You’ve always been perfectly capable of impressing your…admirers, Kate. I hear you are the talk of the theatre world, young designer of the season, your drawings and paintings nominated for an award…’
‘Oh, you never cared about me having a career…how dare you joke about it now! We both know all that seems meaningless in relation to…all of this.’
Heath turned and held Kate by the shoulders, ‘You’re right, I never did care about your career as you put it, because all I wanted was you…’
‘And you had me…’
Heath laughed sardonically.
Kate continued ‘… You were the one who went missing, remember.’
‘Yes and now look at you, married to someone else with barely three months between us. Harrison must have really pulled strings to have the annulment rushed through.’
Kate looked away.
‘The paperwork was destroyed. It was all hushed up. No one except the family knew we were even married.’