Or perhaps ‘Rust’ would be more fitting. It’s the first non-work writing I’ve done in months, and it feels like it: clumsy and jagged. Apologies in advance, dear Reader.
So, I was thinking about Wuthering Heights and that led me to Kate Bush’s song, which is haunting. Cathy and Heathcliff had plenty of unresolved issues, and it got me wondering about the subtexts of relationships and reality; ‘What if?’ Here ’tis.
“I wish you would turn around and look a me. See me for who I am and not who you thought I was. There are things to say. Things I should have told you before it came to this, and now I’m sorry for all the chances I had and lost.
“I can’t blame you, and I don’t blame you for turning your back on me. If you won’t turn now, I hope you will at least hear me out. You did the right thing. I was a lot more fucked up than I thought I was. I suppose I could give you a lot of reasons and excuses but it really wouldn’t make a difference.
“Making a difference. That’s what you did, and you didn’t even know it because I was too scared and too stupid to tell you.”
She was tense; her shoulders hunched as if every muscle was pulling in on itself. She heard his voice but now it was too late. So many tears; so much pain and heartache. So many chances given. “How could I have made a difference? You never gave me a chance,” she said. “I’m really angry. I’m really heartbroken.”
“If only.” Two of the most mournful words in the world. She was right, of course. I had blown it. That was the story of my life, and in most cases I really didn’t care, but in this case I did.
Regrets. Today is a day of regrets.
If only I had told you what you mean to me.
If only I hadn’t been so scared.
If only I had trusted you to understand what I meant, and felt, and what it cost me to hide them.
“I have no doubt you were too good for me, and you still are. There is a quality in you that few have, and fewer still find. You will be, until the end of time, my friend.”
“Your friend,” she said. “Is that what you thought of when you thought of me?” I saw her lovely profile for just a fleeting second as she flipped her hair away from her face. I saw a single tear shine in the fading sunlight as it leapt to its death far below. It glistened for a second, there on the lone blade of grass it had landed on. Soon enough it would be absorbed into the earth. I wondered how many tears, caused by me, had met a similar fate.
My heart broke then; really broke. I had been overwhelmed by sadness when I realised what I’d put her through and what it had cost her. I saw it with a clarity I can’t recall ever having had before. I had sailed through life, giving meaning to little because I understood almost none of it. She had not sailed through life; she had often suffered through it, trying to salvage meaning from it.
“Cathy,” I whispered. I felt the word in my mouth, my lips open at the beginning of it and my tongue touching my teeth on the ‘th’ sound. In all my life I had never thought of the feeling of the words I spoke.
Her head bowed, as if in prayer. Even now, when I was begging for the forgiveness I knew I didn’t deserve, I was hurting her. I loved her so much I wish she had never met me. In the scheme of her life I have taken away so much more than I added. My self-esteem was crumbling, tattering at the edges and flitting away in small, dull sparks.
She raised her head, as if she had resolved to just walk away from all this. As if she had resolved to just walk away from me. It was a good decision; the best one she could make. Her life without me in it might not guarantee a good one, but her life with me in it guaranteed a world of pain. I had lost her, I knew. I deserved what that meant, but she didn’t deserve to feel like this. I had put ugliness into her heart and soul, that poor girl.
“I have to go,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand how you could have done this to me.” She was right, of course. I had wanted to be the albatross, her good luck charm, like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Instead, I was the fool who had killed it and had made it a curse. I took that beautiful ship of her life and steered it into still waters, and there she wallowed, unable to help herself.
It was a fitting place for goodbyes. She turned from my tombstone and looked wistfully at the church. I saw her eyes widen. She saw me, or what was left of me. The light of Creation that I had so carefully pulled together was dissipating, and I couldn’t hold it any longer. “Heath?” she said, “Is that you?”
I was glowing, vanishing, and trailing away back into the ether.
“Cathy. I will love you through lifetimes,” I said. And then I went out into the stars. “Next time, Cathy, I’ll get it right.” I saw suns and planets; vast galaxies and nebulae. “I will love you through lifetimes.”