ALL MEN REACH AND FALL:
STORIES OF WUTHERING HEIGHTS
TO LOOK BACK
My name is Catherine Earnshaw and all I have to say is that I'm sorry. I know that all this is all my fault, and I'm sorry for it. And I'm sorry I didn't do anything about it when I could. When I was alive.
My name is Catherine Earnshaw and I am cruel and I am selfish and I am small of soul. I say words meant to hurt and I move people about like people on a game board, because that's what life was to me, a game. And now that I am dead, I play no more games.
I went through life throwing rocks meant to hurt and being hurt myself, living life foolishly and cruelly. I wanted everything to be the best for myself and only me. I wanted everything, but I played my game all wrong and I lost it all, and now I am dead. Now I am alone.
People were toys to me, when I was alive, worth only what I could get out of them. Edgar for his undying love and devotion, his gentleness. He was a good-tempered pony, simple and cuddly. Heathcliff for his temper and his passion, his obsessive love. If Edgar was a pony, Heathcliff was a stallion, fiery and black of soul, dangerous and thrilling to ride.
What I wanted most in this world was my own happiness, my own comfort, and what I regret most is the way I went about procuring it.
My name is Catherine Earnshaw and all I have to say is that I'm sorry.
I truly am.
TO CATCH A FALLING STAR
My name is Edgar Linton and I wanted to save Catherine. That's why I did it, why I married her. I wanted her out of that house, with its darkness and unfriendly Mr. Earnshaw and that gypsy boy, Heathcliff. It wasn't a safe environment for a girl of her beauty, of her charisma.
I refuse to admit I was in love with her. But I was, I was. I was taken in by the mask, by the beauty and love I felt and was sure she felt too, but it was just a reflection of my adoration back to me. And once I felt she was mine, I would never let her go.
I'm not jealous or selfish or any of it. I just don't like people touching my things. It's like, when you're a child and your favorite toy in the whole world is handed over to your sister, who immediately breaks off a vital piece. Who wants their favorite thing to be handed around and broken, touched with dirty hands and sullied? Not me. Not anyone.
And that's what Heathcliff did, to all the things I love. He took them and broke them and smiled as I tried to put the pieces back together. But you can never put the pieces back together. Never.
So now, I am alone. Here with my Cathy, and I swear to myself every time I see her face that I will not let Heathcliff take this last precious thing and break it and my happiness. I will not let him near me and my daughter. I will not let him do to her as he did to Isabella and Catherine.
But then he did it anyway.
My name is Edgar Linton and I wanted to save Catherine. I saw her as a falling star, about to shatter as it hit the ground, so I tried to catch it, because it was so beautiful. Too beautiful to lose.
But as I caught it, it burned my hands stronger than I thought any beautiful, twinkling star would be able to. I dropped it, and watched in horror as Heathcliff caught it first.
TO RAISE A CHILD
My name is Nelly Dean and I remember everything. I alone live to tell the tale, the story of men and their faults, this story of greed and passion and love and revenge, this story is mine alone to tell, my cross to bear. My punishment, maybe, for not being able to prevent it all. I remember, and I wonder, and sometimes I think that it's all my fault, other times I think it must be Catherine to blame, sometimes Heathcliff. But in the end, I always come back to myself, because it is far easier to blame yourself for the things you could have done than blame others for the things they dared to do.
I wonder, sometimes, what would have happened if I had forced Hindley and Catherine to share a room with Heathcliff that first night. If I had taught them not to spit at the less fortunate, would it have made a difference? If I had offered the boy a bed in my own room, if I had been stricter with Cathy, told her the truth from the start, would she have listened? I think, no, I know that even though Heathcliff was the one that caused all this pain, I am partly to blame, because I had a hand in each and every person in this tale's upbringing. I raised Heathcliff and Catherine, I helped instill values in them, I taught them basic manners, I changed their diapers, and I wonder—
Is it my fault? Did I fail to raise them right, forget some major knowledge that would make the lost souls whole?
I don't know whose fault it is. But I remember, and I'll keep remembering, even after Hareton and Cathy are happy, even when I take care of their children. As I try to do differently with their children, I will mourn the children I couldn't save.
The children I doomed.
It is my fault.
TO REACH AND FALL
My name is Heathcliff, but I think my name was Aaron, once. I remember the name, faintly, as if I saw it written in the sky behind a bed of fog. It seems so long ago now. I wonder who he would have been, this Aaron. I wonder who he would have grown to be, had he not been snatched off the street, not saved by a stranger.
I taste the name on my tongue and it tastes like dirty snow and dirty air, of Liverpool and of a faint scent of lavender. It tastes like someone long dead. And he is.
I buried Aaron long ago, before I knew the name of Earnshaw or Linton, before Cathy, before Edgar, before Isabella. Before any of this. Before Heathcliff even existed I discarded Aaron, dropped him off the side of the Earth, dropped him far away from Wuthering Heights.
Who knows who he could have been?
I have done horrible things, but I do not regret a moment of them.
Aaron would not have done these things. Aaron would have lived and loved and laughed. Aaron would have married Cathy and had cheerful, charming children. Aaron would have a boy the spitting image of him, a boy he would teach to ride a horse, a boy he would have loved, a boy he would have watched as he slept. Aaron would have a beautiful baby girl who hugged her papa and giggled and smiled up at him so he would never feel lost. Aaron would have a wife he could love, a beauty, Cathy. He would have cradled Cathy and whispered promises in her ear. Aaron would be the man I wanted to be.
I have done horrible things, horrible, and I know that. I know that, but I do not regret them, because they did horrible things to me. They did horrible things to Cathy and me.
It's all their fault, you see. It's their fault she's dead and I'm a ghost. It's their fault she would not marry me.
It's all their fault.
So I punished them, all of them, and now I can die alone the way I always knew I would. I punished them, and though God may say to turn the other cheek, Heathcliff says otherwise.
I am just one name. Heathcliff.
TO HAVE A FATHER
My name is Hareton Earnshaw and people say to me that I am a better person than Heathcliff. Now that he is dead and gone, Nelly and Cathy tell me how I am better than him, stronger than him. They tell me life without Heathcliff is going to be easy for me, that life with him was difficult and rough and not worth living, but I survived. I survived, and I am better than Heathcliff because I can feel.
I try to tell them, but they don't want to hear. The only reason I did survive was because Heathcliff loved me. He raised me, something not even my own father bothered to do. He gave me a home, taught me how to work, and even though they say now that all he did by me was wrong, at the time it seemed right.
My father was a drunken bastard and my mother was dead. Nelly tells me now stories of when I was younger than I can remember, when she was my nurse and she loved me. But growing up, all I can remember is the constant Heathcliff.
I remember once, when I was ten, my father was doing what my father always did, and I couldn't take it any more. I went to the stable and took my father's horse and started to ride away. I would go to London, I'd decided, to make my fortune, as I supposed Heathcliff had. It started to rain five minutes after I left the house and I got lost rather quickly and resigned myself to sitting, soaking wet, under a tree and waiting for it to clear up. I was out there for hours, and as it started to get dark I started to cry. My father didn't give a damn about his heir even to find him. But I saw a faint lantern, and the rain was letting up, and I heard someone yelling my name.
"Hareton! Hareton, damn thee, where are you? Hareton!"
And I ran to him and he caught me in a hug and held me tight. "Oh, Hareton, you scared the devil out of me," he whispered into my hair. "Come, it's all right." I was crying into his shirt and he lifted me onto his horse and rode with me home, my own horse trotting beside me. He dried me off and smiled at me and let me sleep in his chambers that night, telling me nonsense stories of when I was a baby.
They think he was horrid to me, that I hated him, but he was more a father to me than my own father. I was him, don't you see? I was him, he raised me like he was raised, and I cannot hate him for that, because when I was younger there was no person in the world I would rather be. He said to me, when my father died, "Now, my bonny lad, let's see if one tree won't grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it." And at the time, I wanted that more than anything. He saved my life, I know, when I was a baby. Nelly thinks that he told me that story, to make me love him, but he never told me that my father threw me off the landing and he caught me. I found that out after he died, and can't you see? He loved me, and damn the people who say he couldn't love, because he did. He loved me.
My name is Hareton Earnshaw and I miss Heathcliff.
TO BE A FATHERS DAUGHTER
My name is Cathy Linton and I married Linton to save him. I wanted him away from there, away from horrible Heathcliff and Joseph, from the doom and gloom of Wuthering Heights. I thought that, away from that dark, stuffy prison he could become well, strong and happy. A friend, a husband, everything I could want. Someone who would watch over me when Papa died.
I turned that into love. I turned hope and good will into love, because I had never felt such love and I thought that love simply meant wanting the best for someone. I thought he loved me too. He looked at me with such fear, such horror in his eyes, and I thought he would love the person who saved him. Die for the person who saved him.
But he didn't love me. He wanted Heathcliff to leave him alone, he wanted to be pampered and spoiled and filthy rich, he wanted the tiny world of the Grange and the Heights and he wanted me to let him do it. But he must have never known me at all, to think I would. Heathcliff and his own venomous personality killed him, and there was no way to save him from that. I cried, because I wish I could have.
So now, I am alone. Here with Hareton and Nelly, and I swear to myself every time I see his face that I will not let Heathcliff take this last precious thing and break it and my happiness. I will not let the thought of him near me and my love. I will not let him do to me as he did to Linton and my mother.
My name is Cathy Linton and I wanted to save Linton.