Disclaimer's Note: No, I don't own the story Wuthering Heights or any of the characters in it. This is only my modern day rendition of Emily's timeless classic. Hope I've done them justice.
Chapter One: Who Are You?
The rain was coming down harder and more furiously than usual that night. Cat Ernshawl sat on her bed and stared at the drops that slapped against her window, a far away, longing expression on her face. She loved the rain. It was so wild and unpredictable, covering every inch of where it fell. No one could tame the rain; like the wind, it had no master. And it lived in the most wild and unpredictable of places; the sky was a frontier that she longed for more than anything to explore. She longed to be a bird that could soar high above the world into the vast unknown of blue and white; a falcon with wings wide and strong, an eagle with beauty and pride, a hawk with wit and will.
The snore from the next room jolted her out of her reverie sharply and she made a face at the wall.
If she could be a bird, then she'd be able to be free of this prison that was her home.
Though her home was her security, and she was willing to admit that she loved it dearly, Cat longed to leave the confines of the endless miles of wilderness that surrounded her modest home. Trees, fields and plains stretched on for what seemed like forever. The nearest town was small enough in itself. Out here the Ernshawls could almost be completely alone, isolated from all outside civilization; it was like a whole other world out here. Cat loved the nature, she loved the animals that dwelled in it; they weren't the problem.
It was her family that made her home so incredibly boring.
Though Cat was the spitting image of her mother, from her mane of thick brown hair to her hazel eyes, they were nothing alike in character or spirit. Cat was bold, daring and adventurous. Tina Ernshawl was paranoid and fearful of everything. She had been ever since she'd had her last miscarriage of Cat's little sister six years ago when Cat was ten. Her mother had wanted so many children when she'd married Cat's dad, and eighteen years later, they still only had two; Cat who was now seventeen, and her brother Henry, who was eighteen. Cat didn't understand why her mother just wouldn't give up; the last time had been risky, too risky. Her dad had had to drive her mother the thirty miles to the hospital in the middle of a storm. By the time they had got there the baby had long been dead. When her mother had physically recovered, Cat couldn't help telling her how stupid she'd been to get pregnant again. Her mother had looked at her through red rimmed eyes and replied that when she had her first baby someday, then she would understand.
Cat didn't believe her then, and she still didn't believe her now. She didn't intend on ever having any babies; the result didn't seem worth the pain and suffering that went into it. She loved her mother, but she couldn't understand why she would subject herself to the same pain, the same motions over and over again. It made her frustrated, and even angry sometimes; so much so that she couldn't always bite her tongue and stay silent. Tina said that Cat was rude and outspoken, that nothing and no one would ever tame her. But to Cat she was just being herself; she didn't know any other way to be.
Her older brother Henry was another problem on his own. If Cat was wild and untamable, Henry was one hundred times worse than that. Lazy, sarcastic and impolite, Henry surrounded himself in a world of heavy metal music, black jeans and combat boots. Him and his gang of rowdy, prankster friends were enough to make Cat want to scream. If what her mother said was true and she wanted too much, then Henry wanted too little. He had no dreams, no ambitions, no plans. His apathy was unbelievable. He didn't even know how to take care of himself; if his hair wasn't greasy and unkempt, then his clothes were dirty and smelly. If he wasn't drinking, he was smoking (habits he'd taken up when he was only eleven). With him, it was one thing or the other. He'd been suspended from school more times than Cat could count; the only reason he hadn't been expelled was because there wasn't another school anywhere near where they could dump him.
The only thing Henry actually cared about was their dad, and that was the only thing Cat had in common with her brother.
Will Ernshawl was not wild and rambunctious like his children, but he wasn't timid or fearful like his wife either. He was everything in between; humorous, light hearted, protective, and warm. He loved his family and indulged them in all their ways. When Cathy spoke out or was out too late in the woods, he would swat her on the bottom with a playful firmness and remark on her recklessness, making her apologize to her mother. When Henry got into trouble at school, he apologized profusely to the principal and offered him free service at the auto body shop that was attached to their house, The Heights. It was his appealing character and reputation that saved Henry with the administration every time. When Tina was upset about the dead babies, he would come behind her and murmur quietly in her ear, his hands holding her protectively. Usually they would go for a walk together or spend hours in the shop, not coming out while Henry and Cat knew well enough not to disturb them.
Everyone liked Will Ernshawl. There was just something in his soft brown eyes, shaded by gray flecked blonde bangs, something in his crooked smile, the tone of his rumbling voice that pulled in anyone. Some said that he was too kind, too trusting, but Cat wished they would just mind their own business. Her father could do no wrong in her eyes; he was perfect.
He wasn't home right now. Every once in a while, he would go into the town to have a drink at the bar and play pool, then come back home late at night. Cat waited for him each and every time. If he was in the right kind of mood, she would be able to convince him to let her go out and look at the moon under her favorite tree in the wide open field behind the forest by their house. He would stare at her for a long time, then sigh heavily and pinch her cheek,
"Don't let your mom know I let you go now Caty, or there'll be Hell to pay-for both of us!"
And even if he didn't let her go, Cat would wait until she was sure that he was sleeping and sneak out of her window to go where she pleased. Somehow, she felt that he knew she did this anyway.
But she wasn't going anywhere tonight until she was sure that her dad was back home and safe. For all of the courage and boldness she had for herself, Cat worried very much about her dad. He was so much older than her mother; fifty five years old, what's more he had a heart condition due to high blood pressure, something he tried to hide from everyone. Cat couldn't imagine a world without her father in it, and she didn't want to start trying. Urging him to take his medicine was something she joined her mother in doing. If her father died, Cat wouldn't have anyone else left; she had no friends at school. She couldn't stand the preening, vain girls that scowled at her hole-ridden jeans and tangled hair. She didn't fit in with them and she knew it. She didn't seem to fit in anywhere, or with anyone.
As another clap of thunder resounded in the sky, Cat closed her eyes and started murmuring under her breath anxiously,
"Come home daddy….daddy come home…come on…"
This was a curious trick that she'd picked up on some time ago. Cat believed that if she closed in on herself, isolated all her thoughts and willed something hard enough, she was sure to get what she wanted. After it worked for the first five or six times, she was more than convinced that it worked, but saved the effort for only important things.
And sure enough, a few minutes later, she heard the familiar sound of her dad's pick up truck rumbling down the dirt path, saw the headlights like twin pools of light coming forth in the darkness.
Grinning in relief, Cat leapt up from her window seat and flung open her bedroom door, running down the hall and stairs, shouting at the top of her voice,
"Dad's home! Dad's home!"
From inside Henry's bedroom came a groggy, "Shut up Cat!"
But Cat was already downstairs and at the kitchen back door. Anxiously sliding the dead bolt back, she whipped the door open, crying out,
"Dad where have you-"
The words died in her throat and Cat frowned in confusion.
The person standing before her wasn't her father. It was a boy.
He looked to be about her own age, but he was thin and of average height. His face was dirty, streaked with dirt and rain that still dripped down his face. Smooth, raven colored hair was plastered to his face from the rain; hair that glowed like blue in the flicker of lightning. His skin was like burnished gold; tanned and tawny. He had a tall forehead and bushy eyebrows that rested atop piercing green eyes filled with a wolfish sort of calm and caution.
Cat stared at the boy in stunned wonder, speaking her thoughts aloud in a quiet murmur,
"Who are you?"