The moon and Brontë

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Yesterday was not only Emily Brontë’s and Kate Bush’s birthdays; it was also a blue moon. I have written a poem about the moon, which is below.

Once in a Blue Moon

Cushioned in the hand of night

The blue moon drowned out

All but the brightest stars

Bounced off broken glass in the roadside

Formed pearls in the water of lakes

Gushed like spilt champagne

Across the waves of oceans

Sculptured shadows in woods and forests

Made wolves howl

With her secret smile

Died in the early morning

To allow the sun to breathe

I have two favourite scenes from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The first is when Lockwood sees Catherine’s ghost at the window, one that was interpreted so beautifully by Kate Bush, and the other is when Catherine gets up from her sickbed and opens the window to look across from Thrushcross Grange to Wuthering Heights:

‘And sliding from the bed before I could hinder her, she crossed the room, walking very uncertainly, threw it back, and bent out, careless of the frosty air that cut about her shoulders as keen as a knife. I entreated, and finally attempted to force her to retire. But I soon found her delirious strength much surpassed mine (she was delirious, I become convinced by her subsequent actions and ravings). There was no moon, and everything beneath lay in darkness: not a light gleamed from any house, far or near – all had been extinguished long ago; and those at Wuthering Heights were never visible – still she asserted she caught their shining.

“Look!” she cried eagerly,” that’s my room with the candle in it, and the trees swaying before it: and the other candle is in Joseph’s garret. Joseph sits up late, doesn’t he? He’s waiting till I come home that he may lock the gate. Well, he’ll wait a while yet. It’s a rough journey, and a sad heart to travel it; and we must pass by Gimmerton Kirk, to go that journey! We’ve braved its ghosts often together, and dared each other to stand among the graves and ask them to come. But, Heathcliff, if I dare you now, will you venture? If you do, I’ll keep you. I’ll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but won’t rest till you are with me. I never will!”’

What I love about this passage is that it is full of teenage passion. Catherine was a teenager when she married Edgar Linton. She lived in a patriarchal society in which she was expected to marry into her own class and follow her husband’s instructions. She tried to keep her wildness and passion under control but as soon as Heathcliff reappeared she could no longer contain it. Emily Brontë creates the perfect atmosphere at the beginning of the extract by describing the view from the window very briefly as dark; there is no romance, no moon to light up the scene. The only lights are the ones imagined by Cathy at Wuthering Heights, the place she longs to be. Brontë ends the passage with a wonderfully eerie image of Cathy and Heathcliff as children in the local graveyard, full of ghosts and death, and Cathy daring not her husband but Heathcliff to join her in her grave. To some, this may seem over the top, but this kind of melodrama was what young women thrived on in the 19th century, and they still do in popular literature such as the Twilight and Hunger Games books.

I am trying to capture some of this teenage passion in my character, Lily, in The Haunted Tide. However, I would like it to develop gradually and naturally, starting with the exuberance of a crush that is becoming more of a friendship. The relationship between Lily and Danny develops in Chapter 7, which I wrote yesterday. It is a draft and by no means finished as I need to develop the mini golf scene further; here is a short extract:

‘I grabbed the phone off the charger and ran up to my room to call Danny with the good news. He said he would bring a DVD as long as I supplied the popcorn. That afternoon was a whirl of shopping and preparation. Mum was great – she drove me to the supermarket to buy corn that you pop in the microwave and a bottle of diet Coke. Back in my bedroom, I tried on different outfits and paraded them like a model for her. She was great at picking things that suited me. Then she ran me a bath of strawberry scented bubbles. My insides were bubbling so much that I was frightened I’d explode when Danny knocked on the door. I didn’t explode. It felt more like melting. That weekend was the best ever and I floated through Saturday night and into Sunday.

Sunday morning was cold but sunny. Mum insisted on me wrapping up in a scarf, hat and gloves, which I removed when Mr Grant’s car turned onto the road to Yarmouth; unlike ours, his car was new, the seats were comfy and the heating was much more than a feeble blast of lukewarm air.

Danny sat in the passenger seat and spent the whole of the trip turned around in it; we chatted about films and music we liked, friends at school, teachers – and Rosie. He had seen her in the village earlier that morning, walking past the shop. She came from the beach, but he had no idea where she went. We agreed to stay well clear of her.

We didn’t let the thought of Rosie spoil our fun. Mr Grant let us out and drove off on shop business, promising he’d be back in a couple of hours. He said he would park up and then come to get us. We didn’t mind when or where we met him, we just wanted to be together.

Danny beat me at mini golf and I didn’t care. After a couple of games, we headed for the sweet shop and gorged ourselves on jelly beans, fizzy cola bottles and sherbet pips, not forgetting to buy Mum’s cola cubes. Before long we were back in the car, only this time we cuddled up together on the back seat.

It didn’t bother me that I had to go to school again on Monday morning because he would be there, sitting right next to me in nearly all of the lessons. I went up to my room before my usual bed time so that I could get up early and walk to the bus stop with him.

I lay in bed, amazed that Danny liked me. I flicked through the personal album in my head: Danny smiling, laughing at my bad shots, swinging his putt, getting a hole in one…’

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