If I’d known he was going to get him on the phone I might have prepared myself better. But just how do you prepare yourself for a conversation with someone you were madly in love with as a teenager and haven’t spoken to for over twenty years? No one has written that survival manual yet.
“Where does your mother live?” Marco asked me the other day.
“In Devon, near Tiverton,” I say.
“Hang on a minute, that name rings a bell. Get Heathcliff on the phone for me,” he shouts to one of his minions.
I am praying Heathcliff will be out stomping on the moors, or at least Dartmoor, but oh no, he’s there, and he’s on speaker-phone.
“It’s me,” says Marco. “Where is it you live again?”
“Devon, near Tiverton,” says that voice. That voice that used to send shivers up my spine; that made me the least rational person I knew and that could command anything from me, but sadly never did.
“Hello? Hello?” Marco is yelling at me. I have no choice but to answer.
“Helena?” says Heathcliff. At least he didn’t say Rachel.
“Hi Heathcliff,” I say trying to sound as if this is the MOST insignificant thing to happen to me all year. “How are you?”
“Good thanks, but this phone is a bit weird, I’m on speaker-phone I think.” Odd to think speaker-phones probably hadn’t been invented the last time we spoke.
“Yes, you sound like you’re in space,” I say.
Heathcliff laughs that dangerously sexy laugh of his. “No,” he says slowly. “I’ve been to space and I’ve come back down.”
“And landed in Devon?” I say.
“Yeah. How about you?”
“I live in France, I have three children…”
“You’ve got children?” he interrupts me.
“No Heathcliff, I’ve been waiting around for you all these years,” I say, silently congratulating myself on coming up with a joke at a time like this. “Anyway, it would be fun to catch up. Are you ever in London?”
Marco interrupts. “This conversation is going far too well and as I’m paying for both calls I’m terminating it.”
And suddenly Heathcliff is gone again. Maybe for another twenty years. So how did the conversation make me feel? I’m ashamed to say, totally weak. Of course in my mind I had an image of the Heatchliff I knew when I was 18. I’m sure by now he’s as old and grey looking as most men of his age and would have no effect on me at all.
But the odd thing was that his voice was identical. And even odder, so was my reaction to it. So I guess my profound (!) conclusion is this: some things never change….
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007