“Come to lunch,” he said. “My wife is away.”
Whereas when we last saw each other twenty years ago this might have been an invitation to spend the afternoon in bed, now that we’re middle-aged it was not my body Heathcliff was after, but my children. His wife being away he had to entertain his three somehow, and three children of a similar age sounded like a good idea.
So off we went with directions to his house, a few miles away from my mother’s. I won’t pretend I wasn’t nervous. I was. Heaven knows why. But seeing a man I last saw on my 21st birthday and was madly in love with for several years suddenly seemed very scary. A friend of mine said it was a stupid thing to do, that it would shatter my illusions and ruin the image of my first love. My mother said it was a good thing to do; dispel the myth once and for all (she never liked him).
I explained to the children who he was, how I was mad about him and that he never cared for me. “Why was he not in love with you?” asked Bea on the way there. “Weren’t you pretty enough? I think you’re very pretty with your long hair and bras with secret pockets.”
“Thank you darling,” I said, praying she wouldn’t mention the secret pockets to Heathcliff.
We arrived at his house and he came out to greet us. He looked, well, pretty good actually. Older,but really just the same. He was sweet, very welcoming, cooked home-made bolognese sauce as we gossiped about people we knew all those years ago.
I am sad to report though that Heathcliff showed about as much interest in me today as he did twenty years ago. In fact I don’t think he was any the wiser about me when we left at 5pm than he was when we showed up at 12.
The upside is he is mad about chocolate and is very good at making it. We tasted some truffles, they were divine. On the way home Olivia said she could still taste them.
His children were sweet. Rather gratifyingly his seven-year-old son fell in love with Olivia. What did she think of him?
“He’s far too ugly for me,” I heard her tell my mother. Revenge is even sweeter than a chocolate truffle.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007