*bad work in progress
The party was picking up. People were mingling, laughing, flirting, and doing all the other activities that make human interaction interesting.
Heathcliff slung back the last his punch and clutched his empty cup near his stomach. He was pretending to be interested in the conversation circling him, but the truth was his eyes were searching the room looking for her. She had disappeared a little while ago with a couple of dirty plates and cups, and hadn't returned to the crowd. Heathcliff had been to quite a few other functions with this same group, and he noticed that it never failed for this girl to disappear and not be seen till the very end of the festivities. He wondered where she went and what she did. Her unusual party habits had struck a nerve with him.
As for the girl herself, she wasn't particularly striking. A little on the chubby side, with brown hair trying to be passed off as auburn. Her teeth were a little crooked, but her smile and laugh lit up her face when she allowed it too. However, Heathcliff loved her eyes. They were blue and they betrayed her emotions more than she could have known. When she was happy, they burned like stars at the birth of an evening. When she was annoyed, they pierced like arrows. But when she was sad, they betrayed her the most. Sadness seemed to flow out of her eyes like a raised river during a heavy rain. It would flood her. Sometimes she would try to hide those eyes, but that just betrayed her all the more. Heathcliff had observed all of this and hid it to himself. Sometimes it made him feel creepy watching her like he did, but he couldn't help it. She mystified him on a number of levels. He decided that this would be the night when he took an active role in his study of this girl.
Detaching himself from a conversation he wasn't really a part of, he took his empty cup to the kitchen,where standing at the sink was the girl. She was running water and squeezing soap, a pile of dishes waiting to be washed on the counter. Heathcliff could only imagine that the water filling up the sink reflected the color of her eyes as she stared into its depths. Spotting the trash can beside the door leading from the kitchen to the dining room beside him, he threw his cup away as noisy as he could, even going so far to shake the bag to make more room for the trash he didn't have. She turned off the water and turned to look at him. Heathcliff didn't move and she smiled at him. It was a smile that said, "I'm-not-as happy-at-seeing-you-as-I-look-but-I'm-going-to-be-friendly". Seeing that he wasn't going to leave, she asked him if he needed anything.
Heathcliff saw this as the perfect place to make his move. He put his hands in his pockets and sauntered over to the sink. Placing one hand on the counter he looked at her. She was staring at him, slight apprehension and puzzlement on her face.
He looked down. "Well, aren't you just the Martha?" he asked her smiling, trying to prove that the question was as jovial as he was.
She shrugged and turned back to the sink. The water had filled it halfway and the soap was billowing on the surface. She picked up a few of the plates and dropped them in with care.
"Perhaps"was her only verbal reply.
"Do you need any help?"
"No, I'm fine." she said without hesitation but with a hint of a sigh. Her hands were moving through the water, one of them holding a scrubbing brush the other reaching for a plate. She proceeded to wash it, moving the brush around the plate, from the outside to the inside, following some internal rhythm.
"I don't mind to help. You wash and I'll dry. Then you can get back to socializing with everyone out there." Heathcliff said as he looked for a towel.
She didn't look at him, but instead held the plate she had just washed and said to it, "That's very nice, but I don't want you to miss out on talking to everyone"
Heathcliff tried not to laugh at her stubbornness and secretly applauded her for the subtlety she had used to get him to leave her. "I rather help you then talk to everyone else."
This one caught her attention. She handed him the washed plate, but didn't let it go when Heathcliff took hold of it. Staring at his collarbone she said, "You would rather help me? No one ever wants to help me. No one ever seems to notice that I need help."
Her hand dropped from the plate and reached through the soap and water to grab another. Heathcliff dried it and put it to the side. He wasn't sure what to say to this. But before he could, she stiffened up and started to wash another dish. "You know, someone has to wash the dishes and clean up the trash, and I don't mind to do it. It allows everyone else to relax and have fun." She sounded as if she was trying to cover up what she had said before.
Heathcliff didn't say anything. He could feel that whatever he said at this point would be dismissed. Instead he finished helping her with the dishes. As she wiped down the counters with a cloth he leaned against the fridge. She always seemed so sad. Heathcliff had noticed this every time they were at an activity together. She needed something from outside of herself. Why did she seem to be fighting the world from the inside. She needed someone to fight for her. She needed a braveheart. And what was more, he wanted to be that braveheart. He had a moment where he imagined himself smearing his face with blue paint, and ridding out on a horse to prove that he was worthy to fight for her.
She had finished the counter, and was folding the dish towels on the corner of the sink. "Well... thank you for your help, I guess now we can get back to the party." she said.
Heathcliff wasn't ready to leave just yet. He finally had a moment alone with her and he wasn't going to let that go. His mind hurtle through quick small talk topics, but none seemed right. He bit his lip trying to think and panic when he saw her give him a nod and turn to leave through the door.
"Wait!" It was desperate, and Heathcliff felt the pressure even more when this made her stop and look at him.
"Yes?" she asked.
"Uhm... Uhm...I've been wanting to ask you...Uhm... Uhm... What's your favorite book?" It was lame and he knew it. But he might not have another chance this evening to talk to her one on one.
She smiled and her face went soft. "Jane Eyre. I love her and Mr. Rochester. She's so frank with him, and he loves her for it even if she's not of his class or status. I also like Wuthering Heights."
This made Heathcliff smile. "Wuthering Heights is my mother's favorite book."
"I figured your mother must have some attachment to it," she teased.
Her teasing made Heathcliff feel more at ease. He smiled and the banter continued as the clock swung its hands. He made her laugh and smile, now the polite stuff she usually did, but laugh like a monkey, real and substantial. Her smile stretched all the way across her face and made her seem more alive.