The house had been destroyed in the storm years ago. Now the walls, decrepit and un-maintained, are crumbling as the wind rises and howls eerily. The roof is made of stars, the old one having been torn off by the last storm nearly a decade ago.
Not again, the young girl thinks amidst the roaring in the sky. She is perched behind one of the crumbling walls, clutching a book as the lion of the night attacks the house, causing it to sway back and forth. Please, not again!
Nearby, a kitten is mewing in fear as the wind sighs and moans, trying in vain to pick up the house and hold it aloft. The young girl’s breathing is heavy and labored. She wants to run downstairs, she wants to hide in the dark – but there is no place to go here, the basement decimated and too dangerous to use as refuge.
The kitten scuttles over to her, trying to jump into her arms. The girl puts down the book – unread, as always – and takes the kitten, stroking its fur in an attempt to calm the animal as much as herself. Counting the minutes to the end.
The wind dances furiously in the desolate landscape. The girl’s house is the only sign of human life, but there is more at work here. Out in the field, the trees sway in the wind, almost as if in worship of it.
The girl creeps forward steadily, clutching the book in one hand as the kitten follows. In the darkness of night, all she has is the kitten and the book. She turns the novel over in her hand and studies the cover and spine. She freezes in one spot as she reads the spine. “The Name of the Wind” is embossed on the surface, taunting her in this darkness.
“How appropriate,” she slurs in anger. The kitten yowls as the wind picks up, sending an icy blast from the landscape and sending him scurrying for comfort.
The girl sighs and sits down on the grass, setting down the book and picking up the animal. “I know you’re cold, but we have to find someplace decent to stay.”
The kitten looks at her, wide-eyed and afraid, not knowing what to expect.
“Let’s go,” she urges.
The kitten lies in her arms, ears perked up, but energy waning in this endless torrent of nature as she walks forward, searching for safe shelter.
I should have left when I had the chance, the girl thinks to herself.
The note is small, almost inconspicuous in the darkness. The kitten sees it first, mewing, nudging the girl.
“What?” she snaps, patience wearing thin in the cold. “What do you want?”
At this, the kitten jumps out of her grasp and races toward the lone paper. The animal turns around and practically screeches, urging the girl to hurry.
She follows the cat, picking up the note and reading it aloud: “If you’ve found this, we’re not dead. Pleasant Point has a normal bed. If you’ve braved the storm so far, find a pink crystal and guide it to a star.”
The girl sits and thinks over this for a long while, ignoring the icy cold of the wind. The realization, when it hits, is like the strike of a lightning bolt, forcing her to her feet.
“Come on, you furry little trickster,” she says to the cat. “We have to find that crystal, quick!”
The wind is rising to a higher, more forceful strength, entangling the girl in her coat – her only warm item left after the destruction of the house. Hugging herself in an attempt to keep warm, she scours the grounds for the pink crystal, the wind causing her eyes to blink rapidly and tear up. She glances back at the book, worried. But the hardback stays put, the pages blowing and flipping in the gusts. She picks it up, keeping it stuck on one page.
It reads, “I opened my mouth to howl, to cry, to curse him. But something other tore from my throat, a word I did not know and could not remember.
Then all I remember was the sound of the wind.”
She flips over to the next page, a sticky note popping out of the other side of the page. The girl gasps – the crystal is tied to a string taped to the page! Thinking fast, she takes out the crystal, holding it up to the sky. Come on, come on!
The crystal glows in the dark, connecting to the crescent moon. At that moment, the earth shudders like a living creature, knocking the girl off her feet. She groans in anger as she takes back the book and scours the pages for help.
The word pops out at her, registering in her mind as she holds the crystal up again and repeats the word. At this command, the wind calms to normal evening gusts. She looks at the book, breathing heavily. The desolate landscape around her is as serene as old summer evenings spent under the stars. The girl smiles at the kitten, laughing as the animal jumps into her arms, playful and cheery in the storm’s wake.
“Ready?” she asks the kitten. “Let’s go find our family.”
It won’t be easy, but now that the storm is gone, the girl has hope. Hope in a new beginning.
Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind. New York, NY: DAW Books, Inc., 2007. E-book.