The Night the Wind Knocked Back

Lucy Powell wrapped her wool shawl around her shoulders tighter as a freezing blast from the north whipped around her front porch where she stood. She listened to the wind whistle through the trees, accompanied by the tinkling of the two wind chimes she kept up for decoration. One was falling apart, but still rang out the comforting sound.

They reminded her of her Grandma, who loved wind chimes, and wind in general. She would tell Lucy many a story of wind spirits and how the wind spoke to her. How it carried the whispers of their ancestors on it. How it swept the old away with it. Wind was never anything to fear. Not according to the way Lucy was raised.

Lucy closed her eyes to hone in on the breath of the Earth and felt its icy fingers through her hair. She remembered her Grandmother saying good night to the wind. How, without fail, after shutting the door and locking it for the night, she would always knock three times on the door of the house. “It keeps the wind out,” she’d say, with a smile. Her eyes would shine mischievously, as if she kept a deep secret Lucy would never dare ask her to tell.

Lucy smiled at the fond memory of her Grandmother, and made her way into her own house, taking one more glance around the yard. There was nothing loose about. Nothing to make any rattling sounds or blow away for Lucy had taken care of that. It was time to sleep to the tune of howling and clinking, sounds she could sleep to. Silence was often too much for her. Too lonely. Too sad. With the wind blowing, she felt alive. She could feel the life force of Earth as well.

Upon close of the door–she had to push a little harder to close it against the mighty air–she thought about what her Grandmother said long ago. “It keeps the wind out.”

Lucy almost laughed to herself when she thought about actually knocking on her own door, but without another thought, she did.

She raised her fist and knocked three solid raps on the oak wood, all matching the same tone and timbre. Feeling silly, but satisfied, Lucy turned to head up the stairs to the loft bedroom where she slept.

The sound of three knocks on the front door were unmistakable. Lucy froze, her breath catching somewhere near her heart which was thumping nearly out of her chest. She wanted to believe she had only imagined it. That perhaps the echo of the memory of her knocks to the outside world were just resounding in her head.

Fear spoke louder than that though. There was no way around it. Lucy had indeed heard the knocks.  Now what to do about them was another thing. No one would be up or near her house at this hour without her seeing or knowing so. The wind may have been loud, but surely she would have seen someone so close to her house. She had just closed the door and knocked. No one could have arrived on her doorstep that quickly, and even if someone were tiptoeing or barefoot, she’d still hear their footfalls on the creaky wooden porch. None of this made sense to Lucy’s mind but somewhere in there, in the panic, she made the decision to unlock the door and fling it open.

There was nothing on Lucy’s doorstep. No sound but the usual sounds. The wind continued to blow and was coming into the house now. Lucy didn’t feel relief, but she didn’t feel afraid anymore, either. She just moved her eyes to scan her front porch and yard and found nothing out of the ordinary.

With a sigh, she closed the door and locked it again. Heading up the stairs, she told herself she had only imagined it. Perhaps living alone for so long was finally taking its toll on her.

Lucy settled into bed and turned her lamp off listening to the wind dance outside all around her. The trees swaying back and forth, the creaking sound of the fence, and of course, the jingling bell sounds of the wind chimes.

She dreamed of her Grandmother that night. Her laugh blended in with the wailing outside. That same secret in her blue-grey irises still there, even in a vision. Lucy didn’t feel the need to ask her about all she kept hidden anymore. She now felt she knew it, and would never forget. The wind would always be a reminder. Its blustering blows would continue to moan, even after we closed our eyes for good.

Jennifer Patino

 

Jennifer Patino has been writing poetry and short stories since she was six years old. She has work featured in FONT Magazine, Door is Ajar, Half Mystic Journal, L’Éphémère Review, and elsewhere. She currently resides in Las Vegas with her artist husband.

 

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