Authors: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Table of Contents
For Emma Fagan,
a mighty friend.
Annie Durinda Georgia Jackie
Marcia Petal Rebecca Zinnia
Clean my fingernails or don't clean my fingernails? Clean my fingernails or don't clean my fingernails? Clean my—
You really are still here, aren't you? It's good to see you, I suppose. And I further suppose you think it's good to see me.
Me, me, me.
Oops, sorry. I just lapsed into song for a moment there, practicing my opera singing. But we weren't talking about
were we? We were talking about me.
Now, there's something that's been occupying your mind, hasn't it—the subject of who
am. In fact, it's been occupying your mind ever since you first heard about the Sisters Eight, which of course you first heard about from
Who is that person who keeps talking to us in the prologues?
Are we supposed to
know that voice from somewhere?
And does it matter?
One thing's for certain: I have to be Someone. I mean, I can't be No One, can I? If I were No One, I'd certainly be the most Chatty Cathy of a No One ever.
I'm here to tell you, I'm definitely Someone. In fact—hold on to your hats!—you have already met me in the Sisters Eight books. Well, maybe not
in person, as in seeing my face and my body, but you have met my syntax.
Ring any bells yet?
Now, if Jackie were by my side right now, she'd explain that syntax has to do with the way words are put together. So you could say that my personal syntax, not to mention my overall tone, is like a set of fingerprints that give me away. Lots of people have fingers, but no two sets of fingerprints are exactly alike. You can catch a criminal by his or her fingerprints. You'd do well to keep that in mind.
Still not ringing any bells?
Fine. I'll give you one hint:
I always knew you were a fiery girl—nice work!
say, with you involved,
always touch and go if
would ever arrive.
Okay, so maybe that's two hints. So sue me.
Now do you have it? I certainly hope you do. I could give you tons of other examples—well, maybe not tons, but at least a dozen—but honestly, if you haven't figured it out by now...
I'm the being the Eights keep referring to as the note leaver.
That's right. Those notes left behind the loose stone in the wall of the drawing room? My handiwork. Mine, all mine. Me.
I suppose now that you know I'm the note leaver, you'd like to know my name too. Isn't that just like people? Give them an inch, they want it all.
Well, we don't have time for that right now because Zinnia's been waiting to have her turn quite long enough. It would be cruel to keep her waiting any longer.
Before I turn the story over to the story, though, I suppose I do need to remind you of the Eights' individual powers and gifts, just in case you've forgotten since last we met.
Annie: power—can think like an adult when necessary; gift—purple ring
Durinda: power—can freeze people, except Zinnia; gift—green earrings
Georgia: power—can become invisible; gift—gold compact
Jackie: power—faster than a speeding train; gift—red cape
Marcia: power—x-ray vision; gift—purple cloak
Petal: power—can read people's minds; gift—silver charm bracelet
Rebecca: power—can shoot fire from her fingertips; gift—a locket
I wonder what Zinnia's power and gift will be. I wonder if either will prove to be as much of a doozy as Zinnia has been hoping for. I rather hope so. I have a certain soft spot for Zinnia.
But there's no time to wonder about that or anything else now because it really is ...
"Why so glum, chums?" asked Pete.
It was Friday morning, August 1, and we were all hanging around in the drawing room, doing nothing but slouching where we sat, except for Georgia, who was lying on her back on the floor, throwing a ball toward the ceiling and catching it, over and over again. Even the cats were slouching, except for Greatorex, who kept leaping upward in hopes of catching Georgia's ball.
Pete had entered a moment ago with Mrs. Pete. Mrs. Pete had her hair up in curlers while Pete was dressed in his work uniform of a navy blue T-shirt and dangerously low-slung jeans. He had his tool belt on.
We liked Pete's tool belt.
"We are not glum," Annie corrected him. "We are depressed."
"With good cause," Durinda added.
"Okay," Pete said. "Why are you depressed, then?"
"Because it is August," Georgia said, throwing her ball at the ceiling again.
"I don't understand," Pete said. "Isn't that a good thing? August means no more chance of Rebecca shooting fire from her fingertips and perhaps accidentally burning the house down around our ears."
"There is that," Jackie said in an attempt at optimism. But even she couldn't keep that up for very long. She sighed and added, "August seems so very long this year. A whole thirty-one days."
"But that's good, isn't it?" Pete tried again. "You have a whole month of summer vacation left before you go back to school."
"Our birthday is this month," Marcia said. "On August eighth, beginning at eight a.m., we will begin turning eight at the rate of one Eight per minute."
"I did remember that," Pete said. "But isn't
a good thing?"
We had to give Pete credit: he did keep trying.
"It is not," Petal said. "For the first time in our lives, Mommy and Daddy will not be with us on our birthday." A tear escaped Petal's eye then, but for once none of us moved to comfort her, not even Durinda or Jackie, because tears were beginning to escape all of our eyes.
"I see," Pete said softly.
"I miss having the ability to shoot fire from my fin gertips," Rebecca said. "I know I made a promise not to use that power anymore unless necessary, but I miss just the very idea of that power."
"I thought I would be happy for it to be August," Zinnia said. "It being August means that it is my turn, finally, to get my power and my gift."