The story always begins the same.
Once upon a time, there were eight sisters who would all one day be eight years old. At the same time. They were octuplets, you see.
Their names were Annie, Durinda, Georgia, Jackie, Marcia, Petal, Rebecca, and Zinnia. They were each born a minute apart on August 8, 2000. All eight had brown hair and brown eyes. And although they were all the same exact age, give or take a few minutes, each was one inch taller than the next, with Zinnia being the shortest and Annie the tallest. And their story always begins the same, so: Please stop reading if you have read about the Sisters Eight before, and go directly to chapter one.
Please keep reading if you have not read about the Sisters Eight before.
Please keep reading if you have read about the Sisters Eight before but your memory is lousy.
Please keep reading if you have read about the Sisters Eight before but you simply like the writing here and want to read this part over and over again.
Eight girls in one story, or one series of stories. This is bad news for boys, who may suspect that there are no snails or puppy dogs’ tails in this book. However, there might be snails and puppy dogs’ tails, but the only way you will ever know this is to read further. Remember: girls can be just as grubby as boys—you just have to give them half a chance.
The family name of the Sisters Eight was Huit, which is French for eight and pronounced like “wheat,” as in cream of, which I hope you never have to eat. On New Year’s Eve 2007, as you shall soon see, their parents disappeared, or died, one of the two—this was a fine holiday present for the sisters, let me tell you. Parents disappeared, presumed dead, actually dead—parents don’t fare very well in children’s stories these days, I’m afraid. Best to be a child and not a parent, then.
The Sisters Eight lived in a magnificent stone house, which you will see more of very soon. It could practically have been a castle. It was therefore not the kind of house you would want to leave under any circumstances, certainly not after your parents had disappeared. Or died. You would not want to be taken away from your sisters, separated. And so they had to endeavor—as you would no doubt do too—to hang on to their home and to one another, keeping the truth away from the prying eyes of adults, who would surely split them all up like so many stalks of wheat cast upon the wind. Not an easy task—sticking together with loved ones—when you are seven, soon to be eight.
And where was this magnificent stone house? Why, it might have been anywhere in the world—even right next door to you—so why quibble? However, if there were octuplets in your class at school, you would probably have noticed by now, so perhaps that’s not the case.
One thing was for sure: there were undoubtedly many cats in this almost castle, cats who would also have been taken away if word got out that the parents of the Sisters Eight had disappeared. Or died.
As we approach the beginning of our first adventure, it is that fateful New Year’s Eve 2007 and the girls are about to discover the disappearance of their parents—odd, the idea of discovering that which has disappeared—as well as a note hidden behind a loose stone in the wall of the drawing room of their magnificent home. The note reads:
Dear Annie, Durinda, Georgia, Jackie, Marcia, Petal, Rebecca, and Zinnia,
This may come as rather a shock to you, but it appears you each possess a power and a gift. The powers you already have—you merely don’t know you have them yet. The gifts are from your parents, and these you must also discover for yourselves. In fact, you must each discover both your power and your gift in order to reveal what happened to your parents. Have you got all that?
The note is unsigned.
And what has happened to their parents? Well, we don’t know that yet, do we? If we did, then this would be the end of our story, not the beginning . . .