House of Hollow - Krystal Sutherland Page 0,1
their advantage. They were very good at cultivating their own mystery like gardeners, coaxing the heady intrigue that ripened around them into the shape of their choosing. I simply followed in their wake, quiet and studious, always embarrassed by the attention. Strangeness only bred strangeness, and it felt dangerous to tempt fate, to invite in the darkness that seemed already naturally drawn to us.
It didn’t occur to me that my sisters would leave school long before I did, until it actually happened. School hadn’t suited either of them. Grey was blisteringly smart but never found anything in the curriculum particularly to her liking. If a class called for her to read and analyze Jane Eyre, she might instead decide Dante’s Inferno was more interesting and write her essay on that. If an art class called for her to sketch a realistic self-portrait, she might instead draw a sunken-eyed monster with blood on its hands. Some teachers loved this; most did not, and before she dropped out, Grey only ever managed mediocre grades. If this bothered her, she never showed it, drifting through classes with the sureness of a person who had been told her future by a clairvoyant and had liked what she’d heard.
Vivi preferred to cut school as frequently as possible, which relieved the administration, since she was a handful when she did show up. She back-talked teachers, cut slashes in her uniforms to make them more punk, spray-painted graffiti in the bathrooms, and refused to remove her many piercings. The few assignments she handed in during her last year all scored easy As—there just weren’t enough of them to keep her enrolled. Which suited Vivi just fine. Every rock star needed an origin story, and getting kicked out of your £30,000-per-year high school was as good a place to start as any.
They were both like that even then, both already in possession of an alchemical self-confidence that belonged to much older humans. They didn’t care what other people thought of them. They didn’t care what other people thought was cool (which, of course, made them unbearably cool).
They left school—and home—within weeks of each other. Grey was seventeen; Vivi was fifteen. They set off into the world, both bound for the glamorous, exotic futures they’d always known they were destined for. Which is how I found myself alone, the only Hollow left, still struggling to thrive in the long shadows they left behind. The quiet, bright one who loved science and geography and had a natural flair for mathematics. The one who wanted desperately, above all else, to be unremarkable.
Slowly, month by month, year by year, the strangeness that swelled around my sisters began to recede, and for a good long while, my life was what I’d craved ever since I’d seen Grey sedate an intruder with a simple kiss: normal.
It was, of course, not to last.
My breath snagged when I saw my sister’s face staring up at me from the floor.
Grey’s fine, hook-shaped scar was still the first thing you noticed about her, followed by how achingly beautiful she was. The Vogue magazine—her third US cover in as many years—must have arrived in the mail and landed faceup on the hall rug, smack bang, which is where I found it in the silver ghost light of the morning. The words The Secret Keeper hovered in mossy green text beneath her. Her body was angled toward the photographer, her lips parted in a sigh, her black eyes staring at the camera. A pair of antlers emerged from her white hair as though they were her own.
For a short, witching moment, I’d thought she was actually there, in the flesh. The infamous Grey Hollow.
In the four years since she’d left home, my eldest sister had grown into a gossamer slip of a woman with hair like spun sugar and a face out of Greek mythology. Even in still pictures there was something vaporous and hyaline about her, like she might ascend into the ether at any moment. It was perhaps why journalists were forever describing her as ethereal, though I’d always thought of Grey as more earthy. No articles ever mentioned that she felt most at home in the woods, or how good she was at making things grow. Plants loved her. The wisteria outside her childhood bedroom had often snaked in through the open window and coiled around her fingers in the night.
I picked up the magazine and flicked to the cover story.
Grey Hollow wears her secrets like silk.