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Northern Flock

Violet's Story

October 31, 2082


Fifty years ago, I was the same age I am now. Six.

As long as I don't leave the shadows, I don't age.

It was one of the reasons they all began to fight again. The shadows and lights. My parents denied it, but I knew it was me. Or at least, partially me. If it didn't have anything to do with me, they wouldn't have hid me in the first place, but there was no changing anything now.

The Dark War broke out on Halloween. Fitting, my dad said. Stupid, my mother argued. They liked to argue, but they always smiled when they did, and sometimes, they drank tea and let me sit at the kitchen table with them. Most of the time, though, they were gone, and someone else watched me.

They leave to make your life better, someone said. Someone. Someone I couldn't I recalled something I could.

Stay hidden until we find you, my dad instructed. His voice was always softer than my mother's, but my mother's hugs were warmer. And she would paint until there was no more sunlight around. Even in the darkness, her paintings moved, her artwork lived, and her library thrived. While I preferred staring at her paintings, she tried to convince me her books were more important. Her stories would remain immortal—Like you, Violet, she explained. Then, Halloween.

We'll find you, she promised, and then, she kissed me as she left me in the shadows.

That was the last time I saw them. The last time I saw the paintings. The last time I saw her books. Or her smile.

But I kept my promise and stayed in the shadows. They'd come. One day. But until then, I only let myself come out one night every year.

Halloween. Then, Howl O' Night. Now, Hollow Night.

Even names changed over time.

Aside from the holiday, the street I lived on warped, too.

One day, it was Saysworth. So close to my hometown that I moved right in. Then, the sign broke, and the fire started, and the fence went up. After that snowy evening, I lived in the Alley of Shadows. Now, it was Shadow Alley. Someone even spray-painted a smiley face on the makeshift sign, too, but I didn't like that, so I followed the kid down the street and scared him. I only grabbed his shoulder, but a shadow grabbing anything was terrifying enough as it was. Now, everyone tiptoed around me like they could avoid my presence. But they couldn't.

I wasn't a ghost. I was immortal.

That was the difference—and my difference made Shadow Alley different, and I loved that Shadow Alley was as different as I was. My home, my little street, my perfect alleyway. While everyone used to walk down the twisting pathways, only smelly people and dangerous people did now. One boy in particular stood somewhere in the middle, but he looked like my dad so I let him. Though, over time, the boy changed, too. With age, his olive skin darkened and his green eyes lightened—almost so bright that it reminded me of an uncle I could no longer remember the name of—and I followed the boy because of it. I wanted him to trigger a memory, but my memories changed, too. As soon as they faded, they came back and faded again. My memories shifted like my shadow—morphing from wisps to something tangible to absolute blackness again. Holding my human form was the hardest thing, because it reminded me of the one truth I couldn't deny.

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