Hello, this is Cécile. Marie-Grace has written for the blog a couple of times, but I never have, so this will be my first entry. We promised to tell you a little bit about our past, how Marie-Grace and I came to be vampires, and what our lives have been like. We probably won't get through the whole story in one entry - more than a hundred and fifty years is a lot of ground to cover. This is just going to be the beginning of the story, the part where we were still just humans.
First, some pictures of Marie-Grace and me, so you'll know what we look like:
Now what you've seen our faces, I'll start telling you our story.
The first thing you should know is that, although we share our first names with two American Girl historical characters (different surnames, though,) we are different people. I don't know if that is just a coincidence, or if those characters were somehow based loosely on us, but either way those stories were not ours.
My name is Cécile Thibodeaux. I was born in New Orleans in 1841. My parents were both gens de couleur libres - free people of colour, during a time when enslavement of black people was still legal in the United States. My paternal grandfather came from Haiti in the wake of the 1804 revolution, which established that nation in what had formerly been the French colony of Saint-Domingue.
As far as I know my mother's family had been in New Orleans for several generations, but I know very little about her. She died of an illness when I was very young, and my father refused to talk about her, giving me only the smallest tidbits of information when I'd worn him down by continual pestering, only for him to fall silent again soon after.
Although sometimes a tragedy in the family brings people closer, for my father and I, it was the opposite. He spent most of his time shut away in his study, even taking his meals alone, while I was raised primarily by the parade of servants who would sign on to our employ for the good wages but would soon leave because of my father's arrogant ways and harsh words. There was very little continuity in my early life; in my memories of early childhood, my father is a shadowed, blurry figure in the background.
Things took a turn for the better for me when I made a new best friend. In those days, there were not the same regulations on child labour as there are now, and the year I turned twelve, my father hired a servant who was my same age, a Cajun girl named Marie-Grace Allain. She was an orphan without a family, and she took the job as a domestic to support herself as best she could.
Although we were from different social classes, Marie-Grace and I quickly bonded as friends. Perhaps it was partly the shared experience of losing a parent. Most of it was simply a pleasant meshing of personalities, though. We aren't exactly the same; Marie-Grace is shy, while I'm bolder, and she considers her actions more wisely while I tend to be impulsive. We complimented each other in character, though, with the strengths of one making up for the weaknesses of the other. We both enjoyed music, dance, and laughing together. I taught her from my lessons, both academics and the arts, and she taught me household tasks like cooking and sewing that had always been done for me before. Quickly, we were inseparable, friends forever.
I assumed my father wouldn't approve of our friendship, because of our class difference and racial difference. For several months, though, he didn't seem to notice. He was increasingly seldom home, and when he was around he was locked in his study. I probably could have run off to Paris without him realizing for days that I was gone. Without very attentive parenting, I could be friends with anyone I wished.
One evening, he emerged from his study, and I could see how different he was. His skin was ashen, and he stood unnaturally still, although there was a strange restlessness when he would finally make some movement. I wondered if he was ill. I noticed him looking speculatively at me, and at Marie-Grace... and I thought he intended to end the friendship or fire her and send her away.
Little did I know he had something else in mind - namely, that soon Marie-Grace and I would both be vampires. At the time, we were ordinary humans, and we had no idea that vampires were more than the stuff of stories. We could not have guessed from that brief glance of my father's that soon we would become vampires ourselves.
And that is the beginning of our story, with more to follow!