Monday, February 27, 2012

Unexpected Properties of the Surprise Gift

Hello, this is Marie-Grace again. As our returning readers may recall, I recently received a surprise gift in the mail. (Getting mail at all is actually rather a surprise for me, given my circumstances.) Although I still don't know who sent it, I do have a little more information now about why it was sent to me.

First of all, a helpful piece of advice: If you find yourself turned into a vampire, Northern Canada is a good choice of place to live. Although we have our sunny days from time to time, for most of the year they are few and far between. Snow, rain, fog, heavy wind, and general greyness are more common than bright days. Here, a vampire can lead a comparatively normal life, sometimes even venturing out in the morning or afternoon.

Today, however, was not one of those days. It was a bright, sunny, nearly cloudless day, with blue sky and only a light breeze blowing. Perfect for the humans, who were eager to run outside and enjoy the weather, and reluctant to spend such an unusually pleasant day stuck in a school classroom. Not so perfect, though, for vampires.

Those of us who were at home today - Cécile, Tabitha, Clare, Kaya, and I - had to be even more careful than usual to keep everything shut tight. Once the heavy drapes were over the window, though, we could spend time in the living room. Clare and Tabitha were working on their home school lessons, Kaya was posting on the forum for one of her online classes, and Cécile and I were doing our long-distance university coursework.

After a hundred and fifty years, the two of us are well past the high school level in our studies... but we can't exactly go get a job because we look so young. (We were turned into vampires when we were twelve, and since modern children are usually larger than children were during our time because of better nutrition, most people these days perceive Cécile and me as only about ten or so.) For a long time, this meant long and boring days, since we don't need to sleep much - but since we've met the Greens and Roses, we've started using the internet, and it has opened up a whole new world for us. For online courses, our age is less of a concern - and more difficult to verify - so we've found a lot of new avenues for learning.

Currently Cécile is doing coursework in botany, and I'm studying African literature. There's so much out there to learn, it'll be quite a long time before we run out of subjects to study!

Today was shaping up to be a fairly ordinary day of study. The five of us like to work in the same room, although we don't really talk because we don't want to distract each other, just for the sake of the company. (Kaya is only with us about half the time; the other days she goes to her co-op classes. Today, though, she was home doing her online coursework.) We were well into our work, and didn't really notice when the dog, April, came into the living room.

We did notice when she started playing with the edge of the drapes, but before anyone could stop her, she had pulled down the whole curtain rod.

Instinctively, the vampires ducked for cover. Kaya - the only one present who wouldn't be burned by the sunlight - tackled me to the floor to shield me, because unlike the others, I was directly in front of the picture window.

I drew in my breath, squeezed my eyes shut, and waited to be burnt to a crisp... but nothing happened.

Kaya helped me to my feet, and looked at me questioningly. I was right in front of the picture window, with sun shining brightly inside, but I wasn't on fire. In fact, I felt completely ordinary. I stood there in shock, albeit relieved shock, as Kaya put the drapes up again and scolded April.

I suggested, "Maybe the sun isn't bright enough to be a problem today," although this seemed pretty unlikely given how it was beaming on us.

Tabitha shook her head, and held up a section of her hair, the ends of which had gotten caught in the light and had been badly singed. Apparently some of the vampires were affected by the sunlight. Just not me.

Why not me?

It hasn't always been this way. About twenty years ago, Cécile and I took a trip to a southern beachfront village, where I got caught out in the sunlight one morning and burned my leg rather badly before I managed to scramble into shelter. It's not that I'm somehow a special vampire who is magically immune to daylight. Today was a change.

I was so startled that I barely noticed something else. Something significant. As the shock wore off, I realized that the necklace around my neck was starting to feel heavier, and although vampire skin isn't warm to the touch anyway, the chain felt downright cold even in comparison to me. I reflexively put my hand to the metal, and it was quite chilly against my fingers. At that point, I finally managed to put two and two together.

The necklace had protected me from the sun.

This still raises a lot of questions, of course. I don't know what property of it protected me, and whether the necklace was that way from the start, or whether something was done to it while it was lost. I still don't know who sent it.

I do know three things, now, that I didn't know before. 1.) We have a way for a vampire to go out in the sun without burning. 2.) Whoever sent it was almost certainly a friend, not an enemy. 3.) And if we can find a few more of them, it would change things a lot for Cécile, Clare, Tabitha, and me.



  1. Wow, that's a lot to hand Marie-Grace! Just like you and your friends, me and all of my sisters do our homework in the study upstairs. Do you like school? I love it! I want to be a vet someday. Anyways, going back to the topic... Your necklace sounds really cool! I wonder who sent it to you. I'm so glad that you were wearing it, so that you didn't get burnt! It's so funny how things can change so quickly! I hope that you find out more soon!

    Love, Reese <3

  2. Marie-Grace says:

    Hello again, Reese! :-)

    Cécile and I have always enjoyed learning, but our relationship with formal schooling has been more complicated.

    We're very much enjoying the online courses we're doing now! Since they're at the university level, we're learning a lot that we didn't know before.

    When we were human, Cécile had lessons with an excellent private tutor; I didn't go to school because I had to work for my keep, but Cécé taught me what she was learning, so it was as if we were learning things together. We really enjoyed studying.

    Once we became vampires, school got more complicated. We couldn't go during the day, and as a hundred and fifty years passed, our level of education had vastly exceeded our apparent age. It would have been very boring to sit in a classroom for hours each day when most of it would be things we'd already learned.

    So in general, we avoided attending school in an official capacity. We still tried to increase our learning through reading, visiting museums, seeing plays, and going to concerts and art exhibits.

    We took non-academic classes sometimes when we'd settled in a place for a little while. We've studied music, art, and dance.

    When we first moved to this city, we took ballet lessons (that's how we met the Greens and Roses,) and just told our ballet classmates what we went to a different school than they did for our academics. There are enough schools in the area - public, private, religious, language immersion, subject-focused, etc. - that people didn't find it strange that we went to a different school from anyone else.

    Now that we're able to take online classes, it feels like being in school again (except not boring because we're learning so many new things,) and we're having a very good time!

    So all this to say... yes, I like school, but it's complicated as a vampire. ;-)

    I think it's wonderful that you want to be a vet! It sounds like an interesting and rewarding career.

    I'm glad I was wearing the necklace, too, now that I know. I hope some day, we'll know more information about it.


  3. Marie-Grace,

    All I have to say is: Awesome! I can just imagine all the things you'll be able to do and discover with your necklace. I hope you're able to fine more (or other magical-like items) for the other girls. Those would probably give you an edge over the evil vampires.


  4. Marie-Grace says:

    Hello, Emily! I agree that it's awesome... very awesome. All day I've been thinking of all the things I'll be able to do that I haven't for so long. I plan to share with the other girls, too, of course - but it would be nice if we could each have something of our own, so we could go places in the daylight together instead of taking turns.

    I also agree with you that it would give us an edge against other vampires! Fortunately we don't have any vampire enemies that we know of at the moment; the vampires who turned Clare were killed by other vampires, and we had fight with the Elders and managed to win.

    (If you missed that post, Bree talked about the fight with the Elders here: )

    Of course, not all vampires are nice... so I'm sure we'll have vampire enemies again in the future, and having a necklace like this will most definitely help!


  5. Hey, Marie-Grace! This is Lilly. I have some things to say, so I took the computer from Sabine. Not that she enjoyed that, but she'll live. :P
    Anyway, I want one of those necklaces! I don't tan in the summer; I burn. I peel and get sun poisoning...not fun. Um...granted, humans and vampires are kind-of different, so I don't think my issues qualify me for a cool necklace...
    I'd love to know more about it someday, too. Definitely post when you discover more.
    Online classes sound fun. I want to take online health just so I can take a fun class at school, but I'm worried I'll procrastinate. It sounds like a good compromise, though.
    -Lilly :D

  6. Marie-Grace says:

    Hello, Lilly!

    Although you don't have quite the same sun problems as a vampire (since you don't get burnt to a literal crisp,) it definitely doesn't sound very pleasant for you! You have my sympathy. I'm not sure if a necklace like mine would work for you, or if it only works for vampires - but if it would, I hope you find one someday!

    Online/distance classes work best for our family when we all work in the same room. None of us are doing the same lesson, so we don't really work together exactly, but it's easier to be motivated not to just do nothing and not to go do something else when you know your sisters (or friends) will see you do it if you give in to temptation.

    Sometimes we work on our lessons at our house, and sometimes we go to work with Inna and study in one of the museum's empty classrooms. It depends on the weather.

    Of course, if the people in the room couldn't be quiet, it would probably be distracting rather than helpful. We're good about that. Most of the time, at least.

    Good luck with your class decision! :-)

    (a.k.a. "Murgie," which seems to be my new nickname from the girls)

  7. That is awesome you are getting to take all the online classes and studying, Marsali and I love being online and taking the classes that we do for home school. It is great because we can take higher classes in the subjects that we do good in and basic with the others, makes it better than regular school most of the time.

    Sorry we are late answering your post, we did not have good internet access while we were gone this week, there were four of us sharing access rather than all of us being on at the same time with wireless at home .. lol

    Sooooooooooooooooooooooo good that you had the necklace on, that is awesome. We have never had to worry about Brya with that, her 1/2 status her human 1/2 keeps her from burning, but she does have fair skin where she burns easy like a sunburn if she does not have sunscreen on. We are glad that no one else was in the direct sun light .. scary.


  8. Marie-Grace says:

    I'm glad you're enjoying your online classes, Taryn! They're such a wonderful invention. That's one of my favourite things in the modern world.

    You don't have to apologize for not answering sooner. We knew you were away, and we enjoyed following your trip on your blog.

    I'm relieved I had the necklace on, too! Although if that hadn't happened, I might never have known what the necklace could do. Perhaps it should have come with instructions?

    I'm glad Brya doesn't have to worry about lethal burning in the sun. It's good not to have to stay out of the light all the time - and safer, too, since daylight is hard to avoid entirely!