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.