Eyes Cold Like Winter

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First Day of School

Elise stood in front of the mirror. It was the first time she wore a school uniform. The school at St. Jerome-Emilinai Orphanage was non-uniform, so Elise and the other orphans wore whatever they liked so long as it was appropriate.

She liked the navy and white blazer, the crisp white dress shirt accompanied with the navy and white tie, the navy pleated school skirt, navy tights and black shoes. The school’s logo on the right side of the school blazer bore the image of Our Lady of Sorrows. Beneath the image was the school’s motto; In Amándo Christum Deum. It was Latin for ‘The Love of Christ’.

Elise hurried to the dining hall for breakfast. Mr. Courbet and Lucius were already there. Lucius was dressed in his school uniform, exactly the same as Elise first saw him.

“Good morning Elise,” said Mr. Courbet as he glanced up from his newspaper. “Are you feeling better this morning?”

“Much better thank you very much,” Elise replied nervously.

She could not help but remember seeing Mr. Courbet wantonly embrace his female guest while feasting on her blood. So far, Elise had considered her benefactor as a kind, considerate and respected gentleman. What if these traits was just a façade and what she saw last night were his true colours?

“The school uniform suits you very well Elise,” said Mr. Courbet interrupting her thoughts. “I hope you enjoy your first day of school.”

Elise flushed as she and Lucius quickly finished up their breakfast. Just as they were about to be on their way, Mr. Courbet quickly beckoned Elise to stay behind for a minute.

“I almost forgot,” he told her. “Here is your phone and your bus pass.”

Elise was stunned when Mr. Courbet gave her an iPhone 12. She never had a phone before. The latest version of the iPhone also caused Elise to realise just how far she was behind modern technology. Back at the orphanage, the only technology she had access to was the computer in the library, nothing else.

“You’re being too generous Mr. Courbet!” Elise exclaimed.

“And once again Elise, you are being too humble,” replied Mr. Courbet. “It is essential to have a phone with you at your age. In case you need to stay late at school, or perhaps hang out with your classmates, Lucius and I will need to know. I have already added mine and Lucius’s contact details on your phone.”

“Thank you Mr. Courbet,” said Elise modestly. “I appreciate your thoughtfulness.”

“Excellent!” said Mr. Courbet, “Now run along, and enjoy your first day.”

Elise sat on the bus with Lucius. She could not help but wonder why he still needed to attend school. Surely he must already know everything from living for centuries.

“If you’re wondering why I’m still attending school despite having lived for centuries,” said Lucius. “It’s because father made me.”

How was he able to read my mind?! Thought Elise in bewilderment. Was mind-reading another ability vampires possessed?

“Vampires don’t have the ability to mind-read,” said Lucius as though he had just read her mind again. “I’m just able to tell by facial expressions.”

“How old are you really?” asked Elise out of curiosity.

“Physically, I look like a teenager,” replied Lucius. “I’m actually two-hundred-and-ninety-one years old. Back then, my family were one of the known pureblood vampires. In order to preserve our bloodline, my ancestors married their own siblings.”

“Isn’t that incest?” asked Elise, “If siblings bear children, wouldn’t it cause defects on the child due to inbreeding?”

“Not for vampires,” said Lucius. “My father married his younger sister and they had me. Vampires age at least ten human years within thirty to a hundred years. Unfortunately, my mother was murdered by a jealous lover when I was still a baby. My father stopped aging in his mid-thirties. As for the other family members, they were massacred during the French Revolution in 1789. Father and I managed to escape and we immigrated to England by stowing away on a slave trader ship.”

“Surely you must have attended school here in the UK back in the past.” said Elise.

“Father says I can’t remained cooped up in the manor,” replied Lucius. “When we arrived in England, he ordered me to visit Whitby and sometimes, travel to London. There are some Britons who are prejudiced and discriminative of foreign people who come to live on their lands. That’s why I learnt how to speak English and act like an Englishman.”

That must have been hard, being a foreigner. Thought Elise. She was not surprised since prejudice and discrimination was still a common issue. She remembered hearing on the news how four years ago, a Polish man was savagely beaten up by a group of xenophobic teenagers.

“I attended Caedmon College in Whitby when it was established in 1912,” continued Lucius. “After graduation, I enrolled into Our Lady of Sorrows Secondary School after it was established thirty year later. After I graduated, I went back to the school as a student once every twenty to thirty years, and because of that, everyone believes my grandfather and father are alumni of the school.”

The bus finally arrived at the main station in Whitby. Elise trailed behind Lucius as she followed him to the school.

Entering the school gates, Elise once again noticed how Lucius was attracting every female student. He sure is popular with the girls. She thought.

“Why are you falling behind?” Lucius asked Elise when he saw her deliberately distancing herself from him, “As I said before, those girls are only interested in my looks.”

Elise hurriedly moved closer to Lucius. Looking up, she noticed that the mood from excited squeals had turned sour. Chills went down her spine when she heard the girls gossiping.

Who is she?

Never seen her before, is she new?

Why is Lucius allowing this girl to be near him?

He’s usually alone and doesn’t talk to anyone, but why is he making her an exception?

All these whispers caused Elise to be reminded of the orphans back at the orphanage. They would usually whisper about how they found her weird and creepy everyday. I hope this school won’t be worse than it was at St. Jerome-Emiliani. She quietly hoped. Reaching into the pocket of her blazer, she gripped her rosary.

Lucius led Elise to their classroom. The students were in their friendship groups chatting about their weekend, or gossiping about what they had heard on the news. Everyone had been assigned their own desks, compared to St. Jerome-Emiliani where students were grouped and sat around a set of tables.

Elise liked the idea of having a desk to herself, rather than sharing with people whom she could potentially not get along with. Lucius also told her that their home tutor was Mr. Kilbury, one of the English teachers.

It was not long until the school bell rang, prompting all the students to hurry to their desks just as Mr. Kilbury entered the classroom.

“Good morning everyone,” he said to the class. “Before we go through the details for this week, I would like to introduce you to a new student. She won a scholarship to study at this school; Elise Benoit-Smith.”

His hand gestured to Elise who was standing at the back of the classroom. Her heart pounded when all her classmates turned around to stare at her. It felt intimidating, being stared at.

“Elise,” asked Mr. Kilbury. “are you alright?”

“Yes,” replied Elise hastily. “I’m just wondering where my seat is.”

“Ah!” he replied, “Your seat is at the front of the classroom by the window.”

Giving a nod of thanks, Elise made her way to her designated desk. As she sat down, Mr. Kilbury began to go through the events that had been planned for this week. Tomorrow was September 15th, the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows.

There was going to be a whole school mass tomorrow morning. The rest of the school day was going to be spent studying the Seven Sorrows of Mary, and doing celebratory activities to celebrate her feast day.

Elise glanced at her school timetable which had been given to her by Mr. Kilbury. English was next on her schedule today, and Mr. Kilbury was her teacher for that subject.

In the past five days, Mr. Courbet had helped her decide on her GCSE subjects. Aside from P.E., Maths, English and Science, Elise had chosen Art, History of Art, French and Classical Civilisation as her additional subjects out of interest.

Despite having a nerve-wrecking start, Elise was somehow looking forward to her first lesson. Lucius is in my class for English. She thought to herself. I wonder how things will turn out considering hes been alive for many centuries...

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