Casket Suite: What’s In a Name

by James Dorr
read the suite from the beginning

What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name?  Aimée wondered.  Well her name, Aimée, meant “beloved” in English, and she’d like to think that everyone loved her.  But did they really?  

Well, she was a vampire, the first of les filles à les cassettes, the casket girls, the one who had been a vampire before — having had to flee those who would persecute her — before she discovered the group of young women just then leaving France to go to New Orleans.  This was at the orders of no less a one than King Louis XV, to found families there with the colony’s most influential men.  And who thus had become vampires themselves because of Aimée, to endure forever in youth and beauty, while they had been waiting to choose their husbands — as well as to found their own sisterhood with Aimée as its head, which continues today. 

Surely that act was deserving of love! 

But it doesn’t explain why she had had to leave France in the first place.  Why some had pursued her, hoping to do her harm. 

Who, one might then conclude, did not love Aimée. 

She sighed at that.  True, she did have her faults, a lack of patience at times being one of them.  It was a thing she had to face, to strive if she could to keep under control.  Especially, she did not suffer fools well.  

But was that not itself a result of what should be considered a virtue?  That is, her ambition, besides being loved, was to learn to better understand things — to be the opposite of a fool.  Her first husband, for instance, was chosen not just because he had wealth — this was a criterion for all les filles, that their husbands be wealthy because, in the times when they were between husbands, they had to have means to continue their lifestyles.  But back to the point, that her first husband also had been a doctor by profession, as well as in his spare time a scientist, such as science was in the earlier part of the eighteenth century. 

Aimée adored science, to learn how the world worked.  To learn about stars and such things that weren’t “fool” things, like how the Earth went around the sun and not the other way around, no matter what it looked like from the ground.  Or what happens when chemicals are mixed together.  She liked as well to learn the customs of different people, in places other than France or New Orleans — and even religion, although it was those who professed religion who often were the most prejudiced against vampires.    

She could not understand that.  That, yes, these were the ones who, in France, had pursued her!  Who even destroyed several of her companions with hammers and stakes driven through their hearts.  And yet if they truly believed in God, the creator of vampires as well as people, should they not then extol vampires instead?  

Sure, perhaps on occasion a human, or someone a human had known, might have had a bad experience with a vampire, sometime in the past.  There was, after all, the “blood thing.”  But that was no excuse!  It was not the fault of vampires that God, in His wisdom, had put blood in people — blood that vampires required to live.  Did cows and chickens, for instance, blame people because of God’s making them out of meat?  

But yes, there it was.  It was a case that some people were bigots, and Aimée, most of all, should realize that one cannot reason with bigots.  Some still persisted in saying the Earth was flat and, although Aimée could suggest experiments they might use to see it was round instead, she knew that that still would not change their minds. 

And that was something Aimée had to cope with.  To make rules, for instance, for one’s fellow filles to keep their vampirism a secret, lest they be persecuted as well.  To not tell one’s husband, but also not to use him as a blood source — rather to fake one’s own parallel aging as he lived his life out, and then as a widow to go back to France, only to return some months later in the guise of one’s own “daughter,” having been sent to France as an infant for one’s education.      

To try not to kill people, except when needed — but then were they given credit for that?  For showing restraint, even when it might be an inconvenience?  Of course in that case, restraint was a virtue in that it helped keep their existence a secret.  

If one should ask, for whatever reason, if vampires exist, to readily reply:  “Of course not — vampires are a superstition.  Only a fool would believe in vampires!”  

And Aimée, even if the beloved, had no taste for fools. 

– END –

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