This diary entry is part 28 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Today is Diana’s birthday!!!

As I said, we’re celebrating it this weekend.  She has plans with her mother today, and that’s how it should be, I guess.  Besides, I think it’ll be more fun on the weekend anyway.  Beth is actually over with her and her mother – Beth is her best friend, but I’m not.  That’s okay! I’m her best friend’s older sister.  Just like Liz is Beth’s older sister’s best friend, not hers.

Though we all do get along really well.

She’s… I think 16 now.  But I’ll have to ask to make sure.  They’re getting so old now!  I mean, I’m eighteen and Beth’s almost seventeen, so…  wow.

Maybe that’s how Sabby feels.

I guess I don’t talk a lot about Diana here.  She’s usually mentioned in passing along with all the other girls.  But that might be because she’s the most normal of all of us girls, well, except for the ones in California and Dallas of course.  She’s hispanic (Mexican) and she’s really proud of her culture, but she’s also just average.  She has average grades, average body, average life, average food tastes… and far, far above average cooking skills.  There’s a reason why whenever I mention Diana, it’s usually right next to the word “tacos”.  I swear we should hire her in the shop.  In fact, now that she’s sixteen, I should see if we have a trainee job for her.  I bet she’d work well with Baker.

She probably would have refused before because of cat-girl, but… maybe it’ll be a little different now.

Speaking of Anathema, I guess she and Joe had a long talk.  She told him that she knows she’s only known him for a week or two, but she can’t get him out of her mind, and she’s just asking for a chance.  He countered that she seems very nice but she has only known him for a week or two, and she’s carrying proof of the fact that she’s… got a bit of a checkered past.  She asked him if that meant he wanted her to get rid of it, and that actually made him angry.  He said that of course he didn’t, the baby wasn’t to blame, and why would she say something like that?

So they had a fairly civil but somewhat heated argument, which ended with her bursting into tears and telling him she didn’t want to lose the one good thing to ever happen to her, and he said he just wants to take some time for both of them to make sure it’s the right choice, and, well…  they ended up in a rather intimate hug (but only a hug) right in the middle of the shop…  Sabby had to tell her to get back to work.

But she wasn’t really upset.  She’s happy for Anathema.

I think she’s right, and I think Joe’s right, and I think they’ll be really good for each other…  someday.  Joe won’t let her get away with anything, and she’ll help Joe to see there’s more to life than military stuff.  I guess it all works out.

Let’s see… what are all the girls up to.

Miki’s off doing idol stuff today, apparently there’s a handshake event coming up.

Yuki’s still kind of recovering from the Japan trip.  It was emotionally draining for her.  She’s happy she did it, though, even though her being in Japan was all over LINE and now the news started to pick it up, and there were a few rumors about her seen coming out of a strange hotel room with me and Miki. Which the producer, to his credit, promptly squashed in an uncharacteristically blunt rebuttal.  He seems to take care of his girls when the situation calls for it.  Something like “Don’t you have better things to do than following a teenage girl around, hentai?”  (Miki’s fine.  It wasn’t against the rules by any means, nothing happened, and the news agency was just trying to stir up crap.  They got smacked down enough that they did one of those groveling apologies Japanese folks are famous for).

They also did an expose on “train onee-chan”, but I didn’t care.  All they really know is my name and that I’m a gaijin from Texas.  I don’t have the same kind of embarrassment a Japanese person would have about the situation, so they’re mostly leaving me alone, I’m not really worth it.  They just posted a few photos and some speculation that was about 50% wrong.

Liz is practicing for her own concert, and she and I need to start rehearsing too.  Where am I going to find the time?? She’s also starting to see about going to college.  She’s got a few really good ones in her sight.  She’s probably not going overseas, though.  Her parents don’t want her going to an ivy league one, though…  apparently now they’re more of a liability.  Oh well.

Crystal’s still practicing furiously.  I’m so surprised she’s stuck with it this long, but she seems to have a knack for it.  She’s still got some mental health issues but she seems to be working through them slowly, and her parents are starting to realize how much damage she suffered.  Guitar seems to be helping, and that’s why we all agreed to form a band with her.

Beth’s still practicing singing,  It gets a little loud sometimes, but I can hardly complain, practicing piano for hours a day like I do, with a concert coming up.  She’s got a pretty powerful voice, when it’s trained up she’s going to be a force to reckon with.  Not surprising, considering how she shouts down Sabby when she gets going.  I’m taking a little time and teaching her Japanese diction.  After all, she wants to sing “idol”, and…  that’s certainly ambitious.  But that’s Beth, she doesn’t do the easy stuff.

Rebecca’s, well… being Rebecca.  She and Becky and Larissa have become inseparable and they’re spending all sorts of time at Larissa’s ranch learning how to take care of animals.  Maybe Rebecca will be a veterinarian someday.  She loves the horses the most, and they seem to love her too.

The girls over in California are…  well, being California girls.  Ever since Rebecca left, Britni kinda took over as the leader of the group over there, and now she’s driving them to get better grades.  Who’d have thought?  Yu loved the trip to Japan, and has now become something of a weeb, and Chelsi, well…  she’s still surfing her little buns off.  She’s so happy she got to surf in Enoshima, she still thanks me for that.

Apparently she was changing into her wetsuit on the side of the road and almost caused a car accident.

Been done, ask Anathema.  Haha!!!

On the Japanese side… we know about Minami…  Ai is just doing her thing over there, she’s a little disappointed I couldn’t come to see her but she understands that I was there on business.  All the other aidols are getting a little enhanced access to Minami’s idol group, so they’re having fun weebing out that way.  And the real idols think it’s absolutely hilarious that Ai and her friends all have the same name as idols themselves, they kind of like it when they hang around just for the novelty.

Aika and Mika are, what… 11 and 12 now?  They’re turning into young women, and causing Emiko no end of grief, but… that’s what happens!  Haha!!!  But when we see them, they’re a little more like little sisters now, and we can include them on stuff we couldn’t before.

And we can’t forget about Allison.  I haven’t seen her much lately, she made a bunch of new friends and she’s spending all her time playing with them.  I’m happy for her.

I think that’s all… but maybe I forgot someone here and there.  I hope not!!!

Well… David, I guess.  He’s not a sister but he’s a brother so he gets a mention.  He’s still, surprisingly, got his “girlfriend”, but they’re still long distance and that will probably not change.  He’s still got a wandering eye with some of my sisters, but he knows he’ll get it from both sides if he tries (his “girlfriend” told him he’d better dump her if he plans to cheat, because if he doesn’t, she’ll make sure no girl at his camp ever goes near him again.  She doesn’t really care if he dumps her, strangely enough, she just wants him to make sure his priorities are straight.  And, she’s like, eleven!!!), so he’s mostly keeping to himself and playing online games with his friend.  I’m honestly shocked that’s lasted this long, I mean, they’re like eleven or so, but…  well, more power to him I guess.

I did catch him with some naughty photos of Japanese girls, though… Ai seems to have impacted him.  Hah!!!

Sabby also caught him, and… well….  he doesn’t have those photos anymore.

And the adults, well… this is long enough, I guess we’ll leave that for another post.  Everyone’s fine and doing their thing.  Little Sabrina is crawling now!!!

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the creator

I REALLY have to make body models for all these girls but…  I’m already so busy with other stuff I just don’t have time right now.  At some point I want to make a group photo with all the characters, but that would mean posing like…  what, *counts on fingers* fifty characters now?  Or more?  I mean, just with the girls… you have Lily, Crystal, Beth, Liz, Diana… then Rebecca, Larissa, Becky…  Britni, Yu, Chelsi…  Aika, Mika…. Allison…  Then the ten idols in the idol group, Ai, Yuuko, Mariko…  Katie, Anathema (cat-girl), skintight-girl, anime-girl… Sabrina.  And then there’s the adults too.  That’s 32 characters without the adults and other characters like Grace, Jack, etc.

What a world I’ve created, and it’s almost a full time job just keeping up with it.  I might have to start hiring people to make stuff for me.

You can imagine how their group chats get when everyone shows up…

And there are also characters, by necessity, I haven’t mentioned or have only in passing.  Jack’s school friends, Allison’s friends, a couple of other maids maybe…  the lawyer, the accountant, Mrs. X, Mrs. Doily…  okay, I give up, the list keeps growing.

Vaguely tolerate you all!!! 💙

Hehe.  No way am I signing off like Lily does.

But I will say this.  If you’re reading this, thank you.

This diary entry is part 27 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

So back to normal today, well, as close to normal as it gets for me, I guess.

I got a decent sleep and I’m still pretty exhausted, but it’s a lot better, thankfully.  Went for a run this morning, I haven’t done that in a few days for obvious reasons.  Of course Marie was pretty happy to see me and we cuddled last night.  And, um…  otherwise pretty quiet.  I went back to practicing my cute little tushy off, and my fingers too while I’m at it.  I’m out of practice but thankfully didn’t forget everything.  I still have to go see the conductor later this week.  Thankfully I still have a couple of months before we start really preparing.

Kind of regret losing the practice time, but it was worth it.  I guess.

I really do have mixed feelings about a lot of stuff.  I mean, all the really odd stuff seems to happen to me.  Not that I’m really complaining because most of it is pretty cool, but still.  I guess I’m not meant to live a life of relative obscurity.  I mean, I’m not as well known as Miki, but…  I may have affected more people.

I guess that’s just what I do though.  Part of being an ark.  Or walking shrine.

I still don’t entirely know what all that’s about.

Anathema wanted to chat today, so I made a little time, and we… chatted.  I’ve never seen her so…  confused.  Usually she’s so confident and ready to take the world – and other things – by the horns, but…  she really does seem to have turned over a new leaf.

She’s so entirely besotted by Joe that the poor girl can’t even think straight.

To Joe’s credit, he’s being very fair about the whole thing.  He’s not leading her on, and he’s not rejecting her.  He’s not pretending there’s something there isn’t, and he’s approaching the whole thing very cautiously.  Apparently he  still doesn’t entirely trust her, her “change of heart”, as it were, is still far too recent.  And I can’t really say I blame him.  I don’t think I would either.

She’s frustrated, but I just said “what do you expect?  Did you expect there would be no consequences?”

“I deserve that for calling you selfish, don’t I?”

“Maybe, but I would have said that anyway.  You’ve found yourself a good one.  Don’t screw it up.”

“I KNOW,” she said, almost growling.  “What do you think I’m afraid of doing every minute of the day?  Screwing it up!”

“Well, tell him that!”

…  she hadn’t thought about that.

She’s so used to playing games, she’s not sure what to do with a guy who doesn’t play games.

I think it’ll be alright.  Joe doesn’t strike me as the type to not be fair or to play games.  As long as she can keep working on being honest with him and gaining his trust, I think it’ll work out.  He’s never had a girlfriend (from what he said), so this might be new to him as well.

But he’s still coming over every night and sweeping her apartment, and very nicely rejecting her advances.

So… Yuki and I have been the object of a lot of chattering in the idol group.  Apparently it isn’t the same anymore, and mostly in a good way.  Miki keeps telling them I’m a walking shrine (when I wish she wouldn’t!) and now a couple more girls from the idol group are chatting with me.  Nothing deep, just “Hi how are you today was fun” kind of stuff.  Not all, but that’s fine.  I don’t know what I’d do if every single girl I met was like that.  I’m really afraid at this rate that I’ll lose touch with some of them and the whole thing will just become too big to manage, and then what?  I avoided the whole idol thing for a reason.

Oh well.  Maybe there’s a reason.

Tomorrow is Diana’s birthday.  We’re celebrating it this weekend.  I’m sure everyone will have fun.

They still haven’t figured out the surprises.  I don’t think they will.  Though Beth is pretty smart and she’s starting to put the dots together.  I’ve already told her if she does, to keep it to herself.

Okay, I guess I should go to bed.

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 26 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

And I’m HOME!!!!

It was a nice, uneventful flight, thankfully.  Yuki and I spent most of it catching up on sleep, which was nice.  I don’t usually sleep well in an airplane, but some sleep is better than no sleep, I suppose.  Sabby picked us up in Houston and we drove back…  and both of us had class.


But the sleep on the plane was… enough.  Just barely, but it was enough.

Most of the girls are over tonight, and a few by video call as well, and I told them all about it.  They thought it was cool, but seemed just a bit put out.  They were the ones who thought of it, I didn’t want them doing it in the first place, and I was the one who went to Japan.

Well, I have two thoughts on that.

The first thought is, I didn’t much like it, so I don’t feel bad at all about taking advantage of it.  It feels like… well, not that I deserve it, because I don’t, but more like I kind of earned it.  I didn’t have any say in it, so if it opens up a few doors, well, then, I’m walking through.  If they don’t like it, well, they shouldn’t have done it in the first place!  This is what happens when you make someone the star…

The other thought is… I’d already thought of that.  I have a couple of surprises lined up for them.  But I’m not telling what they are yet.

It’s true.  It was their idea and they are partly responsible for the whole thing.  So while I don’t feel bad about it…  they don’t deserve to be left out in the cold either.  Well…  they deserve it for pissing me off that day, but I’m not going to do that to them.

But I’ll take care of them.

So now they’re more talking about what the surprises are than being mad at me, which is fine by me.  However, they haven’t even come close to guessing what the surprises are.  I don’t think they will, either.  They’ll find out one soon.  The other, well…  that one will take a little while.

Miki was on the call too, for just a little while.  She’s busy doing idol stuff today, but she could spare a few minutes to meet all the girls.  None of them were particularly star-struck.  Yuki’s the only one who’s really keeping up with that world.  And Miki seemed really grateful for that.  They just see her as “one of the sisters that Lily managed to add to her collection by being Lily”, just another particularly famous one.  Liz said that pretty straight out.

Hah, they’re not wrong.

In fact, Liz has started calling it a “sister-harem”.  That annoys me.  It’s also very accurate and I can’t argue it at all.  So I don’t call her out on it.

Anathema wants to chat but I told her to wait a day or two, I’m exhausted.

Okay, well, it’s been an eventful few days, and I’m rather looking forward to my own bed, so….

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the creator

And Lily gets back from Japan, and this little mini-arc is done.  But we’re setting the scene for something important down the line.  Can you guess what it is?  I’ve dropped a few hints, but they’re subtle, and would be helped by knowledge of, well…  not telling.

For some reason, this arc was really hard to write.  It wasn’t hard because of the storyline – that was pretty easy.  Nor the characters, nor the scenes I had to write.  But every time I clicked “publish” I ended up a little more depressed than before, and I’m not sure why.  That does happen sometimes with Lily.  Her world is so much… different… than mine.  But the story goes on, and so do I.

I have been working on a lily-related VERY time consuming project that will take me quite a while to finish, but I hope that once I do, it will help me to go back and make the story more polished and self-consistent.  Plus… might help other serial fiction authors, too.  But as I said, it’s complex and time consuming, so it will take a while to complete.  I actually had to spin up a whole other staging site to work on it.

This diary entry is part 25 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

We leave tomorrow.  It’s been really fun and I’m glad I got to meet all the idols and everything… but I’m glad to be going home, too.  This wasn’t ever intended to be a big deal, just…  something interesting to do.  And who knows where it might lead???

Anyway, this morning, Miki’s big sister came over with a change of clothes.  I guess they’re…. well, not close, but her big sister kind of dotes on her, which is kind of cute.  She wanted to meet us, so we spent a little while chatting while Miki was in the shower.  I guess her parents really don’t support her being an idol.  They’ve never actively tried to stop her, but they would rather she get good grades in school and get into a good college.  Yuki seemed to understand – there’s a lot of pressure on Japanese to perform well in school.

But she is a relatively successful idol – she’s not center ace or anything, but she’s pretty well known, and she does get the occasional modeling job, etc., so she’s not doing too badly.  Plus she does get some money for every single she’s in.

It’s a cut throat business, and her big sister seems to see both points of view.  She’s supporting Miki because she knows she won’t be able to change her mind, but she’d prefer she take a more traditional path, too.

Anyway, her sister left for home or school or wherever it is she went when she’s not bringing Miki a change of clothes, and we all took care of our business and took the train to the studio.

They did our hair and makeup because, well, we were going to be on camera, and no bad hair and un-made-up faces on camera!  But otherwise we all filed into a conference room, and Yuki was told to basically just tell the idols all the things she learned and give them tips on how to be better idols.

And, well, Yuki delivered.  The camera people went all around the room getting videos of everyone’s faces as Yuki spoke, but no one was really paying attention to that, not even Yuki.  She told stories about her time as an idol, she talked about some of the things she learned, some of the regrets she has, some of her most treasured memories.  She took a few of the girls up on stage one by one and showed them how to improve their stage presence, and also told them things they could do to improve, like specific exercises, or whatever.

And then she kind of sat on the desk, and had a heart to heart with them.

She told them that being an idol is fun, and it can open up many doors that they just have to walk through, but at the end of the day, their popularity is manufactured and that they really only exist as idols to sell CDs and give people a parasocial experience.  She put it a little differently, but that’s what she was saying.  She said that the only thing that really matters are the friendships and relationships they make, both with each other, their senpai and kouhai, and the various other people they meet on the way.  She told them to have fun and make memories, but to never, ever forget what was really important in their lives, and that their idol lives were only of secondary importance.  Their idol life would fade away, and eventually so would their beauty, and that would be all that was left.

Even the camera people were focusing on her at that point.  They knew something amazing was happening.

A couple of the girls looked a little upset, but slightly more of them were sniffling and wiping their eyes.  A couple even looked at the girl next to her and gave her a hug.  Yuki’s speech really affected them.  It affected me a little, too.

After that, we had our “free day”, and we just basically wandered around Shibuya as a large group.  We went to game places and played games, we all went to a maid cafe and had some tea and pastries.  The maids knew who they were and they were really fawning over them. Afterwards, a few of the girls wanted to pick up some new manga so we went to an Animate and otaku’d out (you’d be surprised how many of those girls are secret and not-so-secret otaku!), and we went to a park and a spontaneous game of tag broke out with some of the local children, which was hilarious.  The camera people were having a field day (well, literally, actually), and the girls pretty much completely forgot about the camera, they were having so much fun.  Afterwards a couple of the children told the idols they were pretty, which made them blush, and.. that should make for a really funny DVD.

After that we all went to a hot pot place, and…  something was different about the group.  I think Yuki’s talk affected all of them, because they didn’t seem so much like they were putting on airs, even though there were cameras planted around the table.  They seemed, I don’t know, like they were valuing their time together in a way they hadn’t the day before.

I’m glad for that.  Yuki has a lot of good memories, but a lot of regrets.  I don’t think she wants those regrets for them.

They’re not sisters, but… maybe they’re a little more friends now.

We all went to the studio afterwards, and it was time for Yuki and I to say goodbye.

And I was so embarrassed…  Miki had been talking.  All the girls stood up at once, bowed, and clapped at me.


The producer wondered what the heck that was all about, and I just said “long story.”  He muttered something about “baka joshi”, bowed, told me to keep in touch, and went back to his office.  Oh, and he handed me a pay envelope too and said that I’d get a small (very small) cut of all the DVDs they sold.  Hopefully that adds up but I’m not too worried about it.  Yuki got a pay envelope too, which she seemed really grateful for.  Was it a lot for either of us?  No.  But it was enough to make our trips worthwhile.  At least until Uncle Sam takes his cut…  For Yuki, it at least paid for her flight and gave her a little extra to boot.

I did have a conversation with the producer about… another matter.  What’s that?  It’s a surprise!!!  But it looks pretty certain I’ll be going to Houston to see the idols this summer.

All the girls said goodbye to Yuki and me.  Some seemed a bit perfunctory, a few seemed genuine, and Miki started crying.  Aww.  I told Miki to find people she could open up to here, and that I’m always available for a video chat if she needs me.  She hugged me so hard and said she’ll miss me.

I’ll miss her too.

But I’ll see her again.

And Yuki and I went back to the hotel.  Of course, she got mobbed on the train.  Sigh.

As I said, we’re leaving tomorrow.

It’ll be nice to go home.

But this was so much fun.  I had a good time.  And I got at least one more sister out of the deal.

Time well spent, I think.

Oh… remember how I said that Tanagawa Rika seemed to be best friends with Miki?  That’s…  a bit one-sided, it seems.  Aww.  Looks like maybe idols aren’t only parasocial with their fans sometimes.

Our flight arrives back in Houston at about 7:30 AM.  Sabby will be there to pick us up.  And…  I can’t imagine there won’t be a lot of sleeping…

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 24 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Yuki and I are so tired!!!

So we got up really early, barely having had much of a chance to sleep, and we headed right over to the studio so they could do our hair and makeup.  They dressed us up like ordinary, pretty Japanese women.  I had a nice skirt and jumper, she was dressed like a business woman.  (Yuki really rocks the businesswoman look, I had no idea! – and I’m half-Japanese, so I can pull it off)  Then we took a bus over to the train, and got on.  The front half of the train was clear, the back half had a camera or two, some lighting, a couple of production folks, and a whole pile of backpacks and purses.  There wasn’t enough room for the whole crew, so they just made do.

And we spent the next four hours going back and forth on the train from station to station and making a video.

They weren’t actually singing, they played the music on some loudspeakers, and they did their dances and stuff in relative silence.  It was actually a little eerie.  They’d do a few seconds, then someone would yell “kitte” (cut) and one of the idols would get a talking to, or they’d reposition the cameras, and do it all over again.  They got a few closeup shots of me looking annoyed, and a few closeup shots of some of the idols as they danced.  At one point they formed a line and ran up to the camera and then veered off, I’m sure it made some really cool footage, but it looked silly from my perspective.

They had Yuki yelling “Yamette kudasai” (stop!) a few times, and then they had all the idols sit quietly looking abashed.  Then they had me say quietly “minna daisuki mo” (I love you all too) and we took a break for lunch.

It’s pretty exhausting sitting there looking annoyed, honestly.

I guess the producers were off looking at the footage and making sure they had everything they needed while we had lunch.  We were at Shibuya station so we went to a food court and got some bento and stuff, and just kinda sat around eating.  Surprisingly no one came over and bugged us for an autograph, though a few were staring from a distance.  The girls were dressed pretty garishly.

Miki came over and wanted to talk to me.  She speaks almost no English, so this is in Japanese.

“Your Japanese is good.  Not perfect, but good.”

“Thanks.  My birth mother is Japanese.  I met her a couple of years ago.  I’ve been studying a lot.”

“You’re…  not like Japanese,” she said, softly.

I just looked at her.

“No, no,” she said, waving her hand, a hamburg steak still in her chopsticks.  “I didn’t mean it like that.  It’s…  a nice change.  I don’t…  I can be myself… a little more,” she said, softly.  “It’s hard sometimes.”  She ate her hamburg steak.

“Yuki told me being an idol is hard.”

“How do you know Yuki?”

So I told her the story, of how I met Yuki.  How when I met her I didn’t even know who she was, and how Yuki seemed to find that refreshing.  How we became pretty good friends and how she’ll always be Yuki to me, and not an idol.

Yuki and Minami came over to sit down. Yuki had an eel bento, and Minami had a gourmet omurice.  They looked delicious.  “I really love that,” she said.  “In the US no one knows who I am, so I don’t have to worry mostly about getting recognized and fawned over.  If someone likes me, they really like me.”

“Must be nice,” Miki said forlornly.

“I didn’t know who you are either,” I said.  “I’ve never seen your group before they offered to bring me over.”  I took a bite of my tempura.  It was amazing.

A couple of emotions warred across her face.  Disappointment and relief were the two biggest.  “It’s hard.  You always have to be on your guard around these girls.  They’re nice, and it’s fun working with them, but… you never really know where you stand, and who is going to the producer and making trouble.”

“That’s happened?”

“A couple of times.  Not often.  Nakamoto-sensei doesn’t much like it when girls do that.  He prefers we deal with our problems amongst ourselves.  It works out most of the time.”  She told a story about one girl who went to the producer, who took her back to the group, told them exactly what she had told him, and then forced her to apologize while bowing deeply.  She never pulled that again, and they eventually forgave her.  Eventually. They have to get along to work together, so it ended up working out, but it took her a very long time to get back to the point where they’d socialize with her when the cameras were off.  She said he deals with problems directly when needed (at least one idol got kicked out of the group) but not those little things that girls tend to fight over most of the time.

While I ate, Yuki then told a few stories of her time as an idol, stories she’s never told me.  Stories of jealousy, backstabbing, infighting, hurt…  but also of friendship, fun, good times…  and at the end, she said “Just remember…  these are your memories.  Your time as an idol… it will come to an end.  All you’ll take from it is your memories.  Do you enjoy it?”

Miki nodded.  “When you’re standing in front of twenty thousand people in a stadium, it’s… it’s like nothing else.”

“Treasure that,” Yuki said softly.  “I still miss it… a little.  But I don’t miss some things either.”

“Come to the US when you have time,” I said.  “It’s different there.  We have a live music venue, and it’s a lot smaller than a sports stadium.”

She nodded.  “We have a concert in Houston coming up later this year.  I’ll be sure to invite you.”  She had finished her food, so she stood up and impulsively gave both of us a hug.  “Thank you,” she said.  “It’s lonely sometimes.”

Then Yuki did something that really embarrassed me.  She told Miki the story of how I’m a “walking shrine”.  Miki looked dumbfounded, and then sighed.  “I knew there was something different about you,” she said softly.  “It’s like you were calling to me.”  She stood up, bowed, and clapped.  “Thank you,” she said, very formally.  That got us a few funny looks but everyone was too busy eating to really care.

Minami hadn’t said much, just listening to Yuki and Miki telling stories, and eating her lunch.  We asked her if she was enjoying herself, and she said she was having a really great time, and learning a lot too.  She said Miki was a really good senpai, and Miki looked embarrassed.

Soon the producer came to round us all up.  We had to get our clothes and makeup touched up before we made up for all of the stuff we missed in the first shooting.

Another four hours of filming later, and we were done.

We were then told that, as a treat for our hard work, the next day all of us (Yuki, me, and the idols) would have a free day where we could do whatever we wanted, all the basics paid for, we just had to let a camera crew come along to film us for a bonus DVD.  And before that, Yuki was to take a couple of hours and give an idol masterclass, which they’d record too.  Yeah, Minami warned me about that, but…  it’s okay.  It sounded like fun, and I did need to buy some omiyage for my sisters back home anyway.  I guess I get to have the actual life of an idol for a couple of days.

It’s not like I want to be, it’s hard work, but…  it’s fun, for a couple of days, anyway.

We all went out to eat that night, and Miki was hanging around me for some reason.  She asked to come back to our room for a little while.  I didn’t see why not, so, she did.   And the three of us spent a long time just chatting.

She really is a lonely girl.  A very lonely girl.  But…  she’s also really sweet.  I think I might have found another sister.  She…  feels like she can be herself around me.  Maybe it’s partly because I’m not an idol, partly because I’m not Japanese, partly because I’m a “walking shrine”, and partly just because that’s how she feels.

And I’m okay with that.

She’s crashing on our sofa right now.  I guess we’ll just let her sleep.  I’m sure she’ll want to take a train back in the morning to get cleaned up before we have our “fun day”.

You know how many people would kill to have her crashing on their couch?  But here she is, and it’s because we wouldn’t kill to have her crashing on our couch.  She’s our friend.

It’s amazing and sad how few people treat these idols like, well… people.

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the Creator

So this is actually probably not tooooo far off from how it could very possibly conceivably go.  I’m sure I got some details wrong, and it would probably take a bit longer for Miki to warm up normally, but hey, this is Lily we’re talking about.  Walking shrine, y’know?  She probably wouldn’t be allowed to stay over in real life, but this idol group doesn’t really care too much what its idols do in their off hours as long as they follow the dating rules, etc.

And there’s no way anyone would think she was dating Lily and Yuki after meeting them like one day ago.

Lily puts up with Japanese people calling her a “walking shrine” because they wouldn’t understand most other terms.

This diary entry is part 23 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

And I’m TIRED!!!!!

OMG what a day!!!

So Yuki and I checked out around 8 AM and got to the gate at plenty of time, and boarded around 10 AM.  We got to Japan at about 4 PM the next day, the flight was late.  Aww.  But that’s okay, Yuki and I took the chance to get some sleep.  We got seats next to each other so we just kinda snuggled up and had a little plane girl-pile.  Usually she’s not the keenest on that, but hey, small quarters and at least we’re friends.

Yuki wasn’t kidding.

When we were waiting for the plane, she got recognized and people asked for her autograph.  When we disembarked, she pretty much got mobbed.  I guess someone at the airport posted on LINE that she was there, and there was a huge crowd of people waiting for her to leave security.  It was embarrassing, actually.  She took it all well, but I get it now.  They just wouldn’t leave her alone.  Even the taxi driver was acting a little star struck.

And it’s worse because she’s not the only one.  After they got through mobbing her, someone yelled “TRAIN ONEE CHAN” and it was my turn to get mobbed.  They seemed amazed that I signed my name in English, but everyone just seemed happy to meet us.  It was the strangest thing.  I think I’m starting to see why they wanted me to make this video with them.  Apparently I’m a bit of a celebrity.  Not as much as Yuki, but I hold my own, I guess.  I guess it was kinda big news that Yuki and train onee-chan were both getting off the plane together and seemed to know each other.

But she told me she was glad I was there because it helped her to feel a little more safe and grounded.  Doesn’t hurt that I could flatten any of them, I guess.

And she… helped take some of the focus off me, I guess.  Well, a lot of the focus, I suppose.

Anyway, we got picked up by a taxi and taken to the producer’s offices in Shibuya.  We met the producer, who was very polite (as I expected) and I got to meet all of the idols.  They were doing idol stuff, but when I showed up, all the idol stuff stopped and it was “meet the new star and Yuki” time.  They of course mobbed Yuki, but this was more professional admiration than fangirling, though there was some of that too.  After that we all went to dinner at a high end ramen place.

OMG was that delicious.

The idols are so interesting, there are about ten of them (including Minami now) and they all have such different personalities.  They started with their idol introductions (“With a bright smile and happy face, Happy beam!  Yamamoto Miki desu!”) But I told them to cut that out, we’re all friends here and I want to know who they really are, not their idol faces.  They seemed very surprised at that, (that was not very Japanese of me, but I’m not Japanese), but then many of the pretenses dropped and I got to know them a little for who they really are.

There’s Kashiwagi Reina, who’s kind of quiet and reserved but shovels down the ramen almost as fast as Yuuko does anything.  There’s Yamamoto Miki, who’s bright and cheerful and bubbly but has a tinge of sadness when she thinks no one’s looking.  There’s Takahashi Mikoto, who always seems to have a book with her when she’s not doing her idol stuff.  There’s Tanigawa Rika, who seems to be best friends with Miki, and they always want to sit with each other.  She’s a bit quieter though, just seeming to enjoy watching Miki when she goes off.  There’s Tanaka Yui, who doesn’t seem all that remarkable but is a trained pianist and musician, who probably could give me a run for my money if she wanted to.  There’s Hanada Rei, who is spectacularly beautiful and apparently does a lot of side work as a gravure model.  There’s Toyoda Safaia, who is actually of the famous Toyoda family (you know, the cars) but prefers to run around singing and dancing than acting like an heiress (she hates her name, much like the eponymous character in “Sound! Euphonium”), there’s Takagawa Rie, who seems a little moody and a little snappish, but everyone seems to like her anyway, and Ogawa Miko, who is almost as beautiful as Rei and seems to be the glue that holds the group together.  The producer is Nakamoto Kento, and he brought along a couple of assistants, and you can’t forget Minami, who seemed to be absolutely bubbling over and was so happy to see me and Yuki she could hardly contain herself.  Anyway, it was a full house, and most of them seemed so full of energy, even though they’d been practicing all day.  Gotta admire their dedication.

Amazingly, most of the people in the ramen shop ignored us, I guess they’re such frequent visitors there to one degree or another that they’ve gotten used to that.  Though the girls were all laughing at me being “train onee-chan”, they thought it was hilarious that that one thing that my sisters did went so viral that they were going to be doing a video with me.  They didn’t seem to mind though, other than the more standoffish ones they thought it was a really fun song and were really looking forward to performing it.  I got the impression that the standoffish ones… it wasn’t personal, they just weren’t too keen on strangers.

After we got back, we had a meeting with the producer, who told us what he has in mind.  Tomorrow we’ve hired out a train, and we’re going to film on the train.  While it’s going from station to station they’re going to do all their dancing and stuff, and my job is to just sit there and be annoyed.  They have a few other things for me to do, but they promised I’m not going to have to dance around.  Whew.  I’m in pretty good shape, but those girls are trained for it, I’m not.  I asked if they had something in mind like “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari”, and the producer kinda cringed, and said something like “Yeah, we almost didn’t do this because of that, but the subject matter demanded it.”

They just want Yuki to be another person on the train a couple of seats down from me, just kinda minding her own business.  Maybe she’ll be reading a manga or something.  Apparently they just want her to be an uncredited cameo, they figure there’ll be a lot of hubbub when people figure out who she is.

They’re probably right.

They played the song for me that they’re going to sing, and it’s hilarious.  It’s basically about a big sister everyone loves.  It’s perfect!

After we do all the recording, if we have some extra time, they’ve asked Yuki to do an idol masterclass for the girls.  After all, she’s got a lot more experience than some of them – some of them are close to our age, but some of them are more like thirteen.  Yuki has a lot of things to teach them.  I might sit in and watch, that sounds fascinating.  Besides, it’ll be cool to see Yuki in her element again.

We have to be at the studio bright and early to get our makeup and outfits done and get on the bus though.  So Yuki and I are back at the hotel now and we’re going right to bed after this. It’s like morning our time, and we’re tired.

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the creator

Keeping all these idols straight is going to be hard.  I might make body models for them at some point (the fact that they’ll all wear the same costumes will make that a lot easier (and less expensive) for me, but posing them is going to be a pain.  Maybe this weekend if I can make time.  And coming up with all those names was a chore.  They’re all legit Japanese names though.  Except for Safaia, which is a kirakira name, but you’d kind of expect rich parents to do that…

A gravure model does a lot of swimsuit and fashion photoshoots.  Think cat-girl, but a teenage girl and at least trying to appear wholesome.

I shouldn’t need to say it, but all characters in this fic (except for Allison, her family, the “Texan Tinkerer”, and some famous characters) are entirely fictional and have are not based on any real person, living or dead.  The idol group described here and all its members are entirely fictional, and while I’m sure they share names with real people (the aidols definitely do, for example) that’s the extent of any resemblance.  I’ll have to put that in a disclaimer page at some point.  The idol group is inspired by actual idol groups, taking some elements from about three of them, but the inspiration is superficial.

This diary entry is part 22 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Yuki and I are leaving for Japan tomorrow.  No chartered flight this time, but we knew that was pretty much a once in a lifetime thing anyway.  We leave at 10AM from Houston for Haneda, and get there at about 3 PM.  So…  Yuki and I are in a hotel room tonight.  It just seemed to make sense, rather than trying to drive two hours early in the morning, and getting there right around rush hour.  It took a bit to find a hotel that would rent to us, because we’re both below 21 (Yuki is 20, I think) but we figured it out.

We got a nice, but utilitarian room.  Yuki is showering now so I thought I’d write here.

This morning Sabby wanted to talk a little.  I mean, I’m always up to talking with Sabby, but I never quite know which Sabby I’m going to get.  Will it be the comforting, mothering Sabby?  The pensive, insecure Sabby?  Or Claire Huxtable Sabby?  This morning it… was a combination of all three, actually.

It finally hit her that I’m an adult.

I mean, it’s true she hasn’t known me my whole life.  She met me when I was fourteen (even though I didn’t know it at the time), and she’s kinda tried to make up for lost time in some ways.  She loves me, a lot, but I think she feels bad sometimes that she didn’t really raise me and there’s not a whole lot she can help me with.  I mean, for as much trouble as David and even Beth can be sometimes, she did raise them.  But me… I came to her mostly fully formed, just with a lot of gaps.  It seems to bother her sometimes.

And it really bothers her that, not only do I not share her beliefs religiously, in some ways I’m… kind of beyond religion.  If that makes sense.  I don’t really need the trappings of religion in many ways because the reality is all here, in my head and heart.  I don’t always get to talk to… well, whoever I talk to, but when I do, it’s… what’s that big theological word the pastor likes to use all the time…  imanent.

(I’ll still call him the pastor.  That’s how I know him.)

She told me she’s worried about me… but also jealous in some ways.  She thinks I don’t need her.

Well, in some ways… I guess I don’t.  I don’t need her financial help, really.  I don’t really need her spiritual help… not really.  I don’t need a whole lot from her.  But I still need her.  I need her when I need someone to cry on, I need her when I need someone to tell me how stupid I’m being, I need her when I need some really delicious spaghetti, or a lot of cookies and other pastries.  I know these don’t seem like big things, but they are to me.  How would I survive if I didn’t have her chest to cry on when all the tears are coming out so hard I can barely catch my breath and all I can do is sob my heart out?  She always just presses my head to her chest and strokes my hair, and tells me to just get it all out and then we can talk about it…  and what kind of treasure is that?  All the money in the world can’t pay for that.

So, of course I need her.  I don’t tell her as often as I should, but I need her sometimes more than I can possibly tell her.  I mean, I give her chocolate when I could eat it myself.  What does that say?

But now I’m about to go off on my own.  I’m heading to Japan pretty much on my own right now, I’m about to graduate, and maybe go to Japan for “good”, and the next chapter of my life is going to start.  And I will be far away from her, maybe for extended periods of time.  But that doesn’t matter.  She’ll always be my mother.  Always.

She fussed so hard over me when we left this afternoon, but…  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I think she asked if I had my passport like five times.  And Jack came over to, to send me off with a hug and a kiss that was far too long for Sabby’s comfort, but I didn’t care.  Not this time.

Oh, Yuki’s out of the shower.  I guess it’s my turn.  Yuki’s really looking forward to one of those deep baths, the kind they have in Japan where the water can even spill over and the overflow can drain too.  But showers have their own charm, too.  She’s not really looking forward to going back to Japan… but she feels like it’s time.  She’s ran away from it long enough.

Love you all!!! ❤️

Maybe I’ll write from the airport, but my next post will probably be from Japan.  I suspect they’re going to pick me up and take me right to the studio.  When I post, I’ll probably post in the evening in Japan, but backdate it to evening here the previous day, because prior experience taught me that’s HELLA confusing.

From the creator:

And so starts Lily’s trip to Japan to be in an idol music video.  I’m pretty familiar with idol culture, but I’m not an idol (and never, ever could be, not in a million years), so expect me to get it mostly but not entirely right.  There are a few things I’m going to quite deliberately take liberties with, like with the military stuff, but I’ll try to keep it at least somewhat accurate and believable.  When you have a group of girls, well… that’s mostly the same across cultures, right?

This diary entry is part 21 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!


That word has been reverberating through my head still today.  So much so that I…  went to see the pastor.

I didn’t tell anyone.  I had class anyway, so I just… went.

He was in his office, doing, well, pastory stuff, and I knocked and entered.

He looked genuinely surprised.

“Lily?”, he said, “I thought I’d never see you again!”

“You almost didn’t,” I said.  “I’m pretty upset with you.  I’m even more upset with you than I was before.  But…  I don’t think it’s right to not talk things over.  Someone told me I’m being selfish.  Damn her,” I said softly, “but she’s not really wrong.  But…  I don’t think I’m the only one here who’s… ummm”

I felt a kind of knocking on my head.  “Really?  Now?,” I thought to myself, just heard a chuckle, and that voice saying “Let me talk for a little bit.  It might make things a little easier.”

“Fine,” I thought, and let whatever was going to happen, happen.”

“Bryan,” ‘I’ said, “Lily has a gift.  A very special gift, one that I gave specifically to her.  There are very few people in this world with this gift.  She is very special to me, for she has given much, had much taken, and had much given in return.  However, while you consider her a part of your ‘flock’, which is understandable, she is not. She is your equal – only her commission is different.  Treat her as you would the most precious of things, because that is everything she is to me, and more.  Do not forget what you promised when you prayed to me, all those years ago.  Do you remember, Bryan?”

He nodded mutely.

“You have served me well, Bryan.  However, Lily is not wrong.  You have never hesitated to take advantage of or use people if you felt it was in furtherance of my kingdom.  Do not forget whose kingdom it is, and there is no place for that there.  Lily is not perfect and will not always guide you perfectly, but she is my daughter, and I expect you will treat her, and the rest of your flock, as such from here on.  They are my children, not yours.  You are but the shepherd.  Am I clear?”

He nodded again, mutely, and looking a little like a chastened puppy.

“Keep doing my work.  While I care about everyone, I do not chasten those who do not care about me.  I return Lily to you.”

It was quiet in the room.  There was a clock in the corner resolutely ticking, it felt a little bit like an omen, and a little bit like a promise.  Tick, tick, tick.

Finally, he spoke.  “I…  guess I stand corrected,” he said.

“That’s not very comfortable,” I said, softly.  “It feels like my brain is being twisted in directions it doesn’t want to go.  I hope that doesn’t happen frequently.”

He blew out a breath.  “Honestly, me too.  That was not pleasant.”

“So where from here?,” I said.  “I’m angry with you.  You’ve done some very good things for all of us, but when push came to shove, you didn’t treat either me or Anathema very well.  You tricked me, and you used Anathema at a very vulnerable time for her.”

“I want to argue.  But it seems someone agrees with you. And I can’t very well argue with him, can I?”

“You can.  I don’t think it will do you any good.”

He was quiet for a little while.  “So…  what do you want?”

“I want to feel safe in your church.”

He flinched.  “That hurt.”

“Maybe it should.”

“Maybe it should,” he repeated back, and sighed.  “There are so many things a person with your gift could do,” he said, a little wistfully.  “But I suppose it never was my place to try to shape you in that regard, was it?”

I shook my head.  “Your job is to counsel, to teach, maybe even sometimes to admonish… but never to shape.”

“I see,” he said, quietly.  “That may have been my mistake.”

I nodded.  “It may have.  Let me explore my gifts in my own time.  Don’t pressure me.  Let me be a part of the community in my own way.  We… seem to be on the same team, after all.”

“What… team do you think we’re on?”

I shrugged.  “The same one.  I don’t understand any of this.”

“Do you… want to learn?”

I thought for a bit.  “No,” I said, softly.  “Not right now.  I feel like the more I learn, the more I’ll try to shape my gifts to match what I’ve learned, and I feel like…. that will quench them.  No, just let me be.  I will seek you out when I have something to talk to you about.  And you may feel free to do the same with me.  But only that.  No more.”

He nodded.  “Do you…. have any advice?”

I thought, and I even asked.  Nothing.  “No.  It seems everything has been said that needs to be said.  I’ll take my leave now.  Thanks for seeing me with no notice.”

“Thank you, Lily.  I have much to think about.  I would speak with Anathema when she has time.  Can you arrange that?”

“I can.  I’ll speak to her.  She might come to church again before I can arrange that.  I have an overseas trip to make this weekend.  I won’t be here.”

“I understand.”

I stood up, shook his hand perfunctorily, and walked out.  There wasn’t much more to say.

I told Sabby what happened.  She…  doesn’t really seem to know what to make of it.  She’s still a little cheesed at me, but I think she realizes there’s something going on that’s bigger than her, so she’s just kind of keeping her head down.  I bought her a chocolate shake, though, for old times’ sake.  She seemed to accept it in the spirit it was intended.  Of course I got one for me too… because I’m not going to pass up a chance for chocolate, duh.

Yuki is over tonight.  She has been teaching me a lot about Japanese work culture, with an emphasis on idols.  There’s a lot to remember, but I think I at least know enough to not seriously stick my foot in it.  She also gave me a few acting tips.  It’s not like I have to be Sir Lawrence Olivier or anything like that, but it might help to be a little convincing.

Minami has been in touch too.  She’s so happy I’m coming over to see her, and to see her work.  She’s going to be on that dance team too.  Not the center or anything, but I dunno, maybe eighth girl from the left?  She’s been telling all her idol friends about me, and me all about them, and they’re looking forward to meeting me too.  She’s trying to schedule an afternoon where all the idols and me can go out for boba or something.  She warned me if that happens, cameras are probably going to follow, and to not be surprised if there’s a “making of” video at some point where I figure prominently.  Figures.  She also said they’re probably going to try to get Yuki to participate a little, too.  Not surprising.  That’d make perfect sense.  She said she’d decide if or when they tell her what they want her to do.

I hope I’m not a disappointment.  At this point, I don’t know if I’m their senpai, their kouhai, or something else entirely.  Maybe a combination of all three.

Oh well, onwards, I guess.  I’m going to forget about church and the pastor for right now.  Everything was said that needs to be said, and I have a trip to Japan coming up, so yay.  Plus after I get back I need to meet with the conductor, so…  need to practice a lot over the next few days.  And maybe the studio has a piano I can use.

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the creator

This one kinda fought me.  I hope it came out okay.

This diary entry is part 20 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

And… ummm…

So…  the Anathema drama isn’t quite done.  She came over today to talk to me.  I had to leave for class and she needed to get ready for work, but… she wanted to talk to me.  So…  I made some time.

She wanted to know why I was so upset at the pastor.

So… I told her.  How he took advantage of me, and tricked me into going up on stage…  and how something took over and, well.. how unhappy I was with what he had done.

She thought for a bit.

“I…  see why you’d be upset,” she said.  “And he did do something similar to me.  I see why you would think he was being insensitive.  He, well… I guess he was, in a way.  You’re not wrong…”

She thought for a bit.

“But you’re kinda being selfish, aren’t you?”

Oh, that did it.  I just about went all Claire Huxtable on her.  But…  I said “just about”.

“What do you mean?”, I said.  “And you’d better make this count, because them’s fighting words.”  I don’t remember where I learned that turn of phrase.  Dave, maybe?

I guess the truth of what I said was obvious, because she gulped.  “Well,” she said, “You’re a ‘walking shrine’, or an ‘ark’, or something.  Sometimes someone, someone with apparently great power, at the very least the power to change lives with a word, talks and acts through you.  Do you know anyone else who has these abilities?”

I shook my head slowly.  “No,” I said, not liking where this was going.  “As far as I know, I’m the only one in the world.”

She sighed.  “I understand you not wanting the attention.  And you’re right to protect yourself.  I mean, if anyone knows what it’s like to get unwanted attention and have to protect yourself…  I’ve got a very, very gorgeous sergeant in the military who comes over every night after work to sweep my apartment, and… “, she got a dreamy look in her eyes.  “Where was I… oh.  Anyway, I know what that feels like.  But you’ve gone beyond protecting yourself… you’re actively withholding your abilities  You can change peoples’ lives.  Something… someone… has chosen you, given you a gift…  and you’re squandering it.  Because you don’t want to share it.”

I sighed and leaned back.  This girl was about to give me a headache.  Or a stroke.

“let me ask you this – if someone else, not the pastor, came over and asked you to do something to help them, what would you do?”

“I’d…. I’d…” I shrank.  “I’d slam the door in their face.”

“You’d…. slam the door in their face.”

I nodded.

She stood up.

“Selfish,” she said, softly, and rubbed my head.  “I can’t say I wouldn’t feel the same in your position.  But…  your abilities…  they don’t belong to you.  And you don’t have the right to hold them back like you’re doing.  You’re…  throwing something beautiful away.”  She blinked a few times.  “And I know what throwing something beautiful away, is.”

She kissed my forehead.

“Think about it, lil sis.”

And she left.

Lil sis.

Lil…  sis…


Oh my god.

I went upstairs, and I took out the Lycoris Radiata – you know, the one I found on my chest one night.  And I looked at it, I mean, really looked at it.  It was still warm, it was still kind of comforting, it still shone with an unexplainable inner light.


That word reverberated through my head all day, through class, through dinner, through everything.  Selfish.

It’s still reverberating now.  And the Lycoris Radiata is sitting on my shelf, both comforting me and silently judging me.

Well…  I guess I can’t be too mad at her.  I mean, well… I started it.

Liz is over tonight.  I’m not sure I’m very good company.  But we’re having an okay time anyway.  Yuki’s coming over tomorrow to plan our trip.  I guess she has some stuff to talk to me about.

Love you all!!! ❤️

I guess.  Not like I’m showing it.

This diary entry is part 19 of 28 in Lily's diary dated 31 - January 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Well, I guess it was a Sunday.

So this morning, Anathema wanted to go to church.  I was very, very surprised.  I think anyone who know Anathema – back when she was more cat-girl than Anathema, would have thought if she walked into a church that the place would go up in flames and a pit into hell would open up right in front of the crucifix, and a bunch of dancing demon-girls would come out of there and start seducing everything that moved.  But…  I guess surprises are going to keep happening.  Sabby and I asked her why, first.  She just said “It…  doesn’t seem like it’ll hurt, does it?”

I guess I can’t argue with that logic, really.

So she went to church.  But, she wanted me to go with her.  I don’t know why, something about being with a “walking shrine” making her feel safe.  Dangit!!!  What the heck?  And Joe, well… he wanted to come along, too.  I guess there are a lot of Christians in the military.  A few less now before, to hear him talk about it.

So…  dang it all, we all went.

I honestly didn’t want to go, but I felt obligated.  I mean, after all, I’m the reason (by proxy, but still) that she’s having all these upheavals right now.

And, well…  I’m kinda glad I went, and I’m kinda not, because it was hilarious.  Well… right up until it wasn’t.

No, she wasn’t hilarious.  Said pit to hell didn’t open.  We all walked in and it was actually pretty uneventful.  The old ladies welcomed me back and, I’ll admit, I was a bit standoffish.  I’m not going to be a “walking shrine for hire” or even an “ark for hire”.  I just want to be Lily.

Until she got recognized.

Some guy walked up to her and started yelling and screaming that someone like her shouldn’t be attending his church, and don’t we know what she did, and how dare she?

She just sat there, while he, in front of his wife and kids, berated her.  She was very calm, and I didn’t understand how.  Both Joe and I wanted to pick that guy up and carry him out, but she called us off.  “I can deal with this,” she said, softly.

Finally, after he wore himself out and the pastor was coming up to deal with it, she just said seven words.

“How do you know what I did?”

He turned red.  His wife looked at her calculatedly.  “What did you do?”

“Up until a few days ago, I was an adult model.  Your husband here,” and she looked pointedly at him, “was probably one of my fans.  Hmm.  What was your nick anyway?”  And she recited a pretty dirty nickname, which he immediately responded to.  He turned even redder, because, apparently, she knew her fans, and remembered his nick.  Though, she did tell me later it was just an educated guess.  Good guess!

“Yeah, you paid for quite a few, umm…  things,” she said, softly, with emphasis.  “Does your wife know how much money you gave me that should have gone to them?”  And she looked at the kids, who didn’t seem to know what was going on, and thankfully.

“Anyway,” she said, “I gave it up.  I deleted the whole thing a few days ago.  I’m, umm… turning over a new leaf, I guess?  God, or at least I think it was God, gave me a second chance.  Maybe your wife will give you one too.”  She shrugged.  “I wouldn’t.”

His wife looked at her with loathing, but looked at him with a fiery loathing that caused parts of him to shrink you couldn’t even see, grabbed him by the ear, and dragged him out of the church, the kids following along confusedly.

‘Bye!,” she waved, cheerfully.  “Thanks for all the support!”

And then, after they all left, she sat down and burst into tears.

The pastor looked at me, then her.  “I hate to ask,” he said.  “Will you give a testimony?”

And that’s when I lost it.  I told the pastor that he could have at least waited for her to stop crying, and that’s why I stopped going in the first place, and while he’s a nice person and has always treated us pretty well, his one huge flaw is that he doesn’t care about individual people nearly as much as he cares about his church as a whole, and…  I was ramping up to go Claire Huxtable on him, Sabby-style.

And she stopped me with a hand on my arm.

“Yes, I will,” she said, sniffling.

I just crossed my arms.  “Fine,” I said.  “If you want.  But,” and I looked at the pastor, “I’ll never come back again.  Not while you do stuff like this.  It’s just like what you did to me, but at least you asked her,” I said bitterly.

So the services started.  Sabby was kind of giving me the stink eye, but I didn’t care.  You know how everyone stands up and sings and sits 22down and stuff?  I just sat there.  I didn’t move, I didn’t talk, I didn’t speak.  She did stand up, and she did give her testimony.  And…  she just had to bring me up.

I mean… I guess, how could she not?  I’m an integral part of the story.

I’m not mad at her.  She was truthful.  She didn’t lie, she didn’t prevaricate, she didn’t pull punches, and she didn’t exaggerate either.  I am what I am and I did what I did..  And I still think it was entirely inappropriate, far too soon, and the pastor was, well, I’m done with him now.

He’s done a lot for me – for us.  I probably wouldn’t have found my family without him, Crystal wouldn’t be where she is without him, and I’m grateful for that…  but…  that was out of line.  Very, very, very out of line.

As she turns out, though… she thinks Jesus was talking to her, through me.  Eh?  Dang, I wish she hadn’t said that.  Now it’ll even be worse.

After services, I just walked out of the narthex, right out to the parking lot, went right to the car, and waited for everyone else.

Sabby was pretty upset at me.  I don’t care.  I’m right.  Dave actually more took my side, which was lucky for me, because they spent most of their time arguing with each other than scolding me.  She got a few licks in on me too but I didn’t care.  I’m right.

Anathema will probably go back.  That’s fine.  I won’t hold it against her.  But I won’t.  Never again.  Even if the pastor apologizes, gets on his knees, and begs.. I don’t think I’d go back.

The girls came over this afternoon and we practiced.  It didn’t feel right.  But we did it anyway.  Sometimes you just gotta bust through and do it.  Right?  Crystal really is improving.  I’m actually kind of amazed.

I don’t like being an ark.  A walking shrine.  A prophetess.  Whatever the heck I am, I hate it.  I don’t want to be it anymore.

Anyway, Jack and I went out, tonight.  I wasn’t very good company.  He was just glad to be spending time with me.  I don’t deserve that boy…  that man.  Maybe…  maybe there are lot of things I don’t deserve.

Anathema and I are still talking.  she’s not mad at me and I’m not mad at her.  But…  I’m not going to support her in that way ever again.  She doesn’t understand.  But I’ll only tell her if she asks.

Love you all!!! ❤️