Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Well… ummm.  A lot has happened.  And I guess that’s putting it mildly.

I still don’t know how much I understand and I might understand none of it.  Or some of it.  Or something.

So yesterday morning I was having a video chat with Ai.  She’s having a bit of a hard time of it right now.  Nothing awful, but she’s starting college and it’s a different world for her, and, well…  we were talking and I was kind of wishing I was over there so I could give her a hug, and… well…  I was over there.  It was almost instant.  No swooshing sound or seasickness or anything like that.  Just one moment I was looking at Ai through a video screen, and one moment there she was.

She looked at me…  I looked at her…  then she, well, sighed.

“Walking shrine?”, she said, sounding utterly defeated.

“I have no idea,” I said.  “This is… completely unexpected.”  Then I sat down on her bed.  “And I have no idea how to get back.”

Thankfully, that problem solved itself.  Mrs. X, well, popped in too.

Ai looked at her, then at me.  “Maybe I should get a snack”, she said.  “You… umm… want anything?”

I didn’t know what else to do, so I just said “I… ummm…  This is Mrs. X…  I think she has something to talk to me about.  I’m sorry…”

She just walked out of the room.  I couldn’t quite read the look on her face, it was something like a combination of “How could I have expected anything different?” and “I didn’t just see that, if I get a snack and come back maybe everything will be normal again.”

“I suppose you have questions,” she said without preamble.”

“I just travelled ten thousand miles in less than a second, you could say I have questions!”, I said, just a little annoyed.

She sat down in the chair that Ai was just sitting in.  “Well, I guess I should start from the beginning.  As you’d guessed, I think., I’m like you.  I have one of those ‘gateways’ inside of me.  I don’t remember getting it either, my parents were, well.. a lot like yours.  They also liked to experiment with things they should have just left alone.”  She sighed.  “How do you think I knew what had happened so quickly?  I was already watching your parents.  I couldn’t exactly stop them without revealing more than I wanted to, but I was pretty sure something bad would eventually happen.  And, well, it did.  By the time the ‘experiment’ happened, I already had plans to deal with the situation.  But, as always…  humans are unpredictable, and they dropped you by the side of the road before I had a chance to come pick you up.”

“Okay,” I said, “But I think there’s a more important question.  Why am I in Japan?”

She leaned forward.  “People like us have certain… abilities.  We’re given a totem, I guess you could call it, that acts as a transportation network and anchor as well.  Yours looks like a lycoris radiata.  I won’t tell you what mine looks like.  You were already told it’s indestructible.  As long as you’re alive, there is nowhere you can’t go, and no one can keep you anywhere.  It’s really handy,” she said softly.  “It’s also a major thorn in the side of every government.  in exchange for not hounding us and making our lives a living hell, they just demand to be able to track us wherever we go, and that we not abuse it.  Not that they could really stop us, but they could make lives difficult for our loved ones.”

She must have seen the look on my face, because she said, quickly, “That’s why you have that passport.  As long as you can be tracked and have that passport, you don’t have to worry about that.  Every government is aware of our existence and there are many secret treaties out there that govern what we’re allowed and not allowed to do.  If we violate those treaties, it could cause wars, so don’t mess up.”

“Why don’t you -“

“You can’t take anyone with you.  This is for you and you alone.  You can take with you whatever you can carry on your person, but there are limits.  You probably shouldn’t test them.  I don’t usually travel like this because I can’t take my bodyguards with me.  Besides, it’s nice to have some downtime to read while I’m in the plane.”  She sighed.  “A couple of times I’ve tried to take people out of a bad situation.  It didn’t work.  Don’t get into that kind of situation if you can help it, I can’t think of a more powerless feeling than not being able to get someone out of a situation you can get yourself out of.  These are the kinds of things you have to learn to manage.  It’s not…  simply good.”

“How do I get back?”

“You just have to really want to be wherever you’re going.  Intention is key.  There aren’t any words you can say, and you can’t be forced to go anywhere against your will.  You just have to intend to be there, and, well, you’ll be there.  Today I guess you just finally wanted to be somewhere enough to go there, and I’ve been noticing your totem has been gaining power lately.  That’s why I got you the passport.  I had a feeling you’d be needing it.”

I sighed.  “Just what I need.  Something else to set me apart…”

“It’s as much a blessing as a curse,” she said.  “With great power comes great responsibility, and I’m sure our Lord will have things he wants you to do with it, but for now, just get used to it and try to avoid getting into trouble.  One of the reasons we can get away with this as much as we can is that we’re regulated.  If we screw up we get a talking to, and not from the government.”

I gulped.  “Have you -“

“A couple of times,” she said sadly.  “People think he’s vengeful and mean and punitive… but he’s not.  He just gets disappointed in you, and tells you exactly how and why he’s disappointed in you, and you end up feeling like a small child who’s getting scolded by a parent.” She shuddered.  “I don’t suggest you find out.  Try and warn people first unless it’s an absolute emergency.”

She looked at her watch.  “I think that’s everything you need to know for now.  I need to head back.  I was in a meeting with the president.  Fortunately, this one… wouldn’t even know I’m gone.”  She sighed.  “Why we elected… nevermind.  When you’re ready to go back, just intend to go back.  We’ll be in touch.”  And she popped away.

Ai came back in with some daifuku.  “Lily?”

I sighed.  “Walking shrine.  That’s… pretty much what happened.  Walking shrine.”

She set the daifuku down, and bowed and clapped.  I sighed.  But it’s hard to blame her.  I just popped into her room with no warning.

I gave her a hug.  “It’s alright.  It’s just one of those things that come with being me, I guess.  I’ll come visit soon.  I promise, but next time I’ll ask first.”

She hugged me back.  “It was nice to see you anyway,” she said.

“Bye for now”, I said, and, well, popped back into my room.  We kept up the video call like nothing happened for a little while, except Ai looked a little shell shocked.  I hope she gets over it.

After we hung up, I went to find Sabby and told her everything.

She listened, then shook her head.  “Only you, Lily.  Don’t go overboard.  You don’t know what the limits are and it sounds like Mrs. X was saying that those limits are important.”  She shook her head.  “I actually don’t really envy you.  Your world just got a lot smaller, but now everywhere in the world is like your backyard, so…  all the fun of travelling just went away for you.  Now it’s only about the destination, and…  I wonder what you’ve lost.”

“Maybe that’s why Mrs. X. still takes a plane.”

“Maybe so,” she shook her head.  “Remember what I said about not giving any of your money away?  You promised me, remember?”

I nodded my head.

She got a serious look on her face.  “Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.  It seems like this ability isn’t very easy to take advantage of, but people could still find a way, and you know you would let them.  Don’t do it.  Don’t be afraid to say no.  There’s not much they can do to you anyway if you refuse, but there are things people can do that don’t involve directly hurting you.  Just stay out of the bad situations as much as possible.”

I gulped.  It’s true.  Sabby’s always wise.

So, anyway… that’s what happened.  I can apparently travel anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye… with limits.  My world just expanded.. and changed.  A lot.  It feels a little like I won the lottery – but winning the lottery isn’t always good.  It’s life-changing always, but not always good.  I just hope I can keep being me.  You know.  Lily.  Not the ark or walking shrine, or the gateway or whatever it is I am.  But Lily.  I’m just Lily.  I’ll always be just Lily.

I need to talk to Jack.  He’ll probably wonder why I can’t come see him more often.  I don’t think his parents would like me popping into his room unannounced, and I can’t take him with me.  There’s a certain decorum to all of this, isn’t there?

And I have to decide what and how to tell people.

So…  I guess I have a lot to think about.   But, it’s morning in Japan, I have a few leftover yen, and I’m hungry for a okonomiyaki.  Maybe I’ll head over to Osaka and find a food stall.   I… never thought I’d say that – heading over to Osaka as casually as going to the konbini.  But, I guess that’s my life now.

Anyway…

Love you all!!! ❤️

And… I hope you still love me too.  I don’t blame you if you don’t, anymore.

From the creator:

I’ve always had in mind to do something like this with the story, but only recently did it gel into this form.  I hope it’s not a terrible mistake.  I don’t really feel like it is, but this story may have just jumped the shark.

This is an interesting ability for Lily, but Mrs. X’s warning (and Sabby’s too) is important.  It’s not all sunshine and roses, and now she has a different, more unusual set of problems.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when it starts to sink in that all the things that she thought were lasts don’t have to be anymore.  Will she be relieved?  Or something else?

Navigating this plot sea change might be a challenge, but I’ve never shied away from a challenge…

June 10, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!

I went to Japan today.

For about twenty minutes.

I did not fly.

I still am not quite sure what happened, or how.

I will write later.  I’m very, very confused, and a little scared.

June 9, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Crystal and her band came over this afternoon to practice.  They’re really getting good!!!  I just kinda sat there and listened to them whaling on stuff.  They’re better than they ever were with us girls.  That makes me happy, we were never a good fit.

Sabby took me to see the new live house this afternoon too, and it’s really coming along well!!! The contractors are working really hard, and all of the stuff is built, but not painted or decorated yet.  The stage is pretty big and there’s an actual soundbooth and everything.  All of the electronic stuff is in boxes waiting to be installed, and there’s a lot of it – an actual lighting rig too!!!

David’s looking forward to learning how it all works, but he’s still at camp.  Thankfully staying out of trouble.  For now, anyway.  He seems to be having a good time, and Sabby alerted the staff to his “relationship”, so they’re not letting him have a single minute alone with her.  Haha!!!

Anyway…  Crystal is really thriving, and she’s really getting to be good, like I’ve said.  Give her a few months and she’ll be good enough to, well… Bocchi all over the stage.  Haha!!!  She’s so driven it’s almost Japanese.  I admire that about her.  She even found a teacher online and has been taking lessons.

Anyway, now that all of the really important stuff is over for now, I’m going to take it “easy” for a bit – or at least as easy as Sabby will let me.  I can’t run yet, so I might sleep in a bit tomorrow.  But at least the pain is gone, as long as I don’t try to do anything cute.

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the creator:

Lily thinks she’s going to have some downtime.  Okawaiikoto…

(How cute)

June 8, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

We went to the waterpark today!!!

It’s after Memorial Day, so the cheaper one is open.  See, there are several waterparks here in Round Rock.  The best but most expensive one is an indoor waterpark that’s open all year round but it’s EXPENSIVE so we only go there on special occasions.  It’s one of the biggest in the world, but you’re gonna pay if you want to spend a day there.

Another, slightly less expensive option, is a waterpark in Pflugerville, but it’s only open in the summer, because it’s not indoors.  But it’s after memorial day now so they’re open and we get to go and have fun!!!

BTW… Pflugerville is such a weird name and the town is so dumpy, but at least they have a waterpark!!!

Anyway, we splished and splashed and slid and had all sorts of fun.  It was kind of hard to explain my passport stuck between my floppy bits in my bikini top, but it’s no one’s business anyway, really.  I need to find a solution to that, though, it could get ripped off or out.  Especially because my swimsuit top is more interested in being a swimsuit and staying on than covering anything but the bare essentials.  And the essentials are almost bare…

Sabby doesn’t really like my swimsuit but I don’t wear it to show off, I wear it to get wet and the less wet fabric there is the better!

I think I spent too much time in the Japanese onsen, I seem to have lost my shame..

Anyway…  other than that, it was a quiet day.  I’m just chilling tonight with some of the girls.  Liz is over, Crystal is over, but Diana isn’t, she has plans with her mother or something.  Diana’s not really all that noisy, Crystal’s much more rowdy, so there’s not a whole lot of difference in noise level.

Crystal bought her guitar and is shredding for is.  Dang that girl got good fast.  I wonder what she’ll be like in a year.  I taught her some music theory stuff and she, well, ran with it.  Oh, the things you can do with a diminished minor chord…

Okay, well, it’s about bedtime now, we’re all tired.

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the Creator:

Yes, Pflugerville is dumpy.  It’s got the waterpark, of course, and a decent shopping center, but otherwise it’s just got one or two main roads with some kinda dumpy businesses and a bunch of seemingly poorly designed neighborhoods.

But oh well.  It’s got a Pfabulous name.

May 7, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Liz had her recital tonight.  She shared the stage with two other violinists.

It went well.

I accompanied her on a couple of pieces, and she did a solo.  She did really well!!!  I put on my nice dress and some flat shoes and kind of limped out on stage, but once I sat down, I played just fine.  She did really well too, she didn’t get a standing ovation, but there were a few whoops.  I think that was Crystal, though.  Hah!!!

Yeah, all the girls came.  That seemed to mean a lot to Liz.  Liz isn’t exactly a social butterfly, but we’re all her friends, and even though it’s not really Crystal’s type of music, she came anyway.

Otherwise, it’s pretty quiet.  All the girls are over and we got Liz a big ol’ cake.  And now that we are in a chocolate haze, we’re just sitting around and chatting.

Another last…  Awww.

Love you all!!! ❤️

June 5, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

I’m feeling lots better today!!! I still hurt a little but I can walk pretty well and even went down the stairs without help!  (though I took it really slow).  Yay!!!

Liz’s recital is this weekend, so we’re practicing that a lot.  I can sit on a piano and use the pedal, so I’m alright.  I might not be able to fit into my high heels, but Liz says she doesn’t care about that, and I can go out barefoot for all she cares.  I won’t do that, but some sensible shoes probably aren’t a horrible idea.  Liz already talked to her teacher to make sure she knows, so everyone’s fine.  We’re not doing too difficult a piece (for me, anyway), so everything’s good. Liz is just happy to be able to play with me.

When she became my best friend, neither of us knew I could play.  She always secretly wanted a friend she could play with, but that never worked out.  And then we went to Orlando, and I found out I could play piano!!!  She was secretly (though not so secret now because she told me later) really happy about that.  I guess I understand.  There’s something intimate about playing music with or for someone.  I hope maybe someday Jack learns how to play an instrument (he was in his band in high school but he never really broke out, he was always comfortable just playing second trombone in brass section).  I won’t love him any less if he doesn’t, but still.  It would be nice to be able to play with him.

Well, in other ways.  BLUSH

Anyway…

Ever get that feeling that something big’s about to happen but you don’t know what, when, or why?  Maybe it’s this passport that’s always between my floppy bits – I feel it all the time and it always reminds me something weird’s going on.  Why would I be able to enter, say, Japan without having to check in with customs?  It’s not like I’m going to hop a dingy and boat twelve thousand miles and end up washing up on Enoshima…

Right?

Right?

I hope not.  That’d be weird even for me.

But there’s gotta be a reason Mrs. X got me that passport.  It’s a lot of trust, both by her, but by the US and whatever governments I end up showing this passport to.  I mean, I guess I could smuggle stuff.  I won’t, but I could.  What’d stop me until they found out? 

Again… I won’t.  I WON’T.  I know you read this Mrs. X!!!

That reminds me, I found out what “Budgie Smuggler” means in Australian lately.  Hahaha!!!

I guess I should go.  We practiced a lot and I should get some sleep.

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the Creator:

Again…  she should not be talking about this stuff in-universe.  But I can’t tell the story if she doesn’t, so she is.  Somehow it won’t work against her.  Even though it should.

June 4, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

I heard from Haruna today.  She’s doing alright.  She decided she wants to actually go to school.  Good for her, no, seriously.  So now she’s attending a cram school so she can pass the entrance exams.  She doesn’t know which college she wants to go to yet, but she didn’t get a great education because she was spending all her time singing and dancing, so she has a lot to catch up on.

But she seems happy, and that’s the important thing.

I saw that Suzuka did a commercial, she sent it to me.  It’s funny!  Basically her in a very skimpy swimsuit looking longingly at a popsicle.  Umm…  well, I guess that’s Japan for you.  And, to be fair, it did look like a delicious popsicle.

Japan loves sweet treats and swimsuits.

It’s funnier because I know Suzuka.  That’s, kind of…. not really who she is.  She’s a pretty modest girl when you get to know her.  But I guess if you’re a gravure model you have to throw that modesty to the side, trim some hair where you wouldn’t normally trim, and get to getting.

I haven’t given an update on the friends I don’t usually talk about, so…

Let’s see.  We’ll start with the aidols.  They all graduated, and they’re heading to college now.  Ai got into a pretty good one, but a couple of the other aidols didn’t.  So they got into their second choice school.  They’re a little bummed that they’re not going to college together, but they’re happy they at least got in, so there’s that.

Miki and group are steadily learning all the stuff that they want to learn.  Miki can play guitar decently now, a couple of the idols can play drums, and… one of them took up piano.  I mean, she seriously took up piano.  She can’t play anything really complex yet, but she’s not bad.  Except for the pianist (that’s a hard instrument and she’s focusing entirely on that), they’re all learning more than one instrument.  I think Miki said they’re learning one rock instrument and one band instrument.  Miki’s also learning clarinet.  She says it’s fun and makes her a good kisser.

… I don’t want to know.  haha!!!

I’m pretty sure that was a hypothetical statement.  Pretty sure.   At least it’d better be. She’s an idol for Kami’s sake.

Let’s see… Rebecca and friends.  Rebecca actually is getting into animal husbandry.  She loves the horses.  Her friend is letting her take care of the horses in exchange for learning how to ride, and she’s having a blast.  I never thought Rebecca would adapt so well to Texas life, but she’s coming into her own now.  She’s going to attend Texas State in Dallas.  I think she wants to be a veterinarian.

I think it was a good move for her.

And Rebecca’s old friends – well, the three of them are heading off to college now.  Yu is heading off to Stanford last I heard, Britni, well…  she got into Oxford (which is no surprise at all, girl’s a genius), and Chelsi, well, she’s sticking around in SoCal so she can surf a lot.  I guess she’s going to USC or something like that.  Not an awful choice, really.  Not where I’d want to go but I completely understand.

Emiko and family are doing their thing.  Aika and Mika are young women now, and they’re getting into a bit of trouble with boys.  Thankfully it’s young woman kinds of trouble and not older teenager kinds of trouble.  I guess they caught Aika kissing a boy.  Oops!!!  Emiko got so mad she’s talking about shipping her back to Japan to stay with Ai.  I doubt she will, but that boy is persona non grata now.  I guess I get it, girl’s like 12 or so, that’s way too young.  Mika’s not as interested, not only is she younger, but she’s a little more studious,. and I guess boys get in the way.

And I forgot to mention, with all the hubbub about the accident…  David’s at his camp now.  I hope he’s staying out of trouble.

Let’s see…  I have so many friends… I probably forgot one or two.  Aww. Oh yeah, Allison.  I haven’t heard from her lately, I guess she’s really busy with all her new friends.  Hope she’s alright.

Anyway, I should go to bed now.  The storms are mostly gone… now it’s just HOT.  I hope I can run again soon.

Love you all!!! ❤️

June 3, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

I went to the doctor today, and I’m doing lots better, he said I’m healing fine.  They used one of those low-voltage electronic thingies that’s supposed to help with healing.  It’s not really pleasant but it doesn’t hurt, just kind of tingles and makes my muscles move on their own.

That guy was arraigned, and there’s a court date now.  I’m not sure if I have to testify or not, but I guess I’ll find out.  It’s pretty quick, so not like I have to worry about being in Japan or anything.

I seem to end up in court a lot.  I wonder if that’s a part of my “karen magnet” property.

My lycoris radiata sculpture is a little subtly different.  It’s glowing a little brighter, and the pulses seem to be getting a little more irregular.  I wonder why that is.  It’s still as beautiful as ever, but it feels like it’s, well, a little antsy about something.

Usually I wouldn’t, umm…. what’s that word…  anthropomorphize things like that, but…  it really does feel that way.  Like there’s something it’s made for and it’s getting impatient.

Anyway…

Love you all!!! ❤️

June 2, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

I’m sleeping by myself for the night.  I actually miss Liz. I mean, I know the girls and I make piles all the time, but this time it was just me and Liz for a few days… and it was nice to spend all that time with her.  And it was so nice of her to take care of me.  I mean she didn’t have to… but she wanted to.

I’m still a little sore but I don’t need the cane anymore, at least for short trips like to the bathroom.  going downstairs is still a little bit of a challenge, but Sabby lets me lean on her and it works out alright.

The guy bailed out, apparently, but he’s in a world of hurt.  He got arraigned for DUI (third offense), vehicular assault, criminal negligence, driving without insurance, driving on a suspended license…  he’s pretty much going to have the book thrown at him.

He hasn’t attempted to contact me.  That’s good.  I hope he doesn’t.  I won’t mind talking with him, because I think I do have something important to say to him, but it needs to be on my terms.  He’s done enough damage, I think.

I took Mrs. X’s advice, and I have a little waterproof pocket I can put my passport in.  It’s not stuck to me just yet, but it hangs around my neck, and I even wear it into the shower.  It’s attached to a little choker collar and looks like it’s a necklace…  and if I stick it between my floppy bits no one knows different.  I even added a couple of charms.  Mrs. X never told me why it’s so important, I’m guessing it’s so that it doesn’t get stolen, or something.  Maybe she’ll tell me more about it someday.  She’s really kind of a mysterious woman.  Joe’s not her bodyguard anymore, but she still has them.

They’re moving the shop over to the new building.  Sabby hired some contractors this time to do the work of building the stage, etc (business was good enough we had it stashed away) and it’s going to be a little bigger and a lot better, with more state of the art sound and lighting and stuff.  But we’re still aiming for that slightly grungy live house look.  I haven’t had a chance to see what they’re doing, I hope it turns out like Sabby and I envision.

I’m sure it’ll work out.

Crystal and her band want to do the inaugural concert.  We told her that she needs to sell a bunch of tickets first, and if she manages, then they can do a concert.  I guess they were out yesterday afternoon busking and selling tickets…  they’re pretty involved.  That’s cool.  Crystal needs people around her that are as driven as she is.

Anyway…  enough of that, I guess.

Father’s day is coming up.  I need to figure out something to do for Dave.  It’s another last, coming up…

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the creator:

When I first introduced Mrs. X., I had her sign her first letter as “lycoris radiata”.  I took that out on review because I had no idea why she would have said that.  It was one of those aborted storylines that I thought I needed to retcon.

I’m debating putting it back in, because recently I realized that Mrs. X has some interesting attributes I, well, hadn’t planned for when I first wrote her.  And they work out really, really well with that, well, signature.

Here in my town, there have been three hailstorms this year.  I’ve never seen this much hail.  Ow.

June 1, 2024

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

It’s June!!!

I don’t have anything special to say about June.  Or today, actually.  It was just another day.  Crystal’s band did come over to rehearse a bit, they’re getting to be really good.  They’re starting to write their own music, and Crystal’s really good with the lyrics.

Otherwise… I’m just going to go to bed.  I’m tired.

Love you all!!! ❤️

From the creator:

It’ll be quiet for a bit.  It’ll ramp up eventually.