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.


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…