Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!
Well, I know why you’re here, right? I didn’t tell you everything yesterday!!! Bad me! But I had a lot to write and I’m not the fastest typer, and Sabby really wanted to take me to dinner. We had to get some stuff for Yuki too, but that’s for later.
So after the presents (and holy… were there a lot of them!) everyone gave me a hug, some people got some food for the road (hey, why waste it?) and all the old ladies and others got their dishes and stuff… Dave and David started tearing stuff down while I went off to talk with Mrs. X and her guest.
“So…,” I said nervously, “what is it you wanted to talk about?”
“Do you have the box?”
“It’s in the car.”
“Get it, please.”
Sabby went to get it. While she did, Mrs. X pulled a thick binder out of her folio. It was a very nice folio. Leather and all that. It was full of papers. “Here’s the documents of what happened to you. They’re redacted – there are still some things that are top secret which we can’t tell you. But those have to do now with the nature of the experiment itself. Everything else, well, we decided that since you knew most of it anyway, there was no point in keeping it secret further. So… here you are. Most of the information you wanted.” She sighed. “But here’s the summary: you were in a room with your adoptive parents. They were performing the experiment, and you were off in a corner studying. The experiment went wrong, and there was a not-explosion. It was like an explosion, but it wasn’t. Our scientists still don’t exactly understand what happened. You were affected by an energy field. Your adoptive parents.. well… we never found bodies.”
She sighed again. “This is where we did not shine and this is and always will be one of the worst embarassments of our agency – agents ran into the room, and, well, they panicked. They didn’t know what to do, they just knew something went very wrong. They hustled you to a car, and, well… figured you’d become someone else’s problem.” She leaned forward. “They dumped you before we had a chance to intervene.”
I was pretty shocked. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t that.
“You’ll be happy to know they were tried and convicted in a secret court. They’re still in Leavenworth for extreme dereliction of duty. They should have done something very different, like sent you to the hospital at Fort Hood, or even a local hospital.” She fidgeted with her hands, in a show if insecurity I don’t think many got to see. “The money you have in trust was a settlement to you. There were some who tried to keep it for themselves, after all, you didn’t know about it. I, and a few others, stopped that from happening. They are also in Leavenworth.” She paused. “We also paid all your medical bills. It’s the least we could do. It wasn’t your fault after all.”
She was quiet for a moment. “What you couldn’t have known is that we were searching for you. There were agents crawling around the entire city. In another day, we would have found you, and we would have found you a home. As it turns out…. we didn’t need to, and the home you found was probably better than anything we could have found for you anyway.”
Sabby returned with the box right then, and handed it to me. She went off to help with teardown.
Mrs. X looked at her guest. She was an older lady, around fifty, matronly.
“This is <Mrs. Y>, your nanny. Or at least she was.”
I haven’t said much about the guest yet, because I didn’t know who she was at the time. But now… my nanny? She’d have known me better than anyone!
“buh.. duh… ” I said eloquently.
“Yuriko… Lily… I missed you. I didn’t know what happened to you. No one would tell me.” Her eyes were watering a little. “I’m sorry.”
“What…. what was I like?” I asked. It was the only question I could think to ask at the time.
“Honestly?” she chuckled. “You were a spoiled brat. Always very smart, you played piano, did martial arts and self defense training, rode horses, gymnastics, you know, all the things a young girl would do… but you were kind of a snot. Always bossing everyone around, getting in trouble, telling on other children… No one liked you.” She sniffed. “It’s like you’re a totally different person. The Yuriko I knew would never have been able to fill a room with people telling her they loved her.”
“Wow,” I said. “I didn’t know.”
“I see that,” she said, softly. “I like the new Yuri- Lily.”
“Can we – can we keep talking?”, I asked. “I guess, I understand, if…”
“I’d like that,” she said. “You know, you were a brat, but I took care of you for years. I still loved you.”
“Open the box,” she said, softly. So I opened the box. Inside was a simple stuffed animal. It looked well-loved.
“That was your favorite plush”, she said. “You named it Bean. You had it from a baby. It’s all they were able to recover before the crews sanitized your old house.”
Mrs X piped up. “They were working on top secret experiments. It was protocol.”
I looked at the stuffed animal, turning it over in my hands. It seemed a little familiar, but that’s all.
There was also an envelope.
“These are letters. From your adoptive parents. You don’t need to read them now.”
I looked down at them, and tears sprung to my eyes unbidden. Finally. A link. Even if it’s a tenuous link, a link. Maybe I can know a little more of who they were.
Mrs X stood up. “I need to get going. I have important meetings in DC tonight, and I need to get back to Cavazos. I meant what I said, Lily. I’m proud of you. You’re an amazing young lady. We will continue to be in touch. I meant what else I said, too. We all know you. We all love you. We all feel very badly for what happened. And we will always be on your side.”
I gave her a hug, and she seemed like she was very unfamiliar with the idea, but returned it.
She tapped her earpiece. “I’m leaving.” Her escort came to, well, escort her away. But he stopped her just before.
“Lily,” he said, “I’ve been a military man all my life. I’ve never had children, I’ve never had a wife. I… I regret that decision now. Maybe… maybe I’ll do something about that. Thank you.” Then he and Mrs X. departed.
“Mrs. Y?” I asked. “How will you get home?”
“Oh, I live in Northwest Austin. I’ll call an Uber.”
Well, that solves that, then. She gave me her contact information and I gave her mine, and after some goodbyes, she went off to call her rideshare.
I went over to find Sabby.
“A lot happened today,” she said softly.
“No thanks to you,” I said, and smacked her arm. She laughed.
“They’re almost done here.” They were. Everything was put away or put in the trash, and all the presents had already found their way to the car.
Yuki had been kind of milling around, helping a bit but mostly just keeping to herself.
A little later, I asked Yuki if she wanted to stay over. She seemed a little hesitant, but finally said okay, and we took her back to her house to get some essentials. I met her host parents. They seemed nice – they actually seemed happy that she’d made a friend. Apparently she usually just kind of stuck around the house, did homework, studied English, chatted with a few friends back in Japan. They were a little worried about her, so they basically just said “shoo, come back whenever.”
But they weren’t mean about it. I could tell they were happy for her.
So we came back to the house. The girls were going to come over, but it wasn’t for a little bit, so I had some time to tell her what was actually going on. And I told her pretty much everything. I told her about being found on the side of the road, about getting adopted, about meeting Jack, and finally about what I discovered about how I’d lost my memories in the first place.
“So,” she said, and you could see the gears in her head turning, “you got touched by heaven, and this is why you collect sisters like otaku collect anime figurines?”
I giggled. “I think so, pretty much.”
“Everyone loved you in there,” she said quietly. “When I was an idol, I had many more people tell me that they loved me, every day, than all the people in that room. Not a single one of them actually meant it. A few thought they did,” she said, and shuddered. “Those were the worst. And… that’s because of your… brush with heaven?”
I shrugged. “Maybe. Or maybe it’s just how things are.”
“Maybe,” she nodded. “I’m sorry for today,” she said. “It was embarrassing.”
“It was real“, I said. “And it sounds like you need more real in your life.”
She sighed. “Perhaps so.”
“The girls are coming over,” I said. “There’s Crystal, and Rebecca, and Diana, and my best friend Liz, and her little sister Beth, and all of Rebecca’s friends… There’s Ai, she’s in Japan and my cousin, but I’ll leave her off this one because she might recognize you and I need to explain before she or her friends start fangirling all over you…. Allison comes over sometimes, she’s a pretty cool kid… and there’s Aika and Mika, other half sisters… there’s all my sisters. They’re a lot sometimes, but they’re as real as it gets. They’ll love you. It’s all real. I promise.” I giggled. “Remind me to tell you about the prank they pulled on me in Japan.”
“You went to Japan?”
“Yeah, twice. The first time to meet the family I didn’t know I had. They live in Saitama. The second time was a few weeks ago… and everyone went. Well, they all got anime schoolgirl outfits, colored wigs, and cat ears, and spent an afternoon treating me like an anime big sister. High voices and ‘onee-chan’ and everything.” I grimaced.
She giggled and covered her mouth with her hand, then fell backwards laughing. “You must have gotten looks.”
“Oh, you have no idea, all the girls learned what ‘baka gaijin’ meant that day. I was so cheesed… but that was their way of telling me they loved me. I didn’t realize that till after…”
She sighed and sat back up. “You should have seen the pranks they played on us at the variety show.”
I shrugged. “I think I saw a couple on YouTube. Why do they love cream cannons so much?”
“What do you think?,” she said. I thought about it. “Oh.”
“Yeah. Anything to sell CDs to creepy otaku,” she said sadly.
So they all came over. And it was a blast, as it always is. Rebecca was here because Robert spent the evening and this morning house hunting, and we all ate chocolate and pigged out on pizza and played games, and… I could see Yuki healing right in front of me.
Maybe it’s my little piece of heaven doing its work… or maybe it’s my little piece of heaven that’s all my sisters being sisters doing its work.
Last night, we went to bed, and we made a girl-pile. Yuki seemed a bit hesitant, as always seems to happen the first time, but she piled in with the rest of us. And before we went to sleep, I asked her if she was alright.
“It’s all I ever wanted,” she said, and sighed as she snuggled close and dropped off to sleep. Awww.
Sometimes I’m amazed my bed is still in one piece. Haha.
Anyway, this is long enough. So let’s just say that today was pretty boring comparatively, even though it was my actual birthday.
Yuki wanted to go to church with us, though.
She seemed to like the fact that it was a pretty close knit community, and she liked how all the old ladies and half the church came to see people make me cry on my birthday.
She doesn’t really understand the religious stuff either.
But that’s okay.
It’s still real. There are no lies. And that seems to mean the world to her.
Oh. You might wonder if I’ve read the letters. I haven’t yet. I will. Especially Crystal’s. It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I’ve cried enough. Awww. And I did tell Ai, who fangirled a little in the privacy of our own chat, and then I made her promise to treat Yuki like any other sister. I think she’s had enough fangirling.