“If you could have one mark on your skin somewhere – your face, your neck, maybe your arm, what would it be and why?”

It was one of those lazy summer days when school was out and we had all the time in the world to do nothing. We were taking turns asking each other random questions using a cootie catcher that was passed to the person on the right after everyone except the paper-holder had answered one question. Li Mei was holding the origami fortune teller with her fingers and thumbs and grinning from ear to ear as she waited for my answer.

“Nothing. I wouldn’t want to have any marks. I don’t like them or tattoos or scars or even makeup.”

“Nothing? Really?! How about a sticker tattoo that you could wash off at the end of the day? What would you want then?”

I thought for a moment.

“No, just nothing.”

“Booooooring!” said Grace.

Yep, that’s typical boring Lily for you. I don’t like wearing jewelry of any kind. The protective talismans I wear nowadays are typically kept under my clothing where they can’t be seen. I don’t know why – I just don’t like having things hanging on my neck or in my hair or on my wrists. (I never understood why people wore expensive watches all day long when they used them maybe once or twice.) The talismans are mandatory, though, for what I’m doing. I still try to hide them. The wrist talisman goes under the long sleeve of my shirt. The neck talisman I also wear around my wrist. Eventually I figured out that I could slip my rings in the small pockets of my penny loafers and they’d still be effective.

People tell me I could do with a makeover. I’ve been in a lot of tombs lately; these days I’d tell them it doesn’t matter how pretty you are when you’re dead.



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