There was a kitten, sitting at the threshold of one of the houses I passed. It was peering out at the world with wide eyes, looking at everything. The kitten looked like it was trying to decide whether to stay in its safe house, or to go out into the wide world and explore.

I wanted to advise the kitten, like a sempai or an older sister. If it decides to go out into the world, it can never go back. Home might be too small or might disappear entirely while it's gone. Maybe it would be better to stay home, where it's safe.

Maybe it would have been better if I had stayed home.

I hear the hum of the power lines. Everyone's connected, even if they don't go into the Wired. The way I used to live was connected to no one, or at least that was what I thought. I played games on my old computer, and I played with my dolls and my animals, and I read books and did my schoolwork, and that was my life. Sometimes Alice would ask me to come hang out with her and Juri and Reika, and that was all right too. The strange things they did sometimes weren't nearly as strange as...

...as everything's been, since I got involved with the Wired.

I want to tell that kitten, stay home. Stay safe.

I think sometimes I hate the Wired.

I can't escape it, now. It's the only life I can have. When I'm in the Wired, I'm stronger, and things make more sense. Outside in the real world it's like a kaleidoscope. Everything is very pretty but none of it makes any sense. It never has, but I accepted that.

In the Wired I think I can make sense of things. And then it never does make sense either. No matter how much I learn, it's just like peeling layers off an onion, and I don't know how long it will take me to get to the kernel underneath. If I ever do. Because sometimes you peel, and peel, and when you get to the innermost layer of the onion, you peel it and then that's all there is. There is nothing inside. You just destroyed the onion trying to get to the true essence of it.

I think sometimes things are like that in the Wired. Or maybe they're like that with me. If I keep searching for my true essence, I might disappear.

I am trying very hard not to disappear.

But it's very hard. The only time I feel alive is when I'm in the Wired. The connections I have to people seem much stronger, then. People tell me things that no one would ever tell me in the real world, and there's so much to learn and do and see, and I can understand it. Sometimes.

Sometimes it seems like the Wired is real, and the real world is some kind of simulation. Like I'm playing a very complicated computer game and I haven't yet found the tricks I need to advance to the next level. Only, if the real world were a game, I would be able to find the cheat codes in the Wired somewhere, or an FAQ on how to play.

Maybe I'm the only one who knows we're playing.

But reality isn't a game, is it?

If it was, maybe I could hit the reset button and start all over. Maybe this time I wouldn't go into the Wired at all. I could just live my very quiet safe life, and be connected to very few people, and it would be all right. If I was a closed system again, nothing would really hurt me, would it? Nothing would make me afraid.

I wouldn't know that everything is interconnected, even people like me who look like closed systems, and people I've never known would not be able to hurt me. Dead people wouldn't send me email and show up to talk to me under the hum of the lines. There wouldn't be another me, and if there was, I wouldn't know about her, so I would be safe from her.

It would be better, I think, if I could just live like that again. Close off. Don't connect. I wouldn't be happy but I wouldn't be sad or frightened either, and maybe that would be better.

But I can't do that.

There's no reset button for the world, I don't think, and there's no reset button for me, either. I decided to connect to the new world, the bigger world, of the Wired, and now it feels like that's where I really belong and the real world is just a sim. I'm alive there. I can't go back to being inanimate.

So much to learn, and do, and see. If I keep peeling the onion, maybe there'll be nothing inside, but I can't help it. It's like a scab you pick at even though you know it might make you bleed. You can't help but do it.

I feel sometimes like this is truly the world I was born to be in and this is the way I was made to be able to connect. Not in the real world where it's all a blur and it makes no sense, but here. But I don't know if that's true or not. Maybe if I learn more in the Wired, I can make it translate into the real, too. Maybe if I became the guru that everyone in the Wired seems to think I am, then it would all make sense and the real world would too.

I want to be a child again. But I don't think I can. I chose to step forward and now I'm locked into that path, and the only way to go is to keep going forward.

Maybe I won't tell that kitten it's such a bad idea. Maybe it has to make its decision for itself, just like I did. Because maybe what I'm feeling is just temporary because I don't understand, and maybe things will be better when I really know what I'm doing.

We all have to make choices, kitten. Go ahead and do what you want.

Maybe someday it will all be worth it.