4. “Background Searches”

Who could have known that googling your own name would raise so many questions? For Fiona Winfred Green, an otherwise routine journalism class assignment ended up being anything but ordinary.

The internet supposedly does not forget, much to the dismay of many preferring to forget their lesser moments. Fiona for example will always find her myspace’s profile picture of her and Cody, a junior high sweetheart of morally questionable nature (but he was sooo hot). She had abandoned the site with the rise of facebook and after breaking up with Cody. To her surprise upon attempting to delete it years later, the password was not Cody’s middle name combined with his jersey number.

Otherwise, Fiona was content that her online presence did not drastically differ from anyone her age. The assignment was to teach the students the importance of how information is retained in the modern day and age, and as future journalists a valuable source for developing leads. There will be many false leads, said the professor, but sometimes all you need is one clue, one seemingly innocuous connection to overcome a major hurdle in investigative research.

Going to the tenth page of her google search as required by the assignment, Fiona found several other Greens who bore her name. Adding her middle name to the search, however, removed all but 2 pages of search results. Youtube, Google+, facebook, etc., as she expected to find. Scanning the second page however revealed the existence of an alter-ego, exactly one other Fiona Winfred Green who apparently lived in Midland, Texas. Well, this is new, she thought — her name was not exactly common, especially her middle name, inspired by a Catholic saint which she knew little about. Only the default, faceless female picture of facebook greeted her upon clicking the search link. Aside from the location of this alter-Fiona, the only other tidbit available was her birth year, placing this Fiona in her 50s.

Fiona thus surmised that the profile likely belonged to some older woman out there who was unversed in the ways of the internet, given her lack of presence anywhere else. Filing away the incident as nothing more than a curios coincidence, she thought little more about her finding once the assignment was handed in. With Thanksgiving break in session, she packed a week’s worth of clothing and drove two hours home, where football, turkey, rabbling brothers, and loving parents awaited. Oh, not to mention also her long-distance boyfriend Steve, who is both physically appealing to her and morally upright (for the most part).

Passing the dinner rolls, Fiona casually mentioned her assignment when asked by her parents how her program is coming along. “So there’s a clone of me somewhere out there, with my middle name and everything,” she joked. Her parents asked for clarification. “Yeah, some older lady out in Texas with my exact name. She didn’t come up anywhere else though, so probably made that account to keep in contact with her family or something.”

Wholly attentive, her parents then exchanged a glance in silence, a look suggesting knowledge that should not exist. For her part, Fiona was too busy fighting with her younger brother for gravy to have noticed. The rest of dinner carried on, and her three brothers each took turns with their life updates. After helping her mother put the plates away, Fiona joined the others in the living room to wait out the creeping food coma.

Having spent most of the next three days with Steve, Fiona only arrived home to pack and made preparations for her return to classes on Monday. She found her parents waiting for her, a certain tenseness in their demeanor as though her grandmother had stopped by. Having abandoned Fiona’s mother after the birth of her eldest brother Joey out of wedlock, Grandmother eventually came around after several years when Dad proposed and was finally married to her mom. Their relationship understandably had never quite recovered. Still, her grandmother insisted that she make amends by being an active part of their lives, to which mother acquiesced at the urging of Fiona’s aunts and uncles, but only for the holidays.

“Fiona, we have something to tell you…” There was a seriousness in her father’s tone, a man who she otherwise knew growing up as a big goof and overly passionate about the Packers. Her mother held a steady gaze, though there was sadness in her eyes. Fiona hated that look on her mother, and upon sensing it, she too became gripped with melancholy. “We debated never bringing up, but you deserve to know. Remember how we told you that your mother’s older sister got up and left Wisconsin one day without a single word as to why? We think you might have found her…” An uncomfortably long pause, driving a sharp confused look upon Fiona’s curiosity. “…your real mother.”

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