Tonight’s kind of a catalyst for this post. I just received another message, and it’s worse than any of the others.
My girlfriend died on the 7th of August, 2012. She was involved in a three car collision driving home from work when someone ran a red light. She passed away within minutes on the scene.
We had been dating for five years at that point. She wasn’t big on the idea of marriage (it felt archaic, she said, gave her a weird vibe), but if she had been, I would have married her within three months of our relationship. She was vibrant; the kind of girl that would choose dare every time. She was happiest when camping, but a total technophile too. She always smelled like cinnamon.
That being said, she wasn’t perfect. She always said something along the lines of, “If I kark it first, don’t just say good things about me. I’ve never liked that. If you don’t pay me out, you’re doing me a disservice. I’ve got so many flaws, and that’s just part of me.” So, this is for Em: the music she said she liked and the music she actually liked were very different. Her idea of affection was a side-hug. She had really long toes, like a chimpanzee.
I know that’s tangential, but I don’t feel right discussing her without you having an idea of what she was like.
Onto the meat. Em had been dead for approaching thirteen months when she first messaged me.
These are logs from the day she died. She was usually home from work by 4.30. This, alongside a couple of voicemail messages, is the last time I talked to her under the assumption that she was alive. You’ll see why I’m showing you these soon.
This is when it began. I had left Emily’s Facebook account activated so I could send her the occasional message, post on her wall, go through her albums. It felt too final (and too un-Emily) to memorialise it. I ‘share’ access with her mother (Susan) - meaning, her mother has her login and password and has spent a total of approximately three minutes on the website (or on a computer, total). After a little confusion, I assumed it was her.
I had received confirmation from Susan that she hadn’t logged in to Em’s Facebook since the week of her death. Em knew a lot of people, so I instantly assumed this was one of her more tech savvy ‘friends’ fucking with me in the worst possible way.
I noticed pretty much immediately that whoever was chatting with me was recycling old messages from Em and my’s shared chat history.
The ‘the wheels on the bus' comment was from when we were discussing songs to play on a road trip that never eventuated. ‘hello’ happened a million times.
Emily started tagging herself in my photos. I would get notifications for them, but the tag would generally always be removed by the time I got to it. The first time I actually caught one, it felt like someone had punched me in the gut. ‘She’ would tag herself in spaces where it was plausible for her to be, or where she would usually hang out. I’ve got screenshots of two (from April and June; these are the only ones I’ve caught, so they’re a little out of the timeline I’m trying to write out):
Around this period of time, I stopped being able to sleep. I was too angry to sleep.
She would tag herself in random photos every couple of weeks. The friends who noticed and said something thought it was a fucked up bug; I found out recently that there have been friends who have noticed and didn’t say anything. Some of them have removed me from their Facebook friends list.
At this point, some of you may be wondering why I didn’t just kill my Facebook profile. I wish I had. I did for a little while. On days when I can’t get out there, though, it’s nice having my friends available to chat. It’s nice visiting Em’s page when the little green circle isn’t next to her name. I was already socially reclusive when Em was alive; her death turned me into something pretty close to a hermit, and Facebook and MMOs were (are) my only real social outlets.
I sent what I assumed was Em's hacker a message.
I received an ‘answer’.
It wasn’t until I was going over these logs a few months later that I noticed she was recycling my own words as well.
My response seems kind of lacklustre here. I was intentionally providing him/her with emotional ‘bait’ (‘This is actually devastating’) to keep them interested in their game; I was working off the assumption that the kind of person to do this would be the kind of person that would thrive on the distress of others. I was posting in tech forums, looking for ways to track this person, contacting Facebook. I needed to keep them around so I could gather ‘evidence’.
Before anyone asks, yes, I had changed the password and all security info countless times.
I receive this.
This seems like word salad. Like all our conversations so far, it’s recycled from previous messages she’s sent.
I hadn’t discovered any leads. Facebook had told me the locations her page had been accessed from, but since her death, they’re all places I can account for (my home, my work, her mum’s house, etc). My response here wasn’t bait. ‘yo ask Nathan’ was an in-joke too lame worth explaining, but seeing ‘her’ say it again just absolutely fucking crippled me. My reaction in real life was much less prettier. I’m not expecting my bond back.
Her last few messages had started to scare me, but I wouldn’t admit it at this point.
I don’t really have the words for this.
‘FRE EZIN G’ is the first original word she’s (?) made. This has given me nightmares that have only started to kick in recently. I keep dreaming that she’s in an ice cold car, frozen blue and grey, and I’m standing outside in the warmth screaming at her to open the door. She doesn’t even realise I’m there. Sometimes her legs are outside with me.
I wasn’t actually drunk. She wasn’t an affectionate girl, and it always embarrassed her to exchange ‘I love you’s, cuddle, talk about how much we meant to each other. She was more comfortable with it when I was boozed up. I got fake-drunk a lot.
Her reply is what prompted me to finally memorialise her page, thinking it might help curb this behaviour. It might seem innocuous compared to her previous message - it’s pasted from an old conversation where I was trying to convince her to let me drive her home from a friend’s.
In the collision, the dashboard had crushed her. She was severed in a diagonal line from her right hip to midway down her left thigh. One of her legs was found tucked under the backseat.
I memorialised her page a couple of days after I received the message about walking. Until today, she’d been quiet; she wasn’t even tagging herself in my photos.
I don’t know what to do anymore. Do I kill her memorial page? What if it is her? I want to puke. I don’t know what’s happening.
I just heard a Facebook alert. I'm too afraid to swap windows and check it.
I checked the alert. I heard it as I was compiling and editing the post. This was the message.
That's my door. That's my computer. It's taken from outside. I got the message three hours ago but didn't check it until now.
I'm on my tablet in my garage. Zen for now. Going to drive to friend's. Forgot to open the garage door in my panic so building up the nerve to get out to do that now.