My eyes meander around the desk and stop on a framed photo of Andy and me at the beach, taken when we were dating, when I was still Caroline Spencer. Before I became Caroline Thompson. Both of us are tanned a golden brown, the color of Andy’s eyes, and I’m wearing a rather skimpy bathing suit, which I hold onto just in case my body ever looks like that again. As I stare at this photo, it occurs to me that the people in this town don’t know my maiden name. Do they? When we moved here, I had already changed my name to Thompson. They would never Google Caroline Spencer. I don’t even think Meg, the best friend I have in this town, knows my maiden name.
I quickly type Caroline G. Spencer into the Google search box. A visceral sense of promise gushes through me. Maybe I’m a somebody after all.
Smarty’s now in the kitchen, nudging his metal bowl across the tile floor—dog speak for “I’m hungry.” My mind strays to think about when I last filled the bowl while my finger clicks “search.”
A tsunami of “Caroline G. Spencers” cascades before my eyes. I blink and cock my head. Come on! My heart giggles. I click page two, then page three, then page four. “Yes!” Fist pump in the air. If only they could see me now. The Caroline Spencers don’t stop. Is this juvenile? Am I acting like a teenager who’s counting Prom Queen votes? No. Worse. I’m acting like a catty, immature gossipmonger mom. I gloat for another minute. It’s not like I’m going to count them and brag to everyone at school on Monday. I’m just having a private me-moment of reassurance, that I too have been interesting. So there.
Before my head swells any more, I should verify that these “Caroline Spencers” are me. But I can’t, nor do I want to, spend all day on this. I check the egg timer. Good, only a seventeen-minute diversion. My eyes sweep over the page. Midway down the screen, it’s my sister’s name, directly beneath mine, that catches my eye.
Jane Dory Spencer deceased at age 28 Lanstonville Press, April 21, 2000. She is survived by …www.lanstonvillepress.com/…/jane-dory-spencer-deceased…
What is this?
I blink hard, once—twice—the third time pausing with my eyes squeezed closed to the count of five before I open them. I read again.
This can’t be. This isn’t my sister. My heart leaps up in my chest and goes cold. With flurries. Like it’s a snow globe with a wind chill factor. Saliva floods my mouth. I try to gulp it down, hoping it’ll push my heart back into place. I can’t be reading what I’m reading. I let out a barking laugh to cut through my nerves. This is not true, of course. I just spoke to my sister. When was that? I struggle to remember. It seems like it was just . . . I don’t know exactly. For some reason, I can’t pinpoint it. But my sister is not dead. That’s for certain. She didn’t die. Oh my God, is this some kind of sick joke? Could someone have done this? People can’t plant a Google, can they?
You can read more about Caroline in The Memory Box, published by Fine Line Publishing.
Post a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on November 28, and one lucky person will win a copy of THE MEMORY BOX either in paperback or Kindle version, winner’s choice. (Print U.S. only)
Meet the author
Eva Lesko Natiello is an award winning author and graduate of The State University of NY at Albany with a degree in psychology. She is a native of Yonkers, NY and currently lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband and two children. The Memory Box is Ms. Natiello’s debut novel. It is a recipient of the Houston Writers Guild 2014 Manuscript award. Her short story, The Wordsmith, was a finalist in The Writer Magazine 2012 Best Short Story.
When Eva is not writing suspense novels, she enjoys writing humorous musings about life’s ironies, which can be found on her blog.