New Criticals

The names I’ve left behind are CrimsunHue, Disentranced, Juliannezero. Crazyparadise, Nachtzehrer. Laancer. Dozens of accounts and email addresses scattered all over the internet, passwords long forgotten, lost to me, forever.

The name she left behind was Guardian21.

I never actually knew her. Never spoke to her. Never saw her face. But I knew her writing. Guardian21 was the screen name of a popular fanfiction writer in the online Final Fantasy fandom. I knew from her account that her real name was supposedly Jami, but that’s all I knew. When she suddenly disappeared, that was it. She was gone.

Jami’s last date of contact with the fanfiction world, her last words as Guardian21, was June 27, 2008. All that is left of her now are the fraying threads of her internet persona, a trail that has long run cold.

I know it’s cold, because I followed it to its bitter end. I’ve never been content to let sleeping dogs lie, and I didn’t want to let Guardian21’s ghost rest. It’s something that had bothered me since June 27, 2008: Why did this enormously talented, and popular, fanfiction writer suddenly drop off the face of the planet, leaving an unfinished story behind? Why had she finished all of her previous stories, but not her last? Where is she now?

A thousand Google searches turned up nothing after that day in 2008. After all, I didn’t even know her full name. The pieces of the puzzle of her early life were illustrated with Final Fantasy fanfiction, Sailor Moon RPGs, a few errant LiveJournal entries. A few other screen names cropped up. More names she left behind.

I actually became impressed at how thoroughly she had left Guardian21 behind. Nostalgia has rendered me almost incapable of truly abandoning many of my own names, now matter how outdated, redundant or embarrassing they are.

I looked for her for over a year. Weeks, months would go by between fervent Google searches. The dossier of her internet life filled. But it led to nothing.

I had to accept that she’d wanted to disappear. But I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t.