Little by little, the story unravels! 

Ryder stared at the photograph of the sketch. He had been drawing Carol that day. But he had just been able to draw half her face. From her brown wavy hair, just up to her eyes. The girl writing the letters must not have recognised Carol in the sketch. It was half done, he couldn’t blame her. Plus it was impossible that the girl didn’t know Carol. All three of them went to the same school. But what stunned Ryder the most was the amount of observation power this girl had.

No, he wasn’t thinking about her knowing about his interest in art. He was referring to those dreams she had mentioned in the letter. She had found out about his little peculiar habits, his likes and dislikes through mere observation. His interest piqued and he was somehow starting to like this girl, whoever she was. She was unique and intelligent. Even though she had suffered, she didn’t lose herself in them. He started to think hard about that day in the library.

She had said he had helped her. But he drew up a blank. He did remember sketching Carol’s portrait though. Everything else was a blurry haze of memories. She had said, he had helped her with her pencil case. Why couldn’t he remember it? Ryder was getting frustrated at his blank memory. It was such a crucial clue and yet it was completely useless because his memory refused to cooperate. After a few more tries he gave up. He hoped it would come back to him while he read the remaining letters. But his mind kept going back to that day in the library.

She had been sitting so close to him. If only he had taken a look at the girl’s face. Ryder jumped up from the bed and gathered the remaining eight letters and bounded down the stairs.

He needed some air. Maybe that would help him clear his mind and think well. He would often go to the Diner just a few minutes away from his house. They made the most amazing burgers and smoothies. Yes, that would definitely help him clear his mind.

While he walked, he kept thinking about all the girls who could be his letter friend. As of now, he had stroked out Carol’s and Abigail’s name from his mental list. Now that the air helped him think properly, he remembered that there was one girl he would see in the library quite often. Her name was Lauren Reynolds. She was one of those shy and quiet ones who didn’t talk unless she needed to. Always nose deep into a book, Lauren was one of the class toppers. But she barely spoke to him. But the girl in the letters had never mentioned that she spoke to him frequently. So Lauren could be put on the suspects list.

Ryder was so deep in thought that he hadn’t seen the other person coming straight at him with a bag full of groceries and as a result they ran straight into each other and both of them fell to the ground with a loud thud while the bag of groceries and Ryder’s letters scattered all around them.

It took Ryder a minute to comprehend what had just happened. Once he recovered, he sprang up from the ground and looked at other person who had collided with him. It was a girl. It seemed as though she had recovered faster than him and was now busy collecting her fallen groceries while muttering to herself softly.

She seemed familiar to him. She wore a blue t-shirt and black jeans paired with white converse shoes, her hair made a curtain around her face as she collected her groceries. While putting the last box of canned food the girl’s eyes landed on one of the blue envelopes lying beside it.

When Ryder realised what she was looking at, he quickly dove for the letter before the girl could pick it up. He collected all eight of them swiftly and looked up at the girl to see what she was doing. The moment his eyes met her, recognition flashed through them. He knew her.

“Hey Ryder. Lost in your own world again?” the girl asked him with a small smile. It was Evelyn. He had known her almost all his life and she was one of those very few people he liked to talk to. He wasn’t very close to her or anything. But he and Evelyn Carter had grown up together.

She lived five houses down from him. They had never been friends, even though they attended the same school. But the occasional smile and hello was shared.

Evelyn was a lively girl, always happy and surrounded by people, while Ryder was the exact opposite. But her happiness was so infectious that anyone who was around her would cheer up in an instant.

“Sorry Evelyn. I wasn’t paying attention. I hope I didn’t damage the groceries.” Evelyn chuckled and shook her head. “No problem. Everything’s fine. But I think you should check all the envelopes again. What are you doing with so many letters?” she asked looking curious. Ryder grew uneasy. Now how could he answer that? He couldn’t possibly tell her the truth. The matter was rather personal. He was careful enough to keep his face expression less so that she wouldn’t get any idea as to how important these letters were to him.

“Uh. Nothing. Just some letters from my cousin.” He didn’t want her curiosity to grow. So he kept his words to a bare minimum. He never had been the kind of person to open up to someone. He wasn’t always so reserved. But that incident had made him like this. Whatever. He didn’t want to remember it now. He brought his focus back to Evelyn. She was observing him. From the look on her face Ryder knew that she hadn’t believed him. But her expression changed instantly and she smiled again.

“That’s a lot of letters together. You seem pretty close.” She said while rearranging the bags in her hands. “Anyway, see you.” With that she walked away. Ryder shook his head and quickly walked to the diner. She hadn’t believed him. But Evelyn knew where to stop. She was very observant and intelligent. He liked that about her. If he wasn’t so reserved and opposed to having companions, she might have even been his friend. But never mind. He couldn’t change things now.

The bell jingled as he opened the door of the Diner. The Diner was filled with people at all hours of the day. Ryder walked to his favourite booth beside the window at the back of the Diner.

He was happy that the booth was unoccupied. He hated sitting in the middle, before the eyes of all the other people around. He liked seclusion. He knew someone would come up to him for his order so he didn’t waste any time.

He placed the remaining letters on the table in front of him and picked out the one with ‘November 2015’ scribbled on it. This time, instead of tearing the envelope open, he took his time and gently took the letter out. It was time for one more confession, one more piece to the puzzle.