I work at a police station, first in my precinct to be equipped with the latest video spectral comparator. The device is absolutely amazing for reconstructing obscured writing, and we’ve already used it to blow open three cases by deciphering evidence which had been almost completely obliterated.

Incriminating letter?

Receipt putting you at the crime scene?

Well what looks to you like a harmless pile of ashes in the waste bin can now be all we need to close the case.

The downside? I’ve had to take a huge-ass folder of paperwork home with me on the weekends since it’s been installed. The inspector in charge wants us to skim every cold case in the entire precinct for areas where the new technology might be applicable. Boredom doesn’t even begin to describe it, but I did come across an interesting letter which we’ve managed to repair from its severe water damage. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

To my lovely wife,
Dear Eva:

Never has the fear of the hunted been so evident as it was with you. I could not stand to see you this agitated, the slightest creak in our house causing such violent tribulations. You could barely drink a cup of tea without being drenched by your trembling hands. At night, I heard you moan with the bitterest lamentations, and nothing I said seemed to provide you with the least respite.

“I can’t escape.” I heard the things you muttered to yourself when you didn’t think I was listening. “He’s going to find me and take me away. Not today – please not today – but soon. I can’t escape.”

I think I even know who you were referring to. I caught him more than once, sitting in his car across the street. Watching our house through his tinted windows. That cold, professional man, the one with the eyes of a killer. I sought answers from him, but upon seeing my approach, he shuddered like he’d been possessed and drove off before I could utter a word.

Eva, sweet Eva, nothing in this life could make you deserve such torment. The curtains never part to let the light in anymore, and you must suffer terribly if you are so loathe to reveal yourself that you prefer candles to electricity. How long has it been since you even left the house? And no, I don’t count ordering food online, then waiting until dark to sneak out and snatch it like a quivering mouse.

I was afraid that even these precautions might not be enough to save you, until the night when I finally witnessed your resolve. You fixed your hair and makeup, although you are just as beautiful without, and dressed warmly against the midnight chill. I understand now why you didn’t tell me where you were going, as intent as you were upon your grizzly mission.

I do not mind that you are self-absorbed, my dear. It only makes me more grateful for the attention I do receive. No matter how hard you try to exclude me though, I will always be there to protect you. It is one thing to face your fear, but how could you think I would let you do it alone?

The hour we drove together on the highway was the closest I have felt to you in a long time, and when you pulled off on the side to wait, it seemed as though we were the last two people on Earth. I didn’t notice the shovel in back until you got out of the car, finally satisfied that our pursuer lost the trail. That’s when I was convinced that I mistook the greatest moment of your resistance for the epitome of your despair. You weren’t here to fight your pursuer, or even run from him. You had come to dig your own grave.

I swore to love you, but that is no obligation to a woman of your beauty. I swore to serve you, but how could I act as usher to your final rest? “Please,” I begged, “tell me what would drive you to such an end?”

Do you remember how you flinched at my words? But the cold defiance in your eye made me somehow believe you had not given up yet.

Were you afraid I would be angry at what you’ve done?

Eva, blameless Eva. I could never be angry at you.

That I would try to stop you, or get in your way?

Never! I will only ever move to your desire, my love.

And with the opening of the trunk, I finally understood you. I felt nothing but relief when we carried the body out together, burying it there in the desert far from the prying eyes of petty men who do not understand the burden of love. If that is what needed be done to make you happy again, then I would have had it no other way.

I still do not know why the man hunted you, but it is not my place to force unpleasant memories and spoil your mind. I am writing this to let you know that nothing that happened will ever change how I feel about you. That I understand what you did, even admire you for going through with it. Eva, shining Eva, please do not let this be a barrier between us. Speak to me, welcome me as you once did, and I swear I will shelter you. I can forgive all evils in this world except the one that takes you away from me.

Forever yours, -Ivan

There you have it. As clean and incriminating an indictment as you’ll ever find in writing. Of course I felt sorry for Eva after being stalked, but disregarding the due process of law and killing the man, well we couldn’t exactly give her a free pass. I was so excited bringing this to the inspector in charge, and so disappointed when he disregarded it as irrelevant.

Obvious fabrication, he told me. Eva hadn’t been stalked; she’d been investigated by the police. She was a suspect because she stood to gain a considerable amount of wealth after her husband Ivan’s disappearance, although the case was eventually dropped without finding his body or sufficient evidence. The fact that a letter so stained with tears as to be almost unreadable was reconstructed didn’t prove anything, except maybe the confused mind of a grieving widow.

I may have let my excitement rush me to conclusions, but seeing that the husband was the one who was murdered, the inspector must be right to think it was impossible for him to be the author. Besides, how could Ivan help her bury his own body?

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