"Someone's Secret", the first chapter
Subject: Hello Eliza
You don’t know me. I recently bought a used laptop at a second-hand electronics store and discovered your life within it. I spent the last few days engrossed in your world and thus, I most likely know you better than you know me.
Before you begin to wonder, let me clarify: I am now in possession of all your files. Your computer, laden with letters and diary entries, has presented me with an entire life. You write profusely! When do you have the time? You write much more than I do, and I’m a man of words - writing is my profession (there, you already know a tad about me).
If I gather correctly, your laptop was stolen before it reached my hands and I am currently the sole proprietor of your digital footprint – your files, passwords (that, fortunately for me, you were in no rush to update), bank account details (that are no use to me, in your case), your search history, and your favorites. It’s all here. I could take over your virtual identity if I wanted to do so. In fact, if you care to check, you’ll find that I took the liberty of deleting a particularly interesting selection of emails from your Gmail account and various messages from your Facebook groups. I didn’t bother with your Twitter account; your witty remarks hold no interest for me.
Before you hurry to warn your contacts and the robotic gatekeepers of your digital wailing walls that someone has stolen your identity, or desperately change all your passwords – keep reading, or else you may regret it.
I’m about to offer you a deal. If you agree to it and meet my terms, you’ll receive your laptop back, your life back, the letters, the passwords, and the scattered notes you wrote to yourself, and those that others have written to you in recent years. If you don’t reply within a week, if you don’t agree to my offer or reject its terms, you shall lose all your precious letters and memories – a neatly arranged archive, a testament to your diligence. You alone know how meaningful these all are to you. From what I’ve read thus far, I gather they carry a great significance.
Here are the terms of my offer: you must write and send me 40 letters, each consisting of at least 500 words - candid letters in which you honestly and truly describe your experiences, your activities, observations, feelings, and thoughts.
The letters should arrive at this email address at least once a week. Every so often, I will ask you questions and you will be expected to answer honestly and completely. Sometimes, I will reply to your letters and at times I may not. Either way, you must continue to send the letters regularly.
If you update your passwords, and/or confide in another person regarding our deal or any of our future correspondence and/or attempt to uncover my identity, contact the authorities, block me from accessing your digital activities, try to track me, or take any other action that I deem an attempt to conceal information from me, you will lose all your writings and memories.
I’m intrigued to meet you in my inbox, one on one textually naked, clean of digital makeup, without all the social, public, Facebooky bullshit. I want you long in word, sentence, and thought. And don’t try to sell me anything you’ve written in the past I’m sure to recognize it.
I have nothing to lose in this deal. You, on the other hand, stand to lose everything, and I think we both understand why. Your reply, according to this amicable covenant made between us, shall reach me in no more than a week’s time. I look forward to it.
As proof that your computer is, indeed, in my possession, I attach a nice little letter I deleted from your inbox. Someone called Yasmin Dahan sent it to you in 2009. I’m certain you’ll recognize it.
Send me your response, Eliza. I’d hate to permanently delete such letters.