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Neil first met Sarah late at night in the park.

He'd often get back from work around midnight and he found an evening jog usually helped him relax. As he was jogging the dirt path, a bright light caught his attention out of the corner of his right eye. He decided to investigate and ran off the path into the trees.

After about twenty feet, he made his way out into a clearing of the park. The moonlight illuminated the clearing showing a water fountain with two concrete pillars placed on either side of it. At the fountain stood Sarah, and she bent down to take a drink from it.

"Hello," he said. "I'm Neil."

"Oh, hi. I'm...I'm Sarah" she said shyly. "We really shouldn't talk. I must go soon."

She began running away, and Neil chose not to frighten her by running after her. But then she stopped and turned around.

"What's this?" she called out to him, holding her hand out from about fifteen feet away.

He ran up to her to examine what was in her hand.

"Oh. That's a pine cone. Haven't you ever seen a pine cone?"

"No. I haven't. I'm taking it with me." She began running back towards the trees.

"Wait, where're you going?" he asked.

"Back home. But I'll be here again next year."

Then she ran off into the trees and a few minutes later he saw a spaceship take off into the sky.

The next year, he went back to the clearing again, and sure enough, Sarah was there. This time they were able to spend more time together, but again she had to eventually leave. This went on for five more years.

Then, in the seventh year, Sarah gave him bad news.

"They found out that I was communicating with you. I must go, and I'll be back. But you'll never see me again."

"Sure I will. If you're back, I'll be here."

"You'll be here. But you won't see me."

Neil didn't understand this, but he was determined to see her the following year. He arrived home from work, as usual, and went out for his usual jog. As he approached the clearing where he always found Sarah, an overwhelming exhaustion overcame him. Without warning, he collapsed to the ground asleep.

He awoke to the sunrise, but he did not see Sarah. But she left a sign to let him know she was there.

Every year, he tried to see her again, and every year when he reached the clearing, he collapsed in sleep. But every year, when he awoke, a pine cone was left sitting on the pillar next to the water fountain.


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