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The young couple sat upon a double-ring quilt at the top of a hill in Monroe County Indiana. The August moon hung just over the hills to their East and they talked happily. In the valley below them, a two-bedroom brick house could be seen in the splash of light provided by a pole lamp.
Matt pointed towards the Constellation Persius. “That seems to be the radiant. Here comes another one…right…now!” As if by magic a shooting star whizzed across the sky, quickly travelling beyond the western horizon.
“And here comes another one…” laughed Vicky. “Now…ow…ow…” A flash of green light cut across the sky and flew almost immediately beyond the hilly horizon.
Matt took a drink of the Guinness Stout he had carried up the hill. “Sorry you can’t have one, Vicky.”
“Water will have to do for a while longer. I’m fine,” she told him, leaning against his shoulder.
He touched her swollen middle and smiled. “Well, the next shooting star that we see, you’ll have to make a wish.”
“I can do that,” said the woman confidently. “The next one will come right now…ow…” A brilliant red light blazed across the night sky like a flare. “Was it supposed to be that color?” asked the woman.
“I guess. It was part of the meteor shower I’m sure, probably made of a different material than the rest, maybe more radium or something.” He tried not to sound concerned as he turned his attention back to his wife. Right now he was first and foremost a husband, not a science student. “Did you make a wish?”
“Yep. And my wish got answered right away…I felt the baby move.”
They both laughed with delight. Matt put his arm around Vicky, squeezing her slightly. “Then we’re right on schedule. Maybe we should name the baby after the meteor shower.”
“You mean Perseus?” asked Vicky mockingly.
“Only if it’s a boy, but let me think. If it’s a girl, how about Perseus’s wife, Andromeda?”
Vicky shrugged her shoulders. “I guess that makes sense. Child of a meteor shower…I like that, it seems appropriate with you studying Astronomy and all. Would we call her Andro?”
“You mean like that dog on the Jetsons? Nope! How about Andi – with an ‘I’?”
“Andi,” whispered Vicky. “I like that.”
So the lovebirds talked late into the night, laughing, counting the falling stars. None of the meteors however were as bright or red as the one the Andromeda Milosevic would be named after. Eventually they picked up their blanket and the water thermos and walked back to their cozy house in the valley.
ANDI at Two-years-old
The snow had been falling steadily over the past two days, covering the half-acre lawn completely with a thick, white, frozen blanket. The small trio – Vicky, Matt and Andi – were visiting the family home in Bloomington, safe from the Arctic blasts of late December weather outside the red brick walls. Andi had grown into a rambunctious toddler, with shoulder-length blonde curls, rosy cheeks, and an ongoing love affair with Elmo.
Just after two PM the wind died down and the sun broke through the clouds. It was then that the 2-year-old Andi finally talked her 60-year-old Poppa into building a snowman.
As Andi began plowing through the snowy landscape with her green frog boots, it seemed to her that her grandparent’s front yard was as big as the world itself – only bordered beside the house by a wooden fence meant to keep the local deer away from her Nana’s flower beds.
Vicky watched the two from the porch as they rolled three large balls of snow, placing the smaller ones on top of the snowy sphere-shaped base.
By the time Vicky had gone inside to refill her hot cocoa and come back out, the pair was almost finished…but there was something askew. She walked out to the snowman, to supervise a bit perhaps. “The snowman looks great Andi,” said the mother smiling down on her red-cheeked daughter. “But people only have two arms, honey, not three.”
Poppa shrugged his shoulders. “I tried telling her that, but she insisted, so I got another twig and put it there, in the middle of the snowman’s chest.”
Vicky turned the child to face her. “Sweetie, people only have two arms – see: one, two – so the snowman should only have two arms.”
At this the tiny girl put her arms on her hips and stomped one of her tiny green boots into the snow. “We have two arms, mommy, but the frozen men have three! One,” she was counting the twigs now, “two, three!”
The adults both shrugged now, deciding to leave the snowman as it was and go inside to have cheese sandwiches and warm up.
That night Vicky couldn’t help but put a picture of her daughter holding a football and a model spaceship on a social media site. Over the picture she captioned, “My lovely child, what an odd duck you are.”
Andi at Five-years-old
Vicky had to laugh at the boy following her daughter Andi around the birthday cake. She knew she'd eventually have to get used to boys following her blonde-haired hazel-eyed beauty, but it was too early for all that. Andi was still in cut-off blue-jeans and a ruffled tee-shirt. The boy was the same height as Andi with dark features, deep eyes and a confident air. Vicky noticed that his tan pants were more than neat, they were starched - almost the exact opposite of her little tomboy. When Vicky asked another mother who he was, she was told his name was Paul and the pair had met at kindergarten. Vicky chuckled and said something about her little girl growing up, as mothers are prone to do. Vicky was busy anyways – what with the new baby in her arms.
The pair walked quickly through the house, the black-tie and white-shirted Paul pointing out the Menorah on the buffet. Each of them took turns explaining what they knew about the Jewish religion while the other happily absorbed every word. They turned in unison to avoid the other children who were sitting before a woman with a guitar. The other children were singing songs they had been taught in the class they all attended. The birthday girl was almost shining as she waited to be escorted like royalty into the middle room which was filled with presents and cake and sodas.
When the baby was able to be put down into her car-seat/carrier the young mother called to Andi, asking her to come and sit. Of course the boy followed without question.
“Andi, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” she asked as the 5-year-olds sat beside her on a sofa.
“Mom, Paul – Paul, mom,” she replied while rolling her eyes – as if her mother should have already known his name.
“Nice to meet you Paul. Is your mother here?”
The boy looked around for a moment before pointing to a man in by the soda table. He was talking with other men about the game of the week, whatever game that may have been.
“That’s my dad,” Paul told her. “We’ve been together since my mother died.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Vicky.
“It’s okay, mom,” said Andi. “Everyone says the same thing. Paul doesn’t mind really – do you Paul?”
The dark-haired boy shook his head and his curls swung back and forth. “I do not mind at all. I have no recollection of my mother – I was very young when she died. So it has always been my father and I.”
Vicky thought that the boy was still very young – but then again he seemed to be very sure of himself and very self-controlled. She was a little surprised however, when he reached out his hand to help Andi down from the sofa.
“It was nice to meet you, Mrs. Andi. I am certain we will see each other again soon,” said Paul, leading Andi from the room. Vicky was about to protest when the baby started to wake up, so she let the children go, picking the baby up and nestling it in her warm arms.
Andi at Eight-years-old
To those who hadn’t known Andi and Paul before they found each other, it seemed as if they must have always been together. Paul was a few months older, but they insisted upon being side by side at every opportunity. Even though the pair had different homerooms, whenever they were between classes, in the lunchroom, at recess, or after school, if you found one you found the other. Even the parents had become close friends out of necessity. Paul’s father had a habit of bringing over the women he was dating, whenever there were barbecues or board game nights at the Milosevic house.
Each of the children’s IQs were high, but put together, they seemed to learn exponentially. It was no surprise when the pair entered a science project into their School’s fair at age six about the Doppler Effect. At seven they attracted some attention when they submitted a proposal to the science fair board for an experiment to finally prove what color blood would turn in a vacuum. However, the board turned it down because no one knew how to get hold of a vacuum with see-through sides.
When the two were overheard by a third grade teacher talking over the idea of the non-location of subatomic particles in a hologram based universe – well, NASA was quietly informed.
Unfortunately Paul, although healthy physically, began to slip into a dual mental state. It was more than being bi-polar: it was as if there were too minds inside the same skull. One day he would be happy and brilliant, the next day he would be academically ‘normal’ for an eight year old and sullen.
Andi must have noticed the change, surely, but she acted as if she was trying not to worry about him.
While Vicky was washing the dishes after the evening meal, she asked Andi how Paul was doing.
“I don’t know,” said Andi. “He’s Tony today. Maybe Paul will come back tomorrow and play with me.”
Vicky tried to hide her disbelief at the astounding statement. “How often does this happen? – I’ve noticed he isn’t underfoot as much as he used to be.”
“Too often if you ask me. Tony is fine, but he’s so baseline. All Tony wants to do is play video games and watch TV. I wish Paul was Paul all the time – the way he used to be.”
“Do you want me to talk to his father?” Vicky asked, finishing her dishes and sitting down with the child at the kitchen table.
“It would probably be best,” answered the child, nodding.
“I’ll see what I can do,” her mother assured her. “In the meantime, why don’t you and I go outside? It’s a clear night, we can count the stars.”
“You’re so silly mom, you can’t count all the stars,” Andi laughed, following her out onto the patio. As her mom sat down on the wooden steps, the eight-year-old leaned against her happily, both of them listening to the sound of the crickets in the yard. Suddenly Andi seemed to shake. “Where’s the other moon?”
“What? There’s only one moon – you’re the silly one now!” said Vicky.
“No! I see the one right there –but there should be another one further down, a smaller one, right there.” The child was pointing about midway between the moon and the Eastern horizon. And then Andi quickly relaxed. “Oh yes,” she sighed, “I keep forgetting this planet has only one natural satellite.” The girl chuckled at her mistake, shaking her head at her silly error.
The next day, Vicky was glad to see Andi and Paul walking home together, chatting away happily. She sat another chair at the table as the pair came through the door and went into the front room to do their homework.
Paul at Ten-years-old
When Paul Maupin suddenly went blank in the middle of breakfast, his dad and new step-mother rushed him to the children’s ward of the Monroe County Hospital. It wasn’t a long trip – just over a small hill and past a children’s park with a huge oak tree overlooking a meadow – but it seemed to take forever.
“What was he doing, specifically, before he got like this?” asked Dr. Peggy Villa. She was looking at his pupils while she listened to the troubled parents.
“He was pouring milk into a bowl of cereal, and then he just didn’t stop,” said Natalie. “No one really noticed he was acting odd until the milk had spilled all over the table.”
“I see,” replied the doctor. “And when you stopped him from pouring the milk, what did he say?”
“Nothing,” answered the father. “He just stared at us, as though he could see us in a fog, but couldn’t respond.”
The doctor stepped away from the boy, drawing the parents into the corner. “There are no physical symptoms. The longer the event itself is behind him, the more he seems to be recovering. We can do further tests, and we will, but nothing that I’ve seen tells me he’s suffering a seizure for instance.”
The father took another look at his son, who was beginning to move around, even looking over at the worried trio in the corner. “We’ll take him to whatever specialists you recommend, of course doctor.”
“There are some families who simply experience spells when individuals begin to reach puberty. Paul is ten – is that correct?” Both parents nodded yes. “Let me talk to him for a moment, before we decide. He seems to be doing better now.” The doctor rolled her chair over to Paul’s bedside, sitting in front of him. “Hi Paul, I’m Doctor Villa. You can call me Doctor Peggy if you’d like.”
“Okay, Doctor Peggy…” he replied “…but I’m Tony, not Paul. But people mix us up all the time.”
“Well, Tony, you gave your parents quite a scare,” said the doctor, attempting to de-emphasize the change of names. “Are you feeling better?”
“Where am I?” asked the boy.
“Monroe County Hospital. Has he been here before?” she asked the parents.
“No. He’s always been healthy,” answered his dad.
“Nurse…” she called to a woman in the hall, “… could you ask Dr. Sheppard to step in for a moment while I complete my examination?”
“Of course,” answered the nurse, making a beeline for the other end of the hallway.
“Now, I’m just going to check your heart rate again, Tony.” Peggy hesitated: “Tony, right?”
“Yes. Tony Maupin.”
“Where do you go to school, Tony Maupin?”
“Walnut Street Junior High. I’m in the 6th grade.”
“Do you like your teachers?”
“Sure. They’re alright, most of the time…except when they call me Paul – like you did.”
Doctor Villa noticed another doctor at the door and got up to talk with him. They only said a few sentences to each other before the second doctor took the seat in front of the boy. “Tony, this is Doctor Sheppard. He’d like to ask you some questions, if that’s all right.”
“I’m a little weak, but I don’t mind talking. Could I have some juice or something?”
“Sure. Mom and dad, could you get Tony something to drink?” asked Peggy, coaxing them outside.
Doctor Sheppard shifted in the roll-about chair, getting the boy’s attention. “Now Tony, what were you doing earlier this morning, before you woke up here?”
“Well, I remember going outside to watch the Meteor shower – you know, the Perceids - and I sat down on the steps, and was looking up…”
“That was last night, Tony. How about this morning? Do you remember anything from this morning?”
The boy just shrugged his shoulders.
The two doctors and the boy talked for fifteen minutes more, Paul sipping on the juice-box. At the end of the exam, the parents were told that the doctors would like to try something a little out of the ordinary. Simple hypnosis might work – so they could see what was causing the child to polarize to such a degree. A date was set for later in the week with Dr. Sheppard who was a licensed hypnotist. The only request the boy had was that Andi be with him for the session.
As the boy and his parents left the floor, relieved that things hadn’t been worse, Dr. Villa walked slowly to the patient lounge on the floor. There she met with two men with unreasonably clean cut appearances. “Matter of national security?”
The shorter of the two men, both dressed in white shirts and tan pants, nodded in agreement. “We appreciate your help, doctor,” he told her, formally flashing a badge close to his chest.
“The boy has been scheduled to have a session at his home on Friday at 7 PM. Dr. Sheppard will be in charge of the session.”
“You’ve helped your country today, I can assure you,” said the taller man quietly – as the three parted ways.
ANDI at Ten-years-old
Matt was driving now through the town of Bloomington with Vicky beside him and Andi in the backseat. Vicky glanced at her husband and quietly nodded towards the back. “That’s new,” she whispered.
“What?” asked Matt.
From the backseat came of the sound of Andi talking to Paul on her cell phone. Vicky had let her call Paul, because they were headed over to the Maupin house for the session.
“Kiblosie mee gowin suiklinkie?” asked Andi over the phone. All three could hear similar words being fed back to Andi as Paul replied on the other end.
“Honey, what language is that?” Matt asked his daughter from the front seat.
“Oh, it’s a language Paul’s been teaching me. It doesn’t have a name,” she answered before plunging back into her phone conversation.
Vicky touched her daughter’s knee. “Andi – could you use English while you’re talking to Paul? – at least around us?”
Andi rolled her eyes. “They want me to talk English, Paul. So…as I was telling you…Cameron has received the go-ahead from Mrs. Parks to…”
Matt looked at his wife. “It doesn’t matter now. We’re here.” The car pulled into the driveway of the four-bedroom, colonial-style home. Perhaps it was a bit antiquated, but it looked comfortable with a wrap-around porch, and a path leading to the pool out back. It was almost nightfall, but it was still light enough for Matt to notice three black vans with tinted windows parked on the front lawn, all facing the street.
“Who the heck do those belong to I wonder?” asked his wife, looking them over as well.
“Probably one of them belongs to the hypnotist…I wonder if that’s what you call people who do that for a living nowadays?”
“I don’t know. I guess its okay for us to go in…” She had left the sentence hanging as if deferring to her husband about the safety of the situation.
Matt stopped the car but left it running in the middle of the looped driveway.
Andi handed her mom the phone, startling her slightly. “Paul says he’s on the porch and wants to show me something in their pool. There he is.”
Both parents were unsure until Paul’s dad and step-mom came out on the front steps and waved, signally everything was fine. So the trio approached the house, walking over what seemed was an exceptionally long lawn for such a simple house.
“We’re out back on the deck. Steven has the grill going. The session leader is already here of course. Follow me, and we’ll head through the house.” The small family did as instructed, noticing four men in business attire look up from their laptops as Andi passed by the parlor.
Out on the back patio the aroma from the barbeque made the evening seem cozy. There were fireflies in the woods that lined the backyard and the rush of a small stream just beyond the trees could be heard.
Steven closed the lid to the grill. “Glad you guys could make it,” he told the newcomers. “Especially you, Andi. Paul has been waiting all day to show you some improvements we made to the pool.”
At this the girl could wait no longer and sprinted over to see her friend. They began to converse in their own private language almost immediately.
“I couldn’t help but notice the black vans parked out front,” Andi’s dad said to Steven. “And the men in your living room…”
“Yes, I know. It’s odd,” Steven acknowledged. “I was told they are from an agency that answers to both the CIA and NASA. They’re here just in case…”
The parents got closer together. “Just in case of what?” asked Matt.
“I’m not exactly sure…but it is NASA. We’ve all seen how Andi and Paul have exceeded all common academic expectations. I consider myself smart – but not like them. And what are the odds of two children that extraordinary living within ten miles of each other?”
“And being born in the same year,” said Vicky. “I’ve wondered about that too.”
Steven pulled a hamburger from the grill and handed it to Matt. “I figure that whatever is going to happen will happen tonight, probably within the hour, and it’s going to all begin with this hypnotist person.”
Natalie looked at the children, cupped her hands around her mouth, and called for them to come and eat.
The two families, the two doctors, and four federal agents sat facing each other in the wood-lined den.
Matt seemed to be the most unnerved, so he went first. “I don’t understand why we need these four men here, if this is just a personal therapy session.”
At this, the shortest stranger leaned forward in his chair. “As I explained to Stephen and the doctors, along with the federal government, we represent a…shall we call it…a foreign power. I’m here to insure that their interests are seen to. Also, I’m to alert them when everything is ready, so they can attend the session – if the need arises.”
“And you agreed to this, Stephen and Natalie?” Matt asked.
“We did," answered Stephen. "It may take all of us to get to the heart of what is wrong with my son. After carrying my comatose son in my arms, I’ll take help from anywhere I can, really.”
“Since we’re all in agreement then,” Doctor Sheppard said, “let’s begin. I’ll need the boy to sit in this chair…” he motioned to an overstuffed recliner.
“I want Andi sitting beside me,” insisted Paul.
“Definitely,” replied the hypnotist, sitting a chair beside where the boy would be.
Within ten minutes the boy was completely relaxed, beginning to go under, and the session seemed to be going well – when suddenly Paul began to speak another language.
“Do you recognize what he’s saying, Andi?” Doctor Villa asked tensely.
“Some of it…but not a lot…” she whispered.
One of the agents touched his wrist twice and almost immediately there was an object in the room with them. It seemed to be a cube made of glowing metal that formed and reformed continuously, rolling, turning. “I recognize the language and will interrupt,” it told them.
“From the foreign power, I assume,” Stephen whispered to his wife.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Natalie.
“We have,” said the agents. “Go ahead doctor.”
The hypnotist began in earnest again. “I want you to travel back as far as you can remember and tell me where you are.”
The boy mumbled a phrase that was unrecognizable, but as Paul talked the cube began to automatically translate. “I am on a ship.”
“Yes,” said the hypnotist. “What kind of a ship? A boat?”
“No, no. It’s a vehicle that travels through space, not through water.”
The parents looked at each other.
“Yes,” said the hypnotist. “How do you know it’s a ship in space?”
“I can see the stars all around us. The walls are transparent. It’s always an amazing sight.”
“Are there others there with you?”
“Yes. There are two others,” said the cube.
“What are they doing?”
“Bucnelle is making certain the meteors will miss the ship. The computers are working perfectly, and we are all at ease, knowing that we’ll be out of any danger within a few minutes.”
“I want you to listen to me carefully,” said the hypnotist. “No matter what happens in the next few minutes, you will be perfectly calm, as though watching a movie. Do you understand?”
The message was sent from the cube directly into the mind of the boy, who answered affirmatively.
“Now what is happening?” asked Dr. Sheppard.
“Ceries is beside me and wants us to change course, to pull out of the meteors. It’s what we’ve come for, however, during this trip…to study how the atmosphere and the meteors interact with each other.”
“No matter what happens, you will remain calm,” said the doctor, steadily. He waited until the boy’s breathing had returned to normal. They all saw the boy flinch. “Tell me what is happening now.”
The boy drew a deep breath and seemed to be looking around. “We’ve been hit by one. It must have ricocheted off the atmosphere and been thrown off course. That’s why Bucnelle didn’t see it coming.” He waited a moment as if listening. “We don’t have time to plug the hole, it’s too large.” He turned his face towards the girl sitting next to him, with his eyes still closed. “Ceries, take my hands and hold tight so we won’t get separated, take hold of all three of them.”
Andi put her tiny hands in his and he grew calmer. He was silent.
“What is happening now?” asked the hypnotist quietly, almost reverently.
“My fluids are evaporating through my skin, as are hers. She looks at me and I look at her. There is frost on her hair now… there is ice beginning to cover my eyes…I’m losing sight of her…of my beautiful Ceries.”
The hypnotist became more formal. “I’m going to ask you to jump ahead now. To a time when you feel safe…”
“Yes, yes. I’ve made it into the body of an intelligent creature, one of the creatures on the planet below. There is another soul already here, waiting to be born. I’ll have to piggy-back my way into the brain of the fetus. There, I’m safe now.” The boy let go of Andi’s hands and returned to a relaxed position in the recliner.
“I’m going to bring you out of it now,” said Doctor Sheppard, “slowly…”
Doctor Villa motioned for the adults in the room to follow him into the kitchen. When they were all out of earshot of the children, one of the security people began to sum it up.
“We were contacted by representatives from another planet to be on the lookout for the reincarnated life-forces of three of their astronauts who were lost during a scientific mission. Yes, aliens spirits if you will. Your son Tony shares a body with one of the astronauts and he needs to be transferred out of that body as quickly as possible. The stress on the brain could be fatal if we don’t act soon.”
Stephen looked puzzled. “Does this foreign power have a way of getting Paul out of Tony’s body?”
“They have assured us they do. They are, in fact, in communication with us now, through the interpreter in the other room, and have a cloned body that is ready to be assimilated.” The short man in the white shirt allowed some time for everything to sink in. “I realize this is a big decision to make, but without this psychic surgery, your son Tony and the traveler Paul will both suffer serious brain trauma.”
Natalie squeezed her husband’s arm. “Do we have any other options?”
"I don't think so," said Doctor Villa. "We could let Paul stay where he is, but eventually your son, Tony will be so handicapped emotionally that he'll cease to exist. They're fighting right now for superiority - that's why the boy is Paul sometimes, while at other times Tony is speaking. You'll have your true son, Tony, with you all the time after the procedure."
The government man became polite but insistent. "Paul must be set free - and these aliens have a way to release him and allow him to rejoin his true family - who have been without him for ten years. On another note, if we refuse to return him to them - well, there might be interplanetary consequences."
"Perhaps we should ask Paul," said Natalie.
Doctor Villa shook her head yes. "If it will help to solidify the process, then we can do that now. Let's step back into the den."
Inside the room Paul and Andi were just looking at each other. "Paul," said Doctor Villa, "do you remember what you talked about during the session?"
"Every word," answered Paul definitively.
Stephen sat down beside his son, leaning in closely. "Paul, do you want to go back there, to that other planet? We can do that."
"As long as I have the prospect of seeing Andi again someday, yes. I would prefer to be among my own people."
“Then I concur,” said Steven reluctantly.
“I’ll set up the procedure,” said the stranger from NASA. Outside a dog began to bark chaotically so all the adults left to see what was going on. When they stepped into the backyard to check it out, a light appeared in the middle of the stars overhead. “I guess we can take care of the procedure right now, in fact. They’ve come to take their astronaut back with them.”
Well over a minute passed, with the adults staring up at the light hovering over the swimming pool before Matt finally said something.
“What about Andi? Is she one of them…” he pointed upwards “…as well?”
“Her life-force is. However, when she incarnated into your wife’s womb, there wasn’t another soul there yet…so she can stay in the body she’s in now.” It all seemed so matter of fact to the short man, as though the government was very comfortable with these visitors from another planet. “But some of the alien emissaries were hoping that she could eventually become a sort of ambassador, a secret one of course. This is so unusual as she is a child of two worlds. In many ways it’s a lucky situation for both planets.”
“Perhaps, when she’s older,” said Vicky.
“Definitely. We’ll be ready when she's ready,” said the man. "We're working with them," he said pointing upwards, "to track down the third astronaut. According to the wreckage left behind, the third visitor could be as far away as Denver. We humans wonder about reincarnation - but they accept it as a basic fact. The child is bound to metaphorically float to the surface very soon - and we'll be there to help, when they need us." At this the government men left through the front door, driving away as silently as they had come.
The glowing interpreter could now be seen coming out of the den, hovering past the kitchen, passing through the wall of the house, and then streaking up towards the spacecraft floating above them. Following almost directly was Tony, who came barreling out of the house, plowing into the loving arms of his dad. They hugged for a long while.
Vicky went inside to look for Andi, and found her sitting in a kitchen chair. “He’s gone, mama. Paul’s gone.” Her heart seemed to be broken; she seemed to be in need of her mother’s comforting.
“He’ll be back, Andi. The men in the white shirts promised you’ll both have the chance to see each other again eventually. You just need to grow up a little.”
Suddenly, as if the child had heard something familiar, Andi hopped out of her chair, ran into the backyard, looked into the sky and waved. “Goodbye Paul, I’ll see you soon! Goodbye!”
The light of the spaceship pulsated twice before the flowing cube shot into the atmosphere as if it had simply been released from Earth’s gravity. Andi watched the sky darken, standing there looking up for another five minutes. And with that the evening ended and everyone went home - even a traveling astronaut who hadn’t seen his planet in over a decade.
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