It seems like a snapshot plucked from a 1980’s PSA: a lone man in a beige trench coat had come and sat next to little Susannah Ann Chalmers on the swing set.
Mrs. Chalmers doesn’t see him approach. Eventually, she looks out her kitchen window (nearly done with the dishes) and runs toward the public playground saying, “Susannah Ann! Honey! Come home now please.”
When Susannah doesn’t move or break her eye contact with the trench-coat man, Mrs. Chalmers says, “I said get back in the house now young lady.”
The girl obeys and Mrs. Chalmers stops a moment, wondering whether she should say anything to the man.
Has he done anything wrong?
She also waits to see if the man turns around. He does not. Mrs. Chalmers can’t see his face (she never will) so she follows her daughter inside and locks the dead bolt.
“Why were you talking to a strange man, Susannah?”
“He’s not a man, Momma.”
“No. He’s an alien.”
“Ha!” Mrs. Chalmers says. “Maybe so because I don’t know any self-respecting man who would come and chat up little girls on a playground.”
Susannah looks down at her grilled cheese sandwich.
Mrs. Chalmers takes a deep breath and says, “Ok. So, how do you know he’s an alien?”
“Because he said, ‘I do not belong in this world,'” Susannah says, mimicking the alien man’s low-and-slow speech.
“Yeah and also because his eyes were really shiny.”
“I see. What else did he s–”
“The other aliens have a portal ready for him,” Susannah says. “I know because he said, ‘I’m going into the underpass and never coming back out again.'”
“I think he was sad because he said he wanted me to go with him. I think he meant to go into the portal, but I couldn’t because you called for me and said I had to come home.”
Mrs. Chalmers reaches for her cell phone. She gets the back door open just in time to hear a single gunshot in the distance, from the direction of the underpass.
Mrs. Chalmers’ hands shake for a while in silence. Then, she dials 9-1-1.