So, a friend of mine, let's call him Eric,

met a girl online. One of those dating apps. Her name was Paige. So they matched, and they texted for a while, and they're really getting along. Like, it's going great. No awkward pauses or anything. The messages get progressively flirty, so one night Eric calls Paige. And no one picks up. Just a ring tone, with no greeting on the message machine. Eric felt lousy. Like he'd maybe moved too fast and scared her off. Internet dating is weird like that, right? But the next morning Paige texted him and apologized. "I had a cold," she said, "so I couldn't talk last night." So the romance, if you could call it that, struck up again. Eric texting Paige. Paige texting back. The conversation getting increasingly deep over the course of the coming weeks. They talked about their parents, their jobs, what they wanted out of life, what they wanted out of—if you can believe it—a marriage. And Eric started to really like her. Like, really like her. But there was this one nagging thing. Whenever he tried to talk to her on the phone, Paige had a reason she couldn't. She was either on the subway, or in a crowded restaurant, or working late. And so Eric got really wound up about this. Like he was being played. So one night he says, or texts, "Listen. I like you, but if this is going to work, we have to meet." And after a long pause, Paige texts back: "fine." So they decide on an address, a little café downtown, and a time. Eric is thrilled. Heart-beating-through-his-chest excited to meet this girl. He thinks this could be his wife one day, the mother of his children—that's how deep this bond had become. So he skips down the street, he's actually skipping he's so happy, but when he walks into the café, there's no one in there. Not even an employee behind the counter. There's just this big envelope, conspicuously propped up in the center of a table. So, disoriented, he picks the envelope up and looks at it. His name, Eric, is typed on the side. Mind racing, my pal braces himself, opens the envelope, and, with shaking hands, takes out a handwritten note that's tucked inside. It reads:

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The Paige you are looking for does not exist.

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