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A short story where two people fall in love, but because of work or something they each travel in different directions across the galaxy at relativistic speeds, and because of time dilation they are expecting to never see each other again.

They each travel different distances at different times, going from star to star, where hundreds of non subjective years pass, until by chance they happen to be on the same planet at the same time, with about the same amount of subjective time having elapsed for each of them.

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  • Roughly when would this have been published?
    – Jenayah
    Jul 18, 2019 at 21:04
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    This sort of reminds me of House of Suns, but the characters in that book meet intentionally rather than by chance. The book I believe was based on the short story Thousandth Night, which I've not read.
    – Raj
    Jul 18, 2019 at 21:18
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    It's not a short story, but "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman has a running relationship between two characters that are continually separated by time and space. Jul 19, 2019 at 3:20
  • I would second @bikesandcode on this. Especially as Halderman's work is quite a short novel and engaging enough that you might end up reading it in a single sitting... Jul 19, 2019 at 4:40
  • @Jenayah Honestly I don't know. I read it more than 10 years ago, but it could have been much older than that. It was a time when I was consuming a TON of short science fiction stories from a lot of different sources, some newer stuff, and some of the classic golden age stuff.
    – AndyD273
    Jul 19, 2019 at 14:16

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A good candidate might be "End Game" (1975) by Joe Haldeman. This novelette was later incorporated into The Forever War, but was still published independently in several anthologies over the years. (I first read it in Space Infantry.)

The story begins in 2458 with Major William Mandella being shipped out from the Stargate base to the Greater Magellanic Cloud to set up a base. He mourns his separation from Marygay, his love, since his trip will be 340 years one-way, and with missions frequently having a 1/3 survival rate they both figure they'll never see one another again.

Much of the story is concerned with the defense of the base at Sade-138 from an extended Tauran attack, but after a hard-fought defense Mandella and the survivors of his company finally return to Stargate in 3138. The war is over and the survivors are being mustered out. In his personnel file Mandella finds a note Marygay left him 250 years previous; he is initially struck with grief, but the note tells him that she will be waiting for him - or word of him - in a relativistic shuttle, aging only 1 month per 10 years.

The story closes with the birth notice of their first child.

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  • Sounds interesting, but not quite right. I seem to remember a lot more leapfrogging going on, where they each do several relativistic hops, so that when they meet again its one of those "it must be fate" things.
    – AndyD273
    Jul 20, 2020 at 12:39

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