Sarah sat alone on a weathered bench in the park, her gaze fixed on the stars above. The soft glow of the moonlight illuminated her face, casting a melancholic shadow over her features. Her heart raced as she heard the faint sound of footsteps approaching, echoing through the empty park. She turned her head, and her eyes met the piercing gaze of a man standing before her. Time had etched lines of experience on his face, but his eyes still held the same warmth and intensity they did twenty years ago. It was Caius, the man she had once loved.
Caius spoke softly, his voice tinged with a mixture of longing and sadness. "Sarah," he whispered, as if saying her name would make her real, "I can't believe it's really you."
Sarah's breath caught in her throat as she looked into Caius's eyes. Memories of their youthful love flooded back, and she blinked away the tears that threatened to fall. "Caius," she replied, her voice trembling, "it's been so long."
Caius sat down on the bench next to her, their bodies just inches apart, but a lifetime of regret and distance separating them. "I've searched for you for years, Sarah," he confessed, his hands trembling. "I never stopped loving you. Every day, every night, I wondered where you were, if you were happy."
Tears welled up in Sarah's eyes, and she turned her gaze back to the stars, as if seeking solace in their distant light. "I thought about you too, Caius," she admitted, her voice barely a whisper. "But life took me down a different path."
Caius reached out, hesitated for a moment, and then gently placed his hand on top of Sarah's. The warmth of his touch sent shivers down her spine. "Tell me, Sarah," he implored, "tell me about your life. Are you happy? Are you... are you still in love with me?"
Sarah looked at their entwined hands and sighed. "I married," she said, her voice heavy with sorrow. "I have a family now. I love them, Caius, I really do."
Caius withdrew his hand, pain etched across his face. "I see," he murmured, his voice filled with heartache. "I never married, Sarah. I couldn't. My heart always belonged to you."
Sarah's tears flowed freely now, and she turned to face Caius. "Caius, please understand," she pleaded, her voice cracking. "Life wasn't kind to us. We were so young, and we had dreams, but they slipped away, like stars fading in the morning light."
Caius looked into Sarah's eyes, and for a moment, it was as if time stood still. "I know," he whispered, his voice filled with a lifetime of regrets. "But seeing you again, even for a brief moment, is worth all the pain I've carried."
They sat in silence, side by side, two souls who had once burned brightly with love, now separated by the inexorable passage of time. The stars above continued to twinkle, indifferent to the tragedy of human hearts.