Wednesday, June 18, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 22: A Kenobi Job

Old Ben is speaking.  At first, Luke's confused.  A moment ago, as far as he knew, and he thought it'd been with absolutely certainty, Obi-Wan Kenobi was dead, murdered by Darth Vader...a long time ago.  Yet there he is, just as Luke remembers him.  Not as a ghost.  The man himself.  In the flesh.  Just like Luke knew him, for all those years, the man everyone else always called the crazy old hermit, his Uncle Own included.

He tries to concentrate.  Old Ben has the same weary expression Luke remembers so well.  For all that time, he never even considered what his friend had experienced in his life to become this man.  Old Ben stops speaking.  He smiles at Luke.  As usual, he seems to know exactly what Luke has been thinking.

"You're wondering what I've been going on about," he says.  "It's funny.  I never imagined myself to be a storyteller.  At least, not a very good one."

Except Luke's not thinking of any stories.  Memories.  He's convinced he's just woken up from memories.  Of Old Ben dying.  Of meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca.  Of rescuing Princess Leia.  Of learning the truth about his father, of Darth Vader.  Of helping to bring about the end of the Galactic Empire.  Of helping to restore the Republic.

All these things happened.  Right?

Except now, he isn't so sure.  He and Old Ben are silent.  They are contemplating the same thing.  Luke knows that with certainty now.  It's as if scales are dropping from his eyes.  He looks around.  He sees Old Ben's familiar cave dwelling.  He sees what he knows from Old Ben's stories to be an old lightsaber, the weapon of a Jedi.  There was a time he'd forgotten all about that.  The Jedi meant nothing to him.  He hadn't taken the idea of the Force anymore seriously than Han.

Except...Han?  He's the ghost flickering before Luke's eyes now, an illusion, like the many Luke has seen over the years, across the vast stretches of the Dune Sea, scrounging for parts from reluctant and far-off neighbors, also scrambling to make a living on a desert world, miserable as Luke, desperate for the same miracle...

That was a long time ago.  That was another lifetime ago.  Wasn't it?

Old Ben speaks again.  "You're wondering if everything I've just told you was true.  You lost yourself in the story.  It was true.  From a certain point of view."

His friend is grinning.  Luke can't stand it.  Why must he be so maddening?  Why can't he be straightforward?  That's exactly how he always was.  Luke simply forgot.  He stopped thinking of the man he'd known the moment Old Ben told him about the bright center he'd always dreamed of, the destiny he'd always secretly believed waited for him.  And all that had happened.

Except it hadn't.  Old Ben was right.  As usual.  He rubs his eyes with the palms of his hands.  Dust, like it always does, had gotten everywhere.  His eyes are stinging.  But it wasn't the dust.  He's been crying.  Why has he been crying?

"I never met him," Old Ben continues.  "I'm sorry about that now.  You always spoke so proudly of him, even when I expressed dismay about his dreams, your dreams.  You were always so dreamy, didn't understand why the distinction between the Empire and the Rebellion was so important."

Luke is remembering now.  His eyes are stinging for a reason.  Because the tears are starting to flow again.  His friend, his brother.  Biggs.  He's dead.  He was executed by Vader, dead in a moment, without ceremony, exposed as a Rebel spy, before his life could mean anything.

"This doesn't change anything," Old Ben is saying.  "You can still make something of your life.  You don't have to let your uncle define you forever.  Maybe nothing like what you always wished is true.  Maybe this lightsaber belonged to someone else, a cunning warrior who once came to this world and befriended someone else who needed an escape.  Maybe your father was just scum who showed up in Mos Eisley one day and left the next.  It doesn't matter.  What matters..."

Luke isn't listening anymore.

No comments:

Post a Comment