Who calls? What silence peopled with echoes?
Hour of nostalgia, hour of happiness, hour of solitude,
hour that is mine from among them all
-- Pablo Neruda
At times this world feels near intagible to him. Insubstantial. The weeks that pass without him seeing another living person are surely mere echoes of a true existence. When he sleeps at night, the spare wind sculpting the dry landscape beyond, it is a dream within a dream.
He believes in the will of the Force. It is not the path he questions but the steps he took along it, the ones that led him to this place. He turns the moments of his life over and over, a complex koan to be examined from every angle, and simply wishes to understand.
Yet he tells himself that other things must be prioritised: duty, necessity, love. These things have long been intertwined for him. It is for duty that he sees out the end of every long day and prepares to welcome the next, waiting for the Force to bring the boy from the flats of the desert to his side. It is out of necessity that he makes plans to set the boy against Vader; necessary that he solve the problem - the horror - he helped unleash upon so many people. And love. Sometimes, when he sinks into meditation at dusk, feeling the cool air settle and the rumblings of Krayt dragons along the rocky ridges, pale memory envelopes him. The Temple is home. Gentle beds and huddles of empty cups on the kitchen board, the sweep of katas in the training halls, the towering solidity of the archives. He knows the cradling hum of thousands of fellow Jedi, and the constant warmth that is his Master's presence, asleep in the next room over.
Not a single part of it now remains, but he remembers: how he loved, and who, and that is necessary also.
During the first year on Tatooine, when his back was tall and his fingers straight, he thought that he would become accustomed to the difference. Surely it would not take long, after so many years of travelling the galaxy and finding rest on more worlds than he has patience to count. Not so, he thinks with the ghost of a smile. The wait will be far longer than all the moments that have already dried and withered away here on this planet. Here, after the suns burn and the horizon reflects the gold of the sand, the nights remain unchanging and uncontrollable like some strange loneliness. He counsels himself to acceptance, when the world begins to disappear in darkness around him and the belligerent cries of raiders echo across the Wastes; when he wishes for the sound of a human voice again.
Some evenings he allows himself to look up to the bright stars that fill the high black vault of the sky, and lets the yearning pass through him, his body transparent and yielding.
The desert has at least taught him a way of waiting, a linear pattern that doesn't measure time. He surfaces from meditation into the deep stillness that penetrates the white walls of his abode, and rises to his feet to begin. They are small tasks, carefully performed. The remnants of sharp tea wiped clean from a mug, measured footsteps - only four to the door from here - and the latch shunts into place. Finally, a sweep of the main room as he stands by the darkened doorway of the cove that holds his bed. Everything sits exactly where he left it, and keeps leaving it; exactly where the scant grains of sand are expecting it to be as they gather around the edges of the wooden chest, the chair covered by a worn grey poncho.
Obi-Wan remembers twelve years of saying goodnight, Master, and another ten ending with sleep well, Padawan. Around him the night shifts noiselessly, spreading low silence beneath a freezing arch of space and across the stark plains.
He douses the light, and turns away.