The sand is hot against her calves; Jakku doesn’t feel the same today. It isn’t the home of a lost little girl. It’s the home of a woman who’s finding the man she loves because she refuses to believe that he’s gone.
Rey is sitting down with Ben facing her, smiling, just happy to be with her again. Any moment they get together is something to be treasured.
“Ben, we did this once before, and we can do it again now.” Her eyes burn with hope, and if there is one thing she believes in—now more than ever before—it’s that hope can make anything possible. “Come on, let’s try again,” she says. She smiles, her dimples apparent. He can’t help but smile too.
“Okay,” he says. He isn’t sure what is really going to happen, but one of the reasons Ben loves her so much is because her spirit is so fiery and passionate that she seems to get whatever it is done that she sets her mind to. She did turn him back to the light, after all.
He believes she can do anything.
He holds out his hand again, and the sight of it sends a familiar shock through Rey’s body. Although his hand is now tinted blue and is a little less defined, it reminds her of the day she truly fell in love with Ben. That day in the hut on Ahch-To. She didn’t think anyone understood her. In an entire galaxy, there had to be someone. But that someone was found in the unlikeliest person. Kylo Ren. Ben Solo. She had never known that they’d fall in love, but in that hut on that rainy, starry night, all she felt was the warmth of someone who truly understood her, cared for her, and longed for every part of her to be with him. Ben Solo was the one person in the galaxy who truly understood Rey.
His hand reaches out to her the same way it did that day, and she reaches back, even more eager than before. “Rey,” he breathes. Her smile brightens as she reaches out to touch him. His fingers look so tangible, as if he were in that very room with her. She places her palm against his, but when she does, her whole body jolts. She flies backwards and wakes up with a start.
She’s panting sharply and is sticky with sweat. Everything is hazy and it takes a few moments for Rey to focus on her surroundings and get her head around what’s going on.
She’s alone. She isn’t with Ben on Jakku. She’s alone on Tatooine. The dread of reality sinks in, and as it does, Rey slowly curls up into herself, sobbing into the dark sand in the small hut she’s been using for shelter. The blanket she’s been using as a bed shifted in the night and is now tangled in a sandy heap a few feet away.
The dream was so real, she thought, it can’t possibly be just a dream. It can’t be. It was so real. It was a vision. I felt Ben. I did.
“I did,” she whispers, crying into her sleeve. Ben’s sleeve, really. Ever since the night he disappeared, she’s been using his tunic as a night shirt. She can still smell him as she drifts to sleep each night. She hopes his scent can stay on her skin forever.
It’s been about a month since she lost Ben. Life has been a fog. Eat, breathe, sleep. Talk when someone talks to you. Keep moving…
She can’t fall back asleep, so she dries her face, picks up her staff and bag, and heads outside. Maybe I can get a head start on some breakfast.
As she walks, she feels as though her spirit isn’t in her body. It’s as if she’s watching herself from the outside and hasn’t been whole since Ben left. “He didn’t die, “ she says to herself as she trudges up a dune, “I can’t accept it. I mean, I can still feel him. He isn’t dead, is he? He can’t be. I feel him.” Tears spill down her cheeks. Crying and the sharp pains in her chest and stomach are the only physical signs that she is still alive. Other than that, she’s completely numb and encased in a thick, muddy, soundless void. She functions as best she can, but the only thing that is keeping her moving is the fact that she can feel Ben still. Everything logically points to him being dead—he used the last of his life force to breathe life into her, and then he disappeared. Logically, Rey would think Ben became one with the Force, as Luke and Leia had, but she doesn’t buy that.
“It isn’t denial if you know it isn’t true, right, BB-8?” Rey asks, the same sharp pain sinking into her belly. BB-8 beeps happy beeps and she smiles. “That’s right. I know he isn’t gone. I can feel him. He never left me…” her voice trails off. If he never left her, where did he go? Why can’t she see him? Why hasn’t he visited her? It’s because he isn’t one with the Force, right? Where is he? This doesn’t make sense. She saw Luke and Leia a few days ago…where was Ben?
“Ben isn’t gone,” she says quietly, mostly to herself, “he’s just…somewhere else.”
Hours go by and Rey doesn’t see any signs of wildlife, which is usually where she can find her meals. For a while, she forgot that she needed to eat, but now her stomach is rumbling and nausea is building up inside her. She needs to hurry and find food before she gets sick.
She turns towards a new direction and quickens her pace. The suns are blazing and burning into her skin. She can’t remember if she’s cried recently. Everything is numb, and her face is so dry from the heat that she wouldn’t know if she had cried or not if she tried. I don’t know what to do, she thinks. Where do I go from here?
“What’s on your mind?” a voice beside her asks. Her heart leaps for a split second, and her reflex is to search for him. But she doesn’t. She’s frozen in time. Her life stopped the moment his body slid away from hers and disappeared.
“Rey?” the voice insists. Her stomach squeezes. When’s the last time she ate?
She still doesn’t look to see who it is. It’s not Ben. That’s all she really cares about.
“Rey!” the voice demands. She turns around quickly.
“Master Skywalker?” she asks. No one’s there.
“Rey!” the voice calls out again, not as loud this time. She turns around again. No one.
Beads of sweat swim down her hairline. Frustrated, she rubs her head with the back of her hand and continues looking around, breathing heavily as the world starts to spin.
No one’s there. No one says her name. It’s no one.
BB-8 beeps up at the young jedi.
“Yes, you’re right,” she replies, “I probably just need something to eat.”
Rey continues on the path she was starting towards before, deep through the desert of this foreign planet. Something about being in a desert was comforting to her, despite being out of familiar territory. Tatooine wasn’t all that different from Jakku. Still, was the sun always this hot?
She starts coughing. Only a few coughs at first, but then they get more frequent and with more force. She’s making her way up a large dune when her head starts to spin out of control and the coughs become unbearable. What is going on?
Suddenly, she topples over and begins heaving. Vomit spills from her lips and her head is soaked from sweat. Her head throbs and her stomach is sour. With hands clutched against the hot sand, Rey holds on through the pain now coursing through her body as best she can before it passes as quickly as it came.
After a few moments, she coughs and sits up, holding the back of her hand to her face. The nausea is still there, but she’s in a much better place now. She looks up at the blazing suns in the sky. I’m not sure how long it‘s been since I started my trek, she thought, but surely it hasn’t been long enough for me to get heat stroke or anything like this.
She gets to her feet and finds a water jug from her bag. After a few swigs she screws the top back on and plops the bottle back inside before slinging her pack around her shoulder.
It’s so odd. I used to always walk in the sun. I grew up in a world much like this, and I’ve never gotten sick. Other than that one time when I was a kid...
She thought back to when she was about nine years old and was working for a woman who owned a market in Jakku. She hadn’t been away from her parents for very long at that point and wasn’t used to caring for herself. It was easy to accidentally stay in the sun too long without the proper precautions. She nearly died that night. She was feverish and I’m so much pain, thirsty to the bone and too dizzy to do anything but lie in a sweaty heap inside the shop owner’s hut. After that, Rey learned to adapt even faster. She found light cloths to wrap around herself. Mismatched rags at first, but eventually better, sturdier fabric that kept the sun from her skin without being too hot and sticky.
Rey’s stomach burns. She places a hand along her navel and looks down at her stomach. The space between her eyebrows creases. “Is…am I…no…it can’t be…”
BB-8 whistles in confusion, but Rey still studies her stomach. Something is inside of me. I can feel it. A source of light…
Her heart flutters. Ben’s face flashes across her mind. “Ben,” she whispers. She closes her eyes and sees him there. He’s coming to her. She’s lifeless in Exogal. He’s placing a hand over her stomach. Life is pulsing into her from him. Her soul sucks up his, but their souls are of one fabric that they will both always share. They are threaded together and cannot be removed from one another. Just because a little more fabric is in Rey doesn’t make his threads disappear. If his threads were gone, the fabric would collapse and Rey would disintegrate from existence entirely.
Rey’s eyes shoot open. Ben is still out there. Somewhere.
“BB-8,” Rey says excitedly, “I know now for certain—Ben is out there. I can feel it. Our souls cannot be disconnected. They can’t be severed because they are woven together. If I’m alive, he’s alive. I just—I just need to find where he is…I need answers.” BB-8 beeps up at her, but she just looks off into the horizon.
Where can I go for answers?
She runs back to the hut. BB-8 whistles, reminding her to eat. “No now, BB-8! I have to find where I can see Ben. I have to find out where he is. I have to save him!” Rey runs faster and faster, and her breathing gets sharper and shallower. By the time she sees the hut, there are two. There are two huts, four suns, and two BB-8s. She’s seeing double. Her eyes get glazy and her body turns cold. Her stomach is sour and her palms are wet. She gives one last sharp breath before keeling over and passing out into the sand.