In the Dark of the Night
Aunt Beru always said that worries seemed larger in the dark of the night. But she also said that was when the brightest of stars would appear, when the wide expanse of the sky would blaze with the lights of thousands of systems to chase away the weary woes.
I can’t help but smile at that, at the echo of my childhood, when the worst of my concerns was when I would get to play with my friends again…
… “Luke! Wait…. Wait….”
…and I can’t help but wonder what my kind and gentle guardian would have made of the breed of worries that I now carry.
“I am your father!”
Did Beru know what my father had become? Did my uncle Owen? Did they know, did they fear the path that lay before me? Or had Obi-Wan given them the same skewed story he had given me?
“A young Jedi, who was a pupil of mine…. He betrayed and murdered your father.”
I take in a breath of night air, drawing in the mild chill and the scent of the Endor forest. Lush, green, and so alive within the Force.
No, they knew. Obi-Wan told my guardians the truth. I know it. It explains my uncle’s instance on me staying at home, why he had me cancel my Academy application. Why he had been scathing of my father and refused to discuss him.
Owen and Beru had been afraid for me all my life and I never knew, never understood the threatening shadows under which they raised me.
I understand now, I can see it all now. I can feel it.
I can feel him.
My father. Close. So close and coming closer. His shadow, darker than this night, reaches out across this moon. I can feel him searching for me, seeking me out as he draws nearer.
“…join me and we can rule the galaxy as father and son!”
I glance down at my hands, at the glove that covers my damaged prosthesis and briefly close my eyes against the memory of Bespin, against the pain.
When I was child I always seemed to want things that I didn’t have, or could ever hope to get. I wanted a brand new speeder, not a clunky second, third or even fourth-hand vehicle. I wanted a skyhopper. I wanted a holoplayer in my bedroom. I wanted my own comlink. I wanted a later curfew. I wanted everything my friends had. I wanted…
… a mother.
… a father.
I have learned too late to be careful of what I wish for.
I wished for a father like everyone else. I wanted to know where I had come from. I wanted to know whose eyes I had, where the dimple on my chin that the girls called “cute” had come from. I wanted to know from whom I had got the shape of my hands, the mess of unruly hair that my aunt despaired over. My height and build. I wanted to know what had happened to my parents. I wanted to know why I was orphaned and abandoned.
“…navigator on a spice freighter…”
I wanted… I wished…
“He knew my father?”
“I told you to forget it.”
Owen always shut me down, always ended the conversation when my father was brought into it. Oh, the fights we used to have. The heated words that I tossed at him, the accusations, recriminations and downright hostility.
“You’re not my father! You can’t tell me what to do!”
“While you’re living under my roof, I can do exactly that!”
“Not for much longer!”
I was fourteen. I had packed a bag and stormed out, but I didn’t get very far on foot before he found me and brought me back to the farm.
After the deaths of Owen and Beru I had vowed to Obi-Wan I that wouldn’t be back to Tatooine. It was a vow made in anger and grief. However, I was drawn back to my home world and after having spent more time on that baked rock to plan Han’s rescue and build my lightsaber I find that I miss it.
I miss my home. I miss the carefree life that I didn’t realise I had. I miss sitting in the sand next to the homestead dome chatting with my aunt as she regaled me with stories of beautiful senators and their dashing protectors, of daring rescues and space battles from the Clone Wars. She ignored Owen’s reproach of filling my head with fanciful ideas and made my childhood colourful.
I miss my aunt.
I miss my uncle.
I miss his gruff tones. I miss his courage and tenacity of eking a living from the desert. I miss the times I spent with him in the garage as we worked together on the ‘hopper and the speeders. The laughter we shared when I was younger and he chased Biggs and I around the atrium while blind folded.
It is only now, when I know the truth that I realise how scared my Uncle was for me and how that fear turned him into the sour tempered and bitter man who had shut me down at our last meal together.
“… I told you to forget it.”
I was the son of Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight. I was the son of Darth Vader: secreted away, hidden, and raised in ignorance.
There is a cry in the forest; a squeal as a smaller animal falls to the larger predator and there is a tiny judder in the Force as the creature dies and I hope that it is not an omen for the coming day…
This is the cusp of my life.
Today. Now. This moment… and it is right that I look back and reflect and remember those who raised me, who moulded me and taught me, who gave me my values and morals.
Looking up, I cannot see the stars that my aunt spoke of. The Endor tree canopy hides the sky and the light of the flickering Ewok torches cannot banish the darkness of the night. Nor can they banish the darkness in him… in me.
He is near.
So very near.
It is near.
My destiny, my choice.
And I cannot help but fear what tomorrow will bring.
Fear is of the Dark Side…
I have to go. I feel the urgency snapping at my heels, goading me to move, compelling me, forcing me to make the decision that I still hesitate to make.
Go to him….
I have made a mistake in coming here….
… have I? Did the Force not bring me here? Did I not follow my feelings? Am I not facing what Yoda told me to face?
“… Vader… You must confront Vader…”
… and I have brought great danger to my friends and to my… sister.
I smile. How warm that makes me feel. How… connected…
After Bespin, after Vader’s declaration…
“No! I am your father!”
… I felt detached from everything and everyone. I was apart from them all. I had no-one. Not even Leia in whom I could confide. I was alone with a knowledge so awful, so unthinkable, that it almost destroyed me.
I was bewildered, staggering under the weight of an appalling truth. Darth Vader claimed to be my father.
What could I possibly have said to Leia?
“Darth Vader is my father.”
“The man who interrogated you, who tortured you and who was complicit in the destruction of your world is my father.”
“The man who handed Han over to a Bounty Hunter so he could capture me, is my father.”
How could I do that to her? How could I have stood there and watched the horror and disgust contort her face? Would she have pulled away? Would she have rejected me?
… she still might…
I couldn’t say it. I couldn’t do that to her.
I couldn’t do it to me.
To lose Leia, to lose her love and trust, just when I needed her most…. When she needed me?
I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t utter the words that I still denied myself despite hearing the harsh reality within them.
Father… a simple word. My wish granted. I knew my father and the knowledge crushed me.
And I worry what impact it will have on my sister.
It is quiet here on the walkway, the beat of the Ewok drums is softly muffled, and a soft breeze curls patterns in the smoke of the torches and in the mists that rise from the trees. It is much like the patterns of the Force; blowing this way and that, twisting and twirling and hiding the truth of tomorrow within its coiling folds.
He is closer still and I can feel the dark of the night pressing heavily in against me. He’s coming for me, pursuing me, just as he did on Bespin.
He is single minded. Obsessive.
He’s coming for them, too. For Leia and the others. He knows we are here. I have to leave, I have to desert my friends and our mission to keep them safe.
I have to face him.
I have to keep him occupied. I have to keep him turned away from our purpose here to give them a chance of success. I have to….
“There is still good in him.”
How bold my words were to Obi-Wan and yet… there is truth there, too. I can feel it. Too many times he could have killed me and too many times he held back. There is good in him…
Are you sure of his motives for holding back, for not striking you down? Are you sure that there is still light within the Vader darkness. Are you sure that it is not just your power that he covets?
For you are so very powerful…
I close my eyes against the whispers, against the darkness within and the temptations they present me.
You could take it all…
And I open my eyes.
I never wanted it all. I never wanted power…
… didn’t you?
Growing up I had dreamed of my father. I dreamed of being a pilot, of going to the Academy... but from the moment that Obi-Wan placed that lightsaber into my hand all I wanted was to be a Jedi Knight like my father.
“I am your Father!”
And my dreams suddenly seemed puerile and foolish… the dreams of a child, of a boy just off the farm; too innocent, too opened-eyed and too easily lead astray. How those dreams shattered, how those ambitions and goals were ground to dust under the harsh heel of honesty.
“I am your father.”
“Your father, he is.”
My hand tightens on the balustrade of the Ewok walkway and I suddenly realise that I have been paused in my steps for several minutes, paused at a junction. I could turn around and go back to the hut and join the planning for tomorrow’s assault on the shield generator. I could turn left and leave… just leave them all; Vader, Leia and Han and the Alliance. I could let them all just fight it out without me.
And that choice is so alluring…
Or I could turn right and follow the wooden walkway down to the forest floor, down to the troopers that patrol the woodland and surrender myself into my father’s keeping.
There is good in him…
“Luke, what’s wrong?”
I stiffen at Leia’s words. So lost in thought, so lost in indecision and memories I had not felt her approach. I have to focus, to be aware of everything, to be mindful of my training.
“Save you, it can…”
And I am unsure if the echo of Yoda’s voice is a memory or if he is still with me in the Force. I am hoping it is the latter, for if there was ever a time I needed guidance it is now.
I am at a loss at what to say and how to say it, but I will tell her. I will tell her it all for she needs to know because I may not be coming back. I have been so afraid of this moment, so afraid of burdening her with the truth I have carried since Bespin, since the revelation on Dagobah that I had a sister, and yet, I had forgotten that Leia is the strongest of us all… and I have to wonder if she got that strength from our father, or from our mother?
I know what to say, I know how to broach the subject. I know so much about my father, but nothing of the woman who carried me… carried us… and birthed us.
I turn to my sister and say her name, just to hear it, just to feel the sound of it on my lips…
I know my path. I know which way I have to turn at this junction. I realise that there was only ever one choice that I could make; I will turn to the right and surrender to my father.
His presence floods me, threatening to swamp me. He knows that I am coming to him… I can feel him waiting for me, I can feel the weight of the Dark Side pressing in and yet I can feel Vader’s own indecision and conflict that comes with his knowledge; he is unsure of his intentions for me, unsure of his own path. I need to trust in him, I need to trust in myself and in the Force for it tells me that within the Vader darkness there is still the light of Anakin Skywalker.
As my wise aunt once said, it is in the dark of the night that the brightest stars shine…