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Keep Trying

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This seems like a good place to start. The weather’s getting to him, and sweat from the humidity is making the fabric of his suit stick to the skin of his back. Little hands are wrapped around his neck. It feels like old times.

“Ready?” He asks over his shoulder.

Large, brown eyes meet his. “I could’ve walked.” Ben mumbles into his hair.

“I needed the exercise,” he says. There’s also venomous snakes out here in the jungle, but he decides to leave that one alone. Han would kill him if that got back to him.

Luke crouches. The five year old slides off. “I can’t start getting old.”

Ben’s brows furrow and his eyes squint. Luke’s sure he’s already eternally Old to his nephew.

After a moment, Ben gives up in favor of looking around. “Why are we all the way out here?”

Ben’s little arms cross over his little chest. His chin tilts up. Luke doesn’t try to stop his smile. His apprentice is apparently Unimpressed.

“It’s quiet,” he explains. Still in a crouch, he takes out half a protein bar from his utility belt and offers it to Ben.

He takes it, nibbling on it experimentally.

“…I guess,” Ben concedes. He pauses. “Does it have to be quiet to be a Jedi?”

Luke gives a short laugh, taking out another protein bar for himself. “No, but it helps.”

Ben looks around again. “Dad told me to give you a hard time.”

“Sounds like your dad.”

“Mom said I should listen to you.”

“Well, what do you think you should do?”

Ben’s tiny shoulders rise in a tiny shrug. “Dunno.”

Luke leans back from his crouch into a sitting position. He exhales, letting his back rest against a tree. “Why don’t we start, and then you can decide if you want to give me a hard time?”

Ben mulls this over as he nibbles on the protein bar again. “Okay.”

Luke nods, happy his nephew has reached a Consensus. Once again, he digs into his utility belt, withdrawing a handful of pebbles. “By the end of the day, I want you to be able to stack these on top of one another.”

“The rocks?”

“The rocks.”

Ben’s lips press into a line. “Why?”

Luke thinks about a swamp. About standing on one hand as sweat gets into his eyes. About stacking rocks and asking the same question. Yoda never answered it. Luke decides, then and there, to try a different approach.

“It’ll help you focus,” he explains. “Sometimes the Force is too loud. It’s hard to concentrate.” He meets his nephew’s gaze. “It’s hard to listen to it sometimes, isn’t it?”

Ben gives a slow nod. “I don’t know where to hear it.”

“That’s okay. I have a hard time, too.” Luke folds his legs and gestures for Ben to do the same.

Ben eyes him warily, eats the rest of the protein bar, and decides to follow suit.

“Good. Now close your eyes.”

“I’m supposed to move rocks without seeing them?”

Luke grins. “Give it a try.”

Ben gives the sigh of an old man before he closes his eyes.

Luke casts out his senses, feels Ben in the Force. He’s bright. He’s always impossibly bright—like a flare. Or a nova.

“For now, don’t try to listen to the Force. Just listen to your breathing.”

“Uncle Luke?”


“I’m always listening to my breathing.” Ben’s voice becomes endlessly patient, “When I breathe.”

Luke bites the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. “Then you’ve got a head start.”


They sit for a second.

“Uncle Luke?”

“Yes, Ben?”

“This is weird.”

“It takes a little longer.”


Another ten seconds.

“Uncle Luke?”

“Yes, Ben?”

“I’m bored.”

“That’s okay. Keep breathing.”

“I didn’t stop!”

“I know. Just keep going.”

Another ten seconds.

“Uncle Luke?”


“Am I your first student?”



“Because I want to teach you.”


“Because I love you.”


They sit in silence for another thirty seconds.

“Am I doing it right?”

“You’re getting better.”

“Okay. Good.” A beat, “I still haven’t stopped breathing.”

“I know. Very good.”

Luke cracks an eye open.

Ben is sitting there, wearing his favorite, small flight suit. His eyes are firmly squeezed shut. His is still a little fidgety, not quite into the meditation—but he’s trying.

Do or do not, there is no try.

Luke shakes his head, before he closes his eye again. No offense to Master Yoda, but Luke thinks trying has to count for something.

“Uncle Luke?”

“Yes, Ben?”

“It’s working.”

Luke looks down at his hand. The pebbles are levitating, moving in a halo around his fingers. The Force around his nephew is still erratic—frayed. Bright. But his nephew is right. A little.

Luke gives a patient smile.

“You’re doing great. But keep trying.”

Ben pouts. “Okay.”

Luke lowers the pebbles back into his palm.



“No peeking.”


They sit there for a few more hours, and although Ben doesn’t ever fully enter meditation, he is able to make a tidy stack of pebbles by the time the sun starts to move past the horizon.

Luke carries his nephew on his back as they return through the jungle, and it doesn’t take long until he hears Ben’s small little snores and the hold around his neck goes lax.

Luke smiles, watches the sun sink, and they make their way back home together.