by Franklin Taylor
Category: Short Story
Teenagers in love. In the short time Beru Whitesun and Owen Lars had been together, she had not gotten a chance to explore his home. Homes on the desert planet Tatooine to an outsider may seem simple and plain, but to Beru the minimalism and small touches could be so warm and inviting. The mechanical workshop on the other hand left a lot to be desired. She knew Owen was no gear head from the first time she mentioned a hydrospanner, but at least he could follow the directions his father Cliegg gave him on making sure the moisture farm machines were in working order. Strange though, that bits and parts were strewn about like an unfinished puzzle knocked off a table. It was as if someone haphazardly threw everything in here, and only came back if absolutely necessary.
Beru scrunched her nose as she surveyed the room, while tracing her fingers across the wall. She was about to turn away, but something moved slightly against the far wall.
“Oh, hello,” said a timid protocol droid. “I don't often entertain visitors. I am See-Threepio!” Beru studied the droid, and introduced herself. “What did you mean by entertaining visitors?” she said to C-3PO as she moved closer to the sitting protocol droid, with wires exposed.
“Oh, you see. I am in a bit of a situation. I am programed for all sorts of protocols and proper etiquette yet...” C-3PO waved his hand across his chassis. “I am a bit naked at the moment. Completely embarrassing!” Beru unsure what to say that would calm the dejected droid settled on emphatically replying, “That is just awful Threepio. How come no one ever made you.. Well, unnaked?” C-3PO was about to respond, when his optical receptors shifted away from Beru.
“Oh, Madame Shmi! It is so good to see you again!” C-3PO stood up straight and pointed at Beru. “I made a friend!” Shmi leaning in the doorway smiled deeply, even though her eyes betrayed a hint of sadness. Shmi was Owen’s stepmother.
“I’m so happy for you,” Shmi replied as she walked into the room toward Beru and C-3PO. “I’m sure you must have a lot to talk about.” “Oh yes! Well, we would have at our current projection of social interaction, but the conversation was cut short, when you entered the room.”
Beru felt embarrassed for suddenly realizing that she should not have gone into this part of the Lars Homestead looked around to find out what she should say next. She noticed a small box off in the corner had what looked to be coverings to a protocol droid inside. “How come Threepio does not have his coverings?” Beru inquired, but as Shmi’s expression turned from a warm smile into a thin line, she worried she might have made a mistake.
“Oh, I have been holding off...” Shmi trailed off as she crossed her arms into a hug. “I had hoped to one day finish piecing him together, with my son. You see he built this droid for me.” Comprehension reflected on Beru’s face. “Anakin, was his name? Owen told me about him.” Beru set a comforting arm on Shmi’s shoulder.
C-3PO interjected, “Oh, Master Anakin is ever so wonderful! When might he be returning?” After a long pause C-3PO swiveled his head from side to side given equal attention to both guests. Ignoring the question, Beru asked, “Why did Anakin build you a droid?” Shmi composed herself as she walked about the room feeling self conscious of all the disorderly mess. As a way of putting off her pain of losing Anakin to the Jedi Order, Shmi rarely went into this room ever since she moved in with her husband Cliegg Lars.
Maybe she left it a mess to give Anakin something to do, when he came back? Maybe it was a reminder that he may never return? The Force only knew. Turning back to Beru she said, “It’s funny. I told my son about this story. He had learned about Angels one day, and asked if I knew any.” Shmi looked up to the ceiling squinting as she searched for the right way to explain. At last, she decided to say, “I feel because of that story, my little Annie was compelled to make sure I was not alone. You know in case something were to happen to him.” Shmi momentarily held her hand to her chin, and looked into someplace in the distance. “Yes. That is it.” Moving in closer, and letting her glibness get the best of her, Beru pressed on to have Shmi elaborate. A smirk crept across Shmi’s face. Shmi knew this story all too well. Like a melody of memories swirling around the space of past and present. Drifting. Snapping back into focus, Shmi looked at Beru, with such warmth, and replied, “Oh, you could say that the story would be called ‘The Angel and Ariella.’” “I have not heard that one,” Beru replied. “Would you mind telling me the story? I may not like to travel, but I love discovering new stories.” Beru picked up the dusted box of coverings off the floor. Hoping to not be too forward added, “And we could maybe put these on our droid friend?” A pleading smile stretched across Beru’s face. “Oh, my goodness!” exclaimed C-3PO. “That would be a splendid idea! I never knew we had those there.” After a moment, Shmi relented to tell the tale. Though not before C-3PO inquired if he could turn off during the process. He was not one for stories...
As Beru layed out the protocol’s coverings on the workbench, Shmi began to tell her story, “Long ago were two young lovers about your age named Celese and Ariella, who cherished each moment together. Celese was the most elegant Angel. She was not an actual Angel from one of the moons of Iego, but like the Angels, she was hypnotizing. As if she could command the attention of everyone in the room, without even trying. The Angels have glowing white skin, wings, and a slight insectoid appearance. Celese on the other hand was a human, with the most beautiful brown eyes, dark skin, and warming smile that would melt away any fears. She was tall, and moved with such grace. Ariella also had brown hair and brown eyes, but was not so tall, with pale skin. She tried to be as direct as Celese. Yet, she was not as confident, with how she spoke.”
Beru listened intently as she began work on one of C-3PO’s legs. “If the two could have their way they would have been inseparable. As with most young love, they had other responsibilities to attend to. However, they always made time to take a special trip once a month out to their own hideaway over a high ridge. At one time there had been this giant waterfall overlooking the valley below, but over time it dried up. Celese and Ariella did not care, because it allowed them the most beautiful view of the valley below. There they could sit together all night waiting for the suns to rise.”
A smirk stretched across Shmi’s face as she continued. “You see it was important to Celese to be there at night. Because at night it was near impossible to capture the gorgeous landscape in a 3-D holovid or imager. Only by being there and seeing with one’s own eyes could the scenery be truly appreciated. And who better to share that moment than her Ariella!” Shmi picked up a covering, and examined both sides. “They would cuddle together the whole night talking, laughing, drinking in each other’s company. Even in silence there was no better place, for them to be.” “The only drawback to their monthly trek was how long it took to get there. It did not bother Ariella so much as they were still together walking side by side to their special place.” Shmi shuffled around various pieces of coverings to find the one that fit on one of the droid’s arms. “Though, maybe it was for the best that they had to walk, because it would not have led to the accident.” Shmi paused her story to compose herself. “One day Celese’s parents let her drive their land speeder. This allowed Celese and Ariella even more time alone together atop the ridge.” Beru stopped what she was doing, set the covering down on the table, and studied Shmi. “Everything was fine going to their special place. They had all night to be together, and as the twin suns rose, Celese whispered into Ariella’s ear, ‘ We are like the suns rising from the dark. Two suns rising together across the morning sky... ’” Shmi began putting the next covering on C-3PO as if to avoid Beru’s gaze. “On the way home, Celese let Ariella drive. The controls were so foreign to Ariella that it took some time to get the hang of driving, but she did. Soon, she was firing at top speed down the road, with Celese cheering her on. The smile Celese gave to Ariella. The inviting warmth of her eyes just called to Ariella.” The covering Shmi thought she put into place clattered onto the table. “That was until Celese’s expression changed from such happiness to eyes wide sheer terror as the land speeder lifted into the air, with such velocity. Celese quickly grabbed onto Ariella and did not let go. It was almost like Celese became an Angel to fly Ariella to safety. Except instead of wings she took over on the controls, and crashed the speeder as delicately as she could.” Beru set her tool and covering down on the table. There was something Shmi was not telling her. Shmi looked back, gauging Beru’s reaction before continuing. “No one was hurt in the accident. However, Celese’s parents were furious! You see, they were not having much success in the family business at the time. Celese and Ariella were still able to see each other, but after a few months Celese had to break the bad news to her Ariella... Her family was moving away!” Not wanting to interrupt, Beru began working on C-3PO as she waited patiently for Shmi to resume the story. “This devastated Ariella. Here her first love, who was full of compassion. Full of unconditional love was about to leave her. Ariella was not mad at Celese. In fact, a part of her wanted to join Celese. Yet, at the end of the day, she had to say goodbye...”
Shmi quivered the last part as she looked away from Beru. Unsure what to do, Beru placed a hand on Shmi’s shoulder. She could feel Shmi’s body shake as she composed her breathe. After what felt like a long time, Beru got the courage to ask Shmi, “This is more than a story isn’t it?”
Shmi turned back to look at Beru as tears fell down her cheeks. Memories bubbled to the surface. Celese looked at Shmi, and smiled. They embraced, with Celese placing her hands gently around Shmi’s neck.
Still holding on and inches away from Shmi’s face, Celese broke the silence, “Oh, Shmi Ariella... even though your mind is sometimes off in the clouds, you will always be my sweet ‘skywalker.’” Shmi let out a nervous chuckle as she stared back deeply at Celese. Soaking in the final moment...
“Yes,” Shmi finally spoke. “She was my everything. After Celese and her family moved away I was so distraught. We could have stayed in touch, sending holos back and forth... but I did not want her to see the sadness in my eyes.” Shmi grabbed onto Beru’s hands. “I did not want to see the sadness in her eyes as well. So, I made a decision to let go. Say goodbye. I learned back then to place my trust in the Force. The Force brought me and Celese together. The Force took her away.” More memories surfaced as Shmi bit her lower lip.
Shmi wished she could have said something else as she turned to walk away. “Don't look back,” she told herself. She did not want to let Celese see the crack in her smile. The tears from her eyes betraying her heartbreak. She wanted Celese’s last visible moment of Shmi to be of happiness-- not sorrow. If Celese saw her now she would never forget the look of sorrow in Shmi’s eyes. The wave of reality that that happy moment would never be happy. But Shmi supposed life was not just one emotion. Life was the light becoming dark, and waiting for the suns to rise.
“Yet,” Shmi began again, “Years later, like the rise of the suns from darkness, the Force brought me my little Anakin.” Shmi scrunched her eyebrows as she composed herself. “I realize now that I forgot to learn to let go. After Anakin went on to become a Jedi, I thought I could wish his return, by not finishing his droid. By waiting to have him to organize his belongings, when he returned. But, he may never return.”
A quietness filled the room. Shmi smiled. “However, just as the Force took away my little Annie, it brought Cliegg and Owen into my life... and now you!” Beru smiled back. Tears fell down her cheeks that she had tried holding back. Shmi continued, “I don't know what path the Force has planned for you and Owen, but I pray it will be one of happiness. And if the Force wills you onto a path apart from Owen, I wish it to be happy as well.” “Thank you,” Beru replied. “I am so thankful you shared this story with me.”
“Oh, you are welcome,” Shmi said as she embraced Beru in a hug. “I had hoped to tell my son the rest of the story, when he got older, but who knows if that will happen. Now, let us finished what my son started, and wake up Threepio.”
Shmi and Beru picked up the last piece of covering for C-3PO together. It was the front chestpiece. As the chestpiece clicked into place, Shmi called to him to turn back on. “Oh Madame Shmi and Mistress Beru!” C-3PO began as he inspected his unnakenedness. “I am complete!”
Both Shmi and Beru beamed at the excited droid. Each one still hand on C-3PO’s chest. After a moment as they all soaked in the moment, C-3PO inquired, “If it would be alright, with you, Madame Shmi, I would like to show Master Owen my new coverings. I can even teach him proper protocol anywhere now?!”
“I bet Owen will be thrilled,” Beru said as she gave a knowing smile to Shmi. “Splendid!” C-3PO replied and threw his arms into the air. “I will inform him at once!” If a droid could skip, C-3PO would, but before leaving the room he turned back to Shmi. “Also, what should I do if I become. Well, itchy again, because I am sure sand will eventually seep into my coverings?” With the sincerest of replies, Shmi said, “I’ll always be here to give you an oil bath anytime you want, Threepio.” “Oh thank you so kindly!” Having the time of his life, C-3PO scurried out of the room. Shmi and Beru turned to each other as Shmi put her hands on Beru’s shoulders. “Thank you again, for reminding me of so much. I hope you will be there for Owen, or whoever needs compassion most in life.” Beru cracked a smile as fresh tears fell, and they embraced in a hug.
Many sunsets and sunrises later memories flooded to the surface. It was late at night, and Beru Whitesun Lars could not sleep. The walls gently shook. Not because of some wild Bantha stampede outside the Lars’ moisture farm. No, it was a sandstorm brewing outside. Twirling flurries of sand bombarded the walls as Beru walked out to the living space. Life may be occasionally rough, but Beru would not have it any other way. This was her home. Many years had Beru lived on Tatooine. The Force brought her here years ago, when she fell in love with Owen. The Force brought her here to Owen’s Mother-in-Law Shmi as well. Beru had so many happy memories. But just as the Force brought life, it took it away. Shmi had died, but not before her son Anakin returned if only for a moment. But life is about those little moments, where darkness fell and the suns rose. She even received an unexpected blessing from the Force one day... “Auntie?” said a boy not much older than 9. Beru did not hear the footsteps approaching.
Beru turned around, “Yes, Luke? Why are you out of bed?” Luke, hesitantly replied, “I couldn't sleep.” “Oh, Luke...” Beru gave him a hug. “How about I make us a snack, and I can tell you a story? Would you like that?” “Yeah!” Luke beamed as they went off to the kitchen. Looking up at Aunt Beru, Luke asked, “Could you tell me ‘The Angel and Ariella’ one again?” Beru smiled. “Yes, for you,” she replied. Though it may not have been exactly how she first heard the story, she would tell him again about the two teenagers in love. How Celese and Ariella stayed together waking up to the rising suns. How, Celese had to go away. How, distraught Ariella was. However, just as the night covered the sky, the suns returned, and one day Celese came home...