Epilogue: True Stories

"You like to tell true stories, don't you?" he asked, and I answered, "Yes, I like to tell stories that are true."

Then he asked, "After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don't you make up a story and the people to go with it? Only then will you understand what happened and why."

--from A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean

The spirit waited until he was certain the boy was asleep, then he turned and whispered conspiratorially towards the door, "You may as well come in now."

There was a faint, embarrassed shuffling, and then the door swished open, and Leia stepped in softly. The garish light of Coruscant's midnight glinted gently off her tears.

"You see?" said Anakin, his voice strangely tender, "I told him that even the bravest people cry sometimes."

Leia laughed, though it came out more of a choked sob. She rubbed furiously at her eyes. "You knew I was there the whole time, didn't you?" she muttered. But she was not really angry. She found to her surprise that she couldn't be.

The spirit simply nodded and gave her a shy, apologetic smile. "It's funny," he said, in a way that indicated it really wasn't, at least not in the literal sense of the word. "That was always my favorite story as a child. I never thought I would live it."

Leia simply nodded, not quite trusting herself to speak.

"No matter how hard we try," her father was saying, "the stories get mixed up with our own lives."

"Maybe they've always been inseparable," she whispered.

He looked at her sharply, surprise shining in his eyes, and she found that, for perhaps the first time ever, she was not afraid of him.

He was only a man, after all. And they were part of the same story. She found a strange amount of comfort in that.

She looked up into her father's eyes and dared to love him, if only for a moment.

"He was right," she said. "It was a good story."

He bowed his head, accepting her praise and her pain. When he looked up again, Leia was still gazing at him with bright brown eyes.

"Thank you," she said. "…Father."