Author's Note: Thank you to everybody who reviewed Truth! I received a lot more feedback than I expected, and I appreciate it all so much!
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars -- it belongs to George Lucas. I do not own the song Lisa, even though I have changed some of it to fit my purposes. It belongs to Ellis and Wince Coles.
"A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark." -- Chinese Proverb
Chapter One: A Child's Decision
Eight-year-old Anakin Skywalker dashed across Tatooine's hot surface to the top of the cliff that overlooked Beggar's Canyon. Watto had let him leave the shop early today, and he intended to take advantage of the free time to visit a friend.
Anakin knew him only as Jonlan. An old, grizzled man, Jonlan lived in a small shed only a few meters from the edge of the cliff. He was a hermit, a slightly mad recluse who shied away from contact with anyone.
Anyone, that is, except Anakin.
The boy found the old man in their favourite spot, sitting with his legs over the edge of the cliff, staring off into the distance. Anakin was careful to make small noises as he approached. He didn't want to scare Jonlan and have him fall over the edge. The drop to the floor of the canyon was the deepest here for kilometers in either direction, and Jonlan startled worse than a Sandperson.
Jonlan smiled as Anakin sat beside him, dangling his own legs over the side of the cliff. "Good afternoon, young one." His voice, once rough with disuse, was now smooth and steady.
"Hi, Jonlan. How was your day?" Anakin looked up at him.
"The same as ever." Jonlan glanced down at the boy. He had never before found pleasure in companionship of any kind, but Anakin was a special child, and Jonlan found himself looking forward to his visits. "I suppose you wish me to sing again?" he asked the expectant boy.
Anakin gave him a grin the could charm the birds out of the trees. He had been delighted to discover Jonlan's buried talent, and despite the hermit's reluctant demeanor, Anakin knew it was an act. Jonlan enjoyed singing to him as much as Anakin enjoyed listening. "If you don't mind."
Jonlan chuckled low in his throat. "What do you want to hear?" Anakin had quickly exhausted Jonlan's small repertoire of ballads.
Anakin arched a brow at him. "What do you think I want to hear?"
The old man groaned. "Again?"
Anakin's grin turned slightly apologetic. "Sorry. But I love it!"
Jonlan heaved a sigh, more for show than out of actual weariness, gave his young friend a wry smile, and began to sing.
"Each time I go to the bar down on the corner,
I see that same old man sitting there.
He always takes his glass and comes shuffling on over
In hopes that he can talk me into buying him a beer.
He always comes and sits down at my table,
And I can tell he's ready to begin
For he takes a sip and he wipes his lips and as soon as he is able
He dries his eyes and tells me that same story once again.
'Mister, did I tell you about my Leia?
How I lost her forty years ago?
If I ever saw her now I wouldn't even know her,
But I still love my darling Leia so.
I can't tell you, son, how I adored her.
Cared for her like you would not believe.
Oh, I can't recall the names of all the places that I showed her;
Bought her things she didn't even need.
But I still remember just how much I loved her.
To me, she was the sweetest thing alive.
But that old judge in his wisdom
Told me I couldn't keep her,
So they took her away from me when she was only five.
Mister, did I tell you about my Leia?
How her mom and I became divorced?
Oh, that woman lied and said I wasn't fit to be a father.
Now Leia doesn't know me anymore.
Mister, did I tell you about my Leia?'"
By the time Jonlan finished, Anakin had a faraway look in his sky-blue eyes. Jonlan had learned that the boy was a dreamer, and he waited patiently for him to snap out of his reverie.
"Jonlan, I've been thinking." Anakin still stared out over the distant horizon, looking at nothing yet somehow seeing everything, and his voice held a maturity that made him sound wise beyond his years.
"About anything in particular?"
"Yes." Unconsciously, Anakin straightened his spine. "I've decided that if I ever have a daughter, I'm going to name her Leia," he announced firmly.
Was it normal for ordinary eight-year-old boys to think about the names of their future children? Jonlan hadn't spent enough time around children to be sure. But then, he reflected, he doubted Anakin would ever be considered a normal or ordinary anything.
"What made you decide that, now?"
"I just --" Anakin frowned slightly. "I think I just want a Leia to have her dad. And," he added, brightening, "it's beautiful! The name, I mean. I love it! It sounds like the name of an angel. Or a princess. It's – I don't know – graceful, and strong, and . . . well, it just feels right."
Uncertain as to how he was supposed to respond to such an passionate explanation, Jonlan chose to change the subject. "I see. So how has your mother been?"
They talked well into the evening. As Tatooine's second sun sank in the sky, Anakin reluctantly said goodbye and began the trek back to Mos Espa. Jonaln watched him go, his mind drifting back to their earlier discussion about the song that had quickly become young Anakin's favourite and the name that had etched itself onto his heart. Suddenly, Jonlan was thoroughly convinced that Anakin would remember both for the rest of his life. That thought left him content. It seemed that his lonely existence had left a small mark in the history of the galaxy.
And perhaps, he allowed himself to imagine, a rather large mark in the heart of a very special young boy who, he had no doubt, would one day soar among the stars.