Tales of Tatooine
A series of vignettes about Luke Skywalker and his life on Tatooine.
"Come on, Luke!" shouted Biggs, gesturing with his arm toward the cave. They had snuck off to the Jundland Wastes instead of going to the Darklighter household like they had told his Aunt and Uncle. Now outside the mouth of one of the bigger caves, Biggs was determined to go inside with the other boys who had dared to walk along the dangerous Arthnout pass, too.
"No," Luke shouted back. "If I go in there Uncle Owen will tan my hide for sure."
Biggs knew his best friend spoke the truth. Luke's uncle was a strict disciplinarian and was often harsh when dealing with his nephew. He could never understand why Mr. Lars was so tough on Luke—or so protective. The combination of the two always seemed contradictory and confusing to the nine year old. Biggs had learned to just keep his distance from the grumpy moisture farmer. "He'll never find out. We got this far didn't we?"
Luke looked around a moment and then nodded his head in agreement. "But I can't stay long, okay?"
"Sure Luke. Now let's hurry, the other boys are already in there," said Biggs, grabbing Luke by the arm.
Both boys entered the cave and halted a moment, waiting for their eyes to adjust to the dim light. A faint aromatic scent filled their nostrils, like an ancient spice laced with memories.
"Which way did they go?" asked Luke, moving a little closer to his friend.
Biggs didn't mind. Even though Luke was a year younger, he was adventurous and as loyal a friend as you'd ever find. He was the only one who didn't think of him as the spoiled rich Darklighter kid. Biggs looked over to the right and listened to the sound of footfalls. "I think they went this way—hurry!"
They followed the sound of the others as they quickly shuffled through the darkening cave. Reaching the group of boys, they fell in line.
"Where are we going?" asked Luke, trailing a hand along the cave's dusty walls.
"Shhhh…" said Windy, turning to face Biggs and Luke. "You want to scare her away?"
"Scare who away?" asked Luke, coming to a stop as he bumped right into Fixer, the leader of the group.
"What's he doing here?" sneered Fixer, pointing to Luke. "He's just a kid."
Biggs shoved Fixer away from Luke. "We're all just kids, Bantha breath, and Luke is with me so lay off."
Luke cast a look of appreciation toward Biggs as the group of boys continued to travel deeper into the cave.
Windy fell back until he was walking next to Biggs. "We're going to see the old watcher woman. Deak says that sometimes she'll tell you stuff and even answer questions if she's not in a crazy way."
Biggs swallowed and whispered, "Have you ever seen her before?"
"No, but Deak has and he says she's got the sight. She can tell you about stuff that happened long ago or stuff that's gonna happen."
"Shhh…." said Fixer noisily. "We're here."
Biggs looked to the left and saw a small alcove bathed in firelight. An old frail woman wrapped in homespun garments sat with her head bowed, not seeming to notice the arrival of their party. Her face was deeply lined as if weathered by the harsh desert winds. Biggs shivered and took a small step backwards.
"Now what?" asked Windy softly.
The woman stirred suddenly and slowly lifted her head, as if she were holding court. As she opened her eyes, the boys gasped. She had the eyes of the ancient ones. Those who had stared too long at the suns and had been cursed with eyes like opaque white stones. A small smile tugged at her lips.
Fixer crossed his arms and took a step forward as to address her. "Old woman—"
"I have a name, young man," she chastised, her voice thinly hoarse. "Or have the sons and daughters of the sands forgotten their manners?"
Fixer cursed and turned to the others. "Come on, we'll go ask old Ben about—"
"Old Ben?" she laughed without humor. "That one is lost in his misery and regrets, with guilt as his only sustenance. Nothing of our people can he tell you." She swept the group with a glance as if her eyes could see. When she reached Luke she stopped. "Come here, my child."
"Go on," whispered Biggs giving him a little nudge.
"No," whispered Luke.
"I will not harm you," she said softly. "The rest of you may sit."
Luke slowly approached the woman who was now holding out her hand. The boys gathered around her, near the small fire. She reached out and raised Luke's chin with one finger and as she seemed to gaze into his face.
"You have the clear blue eyes of your father, my child. And though you live here among us you were not born here." She paused and gestured for Luke to sit. Raising her hands she lowered the hood of her cloak, revealing long white hair tumbling over her shoulder and onto the ground. "What is it you would ask old Mala?"
Luke looked over at Biggs with a questioning look on his face, but Biggs just nodded his head. Staring into the fire a moment, he looked up suddenly and turned to the watcher woman. "Do you know the story of the two suns?" he asked.
Mala smiled and nodded. "You have chosen well, my child. Many times have I seen you dance across my dream-scapes. Yes, I remember how the fires in the sky came to be."
The boys inched closer and settled themselves. Mala stared off into the distance for a moment and then began.
"Long ago there was a young man and woman, deeply in love. It was said that no love burned brighter than theirs. So they both made a pledge that nothing would separate them from each other, not even death. But their people came under attack from neighboring tribes. Some say these were the early Sand people—but who can say for sure. The man, along with the rest of his kinsmen, went off to defend their people. The woman not wanting to be apart from her beloved, begged to go with him, but she was refused."
Mala paused and looked back again at Luke. Taking a labored breath she continued.
"The woman followed behind the men in secret, hiding so as not to be found. On the fifth morning as the men were preparing to leave their tents, they were ambushed and killed by the marauding tribe. The woman watched in horror as her beloved was struck down. Rushing to his side, she cradled him in her arms as he lay dying. She promised never to leave him and would follow him even unto death. As she cried out in anguish, the desert winds heard her tormented wail and felt compassion for her. They took the soul of the man and woman and flung them into the sky as they exploded into two bright bodies of light, Tatoo I—the man and Tatoo II—the woman. And by doing so she could keep her promise to always follow her beloved. For the man leads the way to the horizon…followed by the woman."
Biggs shuddered as he felt a cool wind whip through the cave. Looking up he noticed a tear slipping down Luke's face.
Mala wrapped her cloak tighter around her thin frame and closed her eyes. "It is time for you to leave now. You may come back again—if you bring the child with you." And with that she lowered her head and appeared to sleep.
Silently the boys stood and exited the alcove, traveling back out of the cave and into the bright Tatooine sunlight. Shielding their eyes, they hurried across Arnthout Pass and headed back to their homes, a few stealing glances at Luke along the way.
When the rest had separated from them, Luke looked over at Biggs. "Why did she say that I wasn't born here, Biggs? Aunt and Uncle said I was."
Biggs averted his eyes. He had heard his parents talking once about Luke and how his guardians had taken him in when he was just a baby. He looked over at his friend's frowning face. "I don't know, Luke. What does crazy old Mala know anyway?"
"She knows. I can tell."
"How, Luke? How can you tell?"
Luke shrugged as they passed the garage roof at the Lars' farm. "I just can. I don't know how."
Arriving at the courtyard of Luke's home, both boys paused to look up into the sky. Tatoo I began its slow descent into the horizon followed closely by Tatoo II.
Mesmerized they watched in silence and smiled.