That Secret (That You Knew)

His earliest memories are of the Imperial Center skyline at sunset, the impossibly high copilot's seat in the shuttle, and the muffling blankness of his father's black cloak.

(This is a lie. Told to reassure his father, and mollify his Master's suspicions, but a lie nonetheless.)

His true first memories are of blinding suns and flattening heat, landscapes and inhabitants alike bleached dry by harsh light. An entire world composed of the shades in sand: gold and khaki, beige and tan, bone and brown.

"A fiery world," she guesses, and he shakes his head, explains that fire implies a redness, a vitality missing from his desert of heat and light.

"A dangerous world," she tries instead. He nods, yet still finds himself disagreeing. How to account for the hidden oases, the funnel flowers, the moisture farms and ancient ruins? His family?

He never speaks of them, finding it safer to forget-their innumerable kindnesses, Aunt Beru's steady arms, Uncle Owen's gruff smile.

(This is another lie. He tells her everything.)

"What was it like?" she asks, and he smiles, trapped as always by her simple curiosity. An oxymoron, that-there's nothing simple about her curiosity, a sharp-focused prickly interest that prods and probes into every shadowed secret. Yet her eagerness brims with an honesty, a selflessness; unlike his father, his Master, even the other girl, who store up facts for his downfall like misers in a cave-cannily, silently.

So he describes the house, the vaporators, Aunt Beru's little hydroponic garden, his sleeping loft with the window facing the east and twin daily sunrises.

(An addendum-he does not tell her everything. He does not tell her of
his father's grim mechanical voice followed by their screams, the orders, the flickering greedy flames that licked through the homestead and the thick black smoke that still haunts his nightmares.)

"Why didn't they formally adopt you?" she says. "Your name-"

He contemplates this as well. But without guidance, how could they have seen its consequences? A broken leg that healed far faster than normal, the incriminating medical records that somehow made their way to his father...a conspicuous choice, Luke Skywalker drew his father like a lodestar, whereas Luke Lars might have remained unnoticed. Sometimes he wonders if Kenobi placed him there as a beacon, a trap, an unprotected lure to reel his father back to the Jedi. If true, he thinks viciously, it failed.

"But they loved you?" she asks, with the concern of another presumed orphan snatched as a child.

"Immeasurably," he tells her.

"They were the only people I ever loved."

(This is the last lie, the largest and most crucial. He no longer loves openly or blindly, but-
secretly fiercely deeply
-he holds the two of them, his father and her, in the shadows on either side of his heart.)

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

-"Sonnet XVII," Pablo Neruda