An Old Hope

August 18, 2015

See the boy. Slim and wiry, a knotted confusion. He is stooped over a metal canister. It is sweated with oil droplets and flecked with desert sand particles that are placed randomly by the wind’s algorithm.

The evening has flattened out and the theatre of the desert is empty and toneless as a resting bell.
Outside it has heaped the silica in mountains or prepares shallows and uncertain caches and crumbling ledges that crunch underfoot darkly packed like snow.
Desert planet. The further moon is whiter than its yellow brother.

Night’s chill is in the air. The boy’s work is made to redouble with time. He is cowled and laid upon by coarse fabric that is woven from stained wool coloured russet. It is filled with flecks of white, clutched fatly in the uneven strings. Braided by hands as chapped and cabled, a manifold of vast complexity to seclude the vulnerable.

Year of your birth, thirty-four. The great purge. God how did the planets waver. Mustafar’s flames, a baptism.

No mother to weave, he carried her off too young to hold an idea of murder. The uncle is his warder. His folk are known for the collection of fumes and pools and distilling spice but in truth he is not of their line.

His uncle never speaks their names. He has a sister in this world, and a father he will see but once again.

The boy can neither read nor write but already within dwell the motes of wisdom. No bend given to their pages. Star killer. The father the son of the sand.

The sack clothes carry off fatless thighs and flap like flag sheet on bony aching ankles and hungry chest. His terrible eyes near set, history present in that face and that dornick raiment. Like all youth in it. The wearer will dispose of its single coiled thread, it mimics him only and without anima, as a glove learns gestures. Slave.

Soon he must return to the clatter of the kitchen and the close walls that spur desire for escape.

He will petition the squadron this year and be rejected by men with stony eyes. At seventeen he runs away. He will not again see the courtyard and spindles or lie awake before dawn listening to the filters growling warmly. He will not again tread the steps of slave grottos or cut white wood in the mornings.

In spring he wanders the museum of desert blooms. Year of ninety-eight. Loose hillocks clamped by drying roots. Rucking to Mos Nytram, where his uncle once purchased a racing swoop that the boy has seen twice rusting under an oil cloth. In an empty alleyway he is shot in the hand by a dug disturbed while gambling, and his blaster replies in kind. The first he’s killed. He steals a speeder.

Camping out in the Wastes those three weeks, arm pulsating while the stars sizzle in their lock-holes, visible just under a pale salmon shroud, like the pain itself ablaze on nerves enrobed by translucent flesh. The clouds are clearing across a fading plague light. He sleeps in shreds and fevers and walks at the coldest part of the morning, when it’s still the texture of the night. The dawn picks out the cliffs and mesas as solitary as creation in the vast amphitheatre of the desert. At its centre he sees a broken ship, a long spiked cone like the lip of a conch shell, Hutt in wide chalky lines saying Runner or somesuch.

He sees a Jawa’s rhombus shuffle by soundlessly and at immense distance, and follows it like the magis’ star. Town after town like paper dolls strung out along the frontier. Foreign things with voices like the cracking of wood. Mandibles clucking warning.

He is robbed and kills again in Salara, and standing over his quarry with xanthous blood staining it’s face he supposes he hears it gurgle something which could have been mercy but he shoots it anyway like swatting a fly. He isn’t sure if it is male or female. It is motionless in the yellow sand in the street, tanned orange by the declining moon.

Solitary tourist on a planet that he feels wants him expunged like puss. Great Wound. The twins are malignant and shimmering in the sky. What names have been given by the multitude of things he has killed to these same moons over the ages. They are written immutable as in stone, yet unworkable, lost in the midden of history.

Only now is the boy divested of all that once held him. His origins are become as remote as his destiny, and he sheds them like a snake sallying off the rind that preserved it’s true awful skin. Not again in all the maze’s precessions will there be times as scattered and desperate that it can be concluded if the destiny of stars is tended by men cupping shells to their fire or if men are as immobile in their trajectory as plants rooted in the mud that are nourished or not by another kind of gardener.

He works in a junk shop in an old fort town called Anek, he works in a monastery filling tin cups with mead. He works another farm off Republic land in a town in the Oasis. He takes no coin but steals from an aged farmer a dewback, and heads for the Draw.