Will I ever see you again?
What does your heart tell you?
Ok. Yes. I guess.
Then we will see each other again. Now, be brave and don't look back.
Don't look back.
Fingers of sleep unfastened the cloak of unconsciousness from Shmi Skywalker; eyes shut, she allowed herself a few more moments of stillness, just listening. Cliegg's loud snoring boomed reassuringly from her left; the faint, distant cry of desert wildlife echoed through the thin walls of the bedroom. But the sound of bantha cries, that had kept her on edge throughout the night and Cliegg alert with his shooter by his side, was now mercifully absent.
She opened her eyes. The semi-darkness muted the room but she could still trace her husband's comforting bulk beside her, the familiar shapes of the furniture in the room and the figures on the wall-chrono. Unsurprisingly, despite the lack of good sleep, she had woken up at her usual time, no sooner and no later.
Softly Shmi slipped off the bed and fell on her knees beside it facing the prayer circle on the opposite wall. Her invocations were familiar words; familiar requests for familiar individuals. As she began to pray a pair of bright blue eyes flashed in her mind and the muscles of her chest clutched protectively around the hole in her heart.
Don't look back.
Shmi got to her feet and found her way in the lessening darkness, picking up her clothes automatically and dressing as silently as she moved. She returned to the bed and studied the careworn lines of her husband's face, faint with darkness and stubble. Gently, she ran her hand across his brow in benediction. It was something she had done every morning for Owen and, later, for Beru - until she had learned to be prudent about surprising either of those two too early in the day. It was something that Shmi had once done for her son.
The booming of Cliegg's snores ceased and his eyes opened. There was surprise on his face as he took in her clothes. "Up early today?" he grunted.
"It's the usual time," Shmi murmured.
Cliegg squinted at the chrono; it confirmed what she had said. He glanced at the dark window coverings. "It's still dark," he insisted. "I'd better go along with you."
Shmi placed a restraining hand on his shoulder. "To pick mushrooms?" she asked, fondly. "There's nothing to worry about."
Cliegg looked only marginally convinced. His face tightened, visibly straining as he listened to the sounds outside. He couldn't have heard anything to alarm him but he still looked unhappy. "Well, wake up Owen," he said finally. "Darn sure he's still asleep," he added, grumbling. "Don't know why that boy can't get up on time, nowadays."
Shmi had a fairly good idea why but she kept it to herself. "I will. Now, go back to sleep."
He obediently rolled on his side and almost immediately the room was once more filled with the sound of his snores. He really was exhausted.
Shmi left her hand on his shoulder for a while longer, and just revelled in the simple strength and goodness that radiated from this once-stranger, once-owner. He was the unexpected, uncustomary blessing that the gods had granted her; and yet again that morning, she silently thanked them. Then, moving quietly, so as not to disturb him, she got to her feet and left the room.
The moon was a thin crescent on the horizon and the smooth yellow sand glowed palely in the pre-dawn light. Shmi unlocked the retractable ladder and lowered it until the bottom rungs reached mounting height. Balancing the bag of tools carefully on her shoulder, she climbed nimbly up the side of the vaporator. Almost the entire roof of the machine was dark with weeds. The mushrooms were usually removed the day after each moon with a small table knife; in the season's unusual humidity, they had proliferated and now their 'roots' were embedded so deeply that after a first attempt, Shmi had to resort to using a sharper blade, a scalpel, to dig them out. She was the only non-mechanical thing stirring on the farms at that hour. Not for the first time, she had ignored Cliegg and let Owen wake up when he was good and ready. The young man needed his rest.
Shmi worked steadily, automatically, uprooting each mushroom, throwing it over her shoulder to be gathered for recycling when she landed and then putting blade to root again. She had taken from the garage only the tools that she might need for weeding. She intended to return home in time to prepare breakfast and maybe to persuade Beru to visit her own home today. Beru never spoke much about Lona Whitesun and her children, Beru's half-siblings; but it was no secret in the farmlands that the relationship between the old widow and her daughter was strained, and that Beru's increasingly extended visits with the Lars' were not entirely because of her relationship with Owen. Shmi's brow furrowed in confusion as she wondered yet again at the strangeness of Owen's girlfriend's family.
The moon had sunk beneath the horizon and the faint light dimmed further. Owen's wedding was drawing nearer and so was Anakin's natal day. Shmi shivered with the same joy and agony that filled her whenever her mind dwelled on her son. Which was every second of every day. Once more, she drew his picture in his mind, modifying it as she was wont to do with the expected changes of growth. He was a man now. (Ani - a man!) He would be tall, maybe, and his hair wouldn't be as fair. But his eyes would always be blue and Shmi knew without a doubt that were she to meet him in the middle of Anchorhead ten years from now, she would recognise him at once.
Don't look back.
Shmi accepted the wisdom of his Jedi masters. After that first letter that she had sent and Obi-Wan Kenobi had returned with a kind but firm refusal, she had not tried to reach him again. She held onto the hope that once Anakin's apprenticeship finished, he would come to Tatooine and find her.
We will see each other again.
Her hands glowed against the dark mushrooms and rusted metal vaporators as Tatoo I peeked tentatively over the edge of the world. A clump of weeds fell to the ground in front of a shadow that had materialized suddenly. Shmi started.
"'Morning, Mother Shmi," murmured Owen, squinting up at her. His eyes were still heavy with sleep.
Her heart stilled. "'Morning, Owen," she smiled with simple fondness. "Will you be quick? I'm almost done here." She was referring to the hand shovel in the toolbag she was carrying, the instrument that Owen must have come for.
He looked at the thick clump of weeds on the far side of the vaporator dome. "I'll be back before you're done."
Shmi seriously doubted that; and as Owen's morning chores took him way out to the other side of the farmstead and out of ear-shot, that probably meant a long trek back and forth for her. Still, she balanced carefully against the ladder, reached into the bag and threw the shovel down. Owen caught it with a quick reflex that immediately reminded her of Anakin.
Owen - Cliegg's son and her dear friend but never a replacement for that missing piece of her - smiled up at her and she smiled back. He turned to walk away.
"Don't forget to power up Threepio!" Shmi called after his retreating back.
"I won't!" he called back without turning.
Shmi watched until his dark form disappeared behind the farmstead before she turned back to the mushrooms.
What does your heart tell you?
She held onto her faith in her son's heart. She had always trusted his feelings, even more than her own, and they had never let either of them down in the past.
Shmi threw down a mushroom and looked back at the house. There was no one in sight. Tatoo I was rising reluctantly and the farmstead shone warm and welcomingly in the distance. She started on the last mushroom, an unusually large, deeply rooted one that seemed to propagate under her very eyes.
She would see her son again. And then, she would be complete.
From far off in the distance came the first bantha cry.
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