The moon was already out when Tay and Lea decided to take a rest. Well, Tay wanted to keep going and Lea, on the other hand, was completely exhausted from the long day of traveling. Throughout the day, Chewie had become heavier and heavier. Lea felt as if she was toting a 20 pound rock around in her hood. Her legs were urging her to rest, her stomach was begging to be fed, and her head was already half-asleep.
Tay stepped off the road, onto the shoulder, and her hands parted the tall, wild grasses that lined both sides of the gravel road. Lea copied her and tried to spot anything beyond the plants. It was getting dark.
“Are we almost there?” Lea asked, hoping she wasn’t annoying Tay, “It’s so late.”
“That’s why we’re going to stay here for the night,” Tay answered, as they approached several trees in the clearing. “The grass will hide us.”
“Alright,” Lea said, trusting Tay’s judgement. After all, Tay had been on her own for most of her life.
Lea took a rest on the soft grass as Tay gathered wood to make a fire. Chewie climbed out of her hood and slowed watched Tay move around their campsite. Lea lay on her back, staring up at the stars. Had she really just been with her sisters 2 days ago? It felt like a month had passed, and now Lea was miles away. Her breathing slowed as she began to feel relaxed. A spark and then a warm light shone over her. Lea guessed that Tay had started the fire, and when she sat up, Lea found she was right.
Tay was sitting in front of the fire, a stick in her hand, but her eyes glued to the flames. The fire flickered in her eyes, making them shine. She was deep in thought.
Lea scooted closer to her new friend. “What are you thinking about?”
Tay snapped her head up out of her trance. “Nothing much,” she muttered.
“Thinking about your speeder?” Lea suggested, looking down at the ground.
“No…” Tay said. It was obvious she didn’t care to discuss her thoughts.
Lea and Tay both fell silent in the light of the fire, Chewie snuggled between them.
Tay broke the silence with a sigh. “ I was just thinking of my family.” Lea didn’t say anything, so Tay went on. “Thinking of who they might be. Where they are.” She paused. “I bet you think that’s foolish.” Tay looked at the ground.
“No, no, it’s not!” Lea protested, “Not at all. In fact, I sometimes think about that myself.”
“But you already have a home,” Tay said, looking up. “You have a family. I don’t.”
“I mean, I sometimes think about my real family. I wonder about the family that left me so I could become a Jedi.” Lea explained, “If I had any biological sisters, stuff like that.”
“I used to think I was just fine on my own.” Tay muttered. “And I was. It was easy. I could take care of myself, and didn’t have to worry about anyone but me.”
Lea hoped she wasn’t a burden to Tay, but she waited for her to continue.
“But now…” Tay said, looking Lea in the eye. “Now that I’ve met you, I realize something. My heart doesn’t want adventure. It doesn’t want danger or missions, or traveling.”
“What does it want?” Lea asked, though somehow, she already knew the answer.
“It wants a home.” Tay said. Lea was surprised to see a tear run down Tay’s cheek. “It wants love, and a family.”
This was the softer side of Tay. The side of her that wasn’t all tough, wasn’t adventurous, or bold. It was the side of her that wanted desperately to be loved; something it had craved for so long, but never got.
Lea felt something wet on her own face, and realized, she too, was crying. She put her arm around Tay and whispered in her ear, “When we get back, we’ll find you a home. I promise.”
Stay tuned for Part 18!
I’m going to try to wrap up The Guiding Compass in August. Let’s see if I can do it. :)