Rey looked up from the power cell she was scrubbing at Unkar Plutt’s washing station. It was a day like any other day in Niima Outpost – dry, sandy, and unbearably hot – only there seemed to be more space traffic than usual. According to the tick marks she made each day on the wall of the AT-AT, she’d been on Jakku for the turning of seven years now. That would make me about fourteen, she thought proudly to herself. Not many folks in Niima Outpost lived to see that many sunsets.
She worked the brush harder against the corroded metal, gritting her teeth in determination, but her eyes were drawn to a transport ship out on the landing field. She watched as a dozen passengers disembarked – traders, most of them – but a boy about her age caught her eye. It wasn’t that he was a boy. There weren’t many of those around to turn her head. Besides, she had better things to do than to waste time with such silly creatures. No, that wasn’t it.
This boy’s features tugged at something…something elusive in her heart. For a second she thought she recognized him. “Don’t be stupid,” she told herself aloud, forgetting about the other salvage collectors working alongside her. She glanced at them, suddenly self-conscious, but they were all scouring away, chatting amongst themselves.
She’d had no reason to see that boy before. He was a stranger to her – just someone’s servant, from the looks of him – but his shock of disheveled black hair, narrow set jaw, and long nose stirred something in her.
She started as an image flashed through her head. A boy who looked a lot like the boy disembarking from the cruiser was chasing her, laughing, but she wasn’t scared even though she was much smaller than he was. She hid behind a stone garden wall and fought back a fit of the giggles. She heard his soft footfalls coming closer and closer. Before he came around the wall, she darted behind a low growing bush and crouched down, trying not to breathe. She clamped both hands over her mouth.
“Gotcha!” he cried, swinging her up in his arms before she knew what hit her.
She let out a joyful shriek as he grasped her under the arms and spun her about in a circle so that her little legs flew out straight like the fan of a pinwheel.
“You can’t hide from me, Rags!” he laughed. “It’s time to go to bed whether you like it or not.”
Rey blinked as another image flooded her head. This time the boy was crouching before her, his eyes brimming with tears and level with hers.
“I’m sorry, Rags,” he was saying, clutching her little body to him. “It has to be this way. I hope one day we’ll meet again and you’ll forgive me.”
He let go of her and waved a hand over her head. Rey had the odd sensation of falling, falling….
She jolted upright, blinking in the glare of the midday sun. Lerux Talley, the scrawny little human tinkerer, looked up at her gasp from where he sat buffing a piece of armor plating. Rey glanced down at her hands. The power cell was still in one, the bristle brush in the other. The awning flapped overhead, blocking out the worst of the sun’s rays.
Rey dropped the brush and wiped her forehead. “Just a touch of heatstroke,” she muttered to Lerux, but she knew the words were meant more to reassure herself.
@MyKyloRen 18 April 2016