[written in 2012, “Meanwhile, on Coruscant” is a collection of short vingettes that take place on Coruscant during the timeline of the Star Wars movies, and beyond. They do not hold to existing Star Wars canon past the first trilogy, but I found it a very interesting exercise to explore things from the perspective of the common man. This is Part Three.]
The employment line was out the door again. Dana wanted to turn around and head back home, but she’d already arranged for the girls to be watched by their neighbor for the day and they needed the money. As she settled in at the end of the line she leaned against the brick facade of the building and let the gossip flow around her.
“Didn’t you hear? The Emperor is dead.”
“No, no. No way! Iz impozzible! Zere waz none announcement.”
“Yeah, ’cause that’s something they’ll be telling us right away. ‘Oh yes, the symbol of our Imperial might, Emperor Decrepit-ness himself was killed by the Rebels! Everyone go about your business!'”
“Well, zey would not be zaying it like zat. But ztill, it iz true? He iz dead?”
“Overnight. The Empire was rebuilding the Death Star – the space station that was supposed to bring peace in our time, remember?”
“How could I forget zis? Not zo peazeful for Alderaan I am thinking. But go on.”
“Yeah, same old bullshit, right? Something so terrible that no one will dare rebel anymore, blah blah blah, but they still are rebelling, and they damn well blew the fuckin’ thing – sorry, my language -”
“- blew it sky high. Or whatever they call it in space. Endor system, I think that’s where they were constructing it.”
“What! Now I know you iz pulling my legz. What iz in ze Endor system? Zat gas giant haz nothing – well, I guez zere iz zat moon, but really. Ze Rebelz zhould come up wiz zome better propaganda zan zat!”
The line inched forward. Dana looked up at the duracrete and neon filled sky, still dark at eight in the morning, and sighed. They’d been living in Invisec for over ten months, and Corran had only just found regular work. Rather than the specialized manufacturing work they had been doing in Coco, he was flipping burgers at a diner. Most jobs didn’t offer childcare as a perk, so Dana was stuck in their tiny apartment with their girls.
She did temp work when she could – mostly filing or other menial office jobs. There was a cleaning service that was usually hiring, but by the time the neighbor could watch the kids and she got into line the spaces were filled for the day. Dana shuffled forward a step with the others. On the other side of the galaxy people were fighting and dying to try to bring the Empire to its knees, while she would be content with a stable income and a slightly bigger apartment.
They wouldn’t even know if cousin Dorn was still alive until he managed to get a call in, which came fewer and further between. The two in front of her kept gossiping about new of the civil war, and Dana wiped at her damp eyes, looking up at the towering city and praying for peace.
“Get your ass in gear, Stryder.” Ms. Wohler of Wohler’s Catering snapped her fingers. “You’re human, so I need you for this job but don’t think you’re irreplaceable!”
“I’m sorry, I just got distracted. I won’t let it happen again.” Corran adjusted the tray on his arm and carried it over to where the extensive buffet was set up. The All Party Rally was underway above them. Chancellor Anar was speaking to the gathered dignitaries and soldiers, and soon he and the most senior officers would be down here, partaking in a celebratory dinner. Dana was at home with the girls, most likely sitting in a blanket fort and watching cartoons while eating popped grains. His wife was depressed. Life was hard, but they’d pull through this rough patch.
His employer eyed him, and he returned to work, setting out the food carefully on the white tablecloths. Corran flicked his eyes up at the closed circuit screen where the Chancellor was pontificating. “The Empire! Will! Endure!”
The crowd surged to its feet and roared as one, uniforms clean and pressed. Corran knocked over a vase, and reached out to catch it before the flowers spilled. There was a loud whump, and he looked up just in time to see the flames as the wall next to him disintegrated.
He didn’t even have time to flinch away from the explosion before it overtook him. Collateral damage in a strike meant to decimate the remaining Imperial leadership, but it had gone off too soon.
“Momma.” Kasari waved her hand in front of Mommy’s face. “Mooooom!”
Mommy flinched, and looked down from the holo screen at the four year old. “I heard you the first time, Kahsahri. Whaht do you wahnt?”
“Lunch!” She did a little silly dance, flailing her arms and turning in a circle. “Please Momma. We’re so hungry.”
“Where’s Daddy?” Shera was walking all around their house again. “When Daddy come home?”
Mommy grabbed Kasari and Shera and pulled them into a tight hug. Kasari hugged her back just as tight, but little Shera wriggled and protested. She was little. She didn’t understand that Daddy wasn’t coming home. He’d …gone somewhere. To be honest, Kasari didn’t really understand what had happened. Daddy was dead.
Dead meant gone, and never coming back. Dead was a better place. Kasari thought maybe he’d gone to Alderaan, which was a place that Grammy and Grandpa lived and it was gone too and they were all dead. Before she was born, even.
The four year old hugged her mommy, and could feel the wet on her face. Mommy was crying again. Kasari cried at night when the lights were off when Daddy didn’t read her a story and kiss her good night, but Mommy still cried every time Shera asked when Daddy was coming home. And Shera asked every day.
“I love you, Mommy.” Kasari gave her a big smooch on her wet cheek.
“I love you too, honey.” Mommy sniffed and wiped her eyes. “I’ll mahke you lunch in a bit, I just hahve some more work to do.” She let go of the little girl and turned back to the data entry work that she did all the time. Kasari sighed theatrically, and grabbed Shera’s hand, dragging her back to their little bedroom.
“Wanna eat food!” Shera screeched, throwing herself on the floor.
“We hafta wait,” Kasari said. “Momma’s busy with work again. Let’s play babies.”
“Noooooooo!” Her little sister took her favorite doll from Kasari and threw it against the wall. “I want Daaaaaddy!”
Kasari pressed her lips into a hard, angry line, and hit her sister across the face. Shera howled, slapping at the bigger girl, and then they were wrestling on the ground. Mommy came in, screaming at them both, and two swatted bottoms later they were sitting in their time out spots while Mommy made sandwiches,
Daddy wasn’t coming home. It wasn’t fair that Shera didn’t understand. It wasn’t fair Daddy was gone. Kasari bunched her hands up and crammed them into her eyes, her chest aching with how much she missed him.