Title: ?The Prodigal Son? Author: Geo3 Timeline: Saga Canon Embellishment Genre: Short Story Characters: Shmi, Anakin, Qui, OC Summary: How does a mother let her child go? Challenge Quote: #52. Never work just for money or for power. They won't save your soul or help you sleep at night. -- Marian Edelman Author?s note: I?ve used the spelling ?Ani? throughout this story, rather than the ?Annie? of the official literature, because I like it better. The Prodigal Son For Shmi Skywalker, the best time of every day was the early evening. This was her ?breathing out? time, the time when the long, slow inhalation of the day ? head up, shoulders tense, eyes wary ? finally could be released. Back in the shelter of her home, she could let go of the outward gesture of the expanding breath, at last allowing her body and spirit to sink softly into her secret, patient center. There, in her heart, she opened a space. She cradled this space inside of herself while she washed and changed her clothing and became the person she really was. She held this heart space open while she carefully prepared the evening?s meal. She breathed out until the world outside contracted and disappeared. She created a refuge. And she waited. The best part of the best part of every day was the time when the peace she?d made was shattered by the explosion of energy that came in through her door every evening and made its way straight for her. Knees and feet scrabbled in her lap so that he could reach her neck. Small, grubby arms circled it as they clutched her briefly ? too briefly, sometimes. Now that he was older it was rare that she got more than a cursory kiss. He flowed into the space she had made for him. Filled it. She could feel him settle down a little and begin to exhale. ?Hi, Mom!? Every day in the best part of the best part of the day, she received the same greeting. And every day she answered him in the same way, so that each day had its rhythm and its order. ?I?m so happy to see you, Ani. Come tell me about your day.? The cycle was complete. He had gone out, and he had returned. He was her heart, she was his home. After that, Shmi rarely had to say much of anything for a long time, because his day, like all of Anakin?s days, would have been crammed full of things that had interested and engaged him. She had only to take him by the shoulders and push him gently toward the washbasin while he told her about bargains and trades, star pilots and ships. She served their simple evening meal while he talked about friends and foes, struggles and schemes. After their meal the flow of chatter would end, and he would leave her to go work on his latest obsession, whatever it might be. Often Shmi went out onto the roof to drink in the sweet night air, now that the day?s dust had settled. It was quiet, except for the night sounds that drifted over from the neighbors and from the desert just beyond. Shmi liked to sit on her bench the dark, and think about the way the world looked through the bright blue eyes of a young boy ? eyes that were so unlike hers. My son. Shmi often tested the words in her mind, willing them to be true. My own. And yet was unlike anyone she had ever known. However quietly she crept out to her roof, old Kimi next door always knew when Shmi was outside. ?Can I come up, Shmi?? she would beg from around the corner in her old woman?s singsong. ?Come up for a chat?? Shmi would help her to climb the few steep stairs, and then she would make sure there was enough room for Kimi?s broad, soft form beside her on the single low bench. There was never a question of Shmi walking down the steps to Kimi?s hut. Kimi knew that, as long as Anakin was home, Shmi would not leave her dwelling. ?Oh, it was a hot one today,? Kimi would begin, as always, fanning herself in memory of the stifling heat of midday, although the night air was much cooler. ?Hot enough to blow an ember, I swear.