"Wedge, I need to talk to you."
She stood before me, the object of my desire. Being so near, my whole body feels like it is burning for the smouldering passion I have for her!
She looked determined and serious. I stood up from the table I occupied at lunch with friends and followed her, without so much as a nod to my companions.
I was elated to be with her, to know that she wanted to talk to ME!
But as we walked out into the street and headed to a nearby park, I noticed she walked on a pathway in the gardens that was out in the open. Is she the type to let kisses be seen by others?
"I received your letter."
Confused, I nearly asked what she was talking about, but as the words were forming in my mouth, I realized. I flushed, remembering a letter I that written to her in a fit of frustrated passion. I suffered excruciating pangs I was in love, and I had wanted her to know!
But, how did she get the letter? I thought I had destroyed it!
I had put it in an envelope and left it on my desk ... perhaps someone had seen it and assumed I wanted it sent?
Horrifed at my realization, my eyes were looking at her shoes; I couldn't look up at her. "Forgive me, Iella ... you weren't meant to get that note. I had left it on my desk ... I shouldn't have just left it there ..."
I felt her looking at me, but I would only raise my eyes up to her her knees ... no higher. I was mortified. I'd never felt so humiliated!
Her body language showed some surprise and perhaps unease. At least, that's what her lower legs seemed to convey. I just couldn't look up at her.
"I see ... well, nevertheless, Wedge ... well, did you write it before Diric had come back?" She was referring to her husband, who had disappeared in an Imperial sweep and was "missing in action." He had been imprisoned and enslaved, and had recently been found and returned to his wife a woman who had assumed she was a widow.
I knew all this. In fact, Diric's return precipitated my writing that letter. I had decided to pursue Iella after many months ... only to be halted in my intent upon visiting her, and finding her husband there!
At first, I thought he was a spectre. He was frail and troubled from his long imprisonment; looking into his eyes, I think he saw my disappointment. I left quickly, determined to do the right thing and forget about Iella.
But first, I felt I needed to write that letter, as a way to articulate my feelings for her, from deep in my soul. That painful, humiliation of confession! It took me all night to write. I was so edgy and excited, that I dared not re-read it.
This was a way I often dealt with strong emotions toward a person write a letter, seal it, stamp it ... then destroy it. I would immediately feel better, usually. Unfortunately, it seems I had not followed the final step this time.
And so, here, I am suffering it again, though the humiliation is magnified!
Iella and I were silent, standing awkwardly at arm's length from each other. I honestly didn't know how I should respond.
"Wedge ... Wedge ... I'm sorry. If I had been free, I probably would have chosen no one but you ... But ... But you know I cannot leave Diric. Put your passion away, discard it. I won't be untrue to Derek." Her tone was icy, and I felt compelled to finally look up at her, to read her face.
Her cool, stern look chilled me.
"Don't be sorry," I mumbled. "And please forgive me, it was irresponsible of me ... I didn't mean ..." I couldn't keep looking up at her face. It was so harsh, almost mean. The tone of her mien made my voice falter into a swollen, uncomfortable silence.
Finally, she spoke, "At least I can see that you understand that it's not possible for me to be with you. I pledged myself to Diric, and I will not leave him. Not now, not ever!" This final part, she cried out!
I was so miserable having to hear her admonishments, I couldn't look up at her any longer. I closed my eyes hard, to keep the agonizing tears from dropping. I concentrated on my breathing, not trusting myself to respond to her pledge of fidelity to another man.
Then she said, firmly, without wavering, "Goodbye, Wedge. Forever."
I'm not sure when she left me, head hanging, eyes closed. When I opened them, she was gone.
I didn't bother going back to the tapcaf to my friends. What could I tell them about my walk with Iella? How could I ask for a salve for my unrequited rejected! adoration?
* * * * *
I cannot say that I loved Qwi Xux; I did adore her. She came at a time when I needed to be needed, loved for what I could provide.
I tend to be attracted to strong women, though to be fair, my sample size is quite small fewer, actually, than the fingers on one hand. So, though it surprised people that I was dating Dr. Xux, I can't say that it's unexpected. We are always together; I was assigned as her bodyguard and I am responsible not only for her survival, but for her well-being.
It's inevitable in these situations that some attraction might evolve.
For a man with so few loves in my life, again, my sample size is small, and I couldn't say that this is not love with Qwi.
But ... I had known love. In my past, I knew the aching that love can incite. It was more than just concern, and impossible to describe. The concern, gratitude, adoration all which I felt with Qwi it probably wasn't love; it's not even close.
But one cannot have everything in life, and I had convinced myself that what I had with Qwi was valid ... and it was enough.
That is, until Iella Wesseri came back into my life.
Her husband had died; more accurately, she had killed him in the line of duty. He had been brainwashed during his time imprisoned with Isard's Imperial forces and had been activated to commit murder. Iella, duty-bound, shot the assassin, not realizing it had been her husband.
It was a tragedy, one which I'd honestly felt deep inside me. I empathized with her ... rather than with myself. One could be forgiven for thinking I should have been elated that she was now a free woman. But I didn't. I only felt sorrow on her behalf.
To devote yourself to someone, even in resignation, even out of a sense of duty and then to lose them! In the most heinous way possible! How must that feel?
It would feel the way I'd feel if anything happened to Qwi.
It's not that I gave her "space" to mourn the tragedy of Diric's death. I obeyed her; she told me "goodbye, forever," and I knew it was true.
But here she was, at one of the unending social/political events. And here I was. We were both alone, and found ourselves sitting together at dinner.
It was surprisingly awkward; it's really the first time we'd been alone together since ... well, since she'd said goodbye.
I had thought with Qwi in my life, that I'd be immune to the longing I was experiencing. That I'd be able to resist the sadness in her eyes, the silent yearning that radiated out of her.
In short, I was still in love with her.
But, what about Qwi?
We made smalltalk. How have you been? Anything interesting? Are you seeing anyone?
"No," she replied. "You see, since Diric ..."
I stopped her, "... I'm sorry, Iella." I grabbed at her hand, before I lost my nerve. "I know ... and I didn't mean to bring it up."
I was startled that she touched my lips with her other hand, to silence me. She hadn't moved away.
"No ... that's not what I meant. Let me speak first ... since Diric died, I'd been wallowing in guilt. But the guilt ... it wasn't just because of the way Diric died. It was because ... I'd made a mistake, Wedge."
"No one is blaming you for how he died." I was trying to be re-assuring.
"You're not getting my meaning, Wedge." Her eyes were too-bright, making them sparkle even as the tears threatened to breach into tears. "My mistake ... was with you."
The world stopped. Everyone around us disappeared from my mind. Was she saying ...?
"You ... you mean the park ...?"
She pulled her hands back into her lap, her eyes downcast. "Forgive me, Wedge. I know you thought me cold, but I had to make the right choice ..."
"I never blamed you. I understood, and it made me ... well, it made me admire you more."
There was silence, our food untouched.
At last she spoke, in a whisper. "Wedge ... are you happy with Qwi?"
It was a difficult question. Because the truth was ... no, I was not. But, do I tell her?
I had a mentor and model in what I should reveal. Iella had done it to me years ago.
"I cannot abandon her, Iella. I know you understand." My voice was low and even, but flat. It was agony to reject her.
"Yes," she breathed, very sadly. "Thank you for answering honestly."
I reached again for her hand, but this time, she pulled it away.
* * * * *
I was surprised by Qwi's explanation of why she was leaving me. It was my lifeday, and I'd brought her to a fancy, expensive restaurant, for just the two of us.
I was surprised, but I was not unprepared. And I admired her for being able to end something I could not.
When you are the stronger person in the relationship, it's cruelty to be the one to end it. The weaker person has to do it, and in order for Qwi to re-enter the wider world, I knew it'd be bad for me to break it off with her.
But I wanted to leave her, ever since I'd seen Iella again! But there was duty, there was honor, and it was more important that Qwi be healed, for the sake of the galaxy. Surely, that was more important than my needs?
So, I suffered silently. Perhaps Qwi had picked up on that. She'd even told me that she felt that she was a "sim run," to prepare me for my real love in life.
Say what you want about Dr. Xux, but she is not stupid.
After I returned to my quarters, I realized that many people I had loved had said, "Goodbye, forever" to me. Maybe in not so many words, like when my parents died they did have the chance to say goodbye to me. Or when my sister came into my bedroom to kiss my forehead before she'd run away from home; I never saw her again. Or when the woman I'd secretly married sacrificed her life to save mine ... so many years ago. She left me to live, but she left me, all the same. Goodbye, forever.
A lifetime ago.
And especially when Iella said goodbye.
But then, she had tried to re-enter my life. Maybe goodbyes are really not forever?
I dare not think that way. I hadn't seen Iella for months; she was likely on assignment. And probably dating someone new.
If I approached her again, it would be her turn to say "Goodbye" again. I couldn't stand it.
But ... if the opportunity came again ... would I ... could I? Could I overcome her objections? Or would I meet someone new, and be the one to tell her those awful words?
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