Lithium Flower Rating: PG
Diana deRiggs

Falling ... falling ...

It only feels like I'm falling. It only feels like the spirits from my past and Luke's past reach up to grasp at me. It only seems like I'm twisting and pivoting, avoiding their long-dead fingers, preventing them from touching me ... I feel myself tumbling between the Dark Side, and the Light, buffeted by the one, then the other. The middle path, walk the middle path, my master had instructed me.

I'm not even flying through air. I'm falling through a rushing column of water. I dove into it willingly to save the life of Luke Skywalker. I promised him that if we came out of this situation alive, I will marry him.

I'm not really sure why I said I'd marry him. It's true that he's infiltrated my life, like it or not. Ever since Palpatine ordered me to kill him, he's become a part of me. I used to consider him a thorn in my ribs, but lately it's more like another rib growing in my torso — annoying but a part of me. No, that's not it, more like a hormone that causes me to feel bad and unstable and cranky. Yes, that's what Skywalker has been in my life.

When I was training to be the Emperor's Hand, I was young with many mood swings, which Palpatine recognized as hormone-based. He prescribed lithium salts to stabilize my mood; he had tried to train me to stabilize them myself using the Force, but perhaps he felt a sort of satisfaction that I'd never succeeded in that measure of control. And to remind me when my mood became unreasonable, he would not call me by my name; Hello, Lithium Flower, he would say. It's an exotic name, something you might call a beautiful pet. People who heard him refer to me this way did not realize it was not an endearment, but rather an admonishment.

I have never told Luke about my chemical addiction to the beautiful sounding compound. The lithium allowed me to contact the Force, especially after Palpatine died and I lost the ability to feel it at all. It's somehow too private, a flaw that I wish to keep only to myself. He, doubtless, has seen my moodiness; he must wonder how I could keep my cool in terrible, nerve-crushing situations. He might have even heard me calling myself by the name I have not heard outside my head since the Emperor died. But he doesn't understand what it means.

Lithium Flower represents all of my failures: all the falling, all the dives which didn't succeed, but I don't mean by my former master's standards. I mean by my own standards. Things I should have done. Things I ought not to have done. Things I should have known but for my immaturity and stubbornness. I can't even feel the Force without those lithium salts otherwise.

I think about the lithium compounds drying slowly in the dessicators as I prepared my doses, blooming as they crystalized from the toxic solutions to bind them together. Blooming like flowers, strong yet delicate; innocuous-seeming yet able to alter my connection to life itself.

As I perform the Paparak cross-cut on the transparasteel wall, I hear Luke through the Force, prodding me to hurry. But I'm not paying him any attention, for I am remembering my master. You will kill Luke Skywalker, he had ordered me through the Force. It was the shout of a panicked, desperate man who knew the end had come. Some say he had managed to be reborn to occupy clone bodies; some say he tried to possess the then newly born Anakin Solo. Now that I know the truth about young Anakin's bloodline, it's an almost emotional and nostalgic touch that Palpatine might have chosen the grandson of his greatest apprentice to house his corrupt soul. One wonders how Anakin Skywalker might have interfered with the old man.

I have been underwater for several minutes and I know I will need to head for air soon. But I have to admit, I used to enjoy this part of my training with Palpatine. As my brain would become oxygen-deprived, I could almost detect visions without resorting to the lithium drugs. Things seemed clearer, more urgent. I'm approaching that point; my master had told me I was entering the threshhold of death's vestibule, where the future could be revealed. There, I saw people whom I believed were my parents. I don't remember them, but they feel right ... they must be dead. I see my master. I see Luke's father. Leia's father. Falling ... falling ...

As my body floats upward, I am conscious that I must save myself, yet I am trying to prolong my contact with death. Falling ...

I see Luke ... does that mean he's dead? No! I realize I am panicking at the thought! I kick toward him, before I notice he is holding a child, a boy with bright blue eyes. And red hair. Our child. I try turn to take a closer look but they have drifted away from me, coalescing into a light.

And I know I am not falling. I am rising ... floating ... flying ...

I hear my name. Lithium Flower, calls my master. Control! You will ...!

To hell with control! I cut him short with my cry, breathing in water. To hell with being anyone's scolded pet!

I feel the weight of the water fall away from me as I thrash and break the viscous surface and gasp, and try to expel the water from my lungs. Arms embrace me. He loves me, I realize. He loves Mara Jade. He doesn't care who else I might be. Or whom I might have been ...

As the delicately scored wall collapses under the weight of the water filling the room, we make good our escape and I feel the torrential current washing me away from him. I feel myself falling again! But ... I don't feel the dead hands grasping for me; I don't hear my master's voice. The water washes away my fear of disapproval; a part of my life is purged ... the part of me that is Lithium Flower.

I think I must have become unconscious, because now I am being held by Luke again, gasping again. Had I actually been dreaming and hallucinating all this time? Oh, he put me in a Force-hibernation, so I'd survive without air for longer underwater; it's all coming back to me now.

I realize that since I allowed myself to undergoing training with Luke, I can feel the Force without the drugs, and it feels different. Under his influence, I am not Lithium Flower.

He's babbling something about his vision, of seeing me lifeless in a pool of water. About how this vision is one he obeyed to save his own life ...

Not my life. His.

Now I'm sure why I promised to marry him: because he loves me more than he loves himself; and he loves the concept of us more than he loves me. The vision I had when suffocating to death just moments ago showed the future. The Force is with me, no more need for drugs and stimulants to commune with it.

I am wholly Mara Jade Skywalker, Jedi Knight.

Goodbye, Lithium Flower.


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