Mannequin Rating: PG

This story was inspired by the Field Report for Dressing A Galaxy exhibition — many thanks to PadawanRose and JediJen! Images are from the FIDM website.

My master had promised me anything I desired, anything at all.

So I do not ask; I tell. I demand. I threaten. And I get what I desire.

Almost always.

Perhaps I get what I want because I never demand for that which I cannot have.

I cannot have my health; I am trapped in a machine.

But in time, I will learn to defy death! It was a promise my master made. He will teach me to defend myself from death.

But it is too late. It will forever be too late.

I cannot have anything I have destroyed.

I cannot have my child, who's embrace I will never know.

I cannot have my mother, whom I miss with so much regret.

I cannot have my former master, who's absence stings me with hatred.

I cannot have my wife, for I broke her heart and made her leave me.

After the end of the war, I occupied the penthouse suite in 500 Republica for a time. It was a space familiar to me, a place where I shared my hopes and dreams with the woman who was my wife. But it hurt me to know she would never return, and so I destroyed the whole building!

But not before I hid some things away.

I hid them with the things I took from Naboo, which reminded me so poignantly of Padmé — the raiment of her office, the uniforms of the handmaidens. These were all things she wore in her selfless, brave devotion to the galaxy. Now they were mine!

My old master — from when I was a Jedi Knight — he would not approve of my coveting of possessions. A Jedi knows not love, for nothing can belong to him. To possess anything implies that it can be taken away. And thus I was schooled to train myself to let go of things — and people — which I most feared to lose.

It never occurred to me that I might lose Padmé. We were perfect together, so ideal that the stars themselves were jealous of our love!

When she told me she was pregnant with our child, it was truly the happiest day of my life. Me! A father! It was a perfect situation, so perfect that I did not probe to learn more about our baby. I was confident that all would be well ...

Until I had those visions ... the nightmares which never lie. Padmé was dying as our baby was born. She was dying in some primitive medcenter ... and where was I?

When the dreams of my mother's death flayed my nights, I knew I was there. I knew she would die as I held her.

But in the dreams of Padmé, I couldn't feel myself with her. My arms didn't hold her, my voice didn't sooth her.

Instead, I felt Obi-wan, my former master.

He was there, comforting my wife ... telling her to hang on ... that my baby needed her ...

If I could shed tears, I would. In hate, in anger!

And in the greatest despair.

And I wonder ... it was my baby, was it not?

If ever I need to be so angry that I could commit the most atrocious of tasks, this is the thought which would lead me to that dark place in my tortured mind!

The gowns and clothing my wife wore — the first ones I destroyed were some she wore while she carried our child. I regret it now ... but what good are those reminders of my failure? I must cleanse myself of her memory!

But I cannot ... it's not something I can do. At least not willingly.

When my craving for Padmé is too great, I place an order for all human female prisoners and slaves who fit Padmé's physical description. I have them scrubbed and made up and I dress them in my wife's finery. Most are too frightened to do much in the way of modeling; the ones who aren't sometimes actually dare to damage Padmé's raiment!

The feisty, proud ones are the ones who interest me, the ones who understand beauty and courage ... Every man must believe in something, and I believe that Padmé has not left me in this galaxy alone. Perhaps she is one of them? Perhaps she was captured in one of the various Imperial sweeps for disloyal rebels? There is a standing order that all female prisoners who resemble the former Queen of Naboo are to be reserved for me to inspect and interrogate.

Because I know she's out there somewhere ... sometimes I feel I know she is there! But always, my obsession is met with disappointment and sometimes with embarrassment.

For instance, I once stormed into the palace of Bail Organa, the regent of Alderaan. Though I am given broad license to do as I wish in my master's name, I am aware that I must be careful around this man. He is still powerful; he is still a force which could hurt the new Empire. But a vibration in the Force reached out to me! It was Padmé, I was sure of it!

But no ... the Force was misleading me. I have not been able to touch the Force as I once had, and it has often misled me since ...

I had broken into the Organa nursery, where the tremor felt so strong! I arrested all of the nurses and handmaidens and inspected them closely; could Padmé have been hiding here? But the tremor was gone ... none of those women had so much as a spark of Padmé, even when they resembled her physically. I was wrong again ... she was not here ...

To cover for my shame, I had the stormtroopers take the women away, and pinned crimes against the Emperor on them. They were executed; it would never be clear why I broke into the nursery. There were protests, but I merely left a garrison within the palace itself to still the cries for justice.

But before they died, I had the women model some of Padmé's dresses for me. I interrogated them while they wore the clothes, trying to get them to behave like Padmé — I knew by then that she was not among them, but perhaps these women might know of her? I grew angered that they were not even just a pale shadow of my wife ... in my rage, I had the women taxidermied, and then formed to stand like Padmé, dressed in her gowns and robes. I preferred their skin leached and pale, and their hair dyed brown, curled and waved, hanging long down their backs in simulation of my beloved wife.

In one chamber, I commissioned an artist — an older man by the name of Palo, who had been imprisoned for acts of sedition — to paint murals of Theed, showing the city as I remembered it. The lifeless mannequin-like women were placed before the murals, posed as Padmé might have been in life. And at last, I had a room full of Padmés!

This view soothed my craving ... for a short while.

I grew testy with it once the silent parade had been completed, and the novelty of the pursuit had worn off. Maybe because that is the nature of hobby projects?

Or maybe because once it was done, it was glaringly apparent that none of this would bring back my wife.

I do not know what my master thinks of this behavior, whether he approves of it or thinks it shameful. But I can't help myself ...

Daily, sometimes hourly — I convince myself that she was dead. Then a voice ... or the tilt of a maiden's head ... or the distressed cry of an infant ... and my pain wells up in me again.

Time refuses to heal some wounds.

With my lightsabre, I try to strike down the be-gowned mannequins!

But I cannot ... even in my disappointed rage, and in my anger, I love my wife. I will always love Padmé.

I had modeled the poor women to resemble Padmé. It reminded me that it was I who had broken her heart ... who had pressed the Force around her throat and squeezed ... wanting to press her down, keep her with me. Prevent her from leaving me!

I had destroyed the only thing I truly desired.

I had promised my mother I would not fail again, after I held her in my arms, as she breathed her last.

I unclothed the mannequins one by one, wishing I had tears to blind me, and I carefully packed away Padmé's precious clothing. I had the women cremated properly, so I could scatter their ashes throughout space. It was my own private ritual.

I have many opportunities to carry the ashes of the women I murdered. Perhaps I am hoping to sacrifice them to some pagan god as ransom for my wife. But I had to satisfy myself with scattering their ashes, rather than attending to the body of my poor, dead Padmé.

Her funeral on Naboo is a matter of public record. She was cremated in the same holy temple in Theed where my first Jedi mentor Qui-gon Jinn had been burned in death. I traveled to Naboo to collect her ashes, but they had been taken away by her family.

I couldn't bear to stay on the planet. I couldn't face her parents, who never knew I had married their daughter.

There are times when I go mad, wondering if my crimes could ever equal the pain I suffer? Knowing I had killed my wife and my child, and knowing their ashes would never belong to me ...

My mourning and my anger will always remain. I imagine pressing her ashes on my wounds, dreaming that they could magically heal me.

I drop the ashes of the mannequins deep into space, never imagining that these cinders could ever restore me.

I am Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith. I am all powerful. My will is law. I am the master over death!

To my deep embarrassment, my master cackles with glee, calling me, "Anakin, master of Mannequins!"

My heart's desire has died, and it is I who am left behind as a mannequin, a mockery of life!

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