Chapter 4

“Inner Anguish”

 

One of my gloved fingers is tapping against my knee. I’m sitting on my bed in a room far too empty and spacious for one human being. The walls are gray and lifeless, and not so much as a chair can be seen on either end of my living quarters. There are chests of clothes and closets of armor, weapons, and the like, but there is nothing that makes me feel welcome. Nothing comfortable. That’s the way this whole place is.

Letting out a deep sigh, I take off my gloves one by one. I sit back a little, just enough that my feet brush against the tiled floor. It doesn’t take long before the thoughts come flooding back. The only pleasant thoughts that come to me these days—memories of those brief conversations. Snapshots of her face. The way her mouth moves and the light in her eyes. My face grows hot and my chest tightens.

I still can’t get the image out of my head from when I first fought her that night amongst the snow-frosted trees. The feelings and emotions of it all still surges inside of me, pricking my skin when I think of her.

Rey.

From Jakku—from nowhere.

She should be nothing to me.

But she’s not.

I can’t get her out of me, and part of me doesn’t want to let her go. She is so full of life. She had such dedication in her face when she fought me. Such passion filled her every move. I had never felt so much raw energy in anyone before. The lights of our sabers illuminated the fury in her eyes, like fire in an ice storm.

She fascinated me. I started seeing her everywhere. First, it was just in my mind, and then I actually saw her. Through the Force. I saw her once, and then again today. When I saw her, my lungs ached, begging for relief, and I just wanted to explore her mind. I wanted to know everything about her. But…she couldn’t so much as look at me without hurling insults my way. Her eyes were darkened with hatred. She despises me…a feeling I am quite used to, but it’s different with her.

I actually care what she thinks. In a way that I can’t explain, she is a part of me. I see myself in the darkest parts of her eyes. I hear a distant voice of clarity when she speaks. A familiar air follows her, lingering between us.

When I saw her there today—so tangible and real—I lifted up my fingers to touch her. To see how real she actually was, I just wanted to stroke the side of her cheek. I didn’t, though. I lifted up my hand, but I was too afraid to touch her face, although I wasn’t sure why. Instead, we just stood here, standing feet away from each other but on completely different parts of a merciless galaxy. I wondered why the Force has been connecting us. For a moment, she looked as if she might want to find out too. Maybe she sees herself in me the way I know I’m in her.

I don’t’ know what she sees. I don’t really know what I see in her, or even in me. I’m two warring worlds battling to the death over my soul, and I don’t know who will win. I always wanted it to be the dark, but after what I did…after everything…

I shake my head, strands of hair skidding against my face as I push the invasive darkness out of my mind. Those thoughts…his face. My father. Tremors shake my body up and down. Waves of sweat trickle down my skin. I bring my palms to my eyes. I can’t get the thoughts out. They won’t leave. Why won’t they leave?

Voices are all around me. They’re closing in on me, suffocating me.

The First Order thinks I’m a joke. Everyone in the rebellion is afraid of me and hates every last inch of me because of what I did. I’m caught in the middle of two sides of a story I don’t want to tell—one I don’t even want to be a part of. Darkness follows me wherever I go—it’s the only lens I see the world through. It’s all I see at all. Fury and anguish are all I feel. Sometimes I feel the pain so deep that I stop feeling it at all. Then I don’t feel anything.

I am numb.

I was numb.

Then I started seeing her. After that, everything changed.

She breathed life into me. A part of me that I thought was dead came back to life when she spoke my name.

Even after the first conversation I had with her, linked by the Force, I knew my life was changed forever. Something happened the moment she looked at me. The moment she really, truly looked at me. When we stared into each other’s eyes, I was no longer a monster hiding away from her. Something happened to me. If anything could beam an ounce of light into the darkness that surrounds me, it is one simple fact: she isn’t afraid of me. Rey saw me for who I was—for what I was—and she wasn’t afraid. She may have been angry, but she wasn’t afraid, and in that moment, that was good enough for me.

She hates me…why wouldn’t she?

I need to talk to her again. I need to explain.

I can’t wait to see her again.

I find myself pacing, sweating, wondering when she will appear before me again. What will I say to her when she does? What will she say when she sees me? She thinks I’m despicable…Well…I suppose I’ll tell her why she has a reason to believe I’m not the heinous beast she thinks I am. I’ll tell her what I haven’t told another soul—a tale that doesn’t bear repeating unless to enforce that I am a leader—that my darkness overshadowed the light that day…

That’s how everyone here knows it, anyway. That’s why the stormtroopers obey me the way they do. That, and my lineage.

It wasn’t all darkness though. It’s not like the rumors. Not at all. I wasn’t evil waking up from a deep slumber. I was afraid. Betrayed. By my own master. He was going to kill me. I saw it myself: his lightsaber at the ready, waking me up from a restless slumber. I was so scared…

I would never admit that to anyone.

Except her.

I’ll tell her what her heroic Luke Skywalker did, and then she will understand why I am this way. Maybe she will finally come to terms with the fact that she has darkness pushed down inside her as well, ready to burst out at any moment.

I’ll tell her the truth. I’ll help her understand.

She needs to know the truth.

She needs to know my side of the story.

She needs to know me—the real me.

Ben Solo.

 

 

Read the rest of the chapters of ‘The Madness that Binds Us’ here.