By Izzy

The mother and her two young children kept themselves in the corner of the field, near the bushes that marked the boundary of the city park. Noone paid them much heed; there were plenty of humans in the crowd, and they were not yet unwelcome. That, Padmé thought, would wait until Wor officially joined the Empire, with its Rogarth so proud to consider themselves members of this great interstellar community, until they learned just how that great interstellar community treated those who weren’t members of its dominant species.

The Rogarth were convinced that there was no taste in the galaxy like that of their soofas bush sap. There might be, but Padmé hadn’t run into it. She was tasting it the way they’d been told to, dipping the crackers into the bowl three times and then placing them on the tip of her tongue. Luke and Leia did the same. Leia took her time savoring each cracker; clearly she liked the sap very much. Luke she wasn’t sure of, but neither child ever rejected any food that was put in front of them.

There was the clanging of a metal plate somewhere in the center of the field to get everyone’s attention. Padmé and her children looked up along with everybody else, but the speaker was too far away from them to be more than a dark grey bulky figure in the center of the field.

Thankfully his voice carried. “Attention! Does everyone like the sap?” Affirmative shouts filled the air. “Good! If you want more of it, there will be another sap tasting day eleven days after this one.”

“We won’t be able to stay on this planet that long,” Padmé said before Leia could get her hopes up.

“Tomorrow,” the Rogarth added, “we will have in this field a game of Tothi in the morning, and in the afternoon a good man with the name of Remi Wast Toloosiso will demonstrate for you the manufacture of our string-twists. As always, there will be music in the evening.”

“‘With the name of?’” Luke repeated. “He talks funny.”

“He’s trying to hide that he doesn’t know Basic grammar,” giggled Leia. “Can we come here and play Tothi in the morning, mother? Please?”

“I’m sorry,” said Padmé, “but...”

“But you want to see the demonstration thing and it’s too dangerous for us to stay here all day, right?” sulked Luke.

“It’s not that. It’s that playing a game would have you running around and more people looking at you and more people remembering your faces. We can’t risk it.”

Leia nodded, but they both looked very sad. “If you don’t want to go to the lecture,” Padmé said to them, “we can come back tomorrow night for the concert instead. Would you like that?”

“Yeah, that sounds fun,” said Leia. She dripped her hand back into the cracker pile and went back to sampling the sap. “How much longer can we stay today?”

“We’ll leave when the crowd really starts to disperse. That’ll probably be in an hour or so.”

“Shouldn’t we try to gather some of the crackers before we leave?” asked Luke. “They probably aren’t too nutritious, but there are a lot of them.”

“We’ll request another boxful just before we leave. If we fill our pouches and leave the box behind they’ll never be missed. I wish we could take some of the sap too, but there’s no way to carry it.”

“I’m leaving with my fingers all sticky,” said Leia.

“Me too,” added Luke.

“I think that’s what almost everyone here will be doing,” Padmé noted, and she herself dipped another cracker into the sap. Theoretically, the sap wasn’t supposed to get onto their fingers, but she’d seen other people in the field dipping their fingers in directly, ignoring the crackers. She, on the other hand, placed the properly dipped cracker directly on the tip of her tongue and closed her eyes as the taste filled her mouth. Salt and bitterness. There was something very visceral about sitting here and dosing herself with it again and again, but she didn’t think she would touch the sap with her fingers before they left. She would have had enough of it by then, and would prefer her crackers bland again.