At eight she waits, in a bunker under cold stone with a blaster shot and her mother’s falling body behind her eyes, for the soldier that was supposed to be her savior.
(He comes and she learns, for the first time in her life, to fight instead of run.)
At eleven she waits, watching Saw conduct negotiations with a woman who sees clearly what it means to be underestimated, for lessons that she only really appreciates years later.
(Half-a-decade later, a prison guard will be fooled by a childlike face and watery eyes and give her the moment she needs to kill him and escape. People will underestimate you, Enfys Nest teaches from her memory. Use it. She does.)
At sixteen she waits, with a blaster in one hand and hope in the other, for a second father that isn’t coming back.
(She refuses to let herself cry. Instead, she lets herself abandon his lesson to always fight and follows her first father’s example. Run, if you have to. Start again. She runs and somewhere else she lets herself start again with a new family where she doesn’t have to be a soldier.)
At seventeen she waits, riding the sky and heart in her throat, for her newest family to escape the Imperial blockade only to have her hopes shattered in a blast of fire and falling metal.
(No more families, she decides, once her eyes are dry. She feels free, but empty.)
At seventeen-eighteen-nineteen-twenty she waits, drifting from one end of the galaxy to another, for purpose or hope or death to find her finally.
(The con, the theft, the forgery keeps her alive. She doesn’t live.)
At twenty-one she waits, living under a name not her own with bars between her and freedom. She’s not sure what she’s waiting for.
(She could let herself die here, she knows. Move just a little slower in a prison yard fight. Sleep just a little deeper and stop watching her cellmate. She doesn’t. She can’t. The fight is in her blood, and in a fight if you surrender, you die. She won’t surrender, so she fights, and she lives.)
At twenty-one she waits, kneeling on a beach with blood on her hands and light in her heart, for the fiery end rushing towards her.
(There’s no more fighting. No more running. Only the fierce joy of finally, finally having won the fight.)
It’s the first time Jyn Erso does not wait alone.