Weddings are chock full of firsts. First kisses. First steps together. And first dances.
There is the one for the bride and groom. Or the groom and groom, or the bride and bride, or there may even be more in some cultures.
Then there is also, for some, a dance with parents.
When Joss Beckett married Jia Sulu, on April 29th, 2185, the four suns were shining dimly over Lafa II and there was a threat of rain in the air.
It was a fairly small affair. There was nearly no one from the bride’s side, as the Lafa System is near Klingon space. Without a starship, it’s a fairly long journey. And so the bride’s sole family was her mother, Mai. Her father, Geming, was long dead.
Joss had more family available, as his mother, Lili O’Day Beckett Reed, had settled on Lafa II, as had his stepfather, Malcolm Reed. Their son together, Declan Reed, sent his regrets, but he had exams at Oxford, on Earth.
Joss’s sister, Marie Patrice, lived and worked on Andoria but had fabricated a business trip, something about a fashion show on Lafa III. She had come with her on-again, off-again, now on-again fellow, Ken Masterson.
The eldest half-brother to Joss, Tommy Digiorno-Madden, had found a way to get away from his duties on Erika Hernandez’s Columbia and had beamed down a day earlier, staying with his mother, Melissa Madden, and his mother’s lover, Leonora Digiorno, who he had brought with him.
His younger half-brother, Neil, lived on Lafa II and worked the business end for Lili, for her restaurant, Voracious. She was getting ready to retire for good. Neil also had two dates, but they weren’t his mothers. Instead, they were his live-in girlfriend, Ines Ramirez, and his nighttime woman, a Calafan named Yinora. Yinora didn’t bring her husband and her kids; her children were on separate field trips for school and her husband had business to attend to on Tellar.
And so, once the officiant had departed, there were only the lucky thirteen of them remaining.
There was a little recorded music, but it was subdued. Everyone kept looking out the windows of Lili’s old house, which now belonged to Joss, and Jia. “Do you think it stopped misting?” Joss asked, looking a little anxious. Being cooped up was not so horrible, but it felt less like a wedding and more like just a regular family gathering.
“Well, let’s see,” Tommy went out first. He walked around outside, and then returned. “It’s not so bad.”
“Maybe we should leave the food inside,” Leonora suggested.
“Here,” Lili said to Neil, handing him a set of keys. “Can you move the cars? We can just stay under the carport, I’m thinking.”
“Sure.” He left to do her bidding, tossing a set of keys to Ines.
Watching Ines back her and Neil’s car out, Lili was struck with sudden sadness. She sniffled a little as she gazed out the window. Malcolm came up behind her. Following her gaze, he saw the car and, behind it, to the back yard, where there was the beginnings of a tiny family plot. Her first husband, Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett was buried there, as was Kevin Madden-Beckett, the youngest of the three sons of Doug and Melissa. Kevin had not survived for even a month.
“You’re thinking of him.”
“I am. Neil and Ines own his old car. He’d be pleased that it’s still running.” She had on a violet dress and there was a corsage on her wrist that smelled divine, the aroma increasing a little if she moved her hand or wrist quickly.
“I imagine Jia is a bit conflicted today, with Geming gone. Happiest day of her life and her father is not here to witness it.” There was conflict, too, in his blue-green eyes.
“I don’t have to dance with Joss for that mother-groom thing. It’s okay.”
“No, you’ve practiced. And Jia had insisted. She’s like you had another daughter already, eh?”
“She always has been. I think she’s been in love with Joss since she was five years old. But you’re right; I think of Doug, but of course we’re all here, or we almost all are. But there’s no Geming. It’s like we’re a big crowd, kinda running the both of them over sometimes.”
Mai came over to them and looked outside. “I have known for a good twenty years that we would have this day. Pity there are people missing.”
“We were just saying that. Mai,” Malcolm said, “we can skip the whole parental dancing bit, if you like.”
“Really, it’s all right,” Lili confirmed. “Whatever you think is best.”
“I know Jia wants it,” Mai stated. “For you and Joss, and I agree. You should have it. Even if the dance floor turns out to be your driveway in the misty rain.”
“Excuse me,” all three of them turned. It was Joss, wearing a new suit and a pair of local olowa flowers in his lapel. “My, uh, my wife – there, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that – my wife requests your presence outside.”
Jia was wearing a long creamy-white dress. It wasn’t really a wedding gown, as the Calafan people had not quite figured out that their new human neighbors might want something to wear to a wedding that wasn’t just an embellished tunic and slacks. She had a fingertip-length veil, gathered and held by a comb at the back of her shoulder-length black hair. When she saw Joss, her face, which was a bit rounded, lit up, as if she were seeing him for the very first time.
The remainder of the family, in suits and dresses, and Tommy in his full-dress uni, stood nearby. A couple of umbrellas were up, as the mist was getting a little heavier again. “I’d like,” Jia said, “to do something a little different. I know Joss and Lili planned to do a mother-groom dance. And that will be wonderful. But I hope we can do this first, okay?” She approached Malcolm, who was standing between Lili and Mai. “May I ask you something?”
“May I call you Father?”
His jaw dropped, and he glanced at Mai, and then at Lili, and then back at Mai again, for confirmation. “I, I, I don’t wish to, to disrespect Geming’s memory in any way.” He glanced at Mai again.
“It is all right. It was a while ago. I will not object,” Mai said.
“Well all right, then,” Malcolm agreed, flushing a little. Lili squeezed his hand for a second.
“We should have our song, Father.” Jia nodded at Neil, who adjusted something on a PADD so that it was loud and they all could hear.
Eleven people watched, and he leaned over and whispered in her ear as they danced, “My second daughter,” as Marilyn Monroe sang.
If I invite a boy some night
to dine on my fine Finnan Haddie
I just adore, his asking for more
But my heart belongs to Daddy