Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin.
It was as perfect as possible. That is, when you’re on an alien world and the only lilies are people with that name, like his mother.
Joss Beckett stood up, looking in a mirror, frowning at his own reflection. Nearby, a wall chronometer showed that it was over thirty degrees Celsius and he was hot and nervous at 1741 hours on a June evening in 2175. “I am so uncomfortable,” he whined a little, a near normal tone for someone almost eighteen years of age.
“You’ll be fine.” His mother, Lili Beckett, came over, her face pale in its reflection. “Turn around, and let me get a good look at you, Jeremiah Logan Beckett.”
“Better I call you that than Ducks, eh?” She smiled at him. “The tux looks good. Are you absolutely certain that Jia is wearing lavender?”
“And Geming and Mai are bringing her over, and we’ll take some pictures and then they’ll take you to the hall?”
His sister, Marie Patrice came over. She elbowed him. “Hey, for once you don’t look like a total dork.”
“Now, now, Miss Empy!” exclaimed their mother. “Please be kind.”
Marie Patrice returned and straightened Joss’s tie a little. “I’m sorry. You do look good. Really.”
Their half-brother, Declan Reed also came over. “Can I have your room when you move out for college?”
“You have your own room at the Reed house!” Joss exclaimed.
“Yes, you do, Mister Reed!” their mother agreed, “Have you heard from your Dad, Dec?”
“He’s, um, he said they were patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone again. Didn’t he tell you, Mother?”
“Must’ve slipped his mind. I’ll ask him tonight when he calls.”
There was a sound at the front door. “Can I get a little help here?” It was a not unpleasant tenor voice.
“Go help him,” Lili requested, “sounds like he’s got more groceries than he can handle.” Joss went to help, and Lili put a hand on his arm. “Not you; you’ll get dirty. Just, just cool your heels, okay?”
“Um, all right.”
“The big Calafan market,” said Doug Beckett; “was out of chicken, so I got perrazin. And Empy! Careful with that blue bag!”
“Uh, sure, Dad.” She put it down and went outside to get another one.
“Thanks for doing this,” Lili said, kissing Doug.
“Wait’ll you see what’s in that bag.”
Pretty soon, the last of the groceries were brought in and put away, all but what was in the mysterious blue bag. Doug held it and fished inside it as the others watched. “Joss,” he said, “your mother and I never did this, but I understand these are customary here.” He handed Joss a small article.
“A boutonniere?” Lili asked. “I haven’t seen one of those since it was my own prom. Back in, egad, you don’t wanna know how long ago that was.” She handed it to Marie Patrice. “You’ve got steadier hands than I do; care to do the honors?”
“Sure.” The teenaged girl fiddled with pins to get the lavender-tipped carnation onto her brother’s lapel.
“And one more,” Doug announced, again reaching into the bag. “Tada!”
“Dad, where did you get that? I know that isn’t at the market,” Joss said.
“I got a secret source. It’s the right color, right?”
“Yeah, Dad. I’ll, um, I’ll pay you back. And, um, thanks.”
The front door chimed and they let in three people – Jia Sulu and her parents, Mai and Geming. Jia was, as promised, wearing a lavender dress. Joss approached her with the article. “Um, here. This is for you.”
“A corsage! Oh, Joss, it’s perfect!” It was white rosebuds, tied with a lavender ribbon. Fumbling, he put it on her as six witnesses observed closely.
“Let’s get pictures,” Geming suggested. He directed the two prom-goers to a part of the main living room that had better light. Everyone set their PADDs to camera mode and shot frame after frame.
Mai glanced up at the wall chronometer. “We’d better go. Wouldn’t want you kids to miss the first dance or anything.”
They made their good-byes and Lili and Doug watched, Lili just a little tearful. The other two kids went back to their homework. Lili looked at Doug. “I remember him toddling around, unable to correctly say Malcolm’s name. And now look at him.”
“Yeah,” Doug agreed. “He’s just about a man.”
“Do you mind that you never had a prom?”
“I grew up on the other side of the pond – Mirror Universe, remember? When I was his age, I was wrapping things up at West Point and about to go to Cambodia for Basic. No proms in the Terran Empire.”
“I’m sorry about that,” Lili looked up at him, eyes a little misty again.
“Wait,” Doug said, “I’ve got the next-best thing.” He clicked on his PADD and found a broadcast of older music. “You should check. I think I left something in the blue bag.”
Lili fished in the bag and pulled out one more corsage. The ribbon wasn’t lavender. It was blue, her favorite color. And it wasn’t rosebuds. It was calla lilies, in blue and white. Almost as nervously as their son had been, even though they had been married for years, Doug put it on her. “Pity you don’t like to dance unless you’ve had a few,” she mused.
“No worries,” he murmured softly, pulling her closer. “I’ll pretend I’ve had a few.”
And slowly, closely, they danced.