The Rite

The three of them got in a little bit late and tried very hard to be quiet and inconspicuous. They sat down as quietly as they could, but the family turned around and looked a bit before going back to reading in Hebrew. Oops.

The woman sat between the two men – her husband on her left and their son was on her right.

"Do you know anything about this?" asked her husband quietly.

"Not too much, Malcolm. They, um, they say a bunch of prayers, then Alia is called up to the Torah or maybe somebody else is and then she comes up later? I dunno," she said.

"Mum, it's like this," said their son, "first it's family, then it's Alia, then I think there's others who come up."

"Oh, thanks, Declan," she said to him. "The suit looks good on you."

"Thanks, Mum," Declan said. He was twenty-one and looking rather sharp indeed.

"And you," she whispered to her husband, "isn't that the suit you wore when we got married?"

"The very same," Malcolm said, "after all it was only a little over a year ago. You look amazing."

"Oh, this old thing?"

"Come on," he whispered, "that light green; it looks smashing on you, Mrs. Reed." He put a hand on her knee and she discreetly removed it.

A woman in the pew in front of them turned around and shushed them.

"I've never been to a Bat Mitzvah before," Malcolm said quietly, "Just how many people are called up to the Torah, anyway?"

The same woman who'd shushed them passed a printed program back to them. "Oh, thank you," Malcolm said. He leafed through it, murmuring, "Huh, it's like everyone from the Shapiro family is going up to the Torah. And then every Jewish crew member from the NX-01, the NX-02 and the USS Zefram Cochrane is having a turn. My God, it'll take a year before they're done."

"Shh!"

"Oh, sorry," he said. His wife looked over his shoulder, also reading the program. "You hair looks really good, too," he whispered to her.

"It's going white," she whispered back.

"Mum, Dad, will you pay attention?" Declan whispered to them.

"Oh, sorry," said his mother. She nervously fiddled with a little handkerchief and tried not to yawn. "Declan," she finally whispered, "I bet there are some cute girls here."

"Mum, please. We are here for Alia Shapiro's Bat Mitzvah, not for you to find me a girlfriend!"

"Shh!"

"Sorry," Declan said. "Really, Mum," he said quietly, "I can do fine on my own. The girls at Oxford are all right."

"Do they like an art student like you?" his mother asked.

"Getting any nude portrait subjects?" Malcolm asked his son, winking at him.

"Shh!"

"My apologies," Malcolm said. There was quiet in the back as more relatives went up to the Torah, read a bit and then sat back down, including the woman who'd been shushing them. He finally spoke again. "Good Lord, I'm no longer seventy-one. I think I must be eighty-three by now. This is taking forever." He put his hand on his wife's knee again. Again, she gently removed it.

"I swear, you are the randiest seventy-one year old I have ever known," she said to him quietly.

"Even more than?" he whispered in her ear, breathed a little and then kissed it, an act that made her jump a little.

"Yes, even more than my first husband," she whispered back. "Do you even notice that I'm seventy-four, love?"

"Excuse me?" he pretended not to hear that last part. "I can't hear you over the din of this truly captivating thirty-four year old in a light green frock I'm sitting next to."

"Oh, and who might that be?" she whispered in his ear, kissing it, an act that made him redden a little.

"I can't say," he said, "as I am bedazzled."

"You're a smooth talker," she said, "for a guy wearing his wedding suit."

"I'd like to see you in your birthday suit," he murmured in her ear.

"Shh!"

"Oh, sorry," she said, reddening. "It's our first Bat Mitzvah. Are they all this long?"

"No," said the woman curtly, turning back around.

"There's a brunette over there," she pointed out to Declan. "She's kinda cute."

"I think that woman is, well, a bit too old for me."

"How old is too old, Dec?"

"Uh, forty?"

"Don't be afraid of an older woman, son," Malcolm said to Declan.

"Uh, I'll remember that, Dad."

There was more chanting and more praying as yet another person went to the Torah for a reading.

"I want to go back to the hotel," Malcolm whispered to his wife. Hand again on her knee, he started sliding it up. This time, she didn't bat it away quite so quickly.

"Oh?" she breathed.

"Yes," he said, "and you remember our wedding night? Maybe we could do something like that, eh, love?"

"Maybe," she replied, eying him.

Declan looked over. "Mum, are you all right? You look a bit warm."

"I'm feeling a little hot, Dec."

"Shh!"

"Yes, you're very, very hot, Mrs. Reed," Malcolm whispered to her, "Allow me to get you out of those extra layers you have on, and make you more comfortable." His hand slid up again, going a bit farther this time. "Constricting clothing – that's what they teach us in Starfleet – you need to remove it if you're a bit faint. Are you feeling faint, love?"

She turned to look at him. "I am a little … overcome."

Declan rolled his eyes and hid his head as his parents briefly kissed. Why me, he thought to himself.

"You need treatment, Mrs. Reed," he murmured.

"I, well, I dunno."

"Don't be a martyr now," he said, smiling at her.

They quietly got up. "What am I gonna tell Alia and her parents?" Declan asked, a little alarmed that he was being left alone at the Bat Mitzvah.

"Ken Masterson is here – you can sit with him, Dec," said his mother.

"And tell Alia and her parents," Malcolm said, "well, it doesn't matter." They held hands as they departed as quickly as they could.

As soon as the service was over, the woman who was shushing them shook hands with Declan. "Where did your parents go? Aren't they going to the reception?"

"I think so," said Declan. "They just needed to lie down for a while."