Love in the Time of Light Speed

The matchmaker's heels clicked like a bored Geiger counter as she led Jared Sadiq down the hall
to the interview room. "Are you nervous?" she said.

Jared stuffed his hands in the pockets of his coveralls. "What if they don't like me?"

 "They've already seen your personality profile." The matchmaker patted Jared's arm. "You'll
just answer a few questions today and sign some papers."

The lighting in the interview room was subdued, the chairs well-but-not-too-well stuffed, and the
table in the middle of it all was made of warm, honey-colored fauxwood. 

"Let me do most of the talking," the matchmaker said. "I know what your family is looking for
and how much they're willing to pay."

Jared sat down and put his elbows on the table but decided that might not be what his mother
called "gentile." He settled for putting his hands over the thick knee patches his father had sewn
over the holes in his coveralls.

The opposite door hushed open, and a fat man in a suit walked in with the newlyweds. They were
small and thin and walked close together. Jared experimented with a charming smile, but it felt
phony. He looked at the table instead.

The matchmaker stood up and tugged Jared's sleeve to let him know he should stand, too. Jared
lurched to his feet and, again not sure what to do with his hands, put them back in his pockets. 

The matchmaker smiled at the newcomers. "This is Jared Sadiq, son of the captain of the trader
ship Biriir ina." She nodded to the newlyweds. "Jared, this is Joao and Pat Sasaki."

The Sasakis offered Jared a formal bow. He returned it clumsily, hands still in his pockets. The
fat man in the suit ignored him completely. "I will be speaking for the Sasaki family," he said.
"They do not speak the Trader tongue."

"Of course," the matchmaker said. She switched to New Portuguese, a language the Sasakis
would understand. "Won't you sit down?"

The Sasakis and the fat man took seats on the other side of the table. "We understand the Sadiq
family wants her to study FTL engineering and repair."

Jared's matchmaker looked at Jared expectantly. He got the hint. "Yep. I mean, yes, sir. That's
what we want."

"Are there any hobbies or interests you would like her to be trained for?"

Jared wasn't ready for the question. He scratched his head. "I know guitar and banjo pretty well.
Be nice if I had someone to play with."

The fat man spoke in New Portuguese for a minute or so, then turned back to Jared's
matchmaker. "My clients have no objection," he said in Trader. "Let's talk money."

Jared tuned out. He had a lot of work to do once he got back aboard ship, not the least of which
was expanding his bachelor quarters into something a woman might like.

The matchmaker stood and shook the fat man's hand. "We have a deal."

Jared scrambled to his feet in time to see the newlyweds heading for the door. Pat Sasaki was
crying. Her husband put his arms around her and pressed his mouth to her ear. Jared saw the
crying woman nod once before the door shut behind them.

"Congratulations," the matchmaker said. "You have a wife." She showed him where to sign his
name. "Your mother transferred the funds to my account. Everything, minus my fee, will go to
your bride's rearing and education."

"I'll be getting back to my ship, then," Jared smiled shyly. "Thanks for your help."

Jared shambled back down the long hallway and caught the next train to the elevator. The Biriir
ina was already fueled up and loaded for its next trip out. It would be a long haul, a half year out
and a half year back at near lightspeed. By the time they made orbit again, the baby growing in
Pat Sasaki's belly would be grown, educated, and ready to leave the planet. 

Jared whistled his favorite song as he watched the scenery slide by and wondered what
instrument she'd play.