The following short story is fiction, inspired by Jen Mylo telling me that wine flies free from vineyards in Oregon. We both thought of Taffy.
“If a case of wine is free as checked baggage, and I drink a case of wine—”
I winced. “No, you do not fly free.” These were the conversations you have with your mother when you’re attempting to invite her to spend a month with you out in the boonies. I thought I was being smart, telling her the airlines were having a deal with the wineries. After all, she’s a bit of a lush in the best of times, and a tour of the wineries would be somewhat in her wheelhouse.
“Why is it so expensive to fly to such a little airport?” she complained.
“Because airlines.” That bought a laugh and I smiled. “Look, I told you, I’ll pay for the flight. I just think you’d enjoy summer camp.” At ninety, travel was troublesome for my grandmother, but she was in insanely good health, if a little fragile. “Jimmy’s going to look at colleges near you and he’ll fly back out here with you so you won’t be alone on the plane.”
“And who will fly me back?” She sounded miffed. This was not going over well.
“I will. It works out fine, since I have the conference at the end of the month.”
It was more of an award thing, but if I mentioned that I’d have to get in to the whole internet murder again.
“Your murder rate is 100% higher this year.”
Damn it. “Well, yes, but the whole thing was serendipity. Come on, you know you want to see the kids,” I wheedled.
That got her. My mother was silent for long enough that I heard her dog bark. “What do I do with Theodore?”
“Bring him. We’ve got a yard.”
“You have coyotes,” she noted. The last time she visited she heard them howling at night and the next morning we were short a chicken.
“We have wineries, and I’ll take time off.”
Now I had her attention. “If you drive, you can’t drink.”
And I had an answer for that as well. “I have a friend at a vineyard. We can go and spend the night. I can even get you a tour.”
“You’ll make me take a tour in a wheelchair.”
“Yes, yes I will.” Impasse. She hated the wheelchair. She hated the fact that the airlines required it.
But she didn’t attack that angle. “Is Jimmy going to school out east?”
“He might. He was looking at a couple in state too.”
Her voice changed. Wheedling. “If he went to your alma mater, he could stay with me and I could cook.”
That would be a great idea. But trying to convince a teenager to live with his grandmother, no matter how much he loved her, was hard. “You know he barely listens to me,” I said, trying to sound resigned. “It’s got a great computer program, but he was really thinking about UC Davis.”
“But if you don’t have to pay for housing…”
“Four hours on a plane. I bet you could talk him into it,” I mused. “He’ll probably spend the whole flight on his iPad, watching Orphan Black.”
“I love Orphan Black!”
She was hooked. “So should I buy the tickets?”
“Oh, fine. But are you sure I can’t fly free?”
I laughed. “I’m sure the wine you bring home will fly free.”
“Well. Alright. You can’t have everything.”
Characters are from Death At WordCamp.