"Anyone can slay a dragon. . .but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero." - BRIAN ANDREAS
Originally published for "In Vino Veritas," July 14, 2009.
Twenty-two hours from San Francisco to Kathmandu. Four hours until the layover in Hong Kong. Caelin will have finished grading papers by then. She arches her back, stretching, then wiggles her toes, and catches the eye of the flight attendant.
“More, please.” She indicates the travel-sized wineglass. The remaining ruby droplets glisten in the spotlight of her reading lamp. The attendant nods from the galley.
“You realize that’s basically grape juice?” Chloe peers around the headrest as her business class bed reverts to its upright position.
“It’s a second growth Bordeaux and you know it, O Queen Food Critic,” Caelin retorts. “How’d you sleep?”
“Not well. Looks like fourteen bottles of questionable Bordeaux didn’t help you sleep, either.”
“And nervous. What if she hates us?”
“Sweetheart.” Caelin strokes her wife’s cheek as Chloe unfolds the passport she’s been clutching. A little girl with dark eyes and copper skin gazes at them, unsmiling and unafraid. “She liked us well enough before. Any kid will hate her parents at some point. Let’s just focus on getting her home.”
The flight attendant materializes with the bottle of Château Cos-d'Estournel 1989, which streams like scarlet silk into the stemware.
“Like the orphanage is going to let her come home when you show up drunk,” Chloe teases, leaning close. Caelin smiles into her spouse’s black curls. Points of light play on the surface of her wine, casting images against the back of the seat in a rosy haze.