I’m continuing to rewrite trigger fiction stories and post them here because I don’t know what else to do with them. This one hasn’t changed much, but it was one of my favorites from the early-going of trigger fiction.
Marco awkwardly sat down across the table from his brother. They hadn’t spoken in three years, and before arriving he wasn’t sure his brother would even show up, but here they were. He set the bottle on the table between the two of them before nervously adjusting the sleeves of the shirt that poked out from beneath his sweater.
This was a date that had been set for some time. Their father had left them little when he died, but for one remarkable thing: a bottle of 1947 Château Cheval Blanc. It is one of the rarest and most valuable wines in the world, praised by many as the greatest wine ever bottled.
Since he’d left it to both of them, they’d decided that on the ten year anniversary of their father’s death, they would get together and share the bottle, just the two of them. They picked a restaurant they hoped would survive the ten years, even picked a time.
Much had happened since then. That was before the betrayals and infidelities, before the words that couldn’t be taken back, before the screaming match the finally resulted in Freddie storming out the door and out of Marco’s life for the last three years.
There had been no contact. Not a single phone call or email, no birthday cards or messages through a friend. It had been complete silence.
So, Marco didn’t know whether or not to expect Freddie to show. Marco had the bottle of wine, and while he warred with himself for the last few months, he had decided to honor the memory of their father and keep the date they’d made ten years earlier.
When Marco arrived, Freddie was already there, seated at what had been their regular table. As Marco sat down across from Freddie, he was surprised. He’d expected that upon seeing his brother the anger of past hurts would flare up again, but instead he felt only sadness. He didn’t realize how much he’d missed Freddie’s face until this moment. He blinked back tears before Freddie might notice the moisture and nodded to his brother.
There were a few moments of awkward silence, neither being sure what to say after all this time. Freddie’s face was unreadable, Marco couldn’t tell if his brother’s was feeling hatred or remorse, or something else altogether.
Marco called the waiter over to uncork their bottle, and they waited in silence for the wine to breathe. Time passed slowly, and each stared awkwardly at the table, their silverware, other diners, anywhere but at each other. It was agony. They ordered food and ate in silence, waiting for the wine to be ready, not wanting to rush the bottle while also wishing to be anywhere else in the world.
“Well, shall we?” As Marco spoke, his voice cracked from so long in silence.
Freddie just nodded.
Marco poured them each a glass, slid one across the table to Freddie and took his own.
Freddie raised his glass, “To Papa.”
It took Marco a moment before he could respond, it was the first he’d heard Freddie’s voice in so long and he felt the sadness return. “To Papa.”
Marco sipped the wine. His eyelids closed as his eyes rolled back into his head involuntarily. Nothing could have prepared him for the overwhelming beauty he was tasting. It was otherworldly. Full and strong and smooth, lacking any hint of acid or harshness. It tasted divine, miraculous. He took another sip, drawing in more this time.
So many flavors sang in harmony on Marco’s tongue. Chocolate and caramel, earth and leather, pepper and… was that mint? It was overwhelming. Marco looked across the table, Freddie seemed to be experiencing much the same thing. He returned Marco’s stare, their eyes met for the first time before Freddie looked down at his glass. Yet, before their brief gaze broke Marco was sure he saw a smirk on Freddie’s face. Not just any smirk, that trademark Freddie smirk that always meant he was trying to keep from laughing. It was the face he wore when he was trying and failing miserably to keep a straight face while lying.
Freddie held his glass up to the light, stared for a moment, and then turned his face back to Marco. “Holy shit, man.” He smiled for a moment, then both men burst into laughter. They laughed until they cried, and when they finally stopped each man knew that not all of the tears were from the laughter. There were nuances of other feelings in that moment, relief and intimacy and love and thankfulness. Some of the anger stayed on the tongue as well, but tempered as it was by all these other flavors it took on a new character.
Marco took another long taste of the wine. He was amazed how varied the flavor of wine can be, full of so many things. A moment and a vintage are alike in that each has the ability to take on flavor from its surroundings, from its aging, from its care, and still each has the power to surprise.
Marco marveled at how this strange process of death and fermentation and rest can create flavors of spice and sweetness, fruit and candy and chocolate, can draw in the nuance of the earth and the sunshine that nurtured the grapes, and can give off a taste of beauty and redemption, salvation and reconciliation.
He took the bottle, and poured them each another glass.