After On the River
The current owner of the house Gannon had built was a handsome man, except his family resemblance to Gannon, with a lovely wife and two teenaged children. He was, as most of Gannon’s descendants were, willing to open up his house – borrowed house, he called it, which was kind – to his ancestor.
And, unlike many of his ancestors – they’d known better, Gannon thought with wry amusement – this one, Steve, was willing to open his liquor cabinet and his wine cellar, too, once the kids were sent upstairs.
He pulled out a case of wine so old, the crate itself was fading and the flag only had thirteen stars. “Do you remember this?”
Gannon squinted at it. “Damn, damn, just barely, but I do. I brought that back to… to my granddaughter. Bramble. I wonder where she is now.”
“Me, too,” Steve admitted. “Grandma Bramble stopped by once, when I was about eight. She’s less regular than you are, I’m told.” He pulled out a bottle. “Three left. Seems an occasion to open one.”
“It must be weird,” Gannon commented, as Steve’s wife Phen opened the bottle with an expert twist, “being haunted by your ancestors still living.”
“I always figured it was the curse of being Ellehemaei?” Steve shrugged. He held out three glasses in two hands for his wife to pour, a comfortable, easy partnership clear in their movements. “I mean, isn’t it?”
Gannon shrugged, staring at the old crate of wine. “There was a whole box there, when I dragged that back here.” He didn’t want to think about the family that had kicked him out, so long ago that the land they sent him to barely had a name.
“Yeah.” Steve grinned. “It’s pretty awesome stuff, so it’s been, I’m told, special-occasion wine. Really special occasion. So we don’t break it out often.”
He sniffed the wine. It smelled as good as he remembered, and better. The vintner, he remembered the vintner, half grapevine herself. He wondered if he had any kids with her.
He sipped again. “I’ve visited before.” They’d never opened out the old stuff before… although it had been Steve’s father, or his great-grandfather, before.
But Steve was just grinning. “Never in time to witness the birth of a grandchild.”
Gannon sputtered, and then, staring at them, drank the wine. It really was a good vintage, after all.
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