She would never forget the day her father cracked. It was after an especially enjoyable dinner with friends of their family. The food had looked wonderful, and the wine with which they had been filled was one of the best that this young wine glass had experienced. The conversation around the table had been stimulating and the atmosphere warm and she had been especially proud of her clear, high notes as she had bumped into her five family members, complementing the ‘cheers’ of the diners perfectly.
She thought back to the first time she had been released from the cardboard box, with the card dividers to protect herself and the other members of her family. The light had poured in as the box was opened. Her mum was the first to be selected by that human hand, at first a stranger to them, but in time as familiar as the plates and cutlery with which they shared many a meal. Her mum had not been her mum until that moment.
She could remember her thoughts clearly as the hand returned to remove a second of the six glasses. ‘What will be my place in this family, now that mum has been chosen?’ The glass to her right had been second choice and was lifted out to a chorus of ‘see you in a minute dad!’ from the four remaining.
She had been the third to emerge from the cardboard confines and was hence the oldest child, followed by her three younger brothers and sisters. They were rinsed with cool fresh water, which woke them all up, especially her youngest brother, who was still a bit groggy from the extended boxed-up existence. Then they were placed side by side in their new home in the kitchen cabinet, eagerly awaiting their first taste of the liquid for which they had been born. Would it be white? Would it be rosé? Or would it be red? None had a personal preference yet. That would come after all had been sampled.
The curious thing about wine glasses is that their age is not calculated by time, but by times. Times that they have been used. Hence a meal for six for this particular family of wine glasses aged them all equally but if only the grown-ups of this home were drinking, and only two glasses were required, then only two of them would get older. The law of averages meant that they did all age at about the same rate but there were times when our protagonist was both the youngest, and the oldest in her family – older even than her own parents.
At the time of the terrible accident, our wine glass was twelve and her dad was fifteen. Her other family members were also all into double figures and all had enough experience to have developed a fine sense of a good wine. Our wine glass’s preferred was red, especially Ribera del Duero, and that very night she had had the pleasure to have been filled time and again with one of her favourites.
The meal over, it was time for the communal bath. It was always a dangerous time for delicate objects such as wine glasses. Knives and forks positively revelled in the washing-up bowl, confident in the knowledge that they would suffer no harm, and plates were fairly confident that they would emerge unscathed. So it was with relief that our wine glass was placed back in the cabinet in one piece. Reassured now, the conversation revolved around the pleasant evening they had passed and how they had been handled by their personal guardians for the evening. Her littlest brother was in a particularly good mood, having had the good fortune, he said, to have been kissed by the most sensuous lips he had ever felt. He did so hope that the woman would be invited back for dinner soon.
During the long conversation, our wine glass gradually became aware that her father was unusually quiet. When she asked if he was all right he said he was fine and that it was nothing, but his tone of voice contained a hint of nervousness which alerted the whole family. Her mother pressed the issue and forced him to admit that he was not feeling too good, that he was hurting quite badly in fact. He said it was nothing to worry about and that he was sure he would be all right in the morning, that he was probably just a bit stressed after having been handled rather roughly by the teenage son of the family next door. Darkness meant that they could not check on his physical state. Our wine glass was not reassured and the night was a long, fairly sleepless one.
The light of dawn woke our glass and her first thought was of her father dozing to her left. She fixed her gaze on him, hoping that his words of last night would be true, and at first she thought that they were. Then she saw it, the fine slightly curved line starting at his rim and snaking down more than a centimetre into his body. A shiver shot through her. Her dad really had cracked.
The family were soon all awake and worried by his condition, and her father admitted that he had been thrown against a rather unruly carving knife in the washing-up bowl and had immediately felt a sharp pain. It was the moment that every wine glass dreaded and the family was devastated. The fate of their father now lay in the hands of their human guardians.
The wait for the next bottle of wine was a nervous one and when the door of the cabinet was opened the wine glasses all tensed. In the event only four of them were removed. The younger sister and her father, fortunately, were given the night off. Our wine glass could not enjoy the meal though, thinking constantly about how little time her dad had left before his fault was discovered. What would be his fate? Simply left in the cabinet, unused for the rest of his life? Or tossed unceremoniously in the bin and lost forever?
When the end came the whole family were on edge. He was removed along with our wine glass’s mother and it was fitting that they left together for this last time. The four children hoped against hope that his crack would not be spotted, but when the cabinet was reopened and our wine glass was taken out, they knew their father’s days at table were over. She caught a glimpse of him standing forlornly by the sink as she was taken through to the front room to join her mother on the coffee table, along with a young sparkling white, some crisps and a bowl of guacamole.
Neither her nor her mother could gain any comfort from the white wine, or the hint of salty potato and avocado as the human lips made contact with their fine rims. Their hearts were with dad and his unknown fate. That night was unusual also in that they were not taken back to the kitchen, the human whose turn it was to wash them clean expressing tiredness and a promise to ‘do it in the morning’. So the night was spent on the coffee table. It was an almost interminable wait to hopefully find out what had happened to dad.
The next morning arrived, and so did discovery. As they were carried back into the kitchen, they saw him immediately, and his fate had been a blessed one. The water he was now filled with gave him a healthy aspect although the avocado stone that his rim was supporting on three toothpicks, did look a slightly uncomfortable weight to bear. He was standing on the windowsill, a sheepish smile reflected across his surface, as if slightly embarrassed at his new role in life.
Our wine glass and her mum returned to the cabinet, mightily relieved that dad would still be there for them and the rest of the family.