Laura Duerr’s story “Vertical Flight” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 7 May 2021.
I come from a family that loves wine, and I married into a family that also loves wine. My sister-in-law even worked at a winery for several years, which gave us all some insight into the industry as well as allowed us to try some wines we otherwise might never have even seen. It’s through her that I learned about ‘vertical flights’, a tasting format that samples one specific wine produced over a number of years to see how the end result changes over time. My nerd brain wondered how wines might be different not just across time, but across parallel dimensions.
That led to this story’s earliest iteration as flash fiction. It consisted entirely of the tasting room script, a tongue-in-cheek sendup of the more pretentious tendencies of wine-tasting that also hinted at something dark going on in the background that the tasting room host wouldn’t — or couldn’t — address. At the time the title was “Tasting Notes from the 2038 Interdimensional Flight, Quantum Ridge Vineyards”.
After submitting that flash piece a few times (and after reading Sarah Pinsker’s amazing “And Then There Were (N-One)” and thinking about other selves living other lives in other dimensions), I realized there was more story lurking in the background of that flash piece, specifically the story of a winery employee who lived through some of the hinted-at darkness. I kept the tasting room script for world-building purposes, but the speaker is never identified: the story now belongs to all the Cates and Kates trying to make their worlds better. So a new title became necessary, and thinking of those wine-tasting outings gave me the perfect one. “Vertical Flight” describes both the tasting session and Cate’s progress up through the universes, away from her difficult past, adapting and changing along the way.
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