I pulled up to the curb, and Vanessa and Conway approached the door.
And of course, they fought over who got the front seat.
“You sat there last time.” Vanessa tried to squeeze through the open door to get into the seat.
“So?” Conway tried to squeeze in too. “I want to ride up front with Mom.”
“Because you’re a boy, you get your way?” She kneed him in the thigh.
“Ouch!” Conway gripped his leg and winced.
I rolled my eyes. “Vanessa sits up front since you got to sit here last time. Conway, in the back.”
Conway rolled his eyes and got into the back seat.
Vanessa put her backpack on the ground and sat beside me.
“Honey, don’t hit your brother.” I didn’t pull onto the road because I wanted to have this talk with her first. We were in Florence, a thirty-minute drive from our Tuscan home. It was a bit of a commute, but it was the best school in the area. “I mean it.”
I liked that she stood up for herself and didn’t let anyone push her around. Secretly, I was proud of her, but I didn’t want her to hit her brother.
We left Florence and drove through the Tuscan hillside, seeing the vineyards, the hills of greenery, the sun shining bright on this crystal-clear day. Fall was a few weeks away, but summer was still potent, filling the air with a humid warmth that I never got tired of. Tuscany was my home, and it was hard to believe I ever called another place home. “How was your day?”
“Good,” Vanessa answered. “I got the highest score on our math test.”
“That’s great, baby.” I gave her shoulder a squeeze then looked in the rearview mirror. “What about you, Con?”
He looked out the window, the sun illuminating his olive skin. “Did Dad say anything about the dog?”
“You didn’t answer my question.” Sunglasses sat on the bridge of my nose, shielding the light that shined right on my face.
“It was fine,” he said quickly. “Did Dad say anything else about the dog?”
I chuckled. “He’s going to need more than a few hours to think about it.”
“What’s there to think about?” Vanessa asked. “Dogs are so cute. Who doesn’t like dogs?”
“It’s not that he doesn’t like dogs.” Both of my hands were on the wheel, and the road was empty except for us. “Dogs are a lot responsibility. You have to potty train them, you have to take care of them… It’s a lot of work. Are you willing to take care of him?”
Both of them answered at the same time. “Yes.”
“You say that now…” Personally, I wanted to have a dog because I thought it would be good for them to grow up with an animal. It would teach them how to be gentle, how to have a relationship with someone that wasn’t human, to feel connected to other forms of life. “Give him some time to think about it.”
“Can we go by the winery?” Conway asked.
“Not if you’re going to bother your father about the dog.” I lifted my gaze and looked at his reflection in the mirror.
“I won’t,” Conway said.
“Me neither,” Vanessa said.
“Alright. Then we’ll make a pit stop.”