Two Hours

The orange juice on the tray in front of me starts rippling. Absent-mindedly, I grasp the plastic cup. I hear the engines roar as the plane rocks and shudders. Abruptly, I realize where I am: 38,000 feet in the air, traveling at 700mph in a tiny, fragile metal tube. It’s night outside, but even if it weren’t, all I would be seeing out the Plexiglas windows would be clouds, and maybe mountains.

“My Mom was once on a flight and in just a few seconds the plane dropped about 10,000 feet. Even the cabin crew were screaming!”

Why do I have to remember that story now? It’s just turbulence, it happens all the time. It’s not dangerous!

The rocking intensifies. A part of me knows that it’s safe, but that last voice of reason is stifled by primal fear taking over. I grasp his arm. How long has this been going on? A minute, maybe two?

I glance at the flight information. Eight hours to go. I can’t take this any longer. But there’s nowhere to go. Upon boarding that plane I surrendered my life to the crew and the engineers who built that tin can. Foolishly, I trusted that they knew what they were doing.

The engines are revving, and I can feel the plane accelerating. There is a soft ping and the seatbelt signs light up. The crew are sitting down…that cannot be good. I bury my face in his chest. I cannot lift my head to look at the screen anymore. The primal fear now has me completely paralyzed. All I can do is wheeze with every new jerking.

He reads out the numbers to me. Speed, altitude, trajectory. Over and over, while I am certain that I’ll never escape from this death trap. His voice is soothing, and if I died right now it wouldn’t be so bad…

But the elements aren’t kind enough to end it right here. They keep toying with us for the next two hours. Two hours, each minute of which seems like an eternity, gnawing away my sanity with every bit of shaking and revving and rocking.

And then it stops. Reluctantly, I open my eyes and squint into the unexpected brightness. It’s daylight now, and outside the window I can see clouds and mountains passing by…peaceful and impassive and eternal.

[390 words]

(c) Anett Enzmann 2020

Away

I have been away for quite some time now. Too much has happened in the last three months, and it has kept my mind preoccupied with things other than writing. Work, the day-to-day nuisances of life, and—most importantly—nesting. For me, the winter months are a time during which I withdraw to be by myself, to enjoy the serenity of the tranquil dark, to wrap myself in cozy blankets, to shut out the world…if only for a little while. The smell of the cold, the gothic gloom brought on by the early nightfall, and the vague excitement about the upcoming holidays always held an almost magical quality for me. Writing about it and thus dissecting it, attempting to put it to paper (or—worse—typing it into an impassive, cold, logical machine and revising it on a bright screen) would rob it of the very magic I hope to preserve. So I simply took it all in, and in time, when the magic has faded on its own, I will be able to write again…about the smell of homemade food, the comforting warmth of Wassail, the purring of the feline companions, and the dreams, slowly fading away in the first light of dawn.

[204 words]

(c) Anett Enzmann 2020

Closure

In front of the house there had been a dead tree. Its bark had long scaled off, leaving it white and bare and raw. A rosebush had fancied it the spot to make its new home and entwined itself around its tall stature—spawning myriads of bright pink blossoms every year, imbuing the air around the house with the scent of summer. There were so many of them that every visitor would get a bouquet of roses, should they want one, and sometimes I would feed one or two flowers to the iguana.

I turn around the corner and reluctantly step onto the street. I used to live here. This is weird. Nothing has changed. The narrow street is lined with the same neatly cut hedges, behind which the deceivingly friendly dwellers of this village lurk. It’s quiet, eerie, just like it had always been, back then. I keep walking towards the house, each step slower than the one before—

…and there it is. A low, wooden fence, and behind it the cowering, red brick stone structure, a lonely, garishly green watering can, and a bench that wasn’t there before. The dead tree must have had to yield to a neatly mowed lawn, and the scent of summer has long since faded away.

[214 words]

(c) 2019 Anett Enzmann

The End of the Line

In a dark corner of my office there is a small box. It’s bright and colorful, but otherwise utterly unremarkable. It emanates a strange odor, reminiscent of the musky, moldy basements where it had been kept over the past twenty years, before my Mom had thought of giving it to me.

In it, there is a pile of yellowing, crumbling paper that smells even older. Pages and pages of text that my 12-year-old self wrote on an old typewriter. Short stories, lyrics, school projects; deep thoughts only a teenager could think. I spent days, weeks, months, pressing down the mechanical keys of that typewriter, seeing letters magically appearing behind the ribbon, words manifesting on page after page, the loud clacking of the keys and the ethereal ping reminding me that I had reached the end of the line.

Ping.

[139 words]

(c) Anett Enzmann 2019

Clarity

“She’s just like you!”

We met Tom and Sally at a small restaurant in Encinitas, California. Tom had picked us up at the airport, but I had yet to meet his wife, son, and sister, who joined us shortly after we had been seated at a large round table. Sally, who had been previously described to me as introverted and awkward, engaged me quite vividly, asking me all kinds of questions about where I was from, what I was doing and the like — the kind of polite scrutiny you would expect upon meeting people for the first time, especially when you’re about to marry their closest friend of thirty years.

After a while I excused myself to go to the restroom — in no small part, to give everyone the opportunity to gossip. My fiancé had been doing this every time we met his friends on this trip: as soon as I left, he would say “So? What do you think? Isn’t she awesome?” I liked that little ritual even though I was slightly embarrassed by the flood of compliments and awe I would receive by proxy when we got home. And this time was no different.

Back in the car, my fiancé told me how Sally — as soon as I was out of earshot — in a moment of clairvoyance had blurted out the one sentence that we keep quoting to each other to this day:

 “She’s just like you!”

To this day we are not sure whether she meant it as a compliment or an insult. But whichever it was, she couldn’t have been more right.

[267 words]

(c) Anett Enzmann 2019

No words

I haven’t written anything in a week. Well, I’ve been working, but my client’s enthusiastic announcement for their new game feature hardly seems significant, considering everything else that’s been going on, now does it?

Usually, I don’t get anxious reading the news. There is nothing I can do about it anyway.* But just looking at the unfathomable footage of the burning Amazon, the events unfolding in the UK, the US, and Germany, reading statements and comments, leaves me stunned, unbelieving, overwhelmed. What has gotten into you people?! When have we, as a species, descended into this kind of madness? Aren’t we supposed to be the smart ones? When have we decided to abandon all reason? And for what? A treacherous illusion of happiness, meaning, fulfillment? So we can live out our days gluttonously, comfortably and in what little comfort we can amass? Just so we can feel good about ourselves  — or rather better than everyone else — we blindly believe those who offer easy solutions for complex problems, not realizing — or worse, accepting — that they are just as mad, just as scared as we are?

Seriously, what’s wrong with us?

Five minutes really isn’t a long time, but this had to be said nonetheless…

*Strictly speaking, that’s not even true. Vote. Sign petitions. Protest. Boycott. Donate.

[217 words]

(c) Anett Enzmann 2019

Anachronism

The living room window overlooks The City. A church looms over narrow cobblestone alleys lined with quaint frame houses. Ivy and roses wind around colorful doorways reminiscent of Tolkien’s Shire. No trees. They didn’t have room for them in the Middle Ages. This part of the town is slowly sinking; you can see the cracks in the walls.

Then: a parking lot. A nightclub. Stores. People on bikes. The occasional horse-drawn carriage chauffeuring flocks of tourists to the sets of the soap opera that is being filmed here. The adjacent street has trees. Workers dutifully cut them into shape every spring. The sound of sports car engines revving. Honking. Busses. Sirens. Someone is smoking under the window.

The church bells are tolling, and a loud ping proclaims that I’ve got mail.

[132 words]

(c) Anett Enzmann 2019