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Controlled Descent

March 3rd, 2006 · Written by · No Comments

Stewardess

The last thing he remembers before boarding is her struggled cry. Forced. Propelled on a viscous sheen of illustrious longing, headed straight for his heart strings.

“Enosh, please,” her saline-polished eyes full of tears, she pleads, “don’t go.”

He’s already walking towards gate, towards the open door of the airplane. The inviting glowing smile of a stewardess motioning him onward. He turns back just long enough to say, “You know I have to Avani. I must go, it’s for the best. But you’ll be in my thoughts, always. I promise.”

He hesitates only a moment, long enough to hear her sobs rising from the depths of her diaphragm. Punctuating the pale specter of what they once shared. Then he’s walking away, back turned, trying to ignore her smell-soaked into his skin after their time together.

“It’ll be better this way,” he whispers under his breath and steps into the cabin. The harsh, artificial lighting welcomes him to a winged wellspring of aerial prowess.

A repetitive, violent shuddering, and he is bounced back to the moment. The seatbelt strapping him into a world of nefarious noise and vibration. His teeth clenched, wracked by spasms of nervousness, Enosh is as wild-eyed as any startled stallion. The whites are showing all the way around, as they scan subdued surroundings.

This is nothing like what he read in the brochure.

The cabin interior is drab and lifeless, full of bland beiges and sterile whites. Rundown and in much need of repair. All filled up with dirty, dusty, neglect. And right now, Enosh is growing more terrified with each tumultuous tremble. He knows this is much more than the typical turbulence.

Avani always told him this was a bad idea, but he had shrugged off her concerns with a calloused cold-shoulder. She means nothing to him now. He tries to push aside the encroaching memories of her tantalizing touch. Her dew-kissed beauty.

Even if she was right, what difference does it make now that he’s committed himself to the cause?

He remembers first seeing the brochure at work-some businessmen in identical tailored suits and sunglasses rushed out of the café, leaving their half finished meals, apparently late for a very important appointment. When he busses their table, he finds it tucked between the salt and pepper shakers in lieu of a tip. Its photos of pristinely manicured, well-dressed socialites bathing in tropical sunlight are somehow strangely enticing. An inanimate object beckoning for outside influence. His fingertips graze over the glossy pages lifting the well-read tri-fold. He reads the brightly colored bubble-letters, captivated. “Catch a Ride to Paradise,” it says. Filled with shots of flashy lodgings, perfect teeth, and luxury transportation-all testosterone and serpentine curves. It’s this day, hypnotized by the hope for an easy way out, that Enosh decides to leave her for good. To rise above the boundaries and constraints she’s placed on him for so long.

A jolting crash impedes on his reminiscent revelry, greater in magnitude than anything he’s felt thus far. No, this is not like the brochure at all.

The fact that no oxygen masks are popping out of the ceiling, uncoiling like snakes, is only a small comfort. His flexed fingers leave furrows in the stained carpeting encircling the arms of the upright seat. Every other face around him is calm, collected, composed. Women, men, children-all engrossed in the effervescent meanderings shifting across radiant monitors mounted into the seat-backs ahead.

He notices no one else is wearing their seatbelt.
Careless and carefree.

They watch the flickering flat-screens, spectators in the primetime play-out of their own precarious predicament. Regurgitated and resurfaced, injected with premeditated passion and pumped back to pixels. Suddenly their life is a made-for-TV mini-documentary. An entertainment-tonight special report. The delicious drama makes a perfect cash-cow.

He notices the screen in front of him is blank.
The emptiness an exemplary aesthetic.

The loudspeaker overhead lights up with sound. The voice of God from the burning bush.

“Attention passengers, we will be reaching our destination in a matter of moments. We appreciate your cooperation.”

Enosh is the only one not swallowing it hook, line and sinker. Something is irrevocably wrong and he knows it. Perhaps Avani was right after all. The ethereal echoes of her sobs mixing with the sensory intake of metal grinding on metal sends him to the brink of despair.

Attempting to disregard the impending sensations of longing deep within, he lets his panicked gaze sweep towards the round window nearby. Anxiety leaps into his throat as he sees the ground approaching at a sickening speed. Rocky terrain reaching up like a jagged tombstone. There’s no runway in sight, no cankerous signs of civilization. The plane is going to crash into the wilderness, go down in a fireball of failed mechanics. A technological assembly of ingenuity ignores the laws of aerodynamics and enters a nosedive.

Enosh begins to scream. The primal sound tearing from his lungs and rasping across his vocal chords, filling the cabin with inhuman shrieks. An old woman nearby, watching the whole scenario unfold on back of the seat in front of her, shooshes him like an annoying child. A couple across the aisle tear their gaze away from their televisions long enough to cast a glare in his direction.
His voice is hoarse, but unable to cope with his impending dismissal to permanent darkness, the screams continue unabated. Their intensity grows until they drown out all else, even the sounds of the airplane shaking itself apart.

A stewardess stops by, awkwardly attempting to keep her balance. She pounds on the lifeless monitor in front of him until it turns on, then she’s moving away to see if anyone else needs a bag of peanuts.

Enosh watches himself on the fixed television as he hyperventilates and hammers the screen into submission with furious fists. Still no one else is fazed by the freefall decent. They return each of his croaking cries with aggravated stares and exasperated sighs.

Unable to take their obliviousness for another tortured second, he throws his seatbelt aside and grabs the nearest passenger-a little girl, picturesque in pink ribbons-and begins shaking her with all his strength. Trying to wake her up. Make her see.

A full-armed swing sends him collapsing to the floor, ears ringing, blood trickling from a busted lip. An angry father glowers over him, daring him to touch his daughter.

As Enosh picks himself up he sees the Emergency Exit and falls into a trance, treading uphill towards it determinedly. One foot in front of the other. Bristling with defiance directed at the apathetic ignorance around him, he reaches for the fire engine red handle.

“I love you Avani,” he says to himself, laughing madly, “I’m coming home.”

Tags: Fiction

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