Resting the Engines

“Look, Maggie, they’re resting an engine.”

Maggie looked out the airplane window where her husband pointed. Sure enough, one of the propellers had ceased to move. She blinked her eyes, maybe it was a trick of the light. But no, the propeller remained still in the buffeting air. The one beside it was a whir of constant motion, practically invisible to the eye.

Maggie turned to her husband in horror and was even more perturbed that he did not seem to care about the disaster in front of them. He was calmly reading Ginsberg’s latest collection.

She looked around at her fellow passengers, dressed in their finery. The return trip to New York City was long and expensive, a luxury. She herself wore the dress she’d worn to the wedding of a good friend’s daughter, even though she hated it. It was her fanciest dress. 

And now she would die in it.

Planes don’t need to rest engines. It’s not a horse. This plane is going to crash into the ocean. If we survive the impact, we are all going to drown. We are never getting home and we are never seeing our children again and we are all going to die.

She sighed. There was no point in saying this to anyone. What good would it do, since nothing could be done? Miles below them, ocean would be spread out as far as the eye could see.

Whenever she had imagined her death, she’d never thought it would be on a transatlantic flight after a long, peaceful holiday in Europe. She’d always imagined dying at home, with her family around her.

Oh, well.

Maggie got up from her seat and made her way through the mingling passengers to the open bar.

“A Macallan, please. Neat. Make it a double. Thank you.”

The bartender handed her the drink and she raised it in a silent toast.          

If we are all going to die, I certainly don’t have to see the water rising.

She tossed back the drink and ordered another.


The plane landed hours later on soil, safe and sound. The pilot made an announcement before the passengers disembarked. They’d lost the function of an engine somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, but there had been no reason for concern. This plane could fly on two out of its four engines, he informed them cheerfully. He hoped they had had a pleasant flight and would travel with Pan Am again soon.

The passengers disembarked steadily. Eventually, there was no one left on board except for Maggie, her husband, and the crew.

Two crew members approached Maggie and took her arms in theirs, lending support. She giggled as she swooned across the floor, her world swaying in a drunken haze.

I’ve never disembarked on a cloud before…good thing I hate this dress…can you bounce on clouds…

Her husband picked up her forgotten handbag and, shaking his head, followed her and the assisting crew members off the plane and into the waiting car to go home. 

My name is Hannah Saal. I am an MFA student at The New School for Fiction and Writing for Children and Young Adults. My fiction been accepted for publication in the 42 Story Anthology by BAMWrites and the Eastern Iowa Review. 

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