“Either way I know that I’ve never been happy, not before I came here. Here I found my love of being alive – but only nine days out of ten”.
The people of Enysbourg lead merry, fulfilled, blissful lives – nine days out of every ten. On each Tenth Day, the country is ablaze with destruction. Cities are razed, children massacred, every single citizen and visitor to the country experiences unimaginable pain and suffering. But the Day After, peace is restored. All wounds, physical and psychological, are healed. Buildings and roads show no fractures. Families become whole again. Lovers reunite. Memories of the devastation remain, but they do not have the power to do harm.
To make things even more interesting, boats only arrive to, and leave Enysbourg, on the Day After. Enysbourg’s natives accept their home’s idiosyncrasies and willingly pay the price: one day of perfect misery for nine days of perfect happiness. Travellers, who visit the island to escape their mediocre, unsubstantial, uninspired lives abroad, must face the decision, every Day After, to return to the dullness they came from, or to commit to another ten-day cycle in Enysbourg.
It is altogether not an easy choice, although perhaps for different reasons than described in Adam-Troy Castro’s short story. To the brain, there is no absolute black and white, but they only appear so when pitched against each other. Our sensory processes are built to detect, enhance, and signal contrast in the world. The same applies to our thoughts and memories. Would we know that we were truly happy if we had never known sadness?
It could be that those who stay in Enysbourg are joyful not in spite of the Tenth Day, but because of it.