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Narrative Engines by Sean Ennis


Here I am, showing initiative, and the people in charge of me are largely apathetic. I’m getting smaller and smaller, and continue to gravitate towards the marketplace of ideas of weirdness.

Grace is way up on the ladder, fixing Gabe’s basketball hoop.

I have suggested to my student-athlete, Wes, who I tutor, who I care about more than he cares about me, the idea of writing a paper about Mars. He is a total blank slate on astronomy.

“It’s red. Is it hot there?”

“No, it’s farther from the sun.”


“We have cars on Mars?”

“Yes, they’re called rovers.”

I do love this. But he begins to talk about Mars as if one day, we will be there, he and I, still writing papers.

“Can’t wait to go,” he says.

I do want someone to take me under their wing. Do I intimidate or do people just not like me? There’s a lot going on inside my mind. Just when I think I’m done with wacky premises, they keep arising in real life. Things are wacko. Grace backed out of making dinner, so I’m left with her ingredients that my heart just isn’t into.

There is the unmistakable feeling of third party involvement. They’re saying now you have to pay to park, when it used to be between me and the spot. Grace is getting into magic rocks that do things and I don’t say anything because I try to be a supportive partner and really what does it bother me?


Some people get more religious in middle age as they see the red brick wall of death. You’ve noticed by now I’m basically friendless, and tired of clearing my throat.


Sean Ennis is the author of CHASE US: Stories (Little A) and more pieces from this project have appeared, or are forthcoming, in New World Writing, Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y, Diagram and HASH. More of his work can be found at seanennis.net


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