Deep Play

Sean Ennis


I just prefer it when Grace is in a good mood, so I’ll put my noise cancelling headphones on and tiptoe. A certain fragile stability rides today on whether Gabe makes the basketball team—we’re waiting on the list’s appearance. The dogs are not thrilled about the new bedspread. I don’t think of myself as a people-pleaser. I have learned I’m a fan of delivery systems: a gorgeously shaped bottle, a pipe when they come back into style, the Amazon website. I also consider convenience and price.

Kevin thinks he might want to buy our old car, but I tell him about the deadly recall. The red letters I get in the mail say the airbag might explode! I don’t want him to try to fix it himself, or doubt our friendship because of lies by omission, but my sense is he gets pleasure from tinkering.

Grace plans on riding in a hot air balloon later this afternoon down at the ball field . Well, it will not, like, venture forth, just go up and then down. It’s for a good cause or something that needs money.

She says, “I know you’re too cool for it,” but I’ll watch.

I have no fond memories of, or sentimental feelings for, the car. It’s my fourth or fifth. Once, an eleven year old muttered, “Well, this trip just got a lot less cool,” when he climbed into the backseat. I didn’t even turn the radio on. I let it bother me for about half of the drive to see The Avengers when I remembered that his own mother didn’t love him all that much.

The hot air balloon adventure is cancelled due to wind. I had secretly decided, yes, I would go up with Grace, but my brave gesture is meaningless now. I swear the next time there is an opportunity to do something with no purpose, I won’t rationalize or get embarrassed. Grace says, “It’s called ‘fun,’”and that’s fair.

As I recall, there was a wedding in Georgia, a decade ago, where we danced in an empty ballroom because everyone we knew had left.

Let me think about this further. On our first date, I had to send back a whole plate of food because I was allergic. I could have died, but we laughed and laughed. It’s a story we’ve told Gabe.

He made the team. I’m thankful because he had leveraged his whole personality on being accepted at play. From my perspective, he has decent handles and a good long range shot. He will not go pro, but that’s not the point.


Sean Ennis is the author of CHASE US (Little A) and his fiction has recently appeared in New World Writing, Diagram, Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y, and HAD. More of his work can be found at