Kind, Heated House

Sean Ennis


This cat has shown up at the house, very vocal, very bossy. It’s as if the spirit of someone my family has wronged inhabits it. People don’t believe it gets cold in Mississippi, but winter is gray and rainy and damp. So we feed the cat. It has a big head, so a big brain, so maybe pretty smart, which I respect. I’ve never really seen a cat I’d consider to be pretty.

This is off to a strange start, a sort of dead end. The cat bit is about kindness, but I’m not always this way. I don’t, like, enjoy sitting on a bench in the cold listening to an elder talk out their wisdom. I get more from music with no beats and no words. I don’t always read the entirety of your emails. Probably, there were a few videotapes I didn’t rewind. The ice maker makes little frozen bullets, which could be a metaphor if I felt like talking about how I used to drink too much and was unkind.

But Xmas is coming and I’ve got a little money in my pocket. A first. It’s really Grace who is the gift-giver: she has the depth of imagination and is good at the internet. I tend to give people what I want them to like. Unfair. Once, when Gabe was little, we made him a watch a video where Santa said he could have done better this year. We had chosen the wrong script, but Gabe still remembers the fear. He’s standing in the kitchen now, tall as me, still not having a laugh about it.

It’s well-known that the day’s first cigarette is a good one, and some mornings I just don’t feel like feeding that cat. It costs very little but it does cost. What had the cat done to get itself into this predicament? Where is my upside? Grace, of course Grace, has ordered a heated box for it to sleep in. She sees the whole transaction differently.

But, oh my god, I am not having a moral crisis here. The cat—black and gray, big-headed, like I said—will move on. It is well-fed. Cats, I’ve discovered—and this can’t be true but I heard it from an expert—don’t talk to each other, but have learned, through kindness, to speak to people.


Sean Ennis is the author of CHASE US: Stories (Little A) and his fiction has recently appeared in Maudlin House, Hobart, X-R-A-Y, Diagram and Bending Genres. More of his work can be found at