Jaw Breaker - by Ken Goldman (Flash Fiction 2021)

Ken Goldman, former Philadelphia teacher of English and Film Studies, is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association. He has homes on the Main Line in Pennsylvania and at the Jersey shore. His stories have appeared in over 930 independent press publications in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia with over thirty due for publication in 2021. Since 1993 Ken’s tales have received seven honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. He has written six books : three anthologies of short stories, YOU HAD ME AT ARRGH!! (Sam's Dot Publishers), DONNY DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (A/A Productions) and STAR-CROSSED (Vampires 2); and a novella, DESIREE, (Damnation Books). His first novel OF A FEATHER (Horrific Tales Publishing) was released in January 2014. SINKHOLE, his second novel, was published by Bloodshot Books August 2017.

Jaw Breaker

by Ken Goldman

“Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager

imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.”

Speech Therapy Exercise for Norman Oliver, age 26

Melissa, all in pink...

Was any sight more incredible? Seeing his little girl dressed up for his sister’s wedding looking like a walking china doll was enough to make Norman believe that his life had meaning after all. Not long ago that same conviction would have proven a hard sell, but sometimes life turned on a dime and things just straightened themselves out. His speech therapy seemed finally to be paying off. He had pulled that ace straight from the deck like a magic trick, and voila!

“Daddy, Daddy! Look at me! Watch me, Daddy!”

Melissa, giggling as only a six year old can, tossed her ball into the air, spun three times, and caught it just before it hit the ground. Precious moments in Norman’s life had been few and he intended to savor this one.

“Six thick thistle sticks ... six thick thistles stick ...”

Norman repeated the tongue tangler under his breath before he shouted out, “That’s just great, honey.”

‘Great’ seemed an inaccurate term to describe this moment, but he wasn’t ready to risk “Wonderful” just yet. Some words tangled on the journey between his brain and his tongue and he still blew wind with his W’s. But he no longer gurgled his G’s nor locked his lips around his M’s.

Margaret had remained inside. His wife wouldn’t leave dishes in her sink even if she had to clean them while wearing her best dress. Old habits die hard.

“‘Three free thugs set three thugs free’... Hot damn!! Got it! ” Norman said. He was going to nail that congratulatory speech for his sister like a champ.

The garage door opened. Margaret was backing the Camry into the driveway. She rolled the window down and waved to her husband. Lost in his brief reverie it took a moment for the thought to register.

Melissa ... Where ...?

The little girl had stepped behind the fern bush to retrieve her ball and had reappeared upon the blacktop, but Margaret’s wave had momentarily preoccupied the woman from seeing her.

Margaret didn’t see her daughter.

Melissa didn't see the car.

Melissa, all in pink ...

Norman’s mouth struggled forming the words. “W-w-w-w-w-watch ---”
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