Saturday 24 June 2023

'Monster Mouth' by Sheree Shatsky

Monster Mouth fans his flames with ragged accordion breaths. Hisses.   Grumbles. Shimmers yellow, trembles orange. Coughs up a Barbie, her zebra   swimsuit charred.

The girl loved that doll. She gives the heater a good kick.

It bellows red, red, red, then red hot red with spits of blue, like hot flames on a   gas stove pop pop popping fried chicken in an iron skillet.

She scoots back fast against the chilly concrete block.

“Now you’ve made him mad.” The boy tugs a toy soldier from his pocket.   “Heads up,” he calls.

She looks at him looking down at her from where the flimsy floor vent gave   way beneath her feet.

“For protection,” he says and drops the combat commando through the hole.

A box of tissues drops next, followed by a cookie. Oatmeal with a hint of cherry  chocolate.

“Monster Mouth, he’s got a cold,” the brother tells the sister. “Give him the  cookie and maybe, he’ll let you wipe his nose.”

The heater snorts. Snuffles. Sniffs back a sneeze.

You wipe his nose,” she yells back and throws the cookie inside the monster’s  mouth. She smells toasted oatmeal. Melted cherry chocolate. Browning brown  sugar.

She imagines being swallowed by a bakery.

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