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Tom Terrific

by Sharyn Kolberg

About the Author: Sharyn Kolberg is a ghostwriter of more than 20 non-fiction best-sellers and is now moving into fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Literal Latte, The Mensa Bulletin Fiction Issue and Akashic Book’s “Mondays Are Murder.” She has just completed her first cozy and is working on her second.


Tom Terrific was barely on the edge of good-looking. Sometimes women fell for his gray-blue eyes, but most were turned off by his twitchy upper lip. He tried growing a mustache but could only manage one that was John Waters pencil-thin, which simply accentuated his small but noticeable spasms.

Tom’s vocabulary was no better or worse than any other close-to-30-year-old man, but his favorite and most frequently-used word was “terrific.” He could use it in a variety of ways. When good things happened, which was not often enough to his way of thinking, he simply said, “terRIFic.” On those occasions, the word had a lilt and an uplift in the middle. When things did not go his way, which was a much more likely scenario, he’d say “terrific” low and slow, like the word had a hundred-pound weight attached to it.

I’ll give you a for instance.

The last time I broke up with Tom, he winced and then said “terrific” from deep inside his throat, swirling it around in his mouth as if trying to rid himself of the rubble of his bad experience. Then he left. That was years ago.

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