Frances used the palm of her hand to cover the large opening of the little plastic neti-pot and she put a finger over the spout. Gently, so as not to disturb her aching head, she shook it so the little packet of salt would dissolve. Carefully, she leaned over the sink, tilted her head, and inserted the spout into her right nostril.
The sneeze came out of nowhere. With the intake she sucked saline into places it should not be, and the blast made bubbles in the neti-pot. Coughing and sputtering, Frances held onto the counter for dear life as she wiped at her face.
“I wish I was over this cold already,” she grumbled to herself.
“Your wish is my command!” came a voice directly behind her.
She whirled to see a heavily muscled man in a turban and silk vest standing in her bathtub. Well, he wasn’t actually standing… his yellow pants ended in golden smoke that never seemed to dissipate.
Frances gasped, then realized that her nasal passages were perfectly clear. She took a few deep breaths. Her head didn’t hurt anymore. The snot was gone, as was the urge to cough. “I can breathe!” she exclaimed.
“You are over your cold!” the strange man, whom she assumed was a product of her fevered brain, said. “You have two wishes left.”
“Wishes?” she looked him up and down. “You’re a genie?” Genies were dangerous. Every story (well, all but the Disney ones) she’d ever read about genies had them causing more trouble than blessings with their wish-granting.
She’d have to be careful. If it was real…which it probably wasn’t…but…
“Where’d you come from?” she asked, wondering whether her clarity was the result of her newly-mucus-free head or some dream psychosis. Nyquil didn’t usually give her that bad a hangover…
“You have freed me from my prison! For that, you have my eternal gratitude, and three wishes.” He put his finger against his cheek. “Two wishes, now that you are over your cold.”
Frances looked around the bathroom. She did have a few very old perfume bottles, but they were sitting on the shelf with a heavy layer of dust. “What prison?” she asked.
The genie gestured to the neti-pot with a flourish.
“The neti-pot?” Frances asked, picking it up. It still had some saline and snot floating around. “But…it doesn’t have a lid! How could you have been trapped? And it’s not that old. It was probably manufactured in the last year.”
“Never mind that,” the genie said. “It’s magic. It doesn’t have to be logical.”
“Well, gee, in that case…” Frances decided it was worth making a simple wish. The worst that could happen would be that she’d wake up and find herself buried in blankets with three cats trapping her in. “I wish my whole house was clean.”
The genie snapped his fingers. Suddenly, the bathroom seemed a little brighter. The grime that had accumulated on the light fixture was gone. Frances stepped out of the bathroom. The stains that had been in the hallway rug when she bought the house six years ago were gone.
The genie followed her out. His legs were looking slightly more human, but his feet were still nothing but smoke.
Frances sat down at the computer. She had to google ‘how to outwit a genie’ before making her final wish.
Her dating profile was still on the screen. There were three messages from men she was trying to politely ignore, and three more messages from strangers she’d had yet to check out. “I wish one of these would turn out to be a decent guy,” she muttered, then quickly clamped her hand over her mouth.
The genie was gone. She checked every corner of her immaculate house, but there was no sign of the fairy-tale being. Frances picked up the neti-pot. She rubbed it. Nothing happened. She cleaned it out with hot, soapy water, then rubbed it again. Nothing. She mixed up the saline again, put it in her nose, and blew.
She just made a mess.
Shaking her head, Frances sat down at the computer again. She clicked the first message and instantly hit Report/Block as the image of a rather hairy and ungroomed penis stared at her. She took a deep breath, then clicked the second message. It started off well enough, but the words ‘…pretty, for someone your size’ and ‘You know what you should do?’ led her to relegate that particular match to the ‘ignore until you’re really desperate’ file.
There was one left. Frances clicked. She assumed that he was the scruffy-looking man standing between the guy in the Batman mask and the man dressed up as Superman. Scruffy-looking she could accept, embrace even. She would even hug a nerf-herder if he remembered to put the toilet seat down and didn’t say ‘what?’ every time she spoke to him.
The next picture showed him looking much more cleaned up, sitting behind a table on a stage with several people who looked familiar. She looked more closely. One of those faces belonged to the writer on one of her favorite shows. ‘My sister told me I had to get all dressed up if I was going to be on the panel,’ he said. ‘I don’t usually look like this.’
At least it didn’t say ‘my mother.’ She looked at his profile. He was a grip for the show, as well as being an avid blogger who rated and reported on everything zombie.
Frances closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, her head was still clear, her house was still clean, and the seemingly perfect dating profile was still up on the screen.
“Well…” she said to the cat, who had just wandered in. “What’s the worst that could happen?” she asked, and clicked ‘reply.’
Sometimes, before writing, I need to warm up. Sometimes, I need to get some silly idea out of my head before I sit down to write the ‘real’ stuff. This was fun to write! And my neti-pot does say ‘genie-style.’