What’s a butch to do? Ignore everything she believes or listen to her heart?
Shelly is a straight-talking gardener who doesn’t believe in anything she can’t see. Give her a square patch of earth, and she’ll bring it to life. Hand over a power drill, and Shelly can knock together a fancy bedroom in under a day. Physical tasks are easy. If only people were as straightforward!
The problems arise when she begins work on a garden near the sea. The owner insists the property has a water issue and demands an excavation of the area. Shelly digs deep, but the ground is dry as sand. In frustration, she talks to the flowers. A sweet voice answers from inside an old lamp. It’s a beautiful Jinni who badly needs the help of a buff woman. Shelly insists the voice is nothing but her own subconscious playing tricks. After all, it’s been a year since her last relationship. Everyone gets lonely. Right?
Kind, loving Jinni. The unluckiest of magical spirits with a history of choosing the wrong mistress. All she’s ever wanted is the love of a strong woman exactly like Shelly. Can Shelly find the strength to believe what’s in front of her nose and make them both happy?
The instant I lifted the device from my head and gratefully glugged water, the voice blared through the peaceful garden. “Look at you -- semi-naked and sweating. Grr. Hurry, Mistress! I’m down here waiting and am so tired of the darkness. Please find me so I can give you a big kiss!”
I hurled the water container in the direction of the fence. “What the fuck? Who said that?” For some reason, I peered into the headphones. “Are you in there?”
The voice giggled. “Not in there, dear Mistress.”
If I hadn’t been so thoroughly shocked -- to the point of fainting -- I might’ve noticed the sweetness of the voice.
Convinced I was taking part in a scene from The Exorcist, I held my hands up to the sides of my head and tried to block it out. “Go away.”
The voice giggled again. “I wish! I’m stuck fast down here. Thank God I’ve been asleep these hundreds of years, or I’d have turned soggy from boredom.”
The voice -- female -- laughed loudly. The sound reverberated through the garden, bouncing off the petals like spring rain. “I heard your call as clearly as anything. Thank you, thank you, my darling Mistress. I’m waiting to serve you. I will be good this time -- no arguing or messing up. I promise never to set fire to your best clothing. I’ll be the best Jinni ever. I won’t burn down your palace.”
I dragged the headphones back onto my head, sipped my water slowly, and reminded myself to breathe. Clearly, I was hallucinating, and no amount of arguing with myself would help. I recalled a documentary about inexplicable phenomena, where the narrator had said it was sometimes better to accept things you couldn’t understand than to argue with them.
With the advice in mind, I lifted one earpiece. Immediately the voice slipped into my consciousness. “Mistress! Hurry with the digging.”
I took off the headphones altogether and pulled out my phone. Maybe I could distract the voice with music?
But she showed no interest in anything but me. “Dear Mistress, what’s your name? How I long to meet you at last. Please hurry so I can see you properly instead of only by magic.”
The word magic got stuck in my throat and caused coughing that wouldn’t abate for several minutes.
She grew impatient with waiting. “Mistress? Mistress?”
I tried to ignore her, but it was impossible -- she sounded young and affectionate, and it seemed churlish to do anything but answer her questions. Somehow, she got inside me and poked my conscience. “Shelly. My name is Shelly.”
My imaginary friend sighed as if I’d confessed a great secret she’d cherish forever. “Shelly. Oh, Mistress! Such a beautiful name. Only a great builder would entrust me with the gift of her name.” She burst into an episode of weeping. “I have longed to serve you for too long. I hope I’m worthy and shall not burn your palace like I did last time.”
Her sobs affected me right down to my littlest toe. My chest hurt, and an unexpected craving gripped me -- an ache to hold a woman who liked me in the same way I liked her and wanted me to look after her. “Aww, please don’t cry. I’m sure you didn’t mean to burn down the palace.” I giggled, wondering if such a statement would be considered treason. “Tell me about yourself. What’s your name?”
One part of my brain understood I was in deep shit—talking to an imaginary friend would not likely be good for me. The other part didn’t care. Speaking with someone interested in me was a blast of fresh air. After a year of being alone and lonely, I couldn’t resist.