The silver shower gel swirled and flickered specks of rainbows as I tilted the bottle and held it up to the light. This could be fun. And I was tired. Tired and achy and grumpy, to be honest. I could really do with a nice, spa-like shower experience. Besides, it was the same price as all the other shower gels. How could I lose?
I took my Perseid Meteor Shower Gel up to the checkout and slapped down a bill. Done.
At home, I laid out my extra fluffy bathrobe and slippers before digging out the Egyptian cotton towels Mom gave me last year. I peeled back the wrapper on my new shower gel and gave it a cursory glance. “Feel the power of the stars with each shower.” Does anyone fall for those lines? I popped open the top, sniffed, and was immediately taken back to my childhood growing up in the countryside. Huh. It smelled just like a dry cornfield before a thunderstorm. How did they bottle that?
I adjusted the water to just the right temperature and stepped under the pulsing jets. The steam curled around me. Droplets hammered on my stiff neck. I dribbled a little bit of the gel into my palm.
Hey! I shook my hand. What stung me? The silvery gel swirled down the drain. I poured a little more into my palm. How odd. Everywhere the gel touched my skin I could feel little pinpricks of heat. Is this what an allergic reaction feels like? Still exploring, I rubbed my hands together. What a curious sensation. I closed my eyes. The anticipation of the summer storm enveloped my senses, like a prickling at the back of my neck.
Heat continued to build as I spread the gel over my body. The sparkling rainbows spread in psychedelic pinwheels of color. It wasn’t unpleasant, sort of like applying a menthol rub. It certainly woke up my body. I inhaled deeply. A dull roar started to grow. Looking around the shower enclosure, I wondered where the noise was coming from. Maybe the furnace kicked on. Lather built across my skin.
Something slammed against my ankle. Then hit my thigh. Stomach. No longer did the gel simply sting and warm. I was being punched. I slapped at the suds. I kicked. Wriggled. A small tornado of human panic ensued as I flailed under the shower. In my panic, I kicked the bottle over.
A viscous puddle collected under my feet. Ow! My big toe just got stomped on. The roar throttled up to the incessant shriek of a jet engine. I added my scream to the cacophony. The paisley rainbows burst into 4th of July sparklers. Their heat singed my skin. I looked down. The entire contents of the gel was now building and smoking, growing like a volcanic bubble of silver, purple and green flickering flame.
The explosion knocked me off my feet. I lay there in the bottom of the tub, staring up at scorched subway tile and a tattered shower curtain. Stars still sparkled before my eyes, but they quickly faded as they arced down and fizzled into the mist.
I picked up the bottle. “Not For Children. Best When Used in Outdoor Showers. Remove Breakables from Area.”