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Roxanne and the Sneeze Mentor


randomguy

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It's been years since I posted here, but this idea just popped into my head the other day, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I ended up writing waaaaay more than I had planned, so I'm going to post in chunks so nobody will get overwhelmed. I hope you enjoy!

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“Pass,” I groaned as I swiped left over yet another profile and took a deep swig from my glass of merlot.

“Oh, come on!” Jeannie objected from beside me, “What was wrong with that one?”

I rolled my eyes as I looked over at her mildly disappointed face.

“Are you serious?” I said, a little too much smirk creeping into my voice, “Did you see his face? I don’t go for the ‘smolder’ type.”

“Yeah, well,” Jeannie sighed, “I thought he was cute.” She polished off her glass before adding, “You can’t keep swiping left all night, Rox. You’re never going to get anywhere that way.”

“I know,” I said as I leaned my head against the back of the sofa, “I know. But I can’t help it if I haven’t seen the right one yet!”

“Honestly, Roxanne,” Jeannie said as she stood up and slung her purse over her shoulder, “would you even know if the right one came along? Do you know what you’re looking for?”

I screwed up my mouth a little and shrugged at the question.

“I really don’t know. I’ve been out of the dating game for so long…”

“Yes! Exactly! When was the last time you went on a date, huh? Like, 9th grade?”

“No,” I said as I stood up to walk her to the door. It wasn’t exactly a lie. There was that one time in 10th grade, after all.

“Well, you’re in college now, honey. Senior year. And I haven’t seen you with anyone since we started together.”

“So I’m focused on my classes. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing,” Jeannie said as she stepped through the door and into the night. “But you can do both, can’t you?”

I shrugged again.

“I guess so. I just…”

“Rox,” Jeannie quietly interrupted, gently taking both of my hands (one of which still held my phone) between her own, “I want you two remember these two things, okay? First: you don’t need a guy to be happy, but if anybody deserves one, it’s you. You’re never gonna know what’s out there if you don’t give it a chance, right?”

“Okay.” I swallowed hard and nodded as I took in her words. “Okay. What’s the second thing?”

“The second thing is… don’t get mad about this.”

Before I knew what was happening, Jeannie had yanked my phone away and swiped right across the screen.

“No!” I shouted as she handed my phone back with a wicked grin across her face.

“Oops!” she said, “My hand slipped!”

“Jeannie, you-”

But by then, she was already halfway down the driveway.

“Bye Rox!” she said with a wave over her shoulder. “Remember, you can’t get mad!”

In spite of myself, I could feel my lips starting to curve upwards into a smile as I watched Jeannie’s slim figure hurry away down the block. Classic Jeannie.

With a shake of my head, I checked my phone, ready to send an apology message to whoever’s profile Jeannie had swiped right on.

Instead, I looked at the screen and froze.

“Huh,” I muttered to myself as I sat back down on the sofa.

I took another sip of my wine and looked at the picture a little more closely.

The man on the screen had light brown hair with the gentlest of waves running through it, and he gazed into the camera with deep, caramel-colored eyes. The side of his mouth was tugged upward into a shy smile. It was the kind of smile you see people trying to fake in all of their profile pics (usually through some filter with a dumb name like Sunset Dreams), only I could somehow feel in my gut that this one was completely genuine.

“Michael, age 25” read the words under his picture. And underneath that:

“I’ve found that the best things in life come when you dive in head first. If you’re ready to take the plunge, then I’ll jump with you.”

“Huh,” I said to myself again as I finished off the glass of wine.

*******************************************************

I should have known there was going to be trouble when I poured myself that third glass. Two is normally my limit, but I felt like I needed an extra boost of liquid courage to send the first message. So I went ahead and poured, completely forgetting why I had made that rule in the first place.

He messaged me back surprisingly fast, but I had already finished the glass by that time, and now all of my nerves were screaming and my stomach was a swirling void of chaos, so I poured again before responding. I completely lost count of how many glasses I was downing over the course of the next hour as we messaged each other back and forth. In fact, nothing out of the ordinary registered with me until after we had agreed to meet up three days from now and said goodnight to each other.

I decided I’d have just one more glass before going to bed to celebrate my bravery. But when I tilted the bottle, nothing came out.

“Wha…?” I muttered quietly, holding the bottle up to the light.

Empty.

“Oh, Jesus,” I said, the panic beginning to mount as realization dawned and I felt the first tickles beginning in my nose.

“Oh, hell.” I jumped up from the couch, my head suddenly spinning from the alcohol as the tickle rapidly began to grow. “Oh, Lord, what heh… have I… duh… done?”

I jammed my finger under my nose and began to stumble towards the bathroom, hoping I would make it in time, but knowing I wouldn’t.

“heh… hah… Oh, guh… God… Huh… HAAAA…”

When I reached the door, I flipped the switched, flooding my vision with light. That was all it took.

“HAAAAA… HEEEEEEEEEE… HAAAAAAAAAASHOOOOOOOO! HUUUUESHOOOOOO!”

I raced to the mirror just in time to see my eyelids squeeze shut as the next sneeze burst out.

“HEEEESHOOOOOO! HUH… HUH-EEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOO!”

The tickle was still as strong as ever. I fought to keep my eyelids open, but they fluttered shut anyways as I fumbled blindly for the tissues.

“HEH… HEEEESHOOOOOO! HURRREEEESHOOOOO! Heh… HEEEEEEESHOOOOOOO! HAAAAAAEEEEESHOOOOO!”

Finally, I managed to get ahold of one of the tissues, and I brought it to my face just in time to muffle the next sneeze.

“Huh-MMMMMMPFSCHOOO! HAH-MMMMMMPFCHOO!”

I scrunched up my eyes and pressed my hands harder against my face as I geared up for another volley of sneezes.

“Heh-MMMMPFSCH! HUH-CHMPF! MMMMMMPFSCH!”

That last one ripped the tissue to shreds. I threw it feebly towards where I thought the trash can was as my breath began to hitch once again.

“Heh… hih… HAH…”

I gripped the edges of the counter. This was going to be big.

“HAH… EH… EEEEEEEEEEESHOOO! HAH-EEEEEEEEEESHOOOOO! Heh… hah… hah-SHOOO! Heh… huh…ih…”

I sniffed once, and that sent me over the edge.

“HAAAAAAAAAAAAA… HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOO!”

I sniffled again, feeling the tickle fade away. That last sneeze had gotten it out, but I wasn’t out of hot water yet. I bit my lip nervously as I got ready to open my scrunched eyes and survey the damage. When I finally got up the courage to open them and wipe away the tears that had formed, I groaned in frustration at what I was seeing. The tissue hadn’t even made it close to the trash can (it turned out to be in the complete opposite direction), the mirror was absolutely covered in spit and snot, and it appeared that, at some point, I had knocked over my toothbrush cup, spilling water all over the bathroom counter.

“Dice job, Roxad,” I grumbled to myself as I trudged down to the kitchen to grab some paper towels. “Thad’s just fadtastic. Great work.”

I could feel bitter tears beginning to sting my eyes as I wiped up the mess I’d made in the bathroom. This always happened to me. Always. It wasn’t just alcohol. Pollen, grass, animal hair, it all got to me, and I could never control it. Never.

Some women could just scrunch their noses or turn to the side and let out a quiet little “choo!” and just be done with it. God, I hated those women.

And here I was, ready to go on my first date in years, and my stupid damn nose was all set to ruin it. Ruin it, and every attempt at dating I would ever make. If I sneezed that way in front of Michael, I wondered, what would those deep, caramel eyes express? Fear? Anger? Disgust? And that mouth, with its crooked half-smile. What would it say? That’s so gross, Roxanne, you’re so rude, Roxanne, I never want to see you again, Roxanne. Something like that, I was sure.

“I’m not gonna cry,” I said to myself through gritted teeth as I scrubbed the mirror, “I will not cry.”

I bit my lip and swallowed against the tears, but I couldn’t stop them. They came anyway, running in torrents down my cheeks.

“Oh, damn it,” I swore quietly as I sat on the toilet seat and rested my head in my hands, hot tears running between my fingers.

I guess I knew on some level that I was making a slightly bigger deal out of this than I needed to, but with almost an entire bottle of wine in me and my head still swimming from my sneezing fit, I wasn’t quite thinking straight.

I think that’s what led me to do what I did next, because I’m fairly certain that I would never have even given it a thought, much less actually done it, had I been in my right mind.

My head still spinning wildly, I pulled my phone from my pocket and absentmindedly navigated to some online dating advice forum. I don’t even remember which one. I clicked on “New Topic,” entered “PLEASE HELP!!!!!” as the subject, and typed out my question:

Quote

hi so i have realy loud snezzes like, reeeeeally loud. im going on a date, and hes gonna freak out if I sneeez in front of him. how do I change my sneezes?!?!?! PLEASE HEEEEEELP!!!!!

In my dizzy, drunken mind, it seemed like the perfect post. No spelling mistakes or anything. What a great idea this was! So I hit the “Post” button and went to bed, feeling overly proud of my brilliant idea.

That’s what started it all.

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Wow, this was a great first chapter and I can't wait to follow along with this story! I thought for some reason that this guy she's gonna go out with was the title's "sneeze mentor," but now I know that's not likely where this is going. Neat, neat idea. Bonus points for using the quote styling and writing "snezzes" on purpose xP

Does Roxanne only get triggered to sneeze after drinking a certain amount of wine or other alcoholic beverage? Another intriguing element...

Anyway, great work so far!

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I confess to being wildly excited for this concept based on where it has started and where the title will take it. Super excited for the next chapter and I can't wait to read more! Amazing work thus far and great sneezes!

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zneeze and Sneezingnonstop, you guys made my day yesterday! Thank you so much! Here's part 2. Just so you know, this is kind of where the story takes a hard left into Crazytown, but I think that's a place most of us are at least a little familiar with. ;)

Admins: Please let me know if having part of the story told in pictures is a problem for the forum! I have the story completely in text form too, and I'm happy to edit.

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I woke up the next morning with a foggy memory and a splitting headache.

“Serves you right,” I thought to myself as I groggily headed to the kitchen to make some coffee, hoping that would be enough.

Partway through my cup of Folgers, my memories of the night before began to come back to me. I remembered Michael and the date we had set up for Saturday. I remembered my crazy sneezing fit and cleaning up after myself in the bathroom. And… hadn’t there been… some internet thing, too? A question, or…

My eyes bolted open as the memory returned to me.

“Oh my God!”

I scrambled to my bedroom to grab my phone, ignoring the banging in my head and frantically searching through my internet history until I found my forum post. I held my breath as I checked the status.

“0 replies, 3 views”

I sighed in relief as I deleted the post, thanking my lucky stars that hardly anybody had seen my drunken mistake.

As I scrolled back to the top of the page to close it, though, something caught my eye.

“1 new message”

“What?” I thought to myself. “Who on earth would be messaging me?”

Figuring it must be some kind of spam, I clicked the closed envelope in the corner of the screen.

I was a little surprised to find that the message contained a link and nothing else. No greeting, no signature, nothing. Just the link. It was to a page on a site called PrivNote, which I vaguely remembered hearing something about. It was a site that let you send notes that would self-destruct after you read them. It felt a little weird to me, but I figured that it couldn’t hurt to take a look, so I clicked the link and read the note that was waiting for me.

My jaw dropped as I saw the words.

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I read the message twice over, unable to believe I could possibly be seeing it correctly. My stupid post that hardly anybody had seen had actually gotten a reply? But who would do something like that? Help with my sneezing problem? How? This had to be a joke. Right?

I scrolled to the top of the page, deciding that this was definitely just a prank. My finger hovered over the tiny X, ready to close the window and put this behind me.

But I didn’t press it.

As soon as I tried, I remembered that once this window was closed, the message was gone forever. That was probably a good thing, sure, but… what if it was real? What if there really was someone out there that could make sure my giant, messy sneezes couldn’t mess up my date with Michael, and every date that came after, for that matter? What if I really could get this problem out of my life once and for all?

It was crazy, of course. Just crazy. There’s no way it was real.

But… what if it was?

I gulped, took a deep breath, and opened up the phone keypad. With shaking fingers, I slowly began to dial the number.

“I’m just going to call and ask what’s going on,” I told myself. “I’m just going to see if it’s real, and it won’t be, and then I’ll just hang up, okay?”

I could hear my heartbeat as I held the phone to my ear, and it began to ring…

And ring... and ring…

After nine rings with no answer from either a person or an answering machine, I finally hung up, closed the browser, and breathed a deep sigh of relief. Just like I thought. It was nothing. Chuckling at my own silliness, I headed back to my room to get ready for my first class, completely unaware that I had just changed everything.

*******************************************************

The cold air hit my nose as soon as I stepped out of the shower.

“hih… hih… hitchoo! Huh… Hushoo! Hah… HAAAAACHOO! EEEEEESHEW!”

“Oh bad,” I said as I rubbed my tingling nose, “I albost wish thad sdeeze guy was for real!”

Before I left the apartment, I took a couple Claritin tablets, hoping it would stave off any sneezing fits for at least a couple of hours. As soon as I opened the front door, though, the bright light and pollen hit me like a freight train.

“Oh… oh by gah… God… Hah… HASHOOOOOO! EEEEEESHOOOO! HEH-IIIIISHOOOO!”

I sniffled and brought my hands up to my face. My nose wasn’t done yet.

“HEH-EEEEESHOOOO!” I sneezed hard into my cupped hands, the sheer force of it bending me double. “HEEEEEEEH-CHOW! EEEESHOOOO! HAT-SHOOOO! HEH… HESCHOOOOOO!”

I sniffled tentatively again and started to walk to class when the tickle came back yet again.

“HEEEESHOW! EEEESCHOOOOO! AAAASCHOOOO! Huh… HUSHOOOOOOOO! HURRRRUSHOOO!”

I growled in exasperation. “JESUS!” I screamed at the sky, “CAD’T I BE DODE YET?!”

I sniffled again, cautiously feeling for any remaining tickles before heading off to class.

“Stupid Claritin,” I grumbled to myself. “That stuff is useless.” I pulled the top of my shirt up over my nose to try to keep out any more tickles, begrudgingly writing off my date with Michael as a lost cause.

Class, thankfully, passed by without incident. The cool air inside the building gave my nose a much-needed rest from its sneezing, so things seemed to be looking up until my phone buzzed in my pocket. Class was almost over by then, so I waited until I was out the door before checking the text message.

When I did, I stopped dead in my tracks and felt my blood run cold.

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My mind started scrambling as I read the words over and over. This was impossible. No way was this real. What was going on? Who was this person? Why were they texting me? Frantically, I typed "Who are you?!" into the reply box and hit send. I got the reply a few seconds later.

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"What do you want?!?!" I typed in reply.

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I gulped and took a deep breath before responding to this message.

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Well, this story has taken a very interesting turn. Honestly not sure what to expect from something like this but it should be interesting at the least. Loved the sneeze fit for sure though, great work and good luck for the next part

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Fantastic story so far! Really excited to see where this goes; keep up the amazing work!

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Thank you all for your encouraging comments! I'm so glad to see there's some interest! It's looking like this is going to be a five-part thing. I hope you all like the direction I'm taking this in; I know it's a little different, but I'm hoping the payoff will be worth it. Here's part 3!

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I considered calling the police as soon as I got the text, I really did, but what would I tell them? “Officer, help! This person I called is texting me! Whatever shall I do?”

I was certain at first that I wasn’t going to reply. I had already messed up enough, posting the question, reading the message, calling the number, answering the texts. Why get in any deeper? I should get out before it got dangerous! Then a thought occurred to me. If I trusted this person, whoever they were, then I also trusted that they would keep their promise to keep me safe. But if I didn’t trust this person, then that meant I didn’t believe they would keep their promise to leave me alone anyway. Really, not replying was no less risky than replying. And if they really could do what they said…

And so, as the clock changed from 8:58 to 8:59 that night, with my breathing shallow and rapid and my hands trembling so hard that I almost didn’t finish typing in time, I sent the message:

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The reply was immediate, before I even had the chance to second-guess myself, which I absolutely would have.

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“Okay,” I replied, my heart pounding in my chest, “is that all?”

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I gulped and felt my pulse quicken. I figured I was in this thing now, and I’d have to see it through. All the same, I did a quick search for my name online. 9 matches in the city. I was a college student, so I wasn’t in the phonebook. He couldn’t use this information to find me.

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“Wait,” I replied, the logical side of my brain finally starting to kick in, “How do I know I can trust you?”

Several agonizing minutes passed by before I received a reply.

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I took a couple of deep breaths. Very deep. This was crazy. This was absolutely insane. Acceptable? None of this was acceptable! What was I doing? Was having the perfect sneeze really worth all of this?

I sighed and shook my head at the screen. That kind of felt like a moot point now. I was already committed to this. This was going to happen.

“And besides,” I said to myself as I remembered the countless hours of cleaning gobs of snot and spit off of the bathroom counter and mirror, “I think it is worth it.”

“Yes,” I replied.

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*******************************************************

“Wooooooooooah!” Jeannie’s voice crackled through the receiver. “You’re meeting someone? Tonight? At midnight?”

“Well, no, we’re meeting at ten. We’ll be done by midnight.”

“Aaaaw,” Jeannie said, putting on a mock teary voice, “my little baby’s gonna be out with someone until midnight. Oh, they just grow up so fast!”

I laughed. Her jokes were dumb, but they always got me.

“Shut up, Jeannie! It’s not like that! We’re just meeting up to… um… to study.”

“Oh sure,” she said, a sly tone creeping into her voice, “that’s how it’ll start out. But where it’ll end up… who knows?”

“Well, I can already tell you it won’t end up anywhere. I’m going out with Michael tomorrow.”

“What? There’s a second guy? Who is this Michael?”

“It’s the guy you swiped right o… on…”

I gritted my teeth and pressed my fist hard under my nose. That damn tickle was starting again.

“Oh my God! You’re actually going out with that guy? I just did that as a joke, Rox!”

“Well, he wuh… huh… he was cute.” I sniffled hard, but that jut made it worse.

“Rox,” Jeannie said, a note of concern showing in her voice, “are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fuh… fine… ah… Hah…”

“You sure? You sound like… Oh God. You’re gonna sneeze, aren’t you?”

“I, uh… I… huh… HAH…”

“Hold the phone away from your face, please! I don’t want my speaker blowing out.”

“Guh… good… ideaah… HUH… HAAAAA…”

At the last second, I put the phone on the table and cupped my hands around my nose.

“HUH-USCHOOOOOO! AAAAACHOOOOOO! HEH-ISSSSSSHEW! Eh… Huh… HAAAAAAASCHOOOOO!”

I sniffled again, then looked blearily up at the light to get the next set of sneezes out.

“EEEEEEEEEEEESHOOOOOOOO! HUSHOOOOOOO! AAAAAACHOOOOOOO! Heh… HEH…. HEEEEEEESCHOOOO! Ih…IH… HIH… HAAAAAAA…”

I blinked at the light a couple of times, then sniffed to unstick the last sneeze.

“HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-EEEEEEESCHOOOOOOOOO!”

The tickle finally gone, I took in a few deep breaths to help me recover before picking the phone back up.

“Bless you,” Jeannie said. “Damn. I forgot about your sneezes. Jesus Christ, that was loud.”

I sniffled and rubbed my nose. “I’b really sorry, Jeaddie. I couldd’t helb it.”

“You can’t start doing that in front of the guys, they’ll head for the hills! What are you gonna do?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I think I’ll…” I thought ahead to my plans for this evening. The Sneeze Mentor said he would help me with this, but I couldn’t tell Jeannie. “I think I’ll figure something out.”

“You better. Let me know what you come up with, okay?”

“Okay. And Jeannie?”

“Yeah?”

“I’ve never been out this late with anyone, and I’m kind of nervous. Can I text you around midnight to let you know I got home safely?”

“Sure thing, honey. If you don’t, I’m gonna come down there and kick the guy’s butt myself.”

I laughed again. “Okay, Jeannie. Thanks. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Talk to you later, Rox. Do something about that sneeze!”

There was a soft beep as the call disconnected.

There. Now all the plans were in place. All that was left to do now was wait. Wait and clean up after my sneezes. I groaned a little as I looked around the room. The floor had a light dusting of spray, the table was absolutely drenched, and I groaned again as I looked at the bookshelf and noted with dismay that several of the books’ spines had been covered in mucus and spit, just like the mirror the other night.

“Here we go agaid,” I grumbled as I headed to the kitchen for the paper towels.

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Another interesting part, love the way Roxanne looses control of her large sneezes, those are written really well. Cant wait to find out what happens next!

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This is getting super interesting and adventurous! Very creative! Can't wait to see what the mentor does when they meet!

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Oh wow!!!! This is creative and interesting... I like it a lot!!!!! I can't wait for another update!!!!! 

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this is truly incredible great work love the stuffy talking!!! on the edge of my seat cant wait for the next update!!

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Thank you all so much for your kind and encouraging words! It's really great to be active here again after spending so much time away. :D Here's part 4. I hope you like it, and I hope it gets you excited for what comes next!

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I left the apartment at 9:45. The Starbucks was only ten minutes away, but I wanted to leave a little early in case my nose decided to slow me down. Sure enough, the shock of cold air slammed into me as soon as I was out the door.

“hih… here they… huh… come… huh… Huh… UH… UUUUUSHOOOO! HEEEEESHOOOO! HIIIIIIIISHOOOOO!”

I blinked up at the glowing streetlight and sniffed, which set me off again.

“HAAAAAAAAAASHOOOOOO! AAAAAAAASHOOOOOOOO! HUH-AAAAAAAASHOOOOO! HUH… HEH… HEEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOO! Huh… hih… HAAAAAA… HAAAAAAASCHOOOOOOOO!”

I quickly rubbed my nose, but the tickle wasn’t going anywhere.

“You’ve godda…. Heh… be kidding be! EH… EEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIISCHOOOOO! HUH-EEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOO! HAAAAAAAAAAAASHAAAOOOOOO! Eh… ESCHOOOOOOOOOOOO! Huh-EEEEEEESCHOOOOOOO!”

I jammed my fist under my nose to get some relief and managed to take in a deep, gasping breath before the tickle got too strong again.

“Huh… Damn… ih… it… eh… EH… EEEEESCHOOOOO! HISHOOOOOOOO! HAAAAAAASCHOOOOOOOOOO! ISHOOOOOOO! Heh… ih… heh…”

I looked up at the streetlight again to help get the sneeze out, hoping against hope that this was the last one.

“HAAAAAAAAA... HAAAAAAAA-EEEEESCHOOOOO! Oh no… HAAAAAAASHOOOO! AAAAIIIIIYSHUUUU! WHY CAD’T I… Huh… STOP?! EH… EEEEEEAAAAAAAAASHIIIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I sniffed in and braced myself for more, but the tickle was finally gone. I slumped against the door panting desperately for a minute or so as I recovered.

“Jesus,” I said to myself between gasps, “what the hell is wrong with me?!”

I looked around at the darkened street and wondered whether I had woken any of the neighbors up. Luckily, nobody looked out of their windows this time and told me to shut up. But, I recalled bitterly, it’s not like it hadn’t happened before. Finally, I got up the strength to walk again. I sniffled quietly and rubbed my nose as I proceeded toward the sidewalk, trying hard to ignore the sharp sting behind my eyes.

“Don’t cry. Don’t you dare cry,” I thought, forcing myself to take long strides towards the Starbucks. “You’ll make yourself sneeze again, you idiot!”

I couldn’t stop thinking about it, though. Why couldn’t my sneezes just be normal like everybody else’s? Why did I have to try to spend every day terrified about what was going to set me off? Why did I have to panic every time I felt a tickle in my nose, wondering whether I’d be able to stand by the time I was finished? Why did I have to have these sneezing fits that I actually had to clean up after? And why, I thought resentfully as I gritted my teeth, couldn’t I just go out with a guy I liked and not worry about whether I was going to make a scene that would send him away forever?

I tasted the tang of salt at the corner of my mouth before I felt the tear droop down my face, and I cursed under my breath as I swiped my palm across my cheek to smear it away.

“Look at you,” I thought. “Pathetic. You’ve got no control over yourself. What makes you think this Sneeze Mentor guy is going to be able to do anything with you, even if he is real?”

I set my jaw and angrily wiped away the second tear as I reached the Starbucks. I checked my watch.  9:59. Perfect. I took a couple of deep breaths to calm myself and put on the most convincing smile I could before I walked through the door. This was it. The moment of truth. I was about to meet the Sneeze Mentor.

*******************************************************

As I walked through the door, three things happened all at the same time. First, my watched beeped, letting me know that the time was now 10:00. Second, the barista called out, “Mobile order for Roxanne!” And third, I felt my phone buzz. I pulled it out and read the message.

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I gulped and looked around, trying to find where the message had been sent from. The barista smiled at me as I grabbed the cup from her, and my phone buzzed again.

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I sighed as I sat down at a table near the window. The message had said “once you have it.” That meant he didn’t know for sure whether I’d gotten my coffee yet, which meant he couldn’t see me. The Sneeze Mentor wasn’t there.

I sighed again. This whole thing was starting to seem more and more like a big, weird, elaborate joke. “But,” I thought as I lifted the cup to my lips, “at least I got a latte out of it.”

Just as I was starting to wonder what kind of prankster would buy coffee for their victim, my phone buzzed again.

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I drew a few shuddery breaths and sipped my latte with trembling hands as a minute or so passed by in silence. I asked myself over and over again if I wanted to just thank him for the latte, go home, and remember this whole experience as just one of those weird things that happens in college. But I didn’t reply. My phone buzzed again.

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I bit my lip and squeezed my eyes shut as I sent the reply.

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I drew in my breath and shook my head at myself as I replied “Yes.” What the hell had I gotten myself into?

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I stared in amazement at the latte in my hands. He was checking to see if the steam made me sneeze! Incredible. It was finally starting to dawn on me that whoever this person was might really be some kind of expert. An expert in sneezes. What a weird choice in life.

I downed the last of my coffee and stepped outside. I was looking around, wondering what came next, when my phone buzzed again.

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At that moment, a black Prius with an Uber logo on the windshield pulled up in front of me. The driver rolled down the window.

“Roxanne?”

“Um… y-yeah,” I stuttered, the apprehension rising in my chest as I opened the door and got into the car. My better judgement would have told me not to, but I had left that behind a long time ago.

The driver, one of those hipster types with a scruffy beard and skinny jeans, checked his app.

“Okay, looks like you’re just going a couple of blocks. Let’s get started.”

I nodded and sniffed, and I realized with mounting horror that the familiar tickle had returned.

“Oh… hih… no… huh… ih…”

“Hey, you okay ma’am?”

“Yuh… yeah, I juh… just… hah…” I scrubbed furiously at my nose, but it didn’t do any good. “I’m suh… sorry… huh… AH… HAAAAAAAAAACHOOOOOO!” I sneezed, managing to get my cupped hands up just in time. “HAAAAAASHOOOOOOO! HAAAAAA-EEEEESHOOOOOOO!”

“Bless you!”

“I’m nuh… not d-done… HUH-EEEEESHOOOO! HAAAAAAASHOOO! HUH-EEEESHHOOOOO! HUH... hih…”

I sniffed hard, feeling my cheeks begin to flush as tried to just get the last couple out and be done with it.

“Huhhhh… hhhhhh… oh, COBE OD! hehhh… heh-AAAAAAAASHOOOOOOOOOOO! HIH-TCHOOOOO! HUUUUH-AAAAAAEEEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOO!”

With the last sneeze finally out, I flopped back against the seat, coughing and panting, and hid my reddening face behind my hands.

“Wow!” the driver piped up, “Bless you! That was insane!”

“I’m sorry,” I groaned, “I’m so, so sorry.”

“Not sure what for. It’s not like you can help it.”

I sniffled again and pressed the heels of my hands to my eyes to help me clear them. Then I remembered the rule I had agreed to. With a sigh, I drew my phone from my pocket and texted the Sneeze Mentor.

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My eyes immediately shot up to the rearview mirror. Sure enough, there was one of those green cardboard tree cutouts that I hated oh-so-much. How on Earth did he know?

Covering my nose, I said, “Excuse me? Would you mind putting that air freshener away, just for now?”

The driver’s eyes went wide. “Oh gosh, is that what was making you sneeze? Wow, I’m so sorry. Here, let me get that out of your way.” He slowed down a bit as he cautiously locked the air freshener in the glove box. “There. Better?”

I sniffled a little. “Much. Thank you.”

“It’s the funniest thing. Your friend who ordered the ride messaged me and asked if I had an air freshener in the car. What a weird thing to ask, right? And it turned out you were allergic to it.”

With a slight shake of his head, he returned his full attention to the road. So that was how he knew. This whole thing was getting stranger and stranger, and it was all strange enough as it was. Just as I was wondering what came next, the driver pulled over.

“Okay, this is your stop!”

I stared out the window in disbelief. No. No way.

“Th… thank you,” I said nervously as I stepped out of the car and stared, open-mouthed, at the Hilton in front of me. No way. There was no way. Had this guy sprung for a hotel room? What was going on? My mind was racing, trying to make ends meet, when my phone buzzed again.

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In a daze, my heartbeat pounding wildly, I started walking up to the hotel. My phone buzzed again as I walked through the front door.

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I took in several monstrous gulps of air. This was it. This was really it. It was about to happen. I waited a bit for my heartbeat to slow, then forced myself to take, even, steady steps to the front desk.

The woman at the counter smiled cheerily.

“Hello! How can I help you?”

“I, uh, I… I lost m-m-my room k-key.” My voice was a shaky mess of nerves, but I forced myself to press on. “R-room 407, p-p-please. Th-thank you.”

“Alright, I’ll need to see your ID.”

My heart froze and my nerves skyrocketed as I handed her my license. I didn’t make the reservation! It wouldn’t be under my name! I was trying to think of excuses I could give, and my mind was drawing a blank when the woman smiled and returned my license to me.

“Alright, Ms. Campbell, let me just get that ready for you.”

I released a breath that I didn’t realize I’d been holding as she handed a key-card over to me. Of course. He had my name. The Sneeze Mentor had really thought of everything.

My stomach wound itself in tighter and tighter knots as I took the elevator to the fourth floor, threatening to leap out of my throat as I reached room 407 and put the keycard in the door.

“Here it is,” I thought as I twisted the handle, “The moment of truth. I’m either going to leave with the perfect sneeze or two fewer kidneys.”

I don’t know what I was expecting to see when I opened the door, but it certainly wasn’t an empty room. But that’s what it was. Just an empty hotel room, the bed still perfectly made. I looked around, wondering whether somebody was hiding in the closet or in the bathroom or something, but there wasn’t anybody.

I was alone in the room, though I gradually realized that it wasn’t quite as empty as I had thought. There were several sealed, opaque containers sitting on the desk near the bed, and an eye mask sitting on the pillow. I was starting to wonder whether I needed to do something to get the ball rolling when my phone buzzed.

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My breath started to speed up again as I realized that this was the beginning. I was about to meet the Sneeze Mentor, for real this time.

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I obeyed, staring straight ahead at the door. Was he out there right now? Was he waiting to walk through the door? I picked up my phone and replied to the text.

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My hands shaking wildly, I took the eye mask from the pillow and placed it over my eyes.

“Okay,” I whispered to myself as I sat there in the darkness, “no turning back now. If he tries anything, you’ll hit him and run. You’re gonna be okay. You’re okay.”

All the same, I gasped and my heart leaped up into my throat as I suddenly heard the whirr of the lock, the sound of the door swinging open, and heavy footsteps falling on the carpet as the door closed behind. Finally, after all of the mystery and confusion and wondering whether this was for real, he was here! I was sitting in front of the Sneeze Mentor!

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This story has me highly anticipating what will happen next, i love the sneeze spellings and im psyched to see what happens next!!

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Hey everyone! I'm so happy that this story has generated some interest. It made me remember how much I love posting here! @Sneezingnonstop and @HideAndGoSneeze, thank you both for sticking with this story. I've really appreciated your support, so I hope the ending doesn't disappoint! @Demospaw, welcome to the forum, and congratulations on your first post! Okay, here's part 5, the final part. I hope you all enjoy!

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The footsteps hesitated at the door for a moment, then slowly began to cross the room towards me. With every step, I could hear my heart beat louder and louder until I was sure it would burst. At last, the footsteps stopped by my side. This wasn’t a game anymore. This wasn’t a joke. Someone was here, right next to me. I could feel their presence, hear their breathing. I realized all of a sudden that I had no idea what was going to happen next. Not in the slightest. I bit my lip hard to try to keep myself in check, and I just barely held together.

“You’re nervous.” A man’s voice cut through the quiet. It was different than I expected. Younger. Kinder.

“Y… y-y-yes, v-v-very.”

He was silent for a moment longer. I yelped in surprised as a hand gently touched my shoulder.

“Sssssh,” he whispered, “it’s okay. I promised you would be safe. I always keep my promises.”

To my surprise, his R’s trilled a little, and his accent sounded faintly Irish. I would have guessed that this person was about my age or just a little bit older, but he was definitely not from here.

There were two gentle clunks as his shoes hit the floor, and I felt the bed sink as he knelt behind me and placed his hands on my shoulders. I sucked in my breath at first, but then he started to rub in slow circles, pressing tenderly but firmly, and I started to feel the tension rush out of me. His hands were soft and smooth, not rough or harsh like I had feared they would be, and they seemed to radiate a gentle warmth.

“You’re a brave girl, to have come here,” he cooed quietly in that lilting Irish voice as he continued to massage my tense shoulders. God, his hands felt good. And he sounded so sweet. In spite of myself, I started to feel the fear fade and give way to something else. Something tingly that started deep in my belly. Was it… excitement?

“I d-don’t… feel very brave.” I could hear my voice starting to ease as I spoke.

“You need to believe in yourself, dear. And I know it’s hard, but for the next hour, you need to believe in me too. We’ll never get anywhere if we don’t work together.”

“Okay,” I answered, and swallowed hard. “Okay.”

“So,” he said, squeezing my shoulders lightly, and I inadvertently found myself melting a little against the press of his gentle hands, “do you trust me, Roxanne? Enough to let me help you?”

I drew in a shuddery breath, unsure of whether it was from fear or pleasure, and nodded.

“Yes. Yes, I trust you,” I answered, a little unsure of whether it was true or not.

“Good. Then tell me, dear. What do you wish your sneezes sounded like? When you dream of the perfect sneeze, what do you imagine?”

“Um… I don’t know… quiet, I guess? Girly?”

“Oh, come on dear. When was the last time you dreamed only two words?”

I took a deep breath and tried again.

“I guess… I guess I always wanted to have one of those… you know… gentle sneezes. The kind that could happen in a crowded place without anybody noticing. The kind that always make people smile and say “bless you,” and… and maybe every so often, somebody would say “Aw, that was cute” afterwards. I mean, I’m going on a date tomorrow, and if I sneeze in front of him, he’ll… I don’t know, run away or something. I know this is going to sound weird, but… I want the kind of sneeze that would make him want to come closer. Does… that make sense?”

His soft hands squeezed my shoulders reassuringly, and I melted just a little more.

“Yes. Yes it does, dear. That was wonderful. Now, let me have a look at you.”

I could feel the bed shift under me as he changed his position, leaning in close to my face.

“You’ve got allergies to pollen, don’t you? You’ve had them for a long time.”

“Y-yes!” I stammered, “How did you know that?”

“Give me your hand,” he said quietly as he delicately took my hand in his, and I felt heat beginning to rise in my cheeks like I was embarrassed about something. He lifted my first finger to the middle of my nose and gently rubbed the spot.

“Do you feel that little wrinkle?”

I had never thought about it before, but yes, there was definitely a small crease there.

“Yes.”

“Everyone with pollen allergies has one. You get it from always rubbing your nose.”

I felt the bed shift again as he dismounted and walked to the other side of the room.

“Alright, pollen and air freshener. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Now let’s just see what those sneezes look like.”

I was about to ask what he meant when I heard the sound of a lid being peeled back. A moment passed and I heard the sound again before the Sneeze Mentor returned to the bed. The smells hit me right away, and my nose suddenly felt like it was on fire. I realized with dismay that I had a very good idea of what had been in those sealed containers I saw.

“hih… Hah… huh… HEH…”

“Ooooh,” I heard him sigh dreamily, “such beautiful breath hitches.”

“HAH… Puh… Please puh… p-put them ah… away… HAH…”

“Don’t be ashamed, dear. This is the first step. Just let it happen.”

“HAH… HAAAAAA… HAAAAAAA-EEEEEEESHOOOOOO! EEEEEESHOOOOOOOOOO! HUH-IIIIISHOOOOOO! HUH… HUH… IH… HAAAAA… heh…”

I sniffed hard and my breath hitched again, but it wasn’t coming. I tried to look up at the light, but with the blindfold on, it wouldn’t do any good. My breath hitched again.

“Here,” the Sneeze Mentor interrupted, the anticipation clear in his voice, “let me help you.” He laid his finger at the bridge of my nose and lightly ran it all the way down, flicking gently off of the tip.

I had never had such an intense reaction. I felt the shudder run through every part of my body, from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. The tickle felt like it had tripled in strength, and was suddenly bigger than anything I had felt in my life. Without even thinking about it, I reared back my head and released like I had never released before.

HEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASCHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW! OH MY GUH… GOD!”

It was like every inch of my skin was tingling. I couldn’t believe how good that sneeze had felt! And I wasn’t even done yet! I tilted back my head again and drew in a deep, gasping breath, feeling my stomach and chest fill and expand as they pressed against my shirt.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I bent double at the waist, throwing my hands onto the bed in front of me. My skin tingled again, and I felt my cheeks flushing and getting hot. This was incredible!

“Very good,” I heard as I geared up for my next sneeze. “Veeeeeery good, dear. I think I’ve seen enough. Let’s get started.”

I was dimly aware of the sound of the containers being resealed, and I felt the tickle start to fade. As I drew in my next breath, I suddenly realized that I almost didn’t want it to.

“Heh… HEEEEEEEEUUUUUUUUUUSHOOOOOOOOOOOO! HEEEEEEEEEISHOOOOOOOOO! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASCHOOOOOOOOOO!”

“Yes, that’s good. Get those last sneezes out. You’re doing great.”

“Heh… Heh-EEEEEESHOOOOOOO! IIIIIIIIISHOOOOOOOOO! Huh… hih… Heh… Hah…”

“Last one,” the Sneeze Master said. It was really more of a statement than a question, but I nodded anyway.

“Breathe in through your nose. As deep as you can.”

I started to breathe in through my nose, and the tickle shot up in intensity as I did.

“HAH… HAAAAAAAAA-”

Just as the sneeze was about to burst out of me, I felt the Sneeze Mentor firmly thrust the knuckle of his forefinger under my nose. The need to sneeze suddenly vanished completely.

“Good,” he said quietly, “now breathe out through your mouth.”

I did, and just as my breath was almost gone, the Sneeze Mentor dropped his hand. The tickle came back in a rush, and I felt my chest compress hard and my shoulders tighten as I sneezed with the small amount of air left in my lungs.

“hishoo! hh-ktsch! huschoo! heh… iktsch! Ugh…” I groaned, clutching my chest.

“There,” came the soft voice, “how did that feel?”

“It feels like I broke a rib,” I moaned.

I heard the Sneeze Mentor chuckle at that, a full, musical sound.

“You’ll get used to it,” he said in a kind whisper, drawing closer and laying a hand on my shoulder as he did. “But did that sound the way you wanted?”

I thought back on those last four sneezes. Yes, I realized, they were really small. Tiny and cute, just like I wanted. 

“Yeah,” I answered, “yeah, that was… that was perfect. Except for the part where it hurt like hell.”

He laughed again. “Don’t worry. That’s only the first lesson. Make sure to practice at home, okay? Don’t forget about the timing.”

I nodded my assent.

“Good. We’re going to try one more way, dear, and this one should be easier. I’m going to open the containers again now.”

I nodded, bracing myself as I heard him walk over to where I’d heard him put the containers down. I listened for the sound of the lids opening, but I didn’t hear it. I sniffed, wondering if I had missed it somehow, but I couldn’t feel any tickles. After a few too many silent seconds, I started to wonder what was going on. Why hadn’t he opened the containers again? Why was he hesitating?

“Roxanne?” His gentle voice was very quiet, and there was something new in it, something I hadn’t heard before. It sounded like shyness or guilt, mingled with subtle notes of desire and longing.

“Y-yes?” I stammered, caught off guard by the sudden change in tone.

“I’ve… got no right to ask this, but… when I open the containers, and you’re about to sneeze, do you think you could… just…” I heard a low, soft sound that I thought was a gulp, “…take a deep breath? As deep as you possibly can? Just the first time. Please. Then I swear I’ll help you make them quiet and cute, just like you always dreamed. Just one time? For…” His voice dropped even lower and quivered a little as he spoke these last words. “For me?”

Something about hearing those words made me feel this burning warmth inside. I couldn’t tell if it was what he had said, the way he had said it, or something else entirely, but I found myself nodding in agreement almost immediately. It was the strangest thing. Just minutes ago, I had come into this room absolutely terrified of what was about to happen, and now I suddenly and quite unexpectedly discovered that, more than anything, I wanted to make that deep, calming voice happy.

“Yes. Of course.”

There was a heavy, meaningful silence in the room for another few seconds. Then I heard the distinct sound of the containers being opened again, and that tickly bouquet set my nose twitching.

“hih… Huh… EEEEEEH…”

“Yes,” I heard the Sneeze Mentor breathe quietly, “beautiful. So beautiful.”

“HEH… HAAAAAAA…”

Remembering my promise, I slammed my eyes shut, threw my head back, and drew in a deep, gasping breath. I filled my lungs as full as I possibly could, feeling my chest stretch the fabric of my shirt to its absolute limit as I let the tickle wash over my whole body and completely gave in to it.

“HAAAAAAAAAA… HUUUUUUUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The rush was astonishing. I could actually feel the spray leave my mouth as my head snapped violently forward, sending droplets everywhere. God, I felt sorry for whoever was assigned to clean this room.

“Thank you,” the Sneeze Mentor said breathlessly, the awe clear in his voice as his footsteps moved towards me again. Now, more than ever, I thought, it was such a shame that I couldn’t see his face. “Thank you, Roxanne. That was-”

I shook my head and held out my hand, cutting him off mid-sentence as I tried to hold off the intensifying tickles.

“Ode buh… bore.”

“Wh… what?”

“Ode bore. You guh… get ode bore.”

I sucked in another deep breath, as deep as I could make it. My shirt was stretched to its breaking point once again as I reared my head back. Whatever. I didn’t like that shirt that much anyway. I focused intently on the tickle, trying to hold out and let it grow for as long as I could before I let it out. “Make this one good,” I thought, “it’s the last one he ever gets to see.”

“Huh… HEH… HAAAAAAAAAAAAA…”

I tried to hold out, fight it back, but it was too strong by then. I needed the release. And wow, what a release it was.

“EEEEEEEEEEEH… HUH-AAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEESHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I threw myself forward, gasping wildly for air. How we hadn’t gotten a noise complaint yet, I had no idea. My nose was still on fire, but I was drained. I hoped the tickles would wait, just until I’d managed to get my breath back.

“Oooooh, wow,” the Sneeze Mentor panted quietly, “that… that was… unbelievable. You’re unbelievable. I can’t…” I heard him swallow hard again. “Thank you, Roxanne. Thank you.” I could hear a definite quaver in the Irish tone of his voice, and the gentle roll of his R’s was a little more pronounced now. I had really moved him, I realized. I could hear it in the gentle undertone of his words. This was really important to him.

“Yuh… you’re wuh… w-wel-”

“Right, sorry,” he spoke up, and I felt the bed depress behind me as he knelt in place once again.

“This is going to get a little... personal,” he whispered quietly into my ear. “Sorry.”

As my breath started to hitch again, I felt him move in close, his chest and stomach pressed against my back. The tingle in my belly began again as I realized his knees were straddling my hips. He was right up against me!

“Heh… Huh… EH…”

I just couldn’t help myself. My cheeks grew hot as I drew myself up, and his body pressed into mine as I leaned back against him. I felt him wrap his arms around me and clasp each other in front of my stomach. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but at that moment, I truly didn’t care.

“HUH… AH…”

And then, just as I was about to breathe in again, I felt the Sneeze Mentor’s grip begin to tighten, pushing the air out of my stomach. My breath hitched again, and I tried to draw in air, but his soft hands held me tightly and forced me to take only the shallowest of breaths before I released.

“hih… HI-shoo!”

My breath tried to hitch again, but he was holding me even tighter now, and I could hardly get any in.

“hishew! Ishoo!”

“Good,” he purred quietly, and I felt a shudder run down my spine as his chest vibrated against my body. “Good. Breathe no deeper than this, dear. One more time, then I let you try on your own.”

“hih… hih-eshoo!”

“Right,” he said gently as he released his grip and scooted away from me, and I was only a little surprised to find that I missed his touch. “Your turn. Try not to breathe too deeply, love.”

“heh… hih… HEH…”

“Too deep,” he cautioned, and I nodded.

“ih… iiiiishew! hishooo! heh… ih…”

The next sneeze stuck, and I realized that I was instinctively taking in a huge breath. At the last second, I remembered my first lesson and jammed my finger under my nose, giving me just enough time to breathe out.

“hhhhhhh… heh-issssh!”

“Well done, dear! You’ve learned quickly!”

“Th-thank yuh… yo-”

My hitching breaths were cut off as the Sneeze Mentor clamped his finger under my nose again.

“Now I’m going to close the containers, but let’s try something fun with that last sneeze. This is going to sound strange, but… do you think you can scream like a girl from a scary movie?”

“HUH?! WHAT THE-”

“No questions,” he interrupted, his voice a little firmer. “Do everything I say, remember? Can you do it or not?”

I wanted to ask why again, but my nose would never have allowed it right then. My eyes were watery, and my sinuses were burning, and I couldn’t possibly hope to give a spoken reply, but I nodded.

“Good. Wait until I tell you to. Don’t forget to breathe light, like I taught you.”

He released his hand and got off the bed. As my breath began to hitch again, I heard the containers seal up and felt the tickle die back down.

“huh… ih… heh… hah… Heh-”

“Now.”

AIIIIIschiew!” I tried to scream like he had told me, but with the limited air in my lungs and the sneeze rushing out of me, the whole thing came out as a quiet, high-pitched squeak instead, and I realized that if that sound had come from a different girl in the room, I wouldn’t have hesitated to start fawning over what an adorable sneeze she had.

In exhaustion, I flopped onto my back, my head thudding against the pillows. I couldn’t believe it. One night. In one night, the Sneeze Mentor had given me the sneeze I’d wanted for years!

“Bless you,” he whispered close to my ear, and he pressed something soft into my hands. Tissues, I realized. “Bless you over and over.”

“Thadk you,” I answered, then blew my nose hard, completely soaking the tissues all at once. I started to reach for my eyes to wipe away the river of sneezy tears that had formed, but just as I was about to grab the edges of the eye mask, I felt the Sneeze Mentor’s hands softly grab my wrists.

“Not yet. You can take it off soon, but not yet. Nobody can know. Not even you.”

“Please,” I said as it dawned on me how badly I wanted to see his face, “please. You’ve changed my life tonight. I want to know, I… I want to thank you.”

“You’ve already have thanked me, darling. In more ways than you could imagine.”

“Please,” I pleaded again, “I’ll never tell anyone, I promise! Don’t you trust me?”

The palm of his hand came to rest delicately on my cheek, and I nuzzled into its warmth as he gently traced the arc of my eyebrow with his thumb.

“Of course I trust you. That’s why you can’t know. To have a secret like that inside you, to know who I am and have to go your whole life keeping it quiet? I would never do that to you. Never.”

His warm hand left my cheek, and he crossed the room. I heard him gathering his containers as he spoke.

“When you hear the door shut, wait thirty seconds, then take off the blindfold. There’ll be a car for you downstairs in twenty minutes, so don’t stay too long. And... I... suppose you should know... I'll miss you. Goodbye, Roxanne.”

His footsteps began to cross to the door, and in a panic, I shot up in the bed.

“Wait!” I wailed, a tear that had nothing to do with my sneezes running down my cheek.

The footsteps stopped.

“Please,” I quietly pleaded one last time, “please. At… at least tell me your name. Please.”

He hesitated for a moment, then started to walk towards me again.

“I can’t, dear, and I’m sorry. But… if you’d like, I’ll tell you a different secret instead.”

I held my breath as he stopped next to me. He leaned in close to my ear, and I could feel his hot, sweet-scented breath against my cheek, and when he spoke, the musical Irish lilt of his voice and soft roll of his R’s tickled against my eardrums.

“I think you have the most incredible sneezes I’ve ever heard, no matter how loud or soft they are, and I think I’m the luckiest man alive to have met you.”

A sob burst out of my chest as he started to walk away, and I tried to call after him again but the words stuck in my throat and before I could move or do anything to stop him, I heard the door click shut. I ripped the blindfold from my face and blinked back the light, hoping he had changed his mind and was still in the room, but a quick glance around showed that I was alone.

All alone.

I pressed my hands into my eyes and wiped away the pool of tears that had formed, sniffled once or twice, and took a deep breath in an attempt to compose myself. It worked for a couple of seconds. Then I rolled over onto my belly, buried my face in the pillow, and sobbed mercilessly over the man that I had never even seen.

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I cleared my throat and checked my watch as I waited for Michael to arrive. We had chosen this little café a few blocks from my place. I had spent the whole day waiting until I had to sneeze to I could try out what the Sneeze Mentor had taught me. The whole last night seemed hazy now, like a strange and sad dream.

Of course, I knew it had been real because my sneezes were still perfect. I was floating on air, thinking about how I’d never have to mop up after myself again, I’d never draw angry looks in a library or classroom, and I would be able to go any as many dates as I wanted without ever worrying about my nose deciding to end the night early and send the guy packing. I almost hoped there would be flowers on the table at this place just so I could show off my new, cute sneezes. Alas, no such luck.

The doorbell jingled, and I looked up to see Michael walk in. He was just as dreamy as in his profile pic, maybe more so.

“Michael!” I called, and he turned his deep, caramel eyes towards me. As he did, I could have sworn I saw those eyes widen a little and his mouth twitch nervously. Was it somehow possible that he was more nervous for this date than I was?

He smiled his crooked little half-smile and came over to the table. As he sat down, I noticed that his cheeks were flushed bright red.

“Hey, are you alright?”

He nodded silently, but quickly bit his lip and hid his face behind his hands as his cheeks reddened even further. “Okay,” I thought, “this is going to be seriously awkward.” I had already resolved to uninstall the stupid dating app when I got home.

Michael made no attempt to speak up, so I decided to go ahead and make the first move.

“It’s… uh… really nice to meet you!”

He dropped his hands from his face and opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. Then he swallowed hard and drew in a deep breath before replying, “I believe, my dear, that we’ve met before,” in a voice with gently rolling R’s and a familiar accent that sounded faintly Irish.

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No. Fucking. Way. That ending was so freaking good. I can't say too many times that I've been invested in a sneezefic story, but damn, this one was really freaking good. Especially that ending, whoof. Nice work my man

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Oh my gosh.....that was sooooo amazing i really do not have the words to describe it. This was an incredible original story with a perfect ending. I loved every part that I read of this, thank you so so much for sharing it here on the forum!!!! Absolutely loved it to death!!!!!

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Ahhhhhhhhh I knew it I knew It I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!! OMG OMG OMG I'm super fangirling over this story!!!! PLEASE LET THERE HE A SEQUEL!!!!! 

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Oh my goodness!!!!! It's him!!! Wait wait .... There's more right? I'm so hoping we get to see what happens on their date and post-date. I love how he is a little shy about it being her too. Oh my *fanning self* please please don't leave e us hanging because this is so interesting and I love where it's going😍

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I just want to send out major, major thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement for this story. You should have seen me over the last few days, checking this thread every half hour to see if anybody else had said they liked it, and lighting up when I saw that someone had. Special shoutouts to @Sneezingnonstop, @HideAndGoSneeze, and @daystar428 for sticking with me through multiple parts of the story, and to @Yamiterasu for such an enthusiastic first response to the completed thing. (That's a heck of a post to read first thing in the morning!) Seriously, I hadn't posted here since 2011, then I share this random idea that popped into my head one night and now I'm questioning why I ever stopped. Thank you all so much.

@HideAndGoSneeze and @daystar428, that's the end of this story, I'm afraid, and I don't think it I have it in me to write a good sequel. For you guys, though, maybe I'll try writing an okay one ;).

Also, I've already started it. So there's that. Wanna see?

Spoiler

“Huh… iiiiih… huh-ishoo! Eshoo! Huh-eksch! Huh… heh-itschk!”

I sniffled and rubbed my nose. Getting out of the shower was always like this for me. Cold air and my nose just never got along. Feeling the tickle return, I lifted the towel to my face and started again.

“huh-mpfch! Huh-chmpf! mmpfch! Hih-empfch!”

As I finished drying myself and slipped into my bathrobe, I couldn’t help but smile a little as I remembered how it used to be. By the time I had finished sneezing, I felt like I needed another shower, and maybe the rest of the room too. Things were different now.

When I stepped out into the living room, Michael was waiting for me with a sly, crooked half-smile spread across his face.

“…what?” I asked, and Michael’s grin grew just a little.

“ah… chew!” he teased, and I bit the corners of my mouth to keep from smiling at his imitation. It was no good, though, and it soon became a full-fledged grin.

“Come on, Michael! I didn’t sneeze like that!” I lied. Obviously, he could imitate any sneeze perfectly.

“ah… ah-chew!” he teased again, and I playfully pushed him back onto the couch, where he continued to grin up at me.

“Sorry, but I can’t help it! That sneeze always gets to me!”

“I don’t get what’s so funny about it," I said as I settled in next to him. "You’re the one that taught me to sneeze this way, you know.”

Michael’s smile faltered a bit, and I suddenly got the very distinct sense that I had said something I shouldn’t have.

“Of course I did, dear,” he answered. “It was what you wanted, and I wanted to help you.”

I bit my lip and felt myself beginning to blush a little as he studied my face with those deep, beautiful eyes.

“That’s the reason I started being the Sneeze Mentor in the first place. To help people. I’m glad you like your new sneezes.” He shrugged as he turned his eyes back to the floor. “But I can’t lie and pretend I don’t miss the old ones.”

I cleared my throat, suddenly feeling very awkward and unsure of what to say.

“W-well…” I ventured, “I’m… really glad you did help me. I had lived with those big, messy sneezes my whole life, and I was so tired of cleaning up after them and grossing people out.”

Michael nodded, but didn’t raise his eyes.

“I’m sure. But… well, you know you’d never have grossed me out, right? And sometimes…”

But then he cut himself off, shaking his head and smiling awkwardly as he met my eyes again.

“Go on,” I urged him, “say it. Please.”

His smile wavered again, and he shrugged before saying, “I guess I just wonder sometimes… if we had met before then… could I have taught you to love your sneezes instead of changing them?”

I looked into those brown, searching eyes and found myself speechless. Like they were searching for an answer I didn’t have. I opened my mouth, trying to speak anyways, but Michael cut me off.

“But let’s not worry about that now, alright? I’m sorry to have brought this up, dear. Especially when we have a pressing issue at hand.” His face turned grave, and we leaning in close, whispering conspiratorially, “Are we going to the movie like this? Because if you’d told me, I would have worn my bathrobe too.”

The smile returned to my face and I gently shoved his knee with my toe before standing.

“As if you could even pull that look off!”

“You know I’d try it for you, though!” he called after me as I shut my bedroom door, and I felt myself beginning to blush all over again.

Again, thank you all so much for your support. I've really enjoyed writing and posting this!

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Oh...My....Goodness...I love that little bonus snippet!!! I think that's amazing!! You truly are a fantastic writer...don't doubt yourself!! I look forward to any and all new stories you create!!!

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