Merle took a moment to look at himself: his jeans were covered in bits of Hayley, as was the jacket he wore. He looked in the mirror and winced at the sight of his face, covered in blood, his hair plastered to his face, stained red. Mr Bennett, Lu’s dad, would have questions if he turned up looking like this. He would need to clean up.
He rolled the car a few hundred metres along the road and pulled off into the thickest part of woods, where he killed the engine. He got out and locked the car, although if anyone cared to look in, they would surely think twice about driving off in it. He headed off towards the little stream that ran through this part of the woods and when he found it, he stripped of his jacket and t-shirt and knelt at the water’s edge and began to splash water over his hair and face. For a few minutes, the tiny stream ran red, as he washed bits of the first girl he had ever stuck it to, out of his hair.
He had promised Lu he would be there in twenty minutes, and he had already spent five minutes – albeit five well spent minutes – cleaning up. His jacket had taken the worst of the blood, and he pulled on a mostly clean t-shirt and began to run back towards the road. It took him longer than he had guessed, but even accounting for avoiding other people he made it to Lu’s house in under half an hour. He knocked on the door and retreated into the shadows to wait for Lu. It was only seconds before she opened the door and stepped outside. She turned back to the house and shouted back inside.
“Merle’s here, I’m going. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” She pulled the door shut and walked along her garden path, Merle falling in stride beside her. Before they reached the gate at the end, they heard the door open, and Mr Bennett’s voice shout after them.
“What have you done this time son?”
That was clearly aimed at Merle, who turned back, staying in the shade. “Nothing sir, well, nothing really. I’ll have her back before you know it.”
“I’m sure you will Merle.” He paused for a moment, silhouetted against the light of the open door. “I’m not going to remember any of this, am I?”
It was Merle’s turn to pause while he shifted his weight. “No sir. I don’t think you will.” At that Merle put an arm around Lu. And together they moved off along the road.
When they were out of earshot, Lu looked up at Merle. He had been like a big brother to her. She had a younger brother, but he couldn’t really do much yet.
“What have you done, Merle?” She knew there was something. There was always something, but this was new, even for Merle; his face said this was big.
Part 3 coming up soon.