In part 4, we left Merle explaining the results of his newly-aquired power to his eight year old friend. Here’s Part 5:
“She blew up, Lu. She got fatter and fatter, and blew up.” Merle covered his eyes as he began to cry.
“Exactly. Look at my jeans. She’s all over me!”
For the first time, Lu noticed the stains on his jeans, and she stepped back.
“Oh, I get it,” she said, turning around. Merle grabbed her arm and turned her back.
“It’s messy, Lu. You don’t need to see that. Can you just help me?”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Reset. Take me back before…” He waved an arm in the direction of his car. “Can you do that for me?”
“It’s not like resetting a menu choice at a café.”
“I know it isn’t. Lucia, please help me. She didn’t deserve this.”
“Why did you do it?”
“Why did I do it?” Merle grasped two handfuls of his hair. “Why did I do it?” He wasn’t screaming just yet, but he was close to it. “I didn’t do anything! I’ve never done this before, but I’m sure this is not how it’s meant to go!” He had started shaking. “Please Lu!”
She had never heard or seen Merle like this before. He had done stupid things before, but they had mostly consisted of poor choices. A five-minute jump back had given him a chance to try again. That was easy; five minutes was nothing. An hour? It was longer than she had ever attempted, but Merle was her friend, and he needed her help.
“Why did you bring me here? You could have told me over the phone.”
“I needed to be with you. I need to hold your hand. If you’d reset over the phone, I’d have forgotten all this and probably made the same choices I made here. And they didn’t go well.”
“Okay, but we could have done this at my house. You could have held my hand there.” Lu was a smart eight year old.
Merle smacked his forehead. She was right. She was usually right.
“I didn’t think of that,” he said. “We’re here now, though.” He held out a hand to Lu, and after a moment’s contemplation, she took it.
“I hope you realise this is not as easy as making a wish. I don’t really have control over it.”
“I can imagine,” Merle said, smiling despite his predicament. “But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try –”
“No.” Lu spoke sharply and pulled her hand out of Merle’s grasp. She stepped backwards, shaking her head. “Can’t. Won’t.”
“Why not? I need this, Lu.”
“Mum and dad say I can’t.”
“They won’t even remember any of this. Where’s the problem?” Merle was shuffling his feet restlessly. He glanced at his watch. “It’s been almost an hour. Can we just do it?”
“I will do it once, but that’s it. More than once, and there are,” she paused searching for a word, “strange consequences.”
That’s it for Part 5. Part 6 next Wednesday. I hope you are enjoying Merle’s story. If you are, can I interest you in the strange stories of two of his friends, with unfortunate super powers of their own? Let me know in the comments.