© By Julie Gray
Milly played by Eliza Scanlen
The Angel/Ethan played by Boyd Holbrook
AUTHORS NOTE: This is part three in one of my untitled short stories. You can read part one here.
SHORT STORY TRIGGER WARNING – This short story contains elements of assault, sexual assault, violence and death.
“See Milly… life, it’s all about survival, you understand?” the man said, throwing his knife towards the post and hitting it dead centre.
Milly had seen no one throw a knife like that before. She saw a native throw a tomahawk once, but her pa shot him dead when they came raiding their farm. Milly never forgot how loud and terrible those native’s sounded when they attacked. Sometimes, she’d cover up her ears instinctively whenever she thought about it.
So now it seemed like Milly had a new friend. And with that friend came some rules. Milly wasn’t allowed to call the man “angel” anymore. The angel had a name, and his name was Ethan. It seemed like an odd name for an angel, but she wasn’t about to debate on a name.
Milly just nodded her head that she understood, but she didn’t have any idea whatsoever.
“It’s them… or you see. And you never want it to be you” Ethan said, taking the knife out of the post and walking back to the same spot out of the glare of the sun.
He kept doing this over and over, and Milly didn’t quite understand why when the post never fought back.
“Come over here Milly and look at that now,” Ethan said, pointing to a procession of men and family folk in the middle of the thoroughfare.
Milly was familiar with a funeral procession. She remembered the one for her parents. Few people came but there was the pastor, Milly’s teacher and an Uncle that Milly never saw again afterward.
Ethan took Milly by the shoulders and made her face the people as they walked by, their heads hung low.
Milly wondered about heaven then. She wondered if her parents were looking down on her now, watching her with this stranger teaching her about survival and watching these poor folk walk by with their heads down, following behind this wooden box in the middle of the street.
“If you don’t wanna end up in a box like that anytime soon… you need to learn how to survive,” Ethan said, just like that without so much as a glance at the mourners passing by.
Ethan went back to what he was doing, throwing that silly old knife into that silly old post.
Milly kept watching the line of people walking until they disappeared in a cloud of dust behind all the busy people carrying on with their lives.
“Here girl, take the knife,” Ethan said, holding it out to her.
Milly looked up at Ethan, wondering why he was asking her to take his knife. Milly never held a knife before, other than one she used at the dinner table. She was certain it wasn’t dinner time.
“Bout’ time you learned how to use it don’tcha’ think? You’re kinda scrawny, but you can use that to your advantage. You won’t ever be stronger than a man but you can be faster and that’s something’”
Milly was still staring at the knife Ethan was holding out to her. The blade gleamed and glistened in the sunlight.
And for the rest of the day and many days after, Ethan grilled Milly on different knife-wielding techniques and methods to kill a man. Milly had never killed anything in her brief life, and she wasn’t sure she even could.
The hardest part of it all was not being able to ask why an angel would ever want to kill another man and why he’d want to teach her how.
Milly wasn’t sure how she felt about all of this, but then again, Milly wasn’t sure of much in this world most of the time, anyway. Milly was just happy not to be alone.
Once Milly learned how to use a knife, Ethan promised to teach her how to use a gun next.
-END OF PART III-
You can read part IV of this story here