TALES OF THE WEST BOOK I PART I: MILLY – Part VI

© By Julie Gray

Milly played by Eliza Scanlen

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Ethan played by Boyd Holbrook

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AUTHORS NOTE: This is part six 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.

Milly wasn’t exactly sure how much time had passed before she saw Ethan again.

But much to Milly’s surprise, it was Ethan who remembered her and not the other way around.

“Howdy, Milly. Been a while, huh? Like what… six months?”

Milly wasn’t used to being called by name by anyone other than the school children, especially in the street.

When she turned around to see who it was, she knew instantly when her dog reacted, that it was no stranger.

Ethan had returned.

“How ya doin’ boy?” he said, bending down to give the dog a pat.

Milly just stared down at the owner of the voice, trying to remember how he looked back when they first met, but she could only recall bits and pieces of their time together.

A lot had happened to Milly in the year that had passed, as she suspected a lot had happened to Ethan, too. 

When he finally looked up at Milly, she remembered those eyes and how they were the bluest she had ever seen.

“Ain’t so little any more… still scrawny tho,’” he said, looking Milly over.

“Howdy… Ethan,” Milly replied. 

Milly noticed he looked a lot different with facial hair, older and more rugged looking. Now he really looked like everyone else and not in the least bit like the angel she remembered. 

Somehow, the angel seemed to have lost some of his shine.

“Was wonderin’ if you were still here. You ever get around to learning how to shoot a gun?” he asked.

Milly just shook her head.

“Still got the knife I gave ya?”

Milly nodded

“I Spose’ I made you a promise so I guess I should keep it,” he said, walking off

And that was kinda how things were between Ethan and Milly. Things just picked up where they left off, as if the time that passed was nothing at all.

So Milly hung around Ethan like she did back when they first met, except this time, Ethan taught Milly all about guns and how to use one. 

Ethan kept his promise to Milly. And Milly soon learned that if Ethan made a promise on something, he would keep it come hell or high water.

Ethan and Milly rode together for much longer this time. And Ethan said he might let Milly ride with him when he left town. So Milly behaved and did everything she was told. 

But Milly was just too curious for her own good, and sometimes, Ethan didn’t like that. Milly just didn’t know when to quit asking questions.

“Ethan…”

“Yeah?” Ethan replied

“How many men have you killed?”

Ethan paused for a moment

“Hell… I dunno… 10, 15 maybe?”

“Have you killed … women and children?”

Ethan paused again, but for longer this time.

Milly looked over at Ethan, who was looking in the opposite direction.

“Only if I had to,”…

“You killed women and children?!” Milly said, her eyes wide with disbelief.

Ethan turned and looked at Milly, his eyes concealed by shadow. 

“If someone has a gun on you, you gonna ask questions or you gonna shoot em’?” Ethan asked

“But…”

“Remember what I told you about survival?” he said, cutting Milly off

“Yes, but…”

“Well, there ain’t no but about it… you shoot em’, you shoot em’ dead,” Ethan replied

Ethan turned his head and spat

“But what if they’re… innocent?” Milly continued.

“Innocent of what?” Ethan asked

“I dunno… maybe they ain’t done nothin’ wrong… and don’t deserve to die…” Milly said

Ethan lifted his hat so he could look Milly in the eyes. 

“Sometimes bad things happen, Milly. That’s just the way of things … people die. You just need to make sure it ain’t you is all…”

Ethan leaned up against the post, pulled his hat down over his head again and moved his head out of the sun.

“Survival is everything … if you wanna live…” he murmured in a drowsy voice

Milly looked away and fidgeted and itched in her new coat. She was wearing some new clothes that Ethan had given her, but they made her look a lot like a boy. She was grateful to get rid of her old clothes, which were full of holes and just plain worn through, but she was damn uncomfortable in these new ones.

“Tomorrow, we’re goin’ back up to the Ol’ Miller Farm–you need a bath and I need to catch up with the boys,” Ethan said, turning on his side.

Milly just lay there thinking on what Ethan just said. First, she didn’t want to take a stinking bath and second, the thought of going back to the Miller farm scared her. And although she knew she would be safe with Ethan, the farm house always made Milly feel uneasy.

And then there was the Jackson Brothers… the murdering thieves people in the town were too scared to even whisper about.

For the first time in a long while, Milly felt her old friend fear return.

-END OF PART VI-

You can read part VII of this story here

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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.

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