TALES OF THE WEST BOOK I PART I: MILLY – PART XI

© 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 11 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.

It was Milly’s job to keep a lookout for anyone coming into the store. This used to be Jed’s job, but Milly was doing it today. And she was determined not to screw things up the same way that Jed did. Milly was going to make sure she did the best she could. She needed to prove herself to the gang and today was the day.

Ethan was crouched down across from Milly and watching over her like a hawk. Milly wasn’t sure how she felt about doing what they were doing, but she wasn’t about to give up her chance to do something useful. All she cared about was doing the one thing she was told to do, which was watching the door and making sure nobody came in. 

Everyone in the gang wore bandanas over their faces. Milly felt strange putting it on but when she looked at her reflection in the water of the well back on the farm, she didn’t know who the person was staring back at her. She was feeling so many emotions, she couldn’t tell one from the other. She was shaking, but she wasn’t sure if it was from fear or excitement. 

“Milly, watch the door, I need to go back and see if everything’s alright with Holden–just watch the door, and don’t take your eyes off of it, ya hear?” Ethan said.

Milly nodded that she understood.

Ethan turned and went to the back of the store.

A few moments later, Milly could hear noises outside. Someone was approaching. She called out to Ethan and ducked back around the corner, out of sight. But Ethan didn’t hear her calling for him. A man opened the door to the store and called out for the shopkeeper. When he didn’t reply, the man looked around the store. He called out again, but this time, he reached for his gun.

Milly slowly reached down for her pistol without making a sound, her hand shaking like a leaf. She could feel sweat on her forehead, but she swallowed hard and took her gun carefully out of the holster.

Ethan came through from the back and the man already had his gun pointed at him.

“Hold it right there!” the man said

Ethan was about to reach for his gun, but the man was too quick. 

“Put your hands in the air… right now!” 

Ethan did as the man said. 

Milly could see Ethan from behind the counter. She tried to move slowly around so she was behind the man holding the gun on Ethan. Her heart was thumping in her chest.

Milly closed her eyes and tried to slow her heart rate, which was now beating a hundred miles a second. She had to do something before Holden and Floyd came back.

She decided she would stand up and pull her gun on the man.

Milly stood up behind the man and pointed her gun at him.

The man swung around and started shaking his gun back and forth between Ethan and Milly.

“D… drop you gun, mister,” Milly said

“Uh… I ain’t droppin’ nuthin! Either you drop your gun or… I’m gonna shoot your friend here!” the man replied, pointing his gun back at Ethan.

Ethan was looking at the man, waiting for the right moment to jump him

The man nervously called out for the shopkeeper again, his voice quivering as he did it He turned and looked at Milly.

Ethan tried to move back, and the man swung back around and pointed his gun back at Ethan

“Don’t you move, or I swear… I’ll shoot you dead! Where’s the shopkeeper? You kill him?” the man asked.

“Mister… just drop your gun,” Ethan said, his voice steady

Milly looked at Ethan and pulled back the hammer on her pistol. This made the man more nervous. The man turned and pointed his pistol at Milly.  Ethan saw his moment to move, and he lunged at the man.

Milly saw the man’s eyes turn from her towards Ethan.

“Milly… shoot him…. now Milly… now!” Ethan yelled

Milly saw Ethan grab the man’s arm and struggle with him. Milly aimed at the man, being careful to aim just right.

Without hesitation, she squeezed back on the trigger, nice and slow, and shot the man square in the back.

The sound rang out in her ears. It was louder than she remembered, but it was over quickly. Milly saw the gun drop from the man’s hand, and then the man’s body dropped too. It didn’t take long for blood to cover the floor. 

Milly just stood there. 

“C’mon Milly! Damn girl, don’t just stand there, we gotta get!…” Ethan said, grabbing her by the arm and pulling her out of the store.

Milly couldn’t remember leaving or even getting on her horse or riding back to camp. Milly didn’t remember much of anything for a while after that.

After every one had returned to camp, it was the usual celebratory drinking and eating and joking around which Milly was not in the mood for one bit.

“That her first kill?” Holden asked Ethan.

“Yeah… I guess” Ethan replied

“You better go do your thing then Ethan… she looks a little shook up,” Floyd said

Ethan looked over at Milly. He lifted his hat off his head and whacked it against his thigh. The other gang members were looking over at Milly too. 

Milly was standing alone, looking out at the horses grazing in the grass. She was watching her dog playfully running around them. 

Milly could hear someone walking up behind her. She figured it would be Ethan.

“Milly … you did real good today… you know that right?” Ethan said.

Milly shook her head

“No, I didn’t. I let someone in when I was supposed to be watching the door–I called out to you but you didn’t hear me!” Milly replied.

“Milly–you shot him, that’s all that mattered. You did your job …” 

Ethan pulled Milly around so she was facing him

“He was fixin’ to shoot me Milly…” Ethan said, trying to look at her

Milly wouldn’t look up. She had her eyes fixed on her boots

Ethan lifted his hand to Milly’s chin. Milly looked up at him. 

“You wouldn’t want anyone to … shoot me now, would you, Milly?”

There was a deafening silence when Milly didn’t respond.

Ethan was looking at Milly intensely. It made Milly feel uncomfortable.

“Would you?” he asked again but louder

“N… no…” Milly finally replied, stepping back and shaking her head

Ethan grinned as he watched Milly step away from him

“Well, alright then…” he replied, turning away and meandering back to the others. He casually glanced back at Milly as he put his hat back on.

Milly looked away, anywhere but at Ethan. She could hear the voices of the others as Ethan returned, and she just knew they were talking about what had happened. Milly walked over to her blanket on the other side of the camp and wrapped herself in it.

Milly looked down at her hands. They were both shaking.

Milly had also unsheathed her knife in her left hand and had instinctively reached for it without even realising.

She didn’t like what she did today. What she didn’t like even more was Ethan acting strangely and all aggressive-like. Milly didn’t like it when Ethan would drink. It reminded her way too much of all the faceless figures in the dark that would hurt her at night. 

Milly curled up into a ball, closed her eyes as tightly as she could, and tried to remember her parents back when life seemed so much simpler. It seemed so long ago.

She was only 17 years old, but she felt so much older inside. Milly had killed a man today. And as hard as she tried, she couldn’t get the face of the man out of her head.

Milly finally drifted off to sleep when her dog made its way to its special spot right on top of her legs.

-END OF PART XI-

You can read part XII of this story here

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

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