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

© 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 15 of one of my short stories. You can read part one here.

SHORT STORY TRIGGER WARNING – This short story contains elements of assault, sexual assault, violence, strong language and death.

Milly had been riding for days. After discovering the truth about Ethan and the Jackson Brothers gang, Milly felt more lost and alone than she had ever felt before. She wandered from place to place, eventually stopping at the odd town for food when she could. 

It was difficult to go anywhere with the Jackson Brothers after her. And the posse was still looking for the “Killer of Tyler Smith”. That was the name of the man Milly gunned down in the store that day. Being female helped a lot. The posse wasn’t lookin’ for no girl.   

Still, Milly wasn’t sure what scared her more – the posse catching up with her or the Jackson’s finishing her off the way they did her Ma and Pa…

Eventually, Milly lost track of how long she’d been running and hiding out. It must have been at least six months or more. During that time, Milly caught up with Running Elk again.  He told her he had seen Ethan pass by a few months back. Milly wept at the very mention of his name.

It was a while before Running Elk mentioned Ethan’s name again.

Running Elk was a good friend to Milly. And Milly really needed one. The world seemed like a cold and lonely place to her now. The one person Milly had learned to trust was now the one person who filled Milly with a hatred that felt like acid in her veins. 

The time spent with Running Elk was a time for healing. Milly practised with the bow and arrow, and for a while, she felt like herself again. 

“I know you don’t wish to talk about it, but I’m your friend and friends talk,”…

“You know you can’t escape your fate, Milly… eventually, the shadow of the past will catch up to you,” Running Elk said

Milly kept throwing her knife at the target, pretending she didn’t hear Running Elk

“Only you can decide your own fate. But if you do not face your fear, eventually, it will consume you. You are a good person, Milly, and you have survived much hardship. But I feel all of that was but a test for the biggest challenge you are yet to face,”

Milly grabbed the knife from the post.

“I’m not afraid of Ethan…” Milly replied

“So you could end his life then?” Running Elk asked.

Milly looked at Running Elk.

The very thought of Ethan made her tremble with rage, but the thought of killing him… 

Could she kill Ethan if it came to that? Could Milly kill the man that had saved her life?

“He was part of the gang that killed my parents…” Milly replied

“You were young, and Ethan would have been your age then…”

“It doesn’t matter, he was still there! He’s alive and my parents ain’t…”

“When the time comes to make that decision, just be certain you are at peace with whatever decision you make,”

“I’ve killed before… “ Milly replied

Running Elk shook his head.

“You killed to survive. And perhaps that man’s life meant nothing to you. But his life meant something to someone, Milly. Ending the life of a person who has become part of you is not the same thing,” replied Running Elk.

Milly looked at Running Elk with a wide-eyed expression. She wasn’t quite sure she understood what he meant. She spent some time thinking on Running Elk’s words. 

What Running Elk had said seemed to conflict with the “kill or be killed” rules of survival that Ethan had taught Milly. 

Could Ethan have been wrong about survival being the only thing that mattered?

Milly wasn’t in any hurry, but she figured it was time she moved on. She didn’t want to be around in case Ethan and the gang headed back this way. 

Saying goodbye to Running Elk was harder than Milly expected. She wasn’t sure when or if she’d she him again, but she was thankful for all that he had done. 

And regardless of the time that passed, Milly knew that Running Elk would always be a friend, if she needed him to be.

-END OF PART XV-

You can read part XVI of this story here

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

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