© By Julie Gray
Milly played by Eliza Scanlen
Ethan played by Boyd Holbrook
AUTHORS NOTE: This is part 17 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 knew it could be risky heading back to her hometown. But it had been more than a year since she had last seen Ethan and the others.
Not a day passed that she didn’t think of Ethan and what she had learned the day she left the Ol’ Miller farmhouse.
She imagined drawing her pistols and shooting him down. She imagined it over and over in her head. Milly even woke up some nights in a cold sweat.
But Milly was tired of running from shadows in the dark. It was time to go home.
Milly’s hometown didn’t look like all that much from way up here. She had avoided the Ol’ Miller farmhouse and had taken the opposite trail heading into town from the south side of the hill. This hill was much steeper.
It looked so small. It looked like a worthless town in the middle of nowhere. But it was the place Milly called home.
Milly rode into town at a slow pace, and as she looked upon familiar buildings, it was as if she was looking upon them for the very first time.
The playful cries of the school children startled Milly. Milly’s dog let out a bark. He wanted to play.
Milly got off her horse and walked the rest of the way. Two school children noticed Milly and stopped to look at her. One boy was scratching his head. Perhaps he recognised who she was?
Seeing the school children again made her realise that she was “Dirty Milly” no more.
She had changed… into whom or what; she wasn’t sure. But she wasn’t the same girl that cowered in the dark or ran from school children any longer.
Milly walked her horse to the hotel and was tying the horse up when she heard the screams and the gunshots.
She reached for her pistol instinctively. She didn’t know what was happening, but people were running away from whatever was going on across town.
Milly stopped one townsfolk.
“Please… what’s goin’ on?” Milly asked.
“It’s the outlaws! Haven’t you seen the posters? They’re here… you should run!” the woman said, grabbing hold of Milly’s arm.
Milly pulled loose of the woman’s grip. The woman turned away and continued running down the street.
Milly felt her body break out into a cold sweat.
The Jackson’s were here. And that meant Ethan was here.
Milly knew she would have to face Ethan eventually, but where?
Milly bit her lip anxiously. She remembered this feeling. It was the same feeling she had when she first went looking for the Angel in the Bathtub.
Milly would have to face Ethan or forever be running from the man who helped kill her parents.
Milly went around the back alley towards all the commotion. She couldn’t see anyone she recognised, but she knew they were there – somewhere.
The only thing worth robbing this side of town was the bank, so that’s where Ethan must be. Milly knew exactly where to go.
She made her way around the back alley leading to the bank and spotted James hiding inside the building. She saw Holden too and figured Floyd would be wherever Ethan was, probably around the back.
The town had a sheriff, but Milly figured the Jackson Brothers would only shoot him down if he tried to stand in their way. Nobody came to stop the Jackson Brothers’ rampage.
The townsfolk were afraid, as they should be.
People gave Milly strange glances as they passed her in the street. The fear on their faces mirrored everything Milly was feeling.
Milly waited in the alley behind the bank. She knew it would only be a matter of time before Ethan would show.
The minutes seemed like hours.
But then… Ethan finally appeared from the building. He was standing merely a few feet away from her, carrying a bag in each hand. He had his bandanna tied around his face, his hat pulled down low.
There was no mistaking it was him. That walk of his gave him away.
Milly felt herself freeze up as if her entire body was retaliating against her.
This was nothing like what she had imagined in her head.
Floyd was calling out for Ethan to hurry. Ethan must’ve been on edge because he dropped a bag and had to run back to pick it up.
Floyd had continued on and around the corner. Ethan was entirely alone.
Milly saw her opportunity.
Milly started hitting her right thigh as if trying to wake herself up.
This was it. She had to do this and she had to do it NOW…
Milly pulled her pistol out of its holster, her hand shaking.
She swallowed hard. Her mouth was as dry as sand.
Milly moved out of the darkness of the alley so she was directly in line with Ethan.
She lifted her pistol and pulled back on the hammer.
“Stop… Et – han!” Milly said, her voice breaking up
Ethan stopped in his tracks. Milly watched for any movement, but Ethan just stood there.
Her hand was still shaking as she held the pistol outward. She tried to steady it with her other hand.
Ethan let the bags he was holding drop to the ground.
He lifted his hands in the air and slowly turned around to face Milly.
Milly felt her heart pounding in her chest.
She swallowed again.
Milly felt her knees buckle, but she steadied herself.
Ethan lifted his right hand to his bandanna slowly and pulled it down off his face.
Milly felt her breath catch in her chest.
Ethan had shaved the beard he was growing. He looked just how she remembered him from the day they met.
His eyes watered.
“Milly?” he said again, stepping forward.
“Don’t… come any closer,” Milly replied
“Wh… what d’ya mean, Milly? Where’d you go… why’d you leave?” Ethan asked.
Ethan finally noticed the pistol pointing at him.
He looked back at Milly and grinned.
“Milly… why you pointin’ a gun at me? What the hell… Milly, I’ve missed you…”
“I know what you did, Ethan. I know you helped kill my parents… I know Ethan!” Milly blurted out. The words seemed to slur into each other.
Ethan looked puzzled.
“What’re you talkin’ about?” Ethan replied, stepping forward
“I told you not to move…”
Ethan stepped back again
“Milly, I know you think I did somethin’ the night your parents died… but I swear, I don’t know a thing about that… you gotta believe me…”
“Why should I believe you… I heard what your brother’s said back at the Ol’ Miller farmhouse Ethan, you were there the night my parents died. That’s as good as killin’ em’…”
“No Milly… I didn’t kill your parents, I swear,” Ethan said again
“You remember when we talked about killing innocent people?” Milly asked
Biting his lip nervously, Ethan paused before he answered
“Of course I do…”
“You told me that sometimes bad things happen and people die. Maybe that’s what happened, and my parents were good people that you and your brothers just killed caus’… they got in the way!”
Ethan shook his head
Milly felt the tears trickling down her face.
She quickly brushed them away from her eyes and kept the gun on Ethan
“Ethan… what the hell is takin’ so long?”
Milly recognised the voice. It was James…
Ethan turned and looked at James.
James saw Milly with her gun on Ethan.
“YOU! You… lil’ bitch!”
James reached for his pistol
“No… James… don’t!” Ethan cried, turning back to look at Milly
Milly turned her attention to James, who was aiming to shoot his pistol.
“Milly, run…” Ethan said, with tears in his eyes
“No!” Milly replied, pointing her pistol at James
“James… NOOOOO!” Ethan cried, throwing his arms outward and stepping into James’ line of fire
A gunshot rang out.
Milly fired her pistol at James at the same time.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Milly was looking at James, but she wasn’t watching Ethan.
When she saw James drop to the ground, she felt the muscles in her stomach relax.
When she finally turned her attention to Ethan, Ethan was also on the ground, but he was face down and he wasn’t moving.
“Et… han?” Milly said
Ethan didn’t reply.
Milly felt an overwhelming feeling of weakness. Tears welled in her eyes. Her hands trembled.
“Ethan!?” she asked again, her voice shaking
Milly’s dog was licking Ethan’s face.
Milly knew she couldn’t stay where she was. Ethan’s brothers would be here any minute. Milly ran to the alley and looked back at Ethan lying down in the dirt.
Moments later, Floyd and Holden appeared from around the corner.
Milly returned to her horse, untied it and rode day and night until she returned to Running Elk.
-END OF PART XVII-
You can read the final part of Milly’s story in this book right here