Milson (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

Milson travelled back home much the same way as he had left all those years ago. He walked and hitchhiked, as all the money he had was to go the funeral parlour. As Milson drew near his home town, he travelled with an old woman in a Datsun that never exceeded 80k’s. Milson didn’t mind though, he enjoyed the woman’s company. When she laughed the wrinkles around her eyes made her seem younger, and she knew everything about everything. She talked about topics from antique collectables to effective surfing techniques. She knitted and played snooker, and had a schooner at the local pub every Tuesday. Every Sunday she went to church with her daughter and grandchildren.

By the time they had reached the centre of town, Milson didn’t want to leave the car. The woman must have sensed this and bid Milson goodbye fondly, wishing him the best of luck with his journey and ‘God Bless’.

Milson wished her the same also and found that he actually meant it. His wishes for the old woman were not simply hollow sentiments. Milson wondered if this was due to the charming allure of the groovy gran, or the death of his mother.

As Milson watched the rust bucket putter down the road, he felt as if something had changed in him. He felt free; he could breathe easily and stand tall. Milson walked down the main street, stopping at the shop windows, remembering afternoons spent gazing into the sweet window, wishing, just wishing, someone would take pity on him and treat him to some treats. ‘Guess they figured I didn’t need any’, Milson thought as he passed his old school.

The smells of the schoolyard lingered on the breeze. Milson was taken back to his school days once again. Rotten lunches, long hot days squeezed into a classroom like a school of sardines. The teasing and taunts were not forgotten. Milson thought it funny that now those days didn’t seem so bad. At the time it hurt so much. Each day as unbearable as the last, now however, he knew that it was all normal. Kids were cruel. Fat kids, freckly kids, kids with glasses and braces were teased all over the world, and yet, Milson was self-centred enough to think he was the only one.

As Milson came to this realisation, he had reached his old street. As he neared his house he slowed his pace, and saw in the distance a crowd formed in his front yard. Milson eased himself in amongst the strangers and intently watched the punters in action.    

By the end of the auction, a young couple, with a small girl with golden blond hair and emerald green eyes, had been the highest bidders. Milson couldn’t have been more pleased.

He watched the family joyously hug and kiss, and enter his house.

‘It’s now your house. You’re home. May you have happier memories than me’. Milson whispered under his breath.

 Milson took one last look at his house, and left for the last time.

 

* * *

Milson went to the funeral parlour. He was relieved to find that the mortuarian’s were not as bloodthirsty as he had imagined. They showed Milson an array of caskets in his price range and Milson chose a white coffin with gold trimming.

At the graveside service, Milson was surprised to see quite a collection of mourners. His mother’s congregation had attended to pay their respects, as had many of the local townspeople. Milson listened to the minister’s service intently. He presented a fairly traditional service, complete with a responsorial psalm and a rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’.

Milson expected that he would feel differently then this. As he listened to the words of praise stream from the minister’s mouth, Milson suddenly felt a tear trickle down his face. Soon, his vision was blurred and he faintly sensed the crowd moving away. Milson was now alone with his mother, after twenty-three years.

            ‘Twenty-three years’, Milson thought. Twenty-three years of living alone, in squalor, unknown and unloved, un-nurtured and faithless, living a life of fear.

Fear of what’? Milson wondered. Milson wasn’t really sure why he didn’t ever return to his mother. Deep down he guessed it was because he knew things between them would always be the same. That nothing would change, that his mother had her way of living, and as long as Milson lived with her, it would be his way of living also.

But now, as he sat by her, rigid and lifeless in a satin lined box, he felt no fear, for there was nothing to fear. His mother was gone. Now, guilt and remorse replaced the fear and anger he had carried all these years. ‘Why didn’t I just go and visit her once’? Let her know I was alright? She might not have cared either way but…at least she would have known…at least I would have known’.

Milson stood up and took a single carnation from the ground. He placed it on top of the casket and said a silent prayer for his mother. He figured she deserved that one final gesture of love from her only son.

As Milson walked away from his mother’s graveside he suddenly noticed the feel of the sun upon his neck. He closed his eyes and lifted his face towards the sky. Milson was finally glad to be alive. He determined from then on that he would take full advantage of his time left on this earth, before the cycle of life was complete, and he returned to his mother for the very last time.

 Milson inhaled the warm summer air deeply, and took the first step towards the rest of his life.

 

 
The End
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