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chapter 3

by MariaH 

Posted: 07 August 2010
Word Count: 2115
Summary: Third (and final chapter to be posted here). If anyone's following, this is continued on fanfiction.net :)
Related Works: Sally Calls! • 

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***chapter 3***

***Milko's Story***

"Oh, my goodness, Toby must have been chasing the birds!" Miss Murray exclaimed in dismay as she dropped the camera back down to her side.

Before lunch Kathy Murray had reminded her Reception class about her plans to take a class photo. Now she looked in shock at the trampled flowers and came to what appeared to be the logical conclusion. The scruffy old
ginger cat with only one ear and old battle scars had appeared from nowhere one day and adopted the school. In turn, the school had given him a name (Toby, after the Toby jug he'd smashed while jumping in through an open window) and adopted him as their mascot. As no one ever came forward to claim him, he lived, quite happily, with the school janitor.

The flower garden had been Reception's pride and joy. Kathy Murray had initiated it to help settle in some of the more timid kids and it had worked like a charm. But now the children were devastated.

The teacher looked round at her class, now a sea of confused and saddened little faces, many of them crying. Nearly every one of them was heartbroken to find their handiwork ruined. The exception was Kane Phillips, who simply surveyed the damage with indifference.

But Kathy Murray wasn't too surprised. She had also taught Kane's older brother Scott and knew from experience nothing much moved the Phillips boys. Kathy had met their father Richie and taken an instant dislike to him and his sneer. Richie would turn up at Summer Bay Primary occasionally in invitation to sort out some misdemeanour or other committed by one of his sons. This inevitably meant Mr Phillips senior finding some excuse to put the blame squarely on the school while proclaiming the innocence of his angelic offspring.

Kane at this moment not only looked like a miniature replica of his father, he even adopted his mannerisms, frowning as he leaned casually leg against the wall, rubbing his right ear lobe, obviously thinking how the blame could be shifted. Kathy half expected him to light up a cigarette.

Kane studied the ruined flower garden, deep in thought. He hadn't realised just how much he and Scotty had walked up and down during the kidnap.

He shook his head in sympathy. No wonder old Murraymints was p****d off. In his head, Kane had never been 4˝ years old. He spoke to his teacher as an equal.

"It coulda been Milko," he said helpfully, not without a twinge of guilt for landing the guy in it. But, hell, it wasn't fair that Toby should get all the blame either.

"Milko?" Kathy looked at him blankly.

"Yeh. He's kinda invisible but he's around, ya know? He loves steak, chips and berries so he coulda been lookin' for berries and run off when he heard us 'cos he's heaps shy and don't like talkin' to people much."

"But he talks to you?"

"Nah, he..." Kane began, and then remembered. He was meant to be hiding Milko from stickybeak teachers, not making sure everyone was on first name terms. Jeez, next thing you knew he'd be setting Miss Murray and Milko up on a blind date! "I mean, yeh. All the time. But don't'cha worry, Milko won't chase no one," he added reassuringly, in case Miss Murray really did think a blind date was in the offing and got her hopes up.

To his amazement, Miss Murray smiled.

"I understand, Kane. He doesn't mean to do things, does he?" she said in the kind of voice she normally only used if a kid was crying for Mummy. "He's really very, very good."

What the hell did she mean, had she seen Milko or something? Maybe teaching all these kids (Kane didn't class himself as one; you grew up fast in the Phillips' humble abode) was getting to old Murraymints and she was finally going doolally.


And one, two, three, four, make it once more, and one, two, three, four, make it once more...


Pippa paused from hanging out the washing and watched in concern as her youngest foster daughter came from round the corner of the house, shuffling her way crab like around its walls.

Sally's eyes were closed. She heard the voice and she knew it was Pippa but she had to touch every part of the house. If she didn't, someone would die before morning and it would be all Sally's fault. She knew it was her fault that Mum and Dad died on the boat. Milko said it wasn't, but Sally knew the truth now Milko had gone.

The day Sally first saw Milko (she somehow just knew his name) was exactly two days after the sailing boat tragedy. He didn't say very much but then he never did in the beginning.

Milko looked a lot like the giant cartoon bottle-of-milk boy on the neon sign advertisement above the airport Diner. The bottle-of-milk boy wore a bottle top for a hat and every time the neon lights changed colour a strawberry milkshake appeared beside him which made him laugh in delight and the bottle-top-hat pop off.

Milko wore a hat too, but it was a kid's baseball cap. Later, when Milko and Sally had come to know each other quite well, he liked to change the colour of his hat but the first time Sally saw him it was red like the bottle-of-milk boy's bottle-top-hat.

Sally had been sitting in the airport diner with Isabel, Rico and Rosa, and drifting into a dream while fighting hard to stay awake in case Isabel went away like Mum and Dad had. And it was then that she saw him.

"G'day," Milko said, when he saw she'd noticed him. He was very tall and straight and pale, and he wore a flat red hat though his T-shirt and shorts and trainers were white.

Just then Isabel asked if she was sleepy, and somewhere in that fraction of a second, between Sally's eyes closing and flying open again, Milko had gone.

The next time Sally saw Milko was just before she and Rosa, the lady who was to travel back with her to Australia, went through to the departure lounge. They stopped to say their goodbyes to Isabel and Rico. Isabel stooped down to Sally and held her very tight, sniffing back tears and talking so fast in Spanish that Sally didn't understand any of it.

Isabel's fiancé Rico rubbed his red eyes with the heels of his hands, saying he was tired and trying to pretend he wasn't crying. Sally didn't want to leave Isabel and she was clinging to her, hoping the policia would come and tell Rosa, nice though she was, she really couldn't go with Sally; Isabel and Rico must go instead, and then Gran might say they could all live together in Gran's house forever.

One o'clock in the morning was the strangest time in the world. It was the time when everybody should have been fast asleep but instead everybody was hurrying about with bags and suitcases. The lights were very bright and the noise was very loud. If Sally hadn't overheard a lady carrying a little boy snap at her husband no wonder the poor kid's grouchy, it's bloody one o'clock in the morning she'd have thought it was the middle of the afternoon. And, everything being so strange, Rico's watch with the square blue face was talking away to itself on his wrist


That was when Milko suddenly appeared again and decided to show off with some Spanish.

"Buen-os di-as" he said, in the same tick-tock voice as the watch.

Sally was finding it more and more difficult to stay awake. Her whole body was tired. Her legs had gone to sleep a long time ago and now her head felt fuzzy and her arms were so weak she just couldn't hold on to Isabel anymore...


"We will be home soon, leetle one," Rosa said in a whisper, closing the book she'd been reading.

Isabel had gone! Isabel had left her! Sally had finally fallen asleep and Isabel and Rico had gone! It was just Sally and Rosa now. Just Sally and Rosa, sitting on the quiet plane where cold, harsh lights reflected in round, dark windows and all was eerily silent, save for the low droning noise of the engines and the gentle clacking of someone's headphones.

"I theenk you might be thirsty?" Rosa asked.

Sally nodded, her bottom lip trembling. Rosa fished in her bag for a carton of blackcurrant juice as she put her book down on...

Milko's lap. But Milko, who was sitting on the empty seat next to them, didn't mind. He simply smiled as if everything would be alright.

After that, Sally didn't see Milko for a long, long time. Not until after Gran started doing funny things, like putting her shoes on over her slippers and waking Sally up for school five minutes after Sally had gone to bed.

But one special day, when Gran set a place at the table for Grandad, who'd died years before, and Sally was wishing she knew what to do, Milko came and sat in Grandad's chair. He never went away again.

When Sally woke in the morning, Milko would be there. Sometimes he'd been to the beach and would be carrying a surfboard or sometimes he'd helped himself to brekkie and would be eating a bowl of cereal or munching on toast. When Sally went to sleep at night Milko would settle down on the kid's armchair and yawn and stretch and complain loudly that Sally was keeping him awake. Other times he wouldn't be tired at all and would jump on and off the furniture till Sally told him to stop.

They were very best friends and Milko always knew what to do when Gran was crook. When Gran left the water running after she'd had a bath, Milko said, "Well, Sally, you'll have to turn the tap off." When Gran kept calling her Karen, Sally was frightened until Milko said, "Gran thinks you're your Mum when she was a little girl. You'll have to be patient and wait until she remembers again."

It was Milko who told Sally that it wasn't her fault her Mum and Dad died. Milko who said she didn't have to wash her hands six times every morning. Milko made Sally feel better about everything.

But now Sally had had time to think things over she realised Milko hadn't even tried to escape!

Yet if Kane Phillips had done the tying up he would have been able to untie himself quite easily because (being very neat and tidy herself, Sally always noticed these things) the little boy couldn't even do up his own shoelaces. No, there could only be one explanation. Milko had decided to be mates with the Phillips boys and team up with them to bully the other kids!

Sally didn't have Milko anymore. She had to protect herself. Every way she knew how.

And one, two, three, four, make it once more, and one, two, three, four, make it once more...

She shuffled to the end of the wall as Pippa reached her.

"Your hands are grazed," Pippa said, taking Sally's small, trembling hands in her own, and drawing a sharp breath as she saw the blood. "Sally, sweetheart, we're friends, aren't we? You can trust me. Please tell me what's wrong."

Sally gazed back at Pippa and blinked back tears. Even if he had turned traitor, she couldn't dob Milko in. The Phillips brothers had said they'd kill him if she did and she and Milko, they used to be...used to be...(Sally's heart surely snapped in two) such good friends.

It wasn't fair of her to worry Pippa and Tom like this. She would go back to the Home, tonight, and no one in Summer Bay need ever think of her again. It would be best for everyone. Steven, her foster brother, had said as much only last night. She was a wuss, a bub, a stupid sook who did nothing but cry, Steven had said. Well, Steven was right.

Because she had been brought up by her grandmother from so young an age, Sally often spoke in the same old-fashioned way. Her polite little voice reminded Pippa of a bygone age and sweet-faced, silver-haired ladies who sat by the fire to eat buttered scones and sip tea from china cups.

"Thank you for having me stay, Pippa" she said in a breathless sob. "It's been most enjoyable. But I'm afraid I really can't call for any longer."

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Comments by other Members

funnyvalentine at 17:34 on 12 August 2010  Report this post
Hi Maria - there are some nice ideas in here - I'm guessing Milko is an imaginary friend in times of trouble. I think it might help if you limited each part to only one point of view, which is the person through whose eyes your are seeing events unfold. This makes it clearer for children. Maybe through the boy's eyes at the beginning and then just Sally's in the latter part. But there was some nice writing and evocation of feeling here, I thought. Look forward to more.

Issy at 09:24 on 21 August 2010  Report this post
Hi Maria,

This is a fabulous story, but more and more I am reading it as an adult's story. For children I do think that it needs to be more in real time and more from the mcs point of view, perhaps going off into Kane's and other children's vp from time to time. The story of Sally on the plane is so poignant that if it was in more chronological order it would build up the relationship between Milko and Sally so strongly that the reader would see that Milko was no ordinary invisible friend.

As an adult read it is absolutely fine, going across the child and adult vps.

And I am enjoying it very much as an adult.

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