To Milly Ozk the world is an easy place to understand. Everything is on a scale of happiness from one to ten.
Drinking freshly made fruit juice on a hillside while watching a bright, orange sunrise is a ten. Finding a plant in her garden has died from frost is a one.
But how can a plant dying be on a happiness scale? To Milly, it is very simple. Everything alive will die one day and if it is this plant’s time to die then she can plant another one and enjoy watching it grow. She will be happy there is a new life and it will be happy to grow.
Does Milly ever feel sad? Oh yes, of course she does but she never forgets that even when she is sad, there are plenty of other things to find happiness in. If she breaks a favourite cup, she can go out to find another one that might become her new favourite. If she sees a war on TV she can find out how to help, maybe by knitting some gloves for refugees who are cold. It might be a small thing but lots of little things make big things. that’s how it works for Milly.
To Milly, happiness is everybody’s to find and it doesn’t need to be big happiness.
It began when Milly was seven years old. She was home in bed with a cold. Her arms and legs were aching and her nose was running and running and she couldn’t stop coughing because of the tickle in her throat. She was miserable. She cried and asked her mother when she would be better again. Her mother told her that nobody could say but she would get better and when she did she could go back to school and play with her friends.
Milly was still miserable as she suffered through her cold but she saw something in what her mother told her. She saw that instead of only thinking about how sick she felt, she could think about what games to play with her friends when she was feeling better. It made her smile just a little.
As she grew older Milly found that she could always cheer herself up when things were not going well by thinking how she would feel when the bad thing passed, as it always did.
When Milly was thirteen her mother grew ill, she lost all of her energy and had to visit the hospital a lot. She lost all of her hair and wore caps and beanies and even wigs. She would take Milly shopping when she could and they bought beanies together. Her mother started out buying plain beanies and when she grew tired of those she took Milly along to street markets and art fairs to find wild designs to wear. Even when Milly knew her mother was suffering she enjoyed shopping with her to seek out crazier and crazier beanies to brighten the days.
After her mother died Milly was sad for a long time. A week passed then two and three and four. In the second week she was passing her mother’s cupboard that had been closed for a month or more, since her mother went to the hospital for the last time, and looked inside. On shelves and on racks she saw dozens of multicoloured beanies. She picked one up and she cried. Her legs grew weak and she sat on the floor in the doorway as tears poured down her cheeks. Her heart was breaking and even the beautiful midday sun that streamed in the window could not brighten the pain she felt deep inside.
And then, into her mind came a picture, more like a home movie really, of her mother and herself at an art fair. The day was sunny. The few clouds that hung in the sky were white and fluffy. Her mother was laughing when she tried on beanies with chickens on them and smiling flowers and weird faces in wild colours.
When she opened her eyes and looked at the beanie in her hand, wet from her tears, Milly saw it was one they had bought at that very art fair, the one with the strange, misshapen chicken on it. Despite her tears and the pain in her heart, she smiled. And then she was laughing. She was crying and laughing all at once.
Her father rushed into the room to ask if Milly was alright. “Oh yes” she said “I just remembered when Mum bought this. It was a perfect day.”
“I miss her a lot, mouse.” her father said, tears in his eyes now.
“Me too, dad” Milly said “but she wouldn’t want us to be so sad. Mum always smiled.”
“I know Milly.”
“And I can wear all of these!” Milly said, waving her hand at the beanies in the cupboard.
“A different one every day.” her father said
“Every day, yes. And then I can get more when I run out. Can I Dad?”
“Of course you can. We’ll go together if you like.”
“That would be great!”
She looked at the beanie in her hands.
“A different one every day.”
~ ^-^ ~
It’s probably bad form to say it but I love this little story. It’s another one that just flowed from my mind right onto the page. Perhaps it’s a little sentimental but what’s wrong with that I say. During the conversation, Milly with her father, I actually had tears in my eyes.
And it’s another complete story too. It could be expanded of course. For now though, it stands as it is, a flurry of unedited writing, straight from me to you. I do hope you enjoy it.