The Great Milo Spill and its Terrifying Consequences by Tracey Reed Milo is a crunchy chunky chocolate powder every Aussie kid loves. It goes great with vanilla ice-‐cream, especially when you whip the Milo and ice-‐cream with your spoon to make a smooth paste. My personal favorite though is two heaped teaspoons of Milo stirred into a glass of ice-‐cold milk until the milk turns a chocolatey-‐brown color but still has crunchy Milo bits floating on top. Both my brother Danny and I like our Milo this way. My brother and I have a history with Milo. It goes like this: we make a Milo drink in the kitchen, take it into the lounge room, sit on the floor, face each other and cheerfully sip our Milo. Savoring. Every. Mouthful. At some point we rest our glasses of Milo on the floor and start joking around with each other, and one of us spills our Milo on the carpet. Mum gets really mad, gives us a terrifying lecture about watching what we are doing, makes us clean up the mess, and then sends us to our rooms for some time out. Danny and I skulk off to our rooms feeling blue, but we are certain we have learned the lesson and will never spill Milo again. But we do spill our Milo again. Take last week for instance. After finishing dinner and washing the dishes Danny and I were in the kitchen making ice-‐cold milk Milos. “You ask her,” Danny whispered, cupping both hands around his mouth trying to be secretive. “No, you ask her. She will say yes to you,” I counter. “If you ask her I’ll lend you my red and green cat’s-‐eye marble for one week.” “Deal,” I whisper back and then in my most polite voice, “Mum, can we please drink our Milo in the lounge? We promise we will be careful.” Three minutes later Danny had spilled his Milo on the carpet. This spill must have been the final straw for Mum because she went really still, fixed her eyes on us, and instead of yelling at us she said in a very, very serious voice, “If you ever spill your drink in this lounge again I will send you both behind the woolshed where you will wait for me to tan your bums with the polythene pipe. Do you both understand?” Our heads nodded vigorously at Mum, and then we turned to each other and exchanged worried glances. Our mum never said anything she did not mean so we knew if we spilled another Milo in the lounge we were going to get smacked. Guaranteed. And this is bad news, because, well, Danny and I have a habit of spilling our Milo in the lounge. Shoot forward a week. It’s Friday afternoon and the McCann’s from the neighboring farm have popped over for afternoon tea. Danny and I are facing each other sitting cross-‐legged on the lounge floor. My ice-‐cold milk Milo is resting beside my right thigh and I am making funny faces at Danny. He is pretending not to notice (we play this game a lot) and then suddenly he lunges at me. The shock of his sudden movement makes me leap backwards and on the way my
hand crashes against my glass of Milo. A brown pool of Milo briefly sits on the surface of our smoky gray carpet as if teasing me, and then quietly absorbs, leaving a large wet patch with a few undissolved Milo bits sitting on top. Our laughing turns to horror as Mum’s words suddenly ring in our ears. “Behind the woolshed you two. Now!” Ten minutes later I am standing behind the woolshed scared witless. I can’t see Danny – he is standing around the corner – but I can hear him shuffling his feet back and forth in the dried up grass. I know he is as scared as I am. I wonder if his heart is pounding as fast and hard as mine, if his hands are as sweaty, if he is also shaking with fear, and if he is trying to produce a really good reason why we don’t deserve to be whacked with the polythene pipe. My thinking is interrupted by the start of my brother’s quiet sobs and the gravely crunching sound of what can only be my mother’s gumboots walking the path to Danny. “How many times have I told you not to spill your Milo in the lounge?” I hear my mum ask. Danny tried to answer the question, but couldn’t get the words in between his great choking sobs. “Oh God,” I say to myself. This is awful. “And how many times have you spilled your Milo in the lounge?” Quietly now, “Maybe…sob, sob…nine times.” I have no idea where Danny came up with such a precise number. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea how many times we’ve spilled our Milo in the lounge. All I can tell you is we have spilled Milo more times than I can remember. “Bend over.” I hear a maelstrom of sound around the corner; Danny wailing, “I’m sorry Mum…choking sob…I’m sorry. Please…”, the dog barking, polythene pipe smacking against Danny’s cut-‐off denim shorts, Mum counting in a short, clipped way, “One, two, three…”, and the pounding of my heart in my eardrums. Oh God, I’m next. “Eight. Nine,” Mum concludes her counting; one smack for every spilled Milo. And then everything goes quiet, except for the sound of my brother’s muted sobbing. A licking-‐your-‐wound kind of sob that tells me it is over for Danny and about to begin for me. Mum rounds the corner with long purposeful strides and pulls up in front of me. I look from the pipe to her face and suddenly, in a flash of inspiration, I know what to say. She begins, “How many times have I told you not to spill your Milo in the lounge?” “Lots of times,” I reply with heartfelt honesty. “And how many times have you spilled your Milo in the lounge?” “Um…I dunno. Maybe once.” I see a look flash across Mum’s face, either a grin or a grimace, but I have no time to discover which because she says, “Bend over.” With my body bent at the waist and my head looking at the view between my legs, I see the world behind me in a weird upside down way. I have a clear view of my mother’s gumboots, her tan cotton knee-‐length shorts, and the hollow plastic polythene pipe firmly clasped in her right hand. The pipe is black and roughly four centimeters in diameter with a slight curve from top to
bottom. It is scratched at one end from years of smacking cattle rumps and I see flecks of dried cow poop clinging to the surface. As I focus in on the poop the pipe is whipped from view and I hear a swoosh as it rushes through the air toward my bottom. And then, simultaneously, I hear the sound of the pipe against my trousers and feel the stinging sensation of hard black plastic rounding squarely on my bum. It hurts and I burst into tears. Sobbing, I go to stand thinking it is all over, but then I hear Mum say, “Two,” and I know there are eight more to come.