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The Island Was Doomed Long Before We Got Here

by Mark Cugini

Steffy had heard them hollering from well past the pasture. She was in her chambers when they set fire to her barn. They drove stakes through her cow’s hollow hearts, tore the apples from the trees and gnawed at each mealy pome. These beasts, these savages: they were always mean men—even then, when there was enough green grass for all the men to feel manly about. But this wasn’t about theft or fruit or the theft of fruit, and Steffy knew this. Her children wanted to know about the small stuff—like playthings and knick-knacks—but there would be no peace so long as there was still death over the theft of fruit. The butter was left unchurned and the children were left to watch the sun set on what was left of their parent’s lives. And when the blood was running over her eyes, all Steffy could think was what a peach—what, a peach?

Author's Note

I’m from Staten Island, a place with rich soil and a richer history. This ‘lil guy tries to unearth both of those things—it tells the story of the Peach Tree War, one of the many unfortunate confrontations between the native Susquehannock tribe and the Dutch settlers that had colonized the small island. There’s a good chance that no one was actually killed in this battle, but if history has proven anything, it’s that we never really know why we never get along.

Mark Cugini's fiction and poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Melville House, Everyday Genuis, NOÖ, and Artichoke Haircut, among others. He’s a founding editor of Big Lucks, a regular contributor to HTMLGiant, and the curator of the Three Tents Reading Series in Washington, DC.

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