--SOME WONDER HOW I’M DOING, BUT MOST DON’T EVEN ASK
1637 -- A Place Called Mistick
My brother rips off a strip of deer meat and chews while saying, “We should kill them all. Woman and children, too.”
His long brown hair is tied in a ponytail and he’s shirtless. Wisps of wood smoke curl behind his back where a breeze twirls and the effect of this sight, mixed with Running Boar’s smoldering anger, makes me grin.
My brother kicks me, his toe as sharp as an arrowhead through the moccasin. Running Boar’s eyes are black holes, each with a center flame of red. His face twists and contorts. He has finger-painted two blue slashes on either side of his high cheek bones. War paint. He is too eager. Even Father tells him to settle down. “We are so many. They are but few. This is our land.” Still, my brother is a fuse, an angry coil. Once upon a time, though, we played with pet squirrels and swam streams. We used to chase mountain goats when we were younger, trying to out run them, but now we are men and my brother is all about decimating the white man, greedy to make their blood soak through the sun-baked soil of these rolling hills.
“If you are Pequot, you will not stand by and watch these invaders steal our land,” Running Boar says. “You are a fool with your happy ways.”
I have not told my brother that I am in love with First To Dance, she with eyes as blue as turquoise. Running Boar once loved her himself, but now the white man crushes his heart.
First To Dance is pale for a Pequot but her smile is ripe. I see her raising our strong sons. I see myself loving her as an old man, loving her all the days of my life.
Running Boar says, “You are too comfortable. You stare into the sky and spin silly thoughts.”
“Yes, it’s true,” I say.
“Someday the snake will draw your blood.”
I make a phony motion as if my hand’s been bitten. I jerk it to resemble spasms of spurting blood. Running Boar has no choice but to laugh. “My brother is crazy,” he says, shaking his head.
I believe we are no different than the white man. We have dissimilar skins, yes, and different customs, but our bodies and minds are composed of the same chemicals. We should be able to coexist. I am thinking this in my hammock on a morning when a few tiny birds chatter atop a bushy tree.
Today I will tell First To Dance of my feelings for her. She knows them already, but it’s better if I say these things with words to her so-pretty face.
Afterward I will ride into the settlement which sits in a valley fifteen miles from Mystic. I will ask to meet with Mr. John Gardner who is chief of the white men there. I will broker an agreement to ensure peace. I am certain Mr. John Gardner wants this as much as most of our people. If he resists, I will go to our brothers from the Mohegan and Narragansett tribes and gain their heavy muscle. But we will not make war. Fighting is what animals do.
I’m about to lift my body and start my day when I feel the air tremble, the ground shuddering. Birds squawk and scatter. I can hear hundreds of hooves pounding like thunder. In the distance, a dust cloud hovers over the peak of a hill.
Running Boar screams. He is the first, but the rest of us follow. Bullets and arrows. Metal and flame. One by one, we are erased from history.