Read the First Chapter of Stony Kill

A secret writer from a pragmatic blue-collar neighborhood, Marie White Small brings her skills as a florist, waitress, antiquarian bookseller, bookbinder, cook, and pie-baker to the page.

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Chapter One

Not long before my mother died, she told me a story I’d never heard before. It was 1965, the year before she married my father. Spring had come to the Northeast nearly a season ahead of itself. By May, the fields rippled with thigh deep, green-gold grasses: sweet timothy, alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, clovers, reed canarygrass, ryegrass, and tall fescue. All the kids along Sweet Milk Road knew the species names; they were weaned on the sweat of haying, and my mother and her brother Morgan were no different.

It was a clear, bright Sunday morning—a perfect day for the first cut of the season. The fields around the farm were filled with the buzz and clang of sicklebar mowers and balers while my mother Lydah and Morgan stood toe-to-toe in a field blanketed with egg-yolk colored mustard blooms. They scrapped with one another on the strip of land between their farm and the Deitman property where no one could hear them. At first my mother laughed at her brother’s suggestion, like a late-comer for Sunday dinner who asks for the platter of fried chicken to be passed, only to find the plate is empty, and the laughter trickles into awkward silence. She pleaded with Morgan, but he was of no mind to hear her. His decision, he claimed, was best for the family: She would marry Michael Deitman on her eighteenth birthday, and their families and land would be united, an isthmus to wealth and stability.

All of that was changed when a bullet ripped through the leaves, shearing the air. Before either of them heard the sound of the report, it shattered Morgan’s breastbone and sprayed bright red blood onto my mother Lydah’s face and hair. Morgan looked at her, his eyes filled with terror as he fell