It was to be a parley between brothers, a chance for them to come together and speak their minds, explain their own point of view, save their battle scarred family. The older brother came in first. His big hands were clenched in anger, his eyes were blazing fiercely, his jaw was set, and his nostrils were already flared. He was not here to parley, he was not here to hear the other side. He was here to establish his dominance, to declare his right to be the winner in any argument, no matter what the other person’s stance.
The second brother came in. They were physical opposites. This brother was younger, more slender, shorter, with gentle eyes that were dulled by the strain of what was to come. His beard had turned white in the past three months, another sign that stress had been having its way with him. He cast his brown eyes towards his nieces and nephews; these silent witnesses to the parley, and he managed a weak smile for their benefit. It was for them that he had agreed to the parley. He was childless, and had loved them as his own as they had grown. Now, tension and conflict had caused them to withdraw, both from him and from their father. It was not that they had picked sides, it was that they were able to see both sides, and knew that both brothers were in the right. But many years of buried anger, swallowed retorts, and unspoken disputes had been released, all poured over each other in a muddy, filth filled flood, and there was no way for them to put the water back once the dam had collapsed. It was to be a parley between brothers, a chance for them to heal the wounds that had cut so deep, but the wounds had allowed the familial love and decades of hard work to drift away, and there is not enough left to save them.
It was to be a parley between brothers, but it was over before it began. They kept their foolish pride, clinging to it like a child clutches its Halloween candy, and left behind the chance of friendship in old age, help in times of need, and love from the one who should have been there for them till they died.
It was to be a parley between brothers; when it was over, they were strangers.