Once upon a time a chap had a brother, who also turned out to be another chap. Growing up, the two brothers would play and fight, fight and play, and through the years they became as close as brothers typically tend to. After hours spent in the backseats of cars on long holidays they grew used to each other. Since being forced to share toys, then records, then girlfriends (although the latter wasn’t so much a share as a strategic ambush) they forged a deep love for one another which would never be broken.
So, they were brothers, right? Maybe in hindsight that was all I needed to say, but brothers can mean different things to different people. How about Cane and Abel? Romulus and Remus? The Gallagher’s? So, just to clarify matters, these brothers got on.
The problem is with brothers, which ever type they are, eventually they’ll grow up and begin to lead their own lives. This is slightly harder for the conjoined variety but still not impossible. Now, the brothers in this story grew up and left home, are you still with me?
As time wore on, in the way that time always does (there’s absolutely no exception to this), the brothers fell in to different circles of friends, different careers, and altogether different lives. They would still see each other at family events such as weddings or birthdays but, all in all, they were pretty independent of each other.
One day the first chap, who I referred to at the very beginning and from this point on will label as Brother 1, was talking to some of his new friends. They were friends from work and they all had a lot in common. They were very ambitious people, working in a dynamic industry as they did, and Brother 1 was always impressed with them.
None of his new friends even knew that Brother 1 had a brother (obviously they didn’t call him Brother 1 themselves) because he never told anyone about Brother 2. He was ashamed of what his brother had become. He was a drifter, a wide-boy, a good time charlie. He couldn’t have been less like Brother 1 if he tried.
During the chat which the chap, who we call Brother 1, was having with his new friends, it came out that one of the friends had heard of his brother although he didn’t know he was his brother. Brother 2 had cheated the friend’s mother and stolen a chunk of money. The friend didn’t know that Brother 1 was related to Brother 2 and Brother 1 kept it that way.
Up until that point, Brother 1 would’ve always defended his brother, although they’d grown apart they had so much history behind them. Brother 1 loved his brother and couldn’t imagine a world without him but, he’d changed, they’d both changed. He had to admit that his new friends were much more like the person he wanted to be and he had to make a choice; it was either his friends or his brother.
Pride and principles, misguided values, familiarity and laziness get in the way of so many rational decisions but this time, the choice was clear. His brother (number 2 for anyone who’s counting) had become a horrible person and his greed had turned him into a monster. There was no room for any sentimentality, Brother 1 was left with no choice but to deny his brother and empathise with his friend’s mother’s plight.
Sometimes we all have to face the facts and change our minds when the evidence is so overwhelming. It’s always uncomfortable to shake off a long-standing belief and embrace a new way of thinking, but we must keep moving forward. As writers we have to accept that the traditional publishing world, which we loved so dearly, has changed and if battle lines are being drawn then it’s clear which side we must fight for.
Of course, if Brother 2 changes his behaviour and begins to live like a good person again, then nothing would make Brother 1 happier. A person should be able to keep both brothers and friends without feeling torn.