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Two Brothers and a Funeral: Ike and his older brother come together to bury their father, who has just died.
Posted by Douglas, Jan 27, 2008. 3595 views. ID = 532

Two Brothers and a Funeral

Posted by Douglas, Jan 27, 2008. 3595 views. ID = 532
This post was written in 44 minutes.
I took a very very sketchy (no detail) story, and filled in a lot of imagined details.

In case you don't know who these people are, I'll post a comment at the end, explaining who they are, and where you can find their story.
This post has been awarded 39 stars by 9 readers.


Startled, Ike turned at the deep sound of a stranger's voice calling his name, in a place where he thought to be completely alone. The man who stood behind him was tall and solidly built; the muscles on his forearms were as big as Ike's scrawny thigh muscles. His expression was fierce and cold, and as Ike looked on that fearesome glare, he thought: What am I doing out here all alone? This man is wild as a donkey, and he could snap me in half as easily as a sparrow's wing.

"Yes," he said aloud, "I'm Ike. Who are you?"

The man's mouth twitched into a bitter smile, then the smile disappeared so quickly Ike wasn't sure he'd seen it at all. "You don't know me, little brother?"

"Brother?" Ike said, wondering.

"Yes. Brother. Your older brother." Then, as Ike just continued staring at him, he said, "Don't tell me, the old man never mentioned you had an older brother?"

Finally Ike recovered from his dazed surprise enough to say, "No, I mean, yes. Yes, dad did tell me about you. You were a teenager when I was born. But you were gone before I was old enough to know you."

His brother scowled. "'Gone.' What a polite way of saying it. But at least they told you about me."

"Well," Ike admitted, "Neither mother nor father ever said very much about you, just that you existed. I learned more about you from the servant girls than I did from them."

"I shouldn't wonder. An unhappy moment in the old man's otherwise blissful marriage, hey?"

Ike didn't answer; the story embarrassed him, as it had always embarrassed his parents. He said, "What are you doing here?"

"You aren't the only one who gets stories from servant girls, Ike. I heard the old man died, and I thought I'd come and pay my final respects."

"Thought you'd come and see if there was any inheritance waiting for you, you mean?" Ike said, and instantly regretted it. These were not the words to begin a brotherly bond that should have developed years ago.

"No, Ike, you can relax. I didn't come here to get money from you. When the old man kicked me out at age fourteen, he made it very clear that I shouldn't expect to get anything from him. Ever."

Abashed, Ike said, "I'm sorry."

"Kicked me out, I say, though I ought to mention, it was through no fault of mine. Solely because of you."

"I said I'm sorry."

"Yes, well, not so sorry that you ever went out of your way to look me up and ask how I was doing, hey little brother?"

"Well," Ike said, "I'm asking now."

His brother scowled. "Too little, and much too late." Then he lightly kicked the linen-wrapped form at Ike's feet. "This him?" he asked.

"Yes. Please don't kick him."

He shrugged, and said irreverently, "It's not as though he can feel it; he had no feelings in life, he certainly doesn't in death."

Ike, hurt by the insult to his father's memory, wanted to protest that cruel assessment, but doubted any protest would penetrate his brother's anger, so instead he said, "If you came to help, then help. He wanted to be buried in the caves of Machpelah. Help me lay his body to rest."

His brother turned a full circle, looking all around him. His eyebrows raised in mock surprise, as though he was realizing something for the first time. "Not too many people showed up for the old geezer's funeral, hey?"

Ike glared. "Mother is dead."

"Your mother is dead. I don't recall my mother getting an invitation to this festive occasion. And what about those younger brothers of ours? I heard there were a few of those. Where are they? Or did they get the short shrift like me?"

In truth, that is exactly what had happened; Ike's dad was afraid those younger brothers would become competition for Ike's grand destiny, so he gave them all gifts - nothing but tokens and baubles, really, in light of his great wealth - and sent them east to live far from his beloved second-born son.

Since Ike didn't answer immediately, his brother nodded, and the bitter smile resurfaced again. "That's about what I expected of the selfish old brute. Nothing's too good for precious little Ike, but everyone else had better get out of the way."

Ike felt the unfairness of the accusation; it was as though his brother was blaming him for his father's actions. Again he offered an apology. "I'm sorry."

His brother shrugged. "It's all past history now. Let's just get the old man walled up in that cave, and then I can get on with my life."

The two strangers, who were also brothers, worked silently to lay their father to rest in the cave, laying rocks over the body, and walling up the entrance so wild animals would not discover the remains. Ike could feel the tension between them, but could think of nothing to say that would alleviate his brother's anger.

When the job was finished, Ike's brother maintained his silence, turning to walk away without even a word of farewell. Ike let him walk a few paces down the hillside, then called after him, "Wait!"

He paused, but didn't turn to look at his younger brother.

"Where will you go now?"

"Egypt. Assyria. Somewhere away from here."

"How will I find you?"

Now his brother turned to look at him. "Find me?" he said, sneering, "you never even looked for me in seventy years, little brother. I doubt you'll need to know how to find me now."

"But we're brothers," Ike protested. "And our sons, and our son's sons; they will be family; how will they know each other?"

Now his brother laughed outright. "Never fear, little brother, little supplanter of fatherly affections and thief of inheritances, I'm sure they will."

As he turned to walk away, Ike wept for lost opportunity; he knew with certainty that he would not see his brother Ishmael again, and the rift between them would never be mended.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 39 stars by 9 readers.
This post is part of a writing prompt: Historical Confusion
This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version


Jan 27, 2008
The two brothers are Isaac and Ishmael, the sons of Abraham. Their story can be found in the Bible, from Genesis 15-25. The very sketchy story of Abraham's burial is Genesis 25: 9-10.

The story of Isaac and Ishmael is an interesting one historically, since a different outcome in this story could have dramatically changed not just ancient history, but would have effected us right down to current events in the middle east.
   ~Posted by Douglas, Jan 27, 2008

Josiah T.
Jan 27, 2008
Whoa, I totally didn't guess what this was based on. :S
   ~Posted by Josiah T., Jan 27, 2008

Jan 27, 2008
By the way, I ought to add, this isn't really in line with the writing prompt "Historical Confusion". In a way, I think of it as "Historical Un-confusion", because we lose sight of the fact that Ishmael really wasn't the "villain" of the story - he was a tragic boy who, after 14 years of being loved by his father and promised an uncountable inheritance, was suddenly kicked out of home while still a teenager.

In this little story I tried to capture an idea that we don't think about too much - that Ishmael and Isaac were both trapped in a situation that was not of their own making.
   ~Posted by Douglas, Jan 27, 2008

Jan 28, 2008
Wow! I didn't guess what this was based on either. But after reading your explanation at the end, I think you did a remarkable job with this. It's an interesting way to look at what happened.
   ~Posted by Katie, Jan 28, 2008

Jan 28, 2008
Thanks Katie. :) There was one more thing I forgot to mention - Gen 16:12 is a prophecy about Ishmael:

"He will be a wild donkey of a man,
His hand will be against everyone,
And everyone's hand will be against him;
And he will live to the east of all his brothers."

So the "wild donkey" in the first paragraph was (for anyone who happens to remember facts like that) a clue to the identity of Ike's brother.
   ~Posted by Douglas, Jan 28, 2008

Kenzie Fell Down
Jan 30, 2008
I was thinking Russia at first, but then I saw Macpelah and it clicked. That's awesome.
   ~Posted by Kenzie Fell Down, Jan 30, 2008

Sep 8, 2008
Excellent, very good play on Isaac and Ishmael
   ~Posted by Samantha, Sep 8, 2008

Michael Pratt
Nov 23, 2008
As soon as they started to talk about the father I know what it was about. Very well written!
   ~Posted by Michael Pratt, Nov 23, 2008

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