It worked for almost three weeks. Clearing a throat here, offering refreshments there, later on suggesting some time to reflect. After a while, the three ambassadors started talking about real issues: root sources of conflict, resources, territory. But any time one of them started to move toward the idea of surrendering some place or planet gained by blood and destruction, tempers flared, insults flew, and the past came howling down from space. Gradually, tempers took over and the small human voices of reason couldn’t penetrate the arguments. Each day saw less time at the triangular table and progress marched backward faster with every sunrise.
And we all felt the alien stress levels start to go up around us. The script, whatever it might have been, took a darker turn. No amount of Shalash reserve could hide the growing tension on the Triumphant; I could see it in every pale, narrow face and even the kids were quieter, reflecting the mood of the adults around them. Add that to the mounting frustration of the talks falling apart and our meetings weren’t quite as calm and productive as they used to be.
“They are like children!” Talya slapped a palm on the table. “Tiny children, barely able to speak but spoiled enough to want everything for nothing. Fully credentialed diplomatic representatives of supposedly advanced sentient species. Ha! They only want to blow each other up. We should let them!”
After a particularly short negotiating day, the three of us slouched in their chairs around the conference table, uncomfortable in the ill-proportioned furniture and uncomfortably aware that unless we came up with something, it wouldn’t be long before the ambassadors wouldn’t come back at all. All the work, all the effort by so many people, all for an empty three-sided table.
Manuel sighed, leaning on both of his elbows, the squat Hoon chair making him look like a toddler in need of a booster seat. “I don’t know what else we can do. They slip further away from each other each day, no longer coming with the intention of making progress. Instead they arrive prepared with old grievances and new insults. It is almost like they do not want peace now. What can we do?”
I slumped in the skinny Shalash chair. They must still want peace. Why would they have come here and involved us, involved the whole human race, if they didn’t? Why would they keep coming? On some level, they had to still want the killing to end. “I don’t know. We’ve got to keep trying, but I don’t know.”
The kids had the wall set to the Muppet Show when I slunk into our cabin. I smiled, mentally casting thanks again to whatever Shalash genius intercepted the satellite TV signals. Not exactly legal, but how could the offended company fine the aliens? And I wasn’t going to say anything.
I didn’t talk to Sharon about the day’s news or an update on the Political climate or what the latest polls said. Everything was dark and angry. No one had much hope left. The aliens had stopped trying so why should anyone care anymore?
Kermit welcomed Mark Hamil as I slid onto the couch between the girls and I smiled, wrapping an arm around each. Maybe not my favourite episode, but definitely in the top five. Gonzo as “Darth Nadir” and Miss Piggy dressed as Princess Leia made all of us laugh. Funny to me for different reasons than my children, at least at first glance, but something we could all enjoy. The Muppet Show and Star Wars were both significant in my childhood and I started sharing them with the kids early. Sharondidn’t object, but I caught an eye roll now and then.
I’m sure I saw every episode of the Muppet show as a kid and most of them more than once. During the Fraggle Rock Revolution in high school, I probably caught more than two-thirds of the shows again. As an adult, I’d seen at least pieces of most of them watching with the kids. And I couldn’t imagine something further away from my current responsibilities. The Muppets seemed like exactly what I needed to pull my mind from the peace conference.
I missed the genius of Jim Henson. The world was a poorer place without him.
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