It started like a pendulum, power shifting from one side to another, and each time it reached its peak someone would give it another push.
And so it continued, growing momentum until no side could reconcile the other. They had become too different and too sure of their place on the right side of history.
But the reason we started fighting and the reason we never bothered to stop: because war’s good for business.
“Whatever the cause, we’re a country divided,” Irene remarks. Hayden shakes her head.
“We were never a country in the first place, just a loose collection of nations each with its own culture and political ideology,” Hayden returns.
They are sitting on a couch that looks too expensive to sit on and Irene is wearing a dress that looks more expensive.
Irene nods slowly.
“I agree there were preexisting divisions, but what was the fatal blow?” she asks.
A boy enters the room wearing an expensive suit and a bad attitude. Another boy follows two paces behind.
The boy gestures for the girl next to Hayden to get up. Theo reluctantly moves to the neighboring chair. The boy lounges on the couch in the empty space.
“What are we talking about, ladies?” he asks with a self-certain grin. His follower sits silently on the other side of Irene. Irene and Hayden continue their conversation.
“There was no fatal blow,” Hayden answers. “It was simply a slow escalation of political blows from either side of a single division. Militias were formed long before the first shot was ever fired.”
“I disagree,” Irene contradicts. “There always is a catalyst even if the preexisting conditions suggest the break out of war.”
“Explain,” Hayden requests.
The ignored boy, Seth, is impatient to be included.
“What are you talking about?” he snaps.
“Anti-Semitism was rampant in Germany before World War II, but it took Hitler, the catalyst to start the Holocaust.”
Seth, frustrated, crosses his arms. Theo smirks, enjoying the theatrics, and joins in.
“A catalyst, yes,” Theo agrees, “but in this case that was the corporations committed only to themselves behind the banner of a major political party. The simple truth is that most people didn’t belong to either side of the division.”
Seth leans in close to Hayden’s ear.
“I think she’s right, don’t you?” he says. “Some people will never belong.” Hayden’s lips tighten. Irene locks eyes with Seth and goes in for the kill.
“You make a good point,” she concedes, her voice flat and unemotional. “The real lines in the war are drawn along financial boundaries. It’s a shame, don’t you think, that those who started this war will never have to finish it?”
Seth cannot respond, but he is angry, so he is not done.
“If you have the money to avoid the draft, you deserve to,” he snaps. Theo raises her eyebrows, and she and Hayden begin to eviscerate him.
Her job done, Irene leans into the couch, her back still ramrod straight. Seth’s follower, Nick, still has not said a word. Irene turns her head to address him.
“I don’t know what you see in Seth,” she muses.
“Excuse me?” Nick asks.
“What you see in him, why you follow him around like a puppy dog,” she clarifies.
“I-I don’t-” he stammers.
“Listen, Nick,” she confides, “he’s going to hurt you one day, and he’s going to cut deep.” Nick’s eyes are wide and his brow is drawn.
“What are you talking about?” he asks. But Irene has already turned away.
“You think just because one of your relatives had the very original idea of exploiting other’s labor, you’re entitled to more than the rest of us?” Hayden asks.
Seth moves over and slides his arm around her.
“So you’re not impressed by my money?” he asks.
In one quick movement, Hayden grabs Seth’s wrist and twists it behind his back.
Seth screams. No one steps forward to help, not even Nick. Hayden leans close to Seth’s ear.
“Maybe I don’t belong but I’d like to see you survive where I do,” she whispers.
“You can’t do this. I’ll tell my father” he cries.
“You won’t.” Hayden answers. Her yellow eye glints with malice but her grey eye is flat and conveys no emotion.