Sometimes, they would drink together. Some nights, this was enjoyable if they did not argue effusively over hockey. Other nights, America would say some crazy shit.
An empty bottle of beer slamming down against the coffee table caused America’s drinking partner to jump in her seat.
“I have to stop China.”
Canada sat at the opposite end of the couch with a glass in her hand. The unbridled conviction in her brother’s voice caused her to slowly set her beverage down and raise brows at him. “What?”
“I gotta wipe him out.”
“I don’t think you realize what you’re saying.”
“What option do I have, Canada?!”
With second-hand embarrassment, she waved at him dismissively. “You’re being way too loud right now. No more drinks. I mean it.”
“Don’t you get it?!”
“No, actually, I don’t!”
America slumped down with a groan that was either frustrated or defeated (she couldn’t tell).
“Look,” he started, tone alarmingly frank. “One day things are gonna change and I’m not… I’m not gonna be the greatest anymore, okay?” Accompanying his frustrated and somewhat slurred speech were sloppy hand motions. “I don’t wanna end up like Rome, or Russia, or… Britain.” It only took a few seconds for his own words to sink in. “Oh, God. Oh, God. If you ever catch me softly crying to myself over tea and scones, shoot me. Just shoot me.”
A brief pause gave way to a change in demeanor as America straightened up. “I think I could take him,” he said in a quiet voice with a dash of confidence. “China.”
“Yes! Sure, he’s got a lot of people but I’ve got the firepower! And you know what else I got? Freedom. Justice. Liberty for all.”
Canada reached for the remote and turned up the volume of the sitcom that had been soft background noise to their nonsensical conversation. “Hey, look, it’s getting to the good par–”
She smiled even though there was nothing to smile about. “You know what you need? A cold shower. Some fun cartoons, maybe. Not another war, that’s for sure!”
But America just continued, “And, like, I have so many more allies. ‘Cause who even seriously is his friend? North Korea? Pshhh!”
“America,” Canada started before she was interrupted by her brother pshhhing again but louder. She sighed.
Happily alone, Canada sat up in bed with eyes fixed on the city lights outside her window and a cellphone against her ear.
“Hey,” she said, voice soft and softly concerned. “Can I get something off my chest?”
“I don’t think my brother is a bad person. People say that he’s two-faced, or ambitious, or selfish, but I don’t think that’s true. I think… I think he has two strong and very distinct desires. The desire to be the best, and the desire to help people. And… those two naturally clash.” There was a pause. “I… I truly believe that he has good intentions, but there’s a problem.”
She looked away from the city’s nighttime kaleidoscope of colors to the quiet darkness of her bedroom. The voice on the other end was silent in waiting and Canada was silent in thought. When she finally spoke, her words came out slow and heavy.
“The problem is that he cares too much about being the best to stop himself from doing things that are wrong.”