• Fearsome Critters

Pill Bottle — Jono Naito

“I don’t think this is too hard,” I said, pressing my thumb into the edge of the Tylenol safety cap. I was twelve, and I had a habit of faulting systems.

“Yes,” my mother said, swinging her arms over the table. “But we don’t tell them, do we? Like your little brother. It is a secret. We don’t tell them so if they get the bottle we have enough time to swoop in and save them.”

I wandered off with the bottle, and she barely told me not to, didn’t catch me, didn’t save us from ourselves. I went straight to the kitchen floor, where my little brother stood like a condemned building.

“Look at this,” I said, showing him the lid. “Try to open it. I know you can.” He took it and fumbled with it, fingers pressing all the wrong edges. “She said it was a secret.”

As I said this, he twisted the lid so the lines matched up, and he pushed it open. The pills clicked on the floor in a tessellation.

“See?” I said. “You are smarter than we let you think you are.” He reached down, stance less heavy, and began to balance the pills on their ends. “See?” I said, “We keep secrets from you.” He climbed onto the counter and reprogrammed the microwave, filling it with forks and tin foil. He armed himself with a knife. “See?” I said as he called the pentagon and threatened them with the morse code he beat out on pots and pans. “See?” I said. “See?” My little brother declared war on the government. I heard helicopters outside. He started the timer on the microwave, ready to die.

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