The bottle of pills

is a round drum, white and plastic,
small enough to fit in his pocket.
There’s a green label with information:
Paracetamol
do not give to children under 16
ask your pharmacist if you’re not sure
how to take them;
the tube rattles quietly –
it sounds harmless
like sweets.
It is cool and smooth
and smells faintly
of dust and elastoplast,
of hospitals.
He takes it out of the bathroom cabinet
it drops and rolls, rattling away
under the bath.
He stands for a moment
listens to sirens racing past outside,
Mam downstairs, with the washing machine on.
He bends down, lies with his face on the cold floor
searching under the bath with his fingertips
there’s bits of cotton wool and floss.
Then he feels the smooth drum –
he wants it now.
He empties the toothbrushes
out of the plastic mug, rinses and fills it with water.
He avoids looking at his face in the mirror,
he struggles to get the lid off, he twists the cap
so the two arrows meet, he pushes with his thumb
Mam shouts up the stairs Frankie?
Quickly he pours the tablets into his palm
throws them into his mouth and starts to
swallow.

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