The Good Citizen
A Short Story by A.H.
My brother first found a job with the government when he was twenty-three. He quickly advanced far up the ladder. To everyone else, he was just a businessman for a company that didn’t actually exist. I was the only one he talked to about his job, even if it was only so little. He didn’t tell me much, but from what he did tell me, I knew what he did for the government was extremely important. The knowledge he held and the work he performed were never supposed to be revealed to anyone outside the government. Technically, he was breaking the rules binding him to absolute secrecy by talking to me about his work, but my brother never told me any specific details. He only gave generalizations, and only because he needed someone to talk to in order to get some release from time to time.
He was happily married and had two kids. He died in an accident two weeks before his seventh anniversary. A week before he died, my brother told me that he had learned something extremely astonishing. It was a secret that had the potential to destroy the fabric of our society. He said it was almost an end-of-the-world type of secret. The day before he died, I received a phone call from him, asking if he could talk to me that afternoon. I said that I could.
He gave me an envelope and told me to open it only if he died. He told me he had gotten into a dangerous situation that he should have avoided. He implied that in the envelope was the “monumental secret” he had been telling me about. Around noon the following day, I received a call from his wife that he had died in an accident.
I spent some time contemplating what to do with the envelope my brother had given me. Preferring that the world stay the way it was and not take a turn for the worse, I burned the envelope. Secrets were not meant to be spread.