“Sixteen Dollars,” by Lindsay Brown

Dec 20th, 2019 | By | Category: Poetry

Sixteen dollars; the amount of money I spent on shampoo and conditioner last week. It was that charcoal kind that’s meant for damaged hair.

Sixteen dollars is too much money to spend on hair care products, my husband says. He is not angry but confused as to why I don’t know this.

Sixteen dollars is refunded back onto my credit card at the Walmart. I tell them that the bottles were cracked. They do not ask any further questions.

Sixteen dollars is the amount of money my kids need for new recorders for music class this year. Sophie wants a lime green one.

Sixteen dollars is one more dollar than what I would make as a cashier at the No Frills grocery store. We used to own a small business. A sandwich shop, but

Sixteen dollars was too much for customers to pay for a sandwich. So our business sunk. My husband now works for a large corporation where he makes far more than

Sixteen dollars. So he stays. Our family dog, Chevy, is old. His teeth are falling out. This means he can only eat food that comes from a can and is wet and is high in nutrition.

Sixteen dollars is what canned dog food costs per week. Sometimes it gives him diarrhea, and he shits all over the basement floor. The good floor cleaning detergent costs, you guessed it,

Sixteen dollars per 1L bottle. One day I won’t have to count pennies and hoard dollar coins in mason jars secreted away in corner cupboards for when the refrigerator breaks.

Sixteen dollars is what I have saved so far. When my dog isn’t shitting in the basement, and I’m not at the store refunding unnecessary items, I like to take him on his walkies.

Sixteen dollars is probably what a cab ride would cost from my place to our favorite pond. But, we walk, so it costs us nothing.

Sixteen dollars is undoubtedly pocket change for the people who live in the mansions that surround this pond. Their houses painted dark blacks and greys in verification of this fact.

Sixteen dollars is four fewer dollars than what I found while walking this pond path last Saturday. I don’t feel guilty. They can afford the loss. Plus, now I have

Twenty dollars.


Lindsay Brown is a mother of two, a wife of one, and a shameless user of many hashtags. During her off time, she loves to craft strange stories. You can find more of Lindsay’s work on her personal website, Doing The Life Things. Lindsay has recently published a collection of short fiction called, Incompetent Overlords: A Collection of Strange Stories. Visit her at https://doingthelifethings.com/blog/

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