A Goodwill painting, a stony abstract, not bad. Black Sharpie slashes its canvas back—To Michelle, from Rodney. It juts from the cart’s jumbled flannels and porcelains.
To Michelle, from Rodney. You invent them. Lovers, Michelle a cold bitch. Not lovers, Rodney obsessed, flipping through phone books, lurking on porches. He changes his mind, never gives it to her. She is his teacher. She is his sister and she is dead.
The cashier can’t find the price tag because you’ve peeled it off. She decides on four. When you count the bills, you feel oily fragments, microscopic, sticking to your skin.
Reem Abu-Baker is an editor at Y’all’d’ve, and an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. Her work appears or is forthcoming in journals including Timber, Barely South Review, and Thin Air Magazine.
“What Four Dollars Buys You” originally appeared in 100 Word Story.