Flash Fiction – The Arrangement

“But… that’s my allowance!” Caitlin complained when her parents told her they wanted her brother to start washing his own bed sheets and making the bed himself. “I get two dollars for each of the beds in the house, ten cents for each thing I iron, fifty cents when I put away the dishes…” she listed.

“We know,” her mother said in an exaggerated tone. “We’re the ones who set up this little pay-by-chore system. But you’re hurrying through and doing everything before your brother has a chance. He needs to have a chance to earn his allowance too.”

“He gets five dollars when he mows the lawn and he gets to sort the recycling,” Caitlin remained adamant in her objections. “If he isn’t fast enough to do the laundry, that’s not my fault.”

“He needs to learn how to do it and that’s that,” her father said, laying down the final word on the matter.

Caitlin turned on her heel with a loud grunt of frustration as she stormed off.

*          *          *

“But I don’t want to,” Caleb complained when his parents told him he’d be laundering and reassembling his own bed from then on.

“I don’t care if you don’t want to,” his mother said in a dismissive tone. “It’s something you’re going to need to know how to do for when you get older and move out. Get used to it now.”

“But—” he started to complain again but he stopped when he saw his father’s impassive expression, backing his mother up.

Caleb rolled his eyes and shuffled off with his a loud sigh.

*          *          *

Caitlin hovered near the door to Caleb’s room as he played his Gameboy sprawled across his disheveled bed.

“I’ll do it for you,” she said with a glance over her shoulder to be sure their parents weren’t around.

“You will?” Caleb asked, pausing his game.

“Five dollars and I will.”

Caleb’s face scrunched up as he considered her offer, his eyes lingering on the device in his hands. “Deal.”

“Great. Get up and I’ll strip the bed while you get the cash.”

Caleb moved to his dresser and peeked to be sure Caitlin’s back was to him before reaching behind it to retrieve his wallet from a pocket he’d made out of duct tape and attached to the back.

With the sheets gathered against her chest, Cailtin took the five-dollar bill Caleb held out for her as she left the room.

*          *          *

“You did the beds?” their mother asked while they were eating their ice cream in the living room that night.

“Yup,” Caitlin answered.

“Here.” Their father handed Caitlin six dollars.

She furrowed her brow.

“You did all the beds, didn’t you?” he said.

She nodded. Caleb realized what was going on and objected. “Hey!”

“She made your bed didn’t she?”

“Yeah, but she made me pay her for it.”

“Well then, let that be a lesson to you,” their mother said with a shrug.

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