Nine hundred

900 pills

I’ve just come back from the CVS pharmacy and am about to put the key in the lock of my front door when I hear ‘hello’ and turn to see my neighbour sitting on her front steps, a scrubbing brush in one hand and a small bucket of water to her right.
‘Hello,’ I say.
‘Hello,’ she says back to me, ‘don’t mind me, I’m just giving myself a pedicure because I’ve been camping for 4 days and my toes are filthy,’
Then she tells me she has been to a place called Sycamore, a place of exquisite natural beauty according to her description, and that she had had a very good time.
For a minute or so I listen to the neighbour’s travelogue until it comes to a natural conclusion, at which point I tell her I have a question for her.
‘Sure,’ she says to me, ‘Shoot!’
‘Well,’ I say, putting down my bag and leaning up against the door frame, ‘I have just been to CVS pharmacy, right, to refill my prescriptions, and one of them is going to cost 150 dollars,’
She stops scrubbing her toes and looks up at me.
‘Gosh!’ she says
‘And another one of them is 50 dollars and the final one is 20 dollars,’ I say, ‘Does that seem like it’s right to you?’
‘Well,’ says my neighbour, who is holding the scrubbing brush in her right hand and the middle toe of her left foot with her left hand while staring up at me, ‘yes, I guess it could be right. I’m taking a medication at the moment that costs 900 dollars,’
‘Jesus fucking Christ,’ I say, staring down at her, door key in my hand, mouth hanging open.
‘And that’s monthly,’ she says, ‘900 dollars a month,’
‘How the fuck do you pay for that?’ I ask her.
‘Well,’ she says, looking down at her toes and continuing her scrubbing, ‘I can’t work at the moment so I get free medical insurance and that covers it,’
I stare at my neighbour for a few moments more while she smiles and carries on with the task of tidying her toes.
I’m still staring at her, shocked at the 900 dollar confession, when she looks up at me, frowns and says- ‘Pedicures are expensive, you know, so me sitting here doing my own doesn’t gross you out, does it?’
‘No,’ I tell her, ‘not as much as the fact that your medication costs 900 dollars it doesn’t.’
And at that, we both laugh.

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