New Side A Microfiction: “Opportunity Meets Preparation” by Andrea Marcusa

Opportunity Meets Preparation

Why are you throwing out the Valium?

They’re expired.

I recovered the yellow pharmacy vial from the garbage. Inside, the pills look perfectly pink and round, only the bottle looks cloudy and aged. They are only four years old. You keep aspirin longer.

That’s different. My husband likes to be accurate, knows where he can cut corners and where he cannot.

I clean off the outside of the bottle with a Clorox wipe. October 2019. The world’s last good year. I push down and turn the tough white, child-proof cap. A pile of pink discs rests there, ready for whatever comes its way. Degraded slightly with age. Like me. The older I get the more I realize that it’s important to be prepared. These rescue Valiums will join my arsenal of young and old Xanax, Neurontin, one lone Vicodin. Little neutralizing discs, pink, white, blue, poised to discharge their tonic. Carpet-bomb the mind. Limbs. Dull all that hurts. Head to toe. In their own, outdated, degraded, past-shelf-date way. At my age, it’s important to find pick-me-ups, panaceas from that dark threat that’s always circling there on the edges. I like to be ready, for I’m not sure what. You see, even after all these years of living and planning for all manner of catastrophe, I never realize it when disaster first hits me.

Mini-interview with Andrea Marcusa

HFR: Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?

AM: I used to believe that one had to have a big intricate plot and a long story to consider oneself a writer.  Over the years, I’ve watched our collective ability to concentrate for a very long time on one thing diminish (including my ability) and I began writing shorter stories.  Somehow the short form lends itself a piece like, “Opportunity Meets Preparation,” which, despite its brevity, still says a lot.This realization has shaped my recent work.

HFR: What are you reading?

AM: I’ve been reading Rilke, Grace Schulman, Ellen Bass, and (as always) Diane Williams.

HFR: Can you tell us what prompted “Opportunity Meets Preparation”? 

AM: This began as a simple exchange between me and a family member and then I fictionalized the entire story to give it legs.

HFR: What’s next? What are you working on?

AM: I have promised myself that this is the year I pull together several groupings of published flash pieces and begin submitting them as collections. 

HFR: Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?

AM: I guess my whole thing is for people to try kindness.

Andrea Marcusa’s work has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Citron Review, Cherry Tree, Heavy Feather Review, and others. She’s received recognition in a range of competitions, including Smokelong, Glimmer Train, Raleigh Review, and Southampton Review. She received Honorable Mention in the Cleaver 2022 Flash ContestShe studies with Philip Schultz at The Writers Studio where she also serves on its faculty. For more information, visit: or see her on Twitter @d_marcusa.

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