I learned of Whitney Houston’s death while shuffling through a Chicago Walgreens at night. The red-and-white world and the red-and-white drugstore took pause as the greatest songs fell away, their notes dripping down city storm drains. My belly was a basketball; my due date was that very day. The aisles were stacked with Valentines, with beige plush bears, with rosy pink perfume, with purple envelopes dusted in glitter. Mini bouquets were wrapped in red cellophane. A muscular fellow, shaped in milk chocolate, was deemed, ‘The Perfect Date.’ But this spectacle did nothing to stop the gentle weeping that rung out in the store. The greatest love of all, was gone. There were no more anthems to be sung. I stood shellshocked under the fluorescent lights, gripping my bottle of lemonade. Inside of my round belly was music I had yearned to know: rhythms, lyrics, high notes. It was a pulse that danced as I moved, that ticked away on monitors, that shimmied on ultrasounds. I sipped the lemonade with a shaky hand and wondered if the sugar would kickstart my labor. (Who gets to decide that part: who stays, who goes? How does that all unfold?) I waited in line, behind other shocked patrons, and marveled at how softly I straddled the aisles. How one minute I was thirsty, but in another? The greatest era was already gone.
Kelly Q. Anderson is a short-form writer and the VP of Off Campus Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Atticus Review, Citron Review, Stanchion, Five Minute Lit and more. She won a 1st Prize Fellowship for Flash Fiction/CNF at The Porches in Norwood, VA, and served as a writer-in-residence at The Writers’ Colony in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. She holds two degrees from the University of Iowa and her work has been optioned for public art and short film adaptation. Learn more at KellyQAnderson.com.