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The high wire act is bruising the air on either side of me - my son Brian's birthday. He sits on my left, my brother Alder on my right with a portable lumbar pillow. We have good seats. Alder says his weekend days are boring, he rents TV episodes and sometimes cries from all the stress. In front of us, a trapeze artist is walking a high rope, holding an umbrella -- then mounting a unicycle. My son bends slightly forward, watching his shoes, looks like he might throw up. "Wow," I whisper in Brian's ear, "this is no rehearsal." I always say exactly the wrong thing trying to bring in irony. His eyes are plates that were put in the microwave but not meant for it - he gives me a most nuclear glare. "Hey," I say to Alder, "this is scarier than I thought." Alder turns to look at me with a smushy, lopsided smile, slides his hand into his backpack and pulls out a bottle of Xanax, pops two like jelly bellies and offers me one. Out of the corner of one eye, I see Alder compulsively licking his lips, flaky and dry. From the corner of my other eye, Brian could pass for a mime. The act is done, everyone claps and ahhh's and whistles. Next up: a female contortionist in a white leotard loops herself in a knot as three men raise her over their heads on a mini-stage shaped like a birthday cake. She winds her Gumby body over and over. In the finale, she reaches for a sword with her dainty feet.

Meg Pokrass lives in San Francisco. Her stories and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming here: 3AM, Keyhole, Pindeldyboz, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Elimae, FRiGG, Word Riot, DOGZPLOT, 971 Menu, Thieves Jargon, Eclectica, Monkey Bicycle, The Rose & Thorn, 34th Parallel, Bent Pin Quarterly, The Orange Room, among others. Meg is an editor for SmokeLong Quarterly. Links

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