Fiction

Festival of Light

by Margot Pepper
From forthcoming book, the Acrobat and Other Stories for Dark Times

In memory of Rachel Corrie

The swans knew the sun had set. They retreated under the bridges to tuck necks under wings in slumber, and it was another exodus of light: the departure of brilliant white leaving only the dismal colors of dusk—the mercurial river, clouds like coals long since burned to ash. The scene was etched in metal, cold, colorless, hard; the red, ochre and olive houses, lusterless, mildewed.

Then came droves of dwellers rushing sea-side streets, in spite of the weather, and despite the fact that the last intimations of light would soon vanish. There must have been thousands. Who’d have believed it?--past nine on a Sunday night, Kira thought. Families pushing prams along sidewalks with clear vented plastic encasing babies, parents holding umbrellas over the heads of older siblings or allowing them to skip alongside bundled in rain hats and slickers. This was why the roads had been jammed for days, and the couple’s cramped little B&B, the last vacancy in the village.

The Acrobat

by Margot Pepper
From forthcoming book, the Acrobat and Other Stories for Dark Times

For Piri Thomas, living muse to so many of us

The Bay surrounded the runway on three of four sides, agitated, black as obsidian with reflections of moonlight like the small fingernail carvings in an ancient arrowhead. Across the expanse of darkness, the bracelet of lights of the San Francisco Bay bridge glittered, accentuating the silhouettes of the Transamerica pyramid in North Beach and financial buildings beyond. The cumulous clouds created by the fog hovered over the base, trapping in the smoky color of the circus’ gold lights. The tremendous beige canvas tent rose up, out of the ruins of the closed base like the chimera or hallucination of a city.

Everyone, Everyone Can Win!

by Margot Pepper
From forthcoming book, the Acrobat and Other Stories for Dark Times

When Jeb Bailey arrived at the Town Hall, the sun's implacable rays were still imprisoned behind the courtyard walls, the light only hinting at the lavender and yellow Gentec Passion Flower®, vines of Monsatano Bougainvillea® and faces of a few dozen children. It was easy to tell the novices from the veterans. They were the smaller ones prancing on the freshly swept brick tiles, gazing up at the streamers and balloons or chatting with their friends about the tremendous piñata that hung high over their heads. They especially liked this one for it had been fashioned in the image of Ronell McDonnel: the cheerful newscaster with the powdered sugar face, bulbous cherry nose and unruly gold streamers for hair.

Delivered Vacant (aka I Left My Heart in San Francisco)

by Margot "Pimienta" Pepper
From forthcoming book, the Acrobat and Other Stories for Dark Times

Eviction Fiction
In Memory of Lola Mckay

Thursday morning announces itself with a blue so electric it nearly crackles. There’s no alternative but to skip the board meeting and return to Dolores Park to see her before heading to work. I pay for the most elaborate floral arrangement I can spot along Columbus Ave, pick up an espresso and paper and jump aboard a J Church at Market Street, savoring the clank-clank it makes scaling to the crest of Dolores Park, where I dismount. Across the tracks, along 20th Street, the freshly painted gold Victorian with red trim stands out like a new love affair in a crowd. Straining below her third-floor bay window, I think I see a flash of blonde hair in the gap between the drapes. I wonder if she sees me. I glance at my watch. It would be decent to wait until 9 am.

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