On with the Motley by Oonah Joslin

Tickle sat ring-side, chin on his fists and the corners of his mouth pulled down. “What’s up?" asked Tiny, sitting down beside him.

“I’m fed up," said the clown. “ The circus is no fun, just work, work, work!"

“I know what you mean," sighed the elephant. “You rehearse and perform and the crowd goes wild; then you rehearse and perform again. Day in, day out, same old routine, except on travelling days and then it’s take the top down, put the top up; up, down, up, down like a tart’s…"

“And I mean, look at these huge feet!"

“I’ve got big feet," said Tiny, a little awkwardly.

“Yes, but you’re a big animal; and you don’t trip over yours. And then there’s this enormous nose…" Tiny squinted down at his own impressive proboscis. “Well, I can’t of course agree with you…"

“Sorry, Tiny. No criticism intended. Anyway, yours isn’t painted puce! And you get applause, whereas
everybody just laughs at me."

“I just walk around the ring. It’s Julianne, they applaud. I’m more like a big grey taxi, really. And grey… What kind of colour’s grey for goodness sake? Look at you. You’re bright and interesting to look at. You light up the ring. I don’t do clever things like you do either. Even when I change direction I have to pretend it’s because I’m afraid of a giant mouse. I’m not afraid of the stupid mouse!"

“Of course you’re not," sympathised Tickle, who hadn’t been able to get a word in all this time.

Pyro the dragon dropped in out of nowhere. I don’t know why you two are moaning. Nobody even notices me.

“That’s only because they can’t see you, Pyro," said Tickle.


“You’re mythical, Pyro," added Tickle. “We’ve explained all this to you before."

They explained it again. Pyro looked downcast. "But you two can see me."

“Yes, but that’s because we believe in you."


“Well, because …" began Tiny, “because …"

Tickle stood up purposefully. “Because," he said, “friends believe in friends whether they’re visible or not and that’s what makes the whole freakin’ circus work! Right?"


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