The Whole Circus by Oonah Joslin

Pyro the dragon flew around the big top trying to create a breeze, make the banners flap, make the canvas sides billow out -- anything to get seen. He watched the audience applaud as Julianne somersaulted on Tiny’s back. Tiny’s huge feet plodded round the ring kicking up swirls of sawdust. He trumpeted with his long nose, knelt and stood and swished his little tail. They even went 'Oooooooo’ when he did a huge poo -- right there -- on the circus floor. Tickle came with a bucket to scoop it up. Then he pretended to throw it at the crowd. The bucket had a false bottom of course.

'But at least they can see the bucket,’ Pyro thought. 'It’s not nice to be told that you’re mythical -- not even by friends. One wants to be a little mysterious of course but not totally invisible, not a complete figment.’ And as he thought this, a tear trickled down to his nose and dripped onto the ring, unseen.

Tickle exited the ring, deliberately tripping over his feet and everybody cheered. A man dressed as a mouse ran in and Tiny, pretending to be startled, raised his front legs so that Julianne could dismount and take her bow. Then he bowed too and lolloped out of the ring, chased by the arm-waving mouse.

As the audience dispersed, Pyro perched up on the high wire, watched disconsolate. 'Another show for them. Another no-show for me,’ he thought. Just at that moment he lost his grip and plummeted. He spread his wings immediately of course but he also let out such a shriek of surprise that fire spurted from his nostrils and…and…

The people looked up. Some screamed. Some shouted, “What is that!?"

“Oh the ugly thing!" Everybody ran. For just a moment Pyro was

truly visible -- a black little knobbly dragon silhouetted against the fire-light that was now consuming the Big Top.

It was headline news next day. 'Big Top Burns.’

'Mystery, Myth or Monster?’

'Pyro-techics not part of Act,' says Circus Owner.’

“Why did you do it?" asked Tickle kicking at a piece of scorched scenery with his shoe.

“I didn’t mean to burn down the whole circus," Pyro said. “It just kind of happened."

“Well you certainly got noticed."

“But the people didn’t like me. They were frightened of me." Pyro hung his large head and a black tear dropped onto Tiny’s foot. “I’ve ruined everything."

“ They’ll put up another tent," Tiny said, withdrawing his foot from the danger of another scorching tear. “We’ll paint new scenery. You can’t help being a dragon, Pyro -- no more than I have any choice about being an elephant," and he put a protective trunk around poor Pyro’s scales.

“But Tickle had a choice about being a clown," said Pyro.

“Not so much as you’d think," said Tickle.

“What do you mean?" asked Pyro.

“You see, being a clown is more a question of choosing what people don’t see than what they do see," said Tickle. “I allow you two to see me when I’m not being a clown but most people don’t see me any more than they see you, Pyro -- not the real me; or any more than they see Benny under his mouse costume."

“And I’m not afraid of the stupid mouse," interjected Tiny.

“Of course you’re not," Tickle said. “You see, Pyro none of us is really real in public."

“Yes, I see that now," said Pyro. “Are you both very cross with me? Are we still friends?"

“Course we’re friends!" said Tickle and Tiny both at once.

“Whether I’m visible or not…?" Pyro just thought he’d check.

“Hey!" said Tickle and he punched Pyro softly on his flank. “What I said before! The show must go on -- remember?"


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