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Backstory

        “Have you guys been fired and come back to apply again?” This day, the circus crew got together before the room of Maurice the ringmaster. Looking at each other, the crew nodded and stood in a circle. “This time we must not let the ringmaster down,” the crew cheered as they put their hands together.

         Just as the crew was ready to step into the ringmaster’s room in high spirits, a few coughs were heard. Through the window, they saw the ringmaster covering his mouth with a blood-stained tissue.

        “Gosh! It happens to be the same symptom of hemoptysis that my mother’s cousin’s friend’s brother’s son had when he was diagnosed with a terminal disease. The ringmaster is seriously ill!” Harold the flying trapeze performer trembled. This truth had given everyone an utter shock as they turned to Harold. Before anyone could react, a huge noise was sent from the room. The crew shifted their attention back to Maurice, who passed out on the floor.

        Donald the elephant then came to him in a stride and patted his face with his chunky hand.

        “Easy! Are you gonna slap the ringmaster to death? You stinky elephant!” Furla the dancer pushed Donald away immediately, yet she heaved a sigh of relief when she put her finger under Maurice’s nose. “Phew! He’s still breathing.”

        After carrying Maurice to the bed together, sorrow was written on their faces as they were processing this unexpected news.

        “Ringmaster is not looking good. He seems to be really sick,” said Leed as he pulled his hair in pain.

        “Doesn’t it mean he can’t eat snacks anymore? Oh poor Maurice!” Harvey the flying trapeze brother took out his favorite snack, even his elder brother Harold rolled his eyes at him despite his usual indulgence.

        “...What should we do now…” Furla choked with sobs.

        “We have a performance tonight. At least the show must go on…” Donald cried as he spoke.

        “Let’s put all of our effort into the night show.” The crew all shared an unwavering heart.

        After settling down the ringmaster, the crew, despite their sorrow, got ready in their own positions on the stage and was determined to give the audience the best performance, so as to repay the ringmaster’s love and care.

        The show began. Everyone went all out to exhibit their phenomenal skills: the intricately intertwined feet of the flying brothers, the stunning dance of Furla, the water sprinkle of Donald, the jokes of Leed and the shadow magic of Eileen.

        “Whoa! The circus seems to have revived!” The show ended in a thunder of applause due to the amazing surprises. The circus once again lived up to the fame they had been proud of in the realm.

        “It’s ringmaster!” The crew soon realized that Maurice was applauding offstage with a satisfied smile.

        At the moment, the lights on the stage became dim. Harold and Harvey the brothers expressed their heartfelt gratitude, “thank you for your support. Actually, we’d like to dedicate this performance to our dear ringmaster.”

        The spotlight was on Maurice for the time being, which caused an uproar in the audience.

        “Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is our ringmaster’s days are numbered…” Donald said emotionally.

        “We’d all made some mistakes in the past, and we almost couldn’t perform for you anymore. It was the ringmaster who pulled us back from the abyss. Without him, there would be no us today,” continued Eileen.

        Furla was weeping her eyes out to speak, “We want to tell the ringmaster that even if we aren’t hired in the end, you’re always our best ringmaster!”

        “Everyone please give the ringmaster a round of applause again.” Tears kept dropping as Leed spoke, alongside a tempest of ovation.

        “Ringmaster, do you like the show tonight?” The crew told their deep feelings to Maurice.

        “Cough...everyone seems to have a misunderstanding,” Maurice said while walking to the stage slowly.

        “Ringmaster, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We saw you coughing blood in the afternoon. The symptom was exactly the same as my mother’s cousin’s friend’s brother’s son’s terminal disease.” Everyone nodded to agree with what Harold had said.

        “Ah...oh I figured. I was just choked by cranberries at that time.”

        “Wh...what? Then why did you faint in the room?” Leed found it unconvincing.

        “I was too exhausted after the meal. Then I fell asleep.” Maurice acted as if nothing had happened.

        “So you aren’t dying?” Furla asked in a trance.

        “No, I’m not. Do I need to be dying to get that quality performance of you guys?” Maurice rolled his eyes.

        “That’s wonderful! Hahahaha…” The crew was overjoyed, but had put the audience in quite an awkward position because of the goof they made.

        “Look what a mess you got yourself into! Now go thank the audience.” Maurice waved at the spectators. Finally, the crew showed a smile of relief.

        “Thank you for your support. We’ll keep up with our good work.” Maurice and the crew bowed to the audience together under the spotlight.

        However, the crew would never know what Maurice was actually thinking as he bent. “I was long woken up by their annoying noises back then. Anyways I’d make the best out of their misunderstanding.”

        So, cheers and claps echoed over the circus tent again.