It had finally happened. She had told him, I realised this after hearing, what was only the start of an explosive argument, coming from Alicia's caravan. Which unfortunately was just situated next to mine

Probably everyone else in the surrounding area could hear it too. But they were used with Ricardo ranting and raving and his explosive temper. They tolerated it because he was one of the big stars. And everyone knew a brilliant Artiste's were prone to temper tantrums, so they were allowed to have them.

And he was a great Artiste; one who brought the crowds into circus They were fascinated with his dazzling death defying feats on the trapeze that made them gasp with awe and amazement.

So everyone went about their usual business, ignoring the yelling and shouting coming from within the caravan. That was the good thing about circus folk, they stuck together as one tight knit community looking out for each other, yet knew when it was best not to interfere in some matters.

And I? Well I sat feigning great interest in sewing and mending the clown costume my Aunt Lizzie had left me to do, but my fingers trembled nervously as they pushed the sewing needle into the fine material and pulled it through.

I was one of the few who knew exactly what this particular hot and heavy argument was about. But I knew I had to keep pretending that I didn't, then act suitably shocked as the rest would once it finally became public knowledge.

Alicia had finally made up her mind. She was leaving the circus behind for a modelling career. She had been mulling over it for a while now, but the main problem had been her parents, they would not be happy with her new choice of career.

They believed in preserving the circus and its way of life, and for one of their offspring to think of abandoning that way of life, it was almost sacrilege. And there was the fact that Alicia, like Ricardo, pulled the crowds in, with the elegant bareback stunts she performed on Spangle, the pretty white mare.

So her leaving would also be a great loss for the circus

Then there was Ricardo, her boyfriend of three years. They were known as the golden couple. She was blonde and beautiful, he was dark and handsome. No one else could handle the hot tempered arrogant Ricardo like Alicia could. She gave him as good as she got. Which was probably why he had been so attracted to her.

With her, he had met his match. She was as spoilt and pampered as he was; only she was not quite as mean tempered, and she was far more gracious and thoughtful of other people than he could be.

Both of them though, had the same fiery passion and loved being in the limelight Everyone had expected them to eventually marry, including me.

But that had all changed a few months ago, when two significant things happened around the same time for her.

Alicia had been doing some part time, casual modelling work, to earn some extra money. It seemed that someone in the agency that had employed her, loved her stunning figure and face enough to offer her a full time contract, which had appealed to her greatly.

She had told me all about it. I had somehow become her confidante

Not that we were best friends or anything like that. Far from it. I was just always around, helping her with her costume and makeup, then when we were alone, she liked to confide these things to me because she knew I would not say anything to anyone else.

After all who would listen, or pay attention to 'Melanie Mouse,' unless it was to give me orders to fetch and carry back and forth. I was an insignificant shadow in the background. But then I had to admit, preferred it that way.

Alicia talked and I would not reply, just dutifully listen; which was what she expected from me.

So when she confided in me that she discovered she was pregnant with Ricardo's child a week after the offer of her modelling contract, I did not utter a word of shock or surprise, or even dare to attempt to give her any advice on her dilemma.

I just let her spill her worries and concerns out of her system, until she reached her own conclusion and knew what she wanted to do.

In the end she decided that an abortion was her only option. She didn't want to be tied down with children, and she knew Ricardo would insist on her becoming his wife if he found out, and she didn't want that either, she liked her freedom too much to be tied to his demanding ways.

She made me swear on my grandfathers life, that I would not say anything to anyone. It seemed she had already made up her mind. She was going to accept the modelling contract.

She didn't feel the same love for the circus she once had. Especially now, when a lucrative and more glamorous career was stretched before her that brought along a whole new sense of freedom, so who could blame her really?.

In a way I envied her, and I was always a little in awe of her. She had just turned nineteen, which was just two years older than me. But we were nothing alike, she being far more worldly wise than me. Also unlike me, she was brave and confident enough to make such a big career changing decision, taking full control of her life, not letting other people tell her what she should or shouldn't do.

Alicia had sensibly waited until after the last performance of this evening's show, and finally found the nerve to inform Ricardo and her parents of her future plans. She could no longer put it off. After all she had already gone ahead and signed the contract she had been offered by the modelling Agency.

But I was scared and anxious, for her, knowing Ricardo's temper.

He would not be pleased to discover she had chosen a modelling career over him and the circus way of life, It was something he held dear and glorified in. It would also dent his precious ego that she dared turn her back on him.

And as I listened to the fury in his voice whilst they argued back and forth I shuddered. I was only glad I was not at the other end of it this time.

Usually he liked to save his scorn and derision for me, getting some perverse pleasure in making me cringe and cower from the sharp barbs of his tongue. But I was so beneath him and not worth the bother that he thankfully preferred to ignore my existence most of the time.

I was already nervy, so the a loud crashing sound that came from Alicia's caravan made me almost jump out of my skin, making me prick my finger on the sharp sewing needle which didn't help. I hurriedly set aside the costume so as not to get any blood on it, then hurriedly putting my bleeding finger in my mouth and hastily sucking on it to stop the tiny flow of blood.

Curiosity and alarm got the better of me, stupidly enough I went to the door of my caravan, which was already opened, just to make sure Ricardo hadn't physically hurt or even killed Alicia in his fit of rage

At that moment he came barging out of her caravan, dark and menacing, whilst swearing in his native Spanish tongue. In the background I could hear Alicia weeping, so at least she was still alive.

I made the mistake of just stepping out of my caravan to check if she was alright.

Ricardo was about to storm angrily past, but then he spotted me. And I realised his dark eyes had turned on me still glittering with his remaining rage, his face contorted with anger as he took a step towards me now.

I was the perfect target, one whom he could vent his frustration out on, "What are you doing standing there? Sneaking around, listening to what is going on, and sticking your nose into other people's business ?" he snarled, "This is not a bloody public show just for your entertainment y'know"

I would have been justified in pointing out to him, that I wasn't exactly 'sneaking around', as I was standing just outside my own caravan. And it was hard not to listen in, when they were yelling so loudly. That I wasn't 'sticking my nose in', or' looking for entertainment', but I was just a little concerned. Also he really shouldn't take his anger and frustration out on me, I was just an innocent bystander. It is not my fault his girlfriend had decided to dump him.

But as usual, his angry overpowering male presence froze me to the spot. My tongue seemed paralyzed in my mouth, then I felt the deep humiliating heat of embarrassment flood my body and finally settle on my face, making my cheeks burn under his dark accusing glare

I didn't handle confrontation with him or anyone very well, for some reason it always had the knack of turning me into a quivering wreck.

And I guess it was kind of ironic that Ricardo been the one who had nicknamed me 'Mouse' when I had just reached that awkward teenage stage in my life; which I had never really grown out of since. He had meant it in a scornful, derogatory way, because of my quiet timid nature, which he found annoying for some reason, and somehow the name had stuck.

So now I did what any good mouse would do when faced with such a fearsome predator who wanted to eat them up and spit them out… I managed to finally move my shaky legs; scurrying back into the safety of my caravan, shutting the door behind me.