The cacophony of sounds disrupted the tranquillity at the backstage. Startled, Popi the bruin opened its eyes. Most of the animals had woken up. In the distance, people were munching titbits and slurping ice creams. The audience had arrived.

Popi lifted both arms in the air and stretched lazily. He was still dreaming about himself flying from the trapeze! Just then, Bumpy the clown walked past his cage.

"Good morning," greeted the podgy clown. Bumpy was a skilful trapeze artist despite his size.

Popi pulled a wry smile. Maybe I could change places with Bumpy in the coming performance, he thought. I'm around his size; since he can do it, why can't I?

"A penny for your thoughts?" the clown inquired.

Popi said, "Good morning! It's like this. I'm interested in flying from the trapeze. This odd idea, I must say, comes when I was watching you flying about gracefully. So I'm wondering whether I could change places with you for the next performance, hopefully subsequent performances as well…"

Bumpy thought for a moment. "Well, I think it's okay. I would also like to dance with the tree-man. Furthermore, we're about the same size, so there shouldn't be much problem," he answered.

"Oh really? That'll be wonderful" said the bruin triumphantly.

"I'll tell the ringmaster about this," Bumpy said. The plump figure approached the caravan. Much to their delight, the ringmaster agreed.

Now, Popi, dressed in a colourful clown-suit, was on top of an elevated platform. Beside the platform was a trapeze, hanging precariously on two ropes. The two ropes were dangling on another lengthy horizontal rope. About a few metres away from the first trapeze, he caught sight of another one. Popi was struggling with the red hat on top of his head. It did not seem to fit his head and kept moving out of place!

On terra firma, Bumpy was dancing energetically with the tree-man to the pulsating music. (The tree-man was actually another clown in a hollow tree! He looked like a moving tree hence people called him "tree-man".) The audience was cheering and shouting in exaltation.

"We shall now welcome Popi, who'll be giving us an exhilarating trapeze performance! Ladies and gentlemen, please give Popi the bruin a round of applause!"

The whole tent was filled with tremendous applause. I must give of my very best, he murmured to himself. He laid his trembling, sweaty palms on the first trapeze. Then, with a whoosh, he flung himself out of the platform and into the air. The cheering grew louder. With his muscular arms, Popi clung tenaciously onto the metallic bar for dear life. He tried to use more force to bring himself closer to the second trapeze. As he got closer and closer, he tried to grab the bar, which was right under his nose. But alas, he missed.

The next moment, the audience was greeted with a plummeting bruin as well as a flying red hat. The cheering died down. There were instantaneous cries of "ooh" and "aah". The whole performance seemed to come to a complete standstill.

In the air, Popi regretted making this silly choice. I'm not cut out to be a trapeze artist.

Popi finally tumbled down into the safety net with a THUD! (The hat flew right up to one of the poles!) All the performers opened their jaws wide in utter disgust. In attempt to regain his balance, Popi floundered clumsily about in the net, like the pendulum of a grandfather's clock. But he got himself tangled up instead. A roar of laughter broke out in the deafening silence. Everyone, including the performers, was laughing at Popi's pathetic plight. Popi's head reddened in embarrassment. He was crestfallen.

Bumpy and the ringmaster brought the injured bruin back to the backyard. The irate ringmaster reprimanded Bumpy and Popi for their silly idea of changing places. "No more nonsense!" he thundered and went back to the tent.

Bumpy consoled the disheartened bruin. "It never rains but it pours…" Popi said as tears trickled down his hairy cheeks. Poor Popi! Not only did he receive a scolding from the ringmaster, he also developed acrophobia. It was not such a good bargain after all.