The girl in the gilded cage

Malina Lupei is 22 years old. She has spend her whole life in the circus as a member of the Lupei family also known as ‪the flying wolfes of Constanza.
She is a good girl that have no interest in parties or men. She works hard to be perfect in the trapez and on the tightrope. And she has to, one wrong step could be her death as she works without a safety net.
The resident player and hearttrob Ioan Balan who is a knife thrower and Tiger taler wants Malina to be his wife and has gotten her fathers accept to do so when she gets older and is done working the high line.
Circus is its own little World, with its own rule and everyone there knows to follow them.
Then one they Malina's life and the cirkus is turned upside down by the unexpected arrived of a man, an actor that knows nothing about life in a Circus and who isn't going to follow the rules.


1. Circus visit



 "Excited for the circus Griffindor". I ask my nephew, who is currently lodged on my arm. I don't expect an answer as he don't really talk yet, but he is looking around wide eyed at the bustling people and bright colours, so I think he likes it.

 I am taking him, my sister and her husband to the circus for an efternoon show. I had called the owner, asking if I could take Griffin to see the animals and he said that if we came early, there would be someone waiting to show us around and we could see the artists practise and visit the animals. Honestly I am probably more excited than Griffin.

 "Josh how often do I have to tell you ? His name is Griffin, not Griffindor." My sister says and I shrug with a smile. Probably like a million. If she didn't want me calling him Griffindor she shouldn't have named him Griffin.

 A plump man wearing a shiny blue suit, a lavender shirt and a bright red tie comes walking towards us. He has a soft felt hat on his head and is waving a faul smelling cigar around like it was magic wand. "Mr. Rodgers welcome to circus Arly. I am Joe Herlihy the ringmaster, at your service".

 "Thank you Mr. Herlihy and please call me Josh". I tell him with a smile. He definately seems like quite a character.

 He smiles and looks at Griffin on my arm, who hide his face against my shoulder. "Only if you call me Joe. Is that your wee one ?"

 "No this is my nephew Griffin. This is my sister Ashley and her husband Ian". I present them, and Joe shake both of their hands, before leading the way further into the magic of the circus.

 Griffin is giggling and clapping his hands and I look around. It is like a whole little village, a weird and wonderful village with wonder and people of every colour, yelling to each other in several languages. Nearby someone walks by with an elephant and Griffin points. "Ephant.. ephant unke Jo".

 "Yeah Griffindor that is an elephant, it is really big huh ?" I say and he nods. Joe smiles. "We got 4 elephants in the circus, 3 tigers, 10 horses, 15 dogs and a chimpanzee".

 As we walk on Joe tells about the different things we see and tells about the history of the circus, it is clear to hear that it is his job to talk. Then he says apologetically. "Sorry for the low voice, had a lump removed last weak, so I am not allowed to raise my voise, so having kind of a forced vacation the next couple of months".

 "Oh so sorry to hear Joe, I hope you are okay ? What does the circus do then without you to present everything ?" I say, a big part of the whole circus experience is the ringmaster, he does more than present, he entertains.

 He smiles widely and pads my shoulder. "I am just fine, thank you. Well one of our young artist Ioan Balan is covering for me, but between you and me I am quite nervous that he isn't up for the job".

 "I am sure he will do great, and you'll be back in no time". I say and Joe smile even wider, moving on to show us into the grand circus tent. Inside it smells like sawdust, with a hint of the animals, sweat and popcorn. This is circus.

 It is a huge tent, with two grand rings for the artists. Right now there is a group of chinese artist in one of them, practising a human pyramide. In the other ring a man is throwing knives at a dummy tied to a spinning plate of wood.

 We walk over to the knife thrower, just as he stops the plate, looking at the doll and hitting the plate hard in annoyance. Joe smiles at him. "Still not able to get the throw right Ioan ? It is a very difficult throw, not many can do it".

 "I can do it, I know I can. I just need to find the rigth moment". He says, staring at the doll, it has knifes impaled through both legs and in the lower stomach, making me swallow, feeling happy that he is using a doll.

 "Ioan here is trying to place a knive between the dolls legs while the plate is spinning, is is a very difficult throw". Joe tells us. "Ioan, this is Josh, Griffin, Ashley and Ian".

 Ioan turns to look at us, he is wearing jeans and a tank top showing of his broad shoulders and the ropes of muscles down his arms, probably from the hard physical work in the circus. He is about 15 cm shorter than me and looks up at me with something that looks most like contempt, before shaking my hand hard. "Welcome".

 "Thank you". I say, watching him eye up my sister, before shaking her hand and then Ian's. I normally don't judge people this fast, but there is something about this guy I just don't like, and he seems to feel the same toward me.

 Joe seems to feel the tension and hurriedly says. "Ioan here is covering for me while I recover, he is also our knife thrower and tiger tamer".

 "That sounds like some very dangerous acts to do". My sister says. "Are you never afraid the tigers will get enough and attack you ?"

 Ioan laughs. His eyes running over my sister again in a way that annoys me. He is blonde with a goatee and looks like he likes himself a lot. So does a lot of women probably. "Never, but it takes a real man to control big wild animals".

I almost choke on a laugh, trying to hide my amusement as Ioan glares at me. Joe hurriedly leads us away to look at a woman training some dogs , which makes Griffin bounce in my arms calling. "Doggi, doggi".

 When she is done, the woman tells Griffin he can pet the dogs, and Ashley takes him from my arms, sitting down with him. I turn to look at the other ring, someone has put up a low tightwalker rope and I see someone at the platform.

 She walks out on the rope, performing what almost looks like ballet, while a man in a wheelchair watches her, correcting her and telling her what to do.

 I walk closer, almost hypnotised by her movements, as she jumps high up in the air, landing safely and gracefully back on the line, she is fully concentrated and never looks up. When I get closer I can see she has the face of an angel, an very exotic angel, and the body of a fairy.

 I have never seen anything so graceful before, she looks almost like a child up there, so small and fragile looking, but she a woman grace about her and I am guessing her to be around 20 years old. Joe steps up beside me and I whisper. "Pretty girl, she is good".

 "She is a Lupei". He says with a shrug, like I am supposed to know what that means. "The Lupei family, also known as the flying wolves of Constanza. They are crazy the whole bunch of them. Tightrope walkers and trapez artists. No nets. Her father is in a wheelchair. He killed her mother forcing her to do that, she was such a beautiful woman. He will kill Malina too some day. She is just practising on the low line so she can hear him, she works up there". He points to the top of the tent, my eyes following his finger. "The audience loves it. I think it is a horrible thing to do to such a young woman, but her father don't care". He goes on. "He does it to wow the audience. If she ends in a wheelchair like him or dies like her mother it is okay with him, it is part of the life. She has a brother and an older sister too, they all work on the trapez. Honestly I hate watching it, it makes me sick".

 "So Malina Lupei". I say mostly to myself watching her leave with her father and Joe nods. "She is the grand finale, to keep the audience in their seats to the end. They are waiting to see if she falls to her death".

 "But she looks so young, she can't be much more than a teenager". I say, wondering what can make a father be so careless with his childrens lifes.

 Joe shakes his head lightly. "She is older than she looks. She must be 22 by now, she was born and raised in the circus. They are the oldest circus family here, one of the oldest in the whole country. Honestly people like them are not like normal poeple, they live in another time, long forgotten by most".

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